How/why did community delete a question? And how to prevent it?

I just realized that a question of mine was deleted by community. In contrast to this meta-question there were neither downvotes nor am I deleted. Since this happened around one year after I posted the question, I suspect there is some automatism around pruning unanswered questions with no upvotes. Is that assumption correct?

It is not exactly my best question, if it is not worth keeping, so be it. However I am irritated by the fact that there was no notification whatsoever that a) this was going to happen and b) afterwards. Had I not linked to my question in a related one of mine I would not even have noticed (except for one day wondering "Didn't I ask something about inside-out Laurent series on math.SE?" and probably asking it again in more or less identical form), and lacking 10k rep I wouldn't even have the link to it. As a matter of fact, the deleted recent questions doesn't even show that up - it might be more helpful to have a list of recently deleted questions instead. Since deletion is quite a severe "modification" to a question, should the Community-user really hold such fully automated power? Shouldn't this require at least a review by a meatbag-entity?

• As a side-note, I would appreciate undeletion of said question – Tobias Kienzler Oct 7 '14 at 7:04
• The question has now been undeleted. – Thomas Oct 7 '14 at 11:19
• @Thomas Thanks for the notification - I wish that were automated as well... Now I hope some (honest non-pity) upvote occurs before re-deletion happens... – Tobias Kienzler Oct 7 '14 at 11:21
• Since your post (among other things) asks why your question was auto-deleted and how deletion by community users works, I have added (support). (And also (auto-delete.) Of course, if you have better ideas for appropriate tags, feel free to edit the post again. – Martin Sleziak Oct 7 '14 at 15:13
• @MartinSleziak thanks, those additional tags make perfect sense – Tobias Kienzler Oct 7 '14 at 16:15

From the MSE deletion faq:

If the question is more than 365 days old, and ...

• has a score of 0 or a score of 1 with a deleted owner
• is not locked
• has a viewcount <= the age of the question in days times 1.5
• has 1 or 0 comments

... it will be automatically deleted.

(Actually, the above is quoted from an answer by Jeff Atwood.)

Since even if undeleted your question will be subject to further Community deletion unless at least one of the above criteria fails to hold, it may be best to simply re-ask it.

• Thanks, I actually downvoted that request quite a while ago, that's why this sounded so familiar... – Tobias Kienzler Oct 7 '14 at 7:36
• @TobiasKienzler: Yeah. This is one of the automatic deletion scripts we don't hear too much about. I imagine it happens fairly often, but the users who ask the underlying question are more often than not no longer active on the site, making the deletions invisible. – user642796 Oct 7 '14 at 7:40
• The real problem here is that if the owner is still active, they won't realize this deletion for quite some time, if ever, though that does not mean the question is useless, merely exotic (otherwise it would have been downvoted/closed long time ago). And while some of those questions are not exactly spectacular I still wonder why they must be auto-deleted. – Tobias Kienzler Oct 7 '14 at 7:43
• @TobiasKienzler: These questions are just considered abandoned: based on quantitative measures (score, views, responses), no-one seems to care about them. I would imagine a lot of actual junk gets cleared up across the SE network because of this script. While I wouldn't call your question junk, it did get lost somehow. This is likely a byproduct of too many questions and perhaps bad timing (over 500 new questions were posted the same day you asked this one, and it basically needed to find the right set of eyes in a very short time in order to avoid getting lost in a sea of derivatives). – user642796 Oct 7 '14 at 8:49
• Good points, though "no-one seems to care about them" is not fully correct - I do still care about that question, though unfortunately no one else seems to... Re your edit, you mean even if it were undeleted, it would be re-deleted next week unless at least one (pity-)upvote occurred? I certainly might re-ask the question, though that somehow feels like cheating. And copy-pasting might actually trigger some other mechanism... – Tobias Kienzler Oct 7 '14 at 8:55
• @TobiasKienzler: Yes. I've seen cases where a question was undeleted after being deleted by the daily script, only to have it re-deleted the next day. If copy-pasting does trigger some mechanism, only the mods will see it, and I'll be sure to inform the others that you're not simply trying to cheat the system. ;-) – user642796 Oct 7 '14 at 9:00
• Thanks. I'll do so tomorrow if my request is not heeded. Though someone was nice enough to cast an undelete vote already, so only one more is necessary – Tobias Kienzler Oct 7 '14 at 9:03

Shouldn't this require at least a review by a meatbag-entity?

I think that Stack Exchange is rightly concerned about overloading the reviewers with more tasks. Slapping people in the face with bad or mediocre content on regular basis comes with a cost: many reviewers spend less time answering, and are prone to burnout

But if some users are interested in rescuing good-but-unappreciated questions from the jaws for the script, here is a query Yearly script deletion candidates. It takes a wider range of dates (about three weeks) so that one does not have to review every week. If something is of interest there, go ahead and upvote -- or, better yet, answer.

• good point, though ideally a question scheduled for auto-deletion simply was posted at the wrong time and may deserve an upvote instead of oblivion. I'm sure most first posts or should-be-comments are a lot more tedious to review – Tobias Kienzler Oct 7 '14 at 16:59
• I think SE is less concerned with what questions "deserve" and more with "what are they good for". A long forgotten unanswered question isn't of any use and in some way it is harmful: it's a dead end in search results. If it comes up in someone's Google search results, the user will likely click back, seeing there's nothing there. When done on large scale, this makes Google think less of the site's usefulness. – user147263 Oct 7 '14 at 17:19
• hmm, that depends, people knowing StackExchange might see an unanswered question as an incentive. but in general I guess you're right... – Tobias Kienzler Oct 7 '14 at 17:21