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Over two years old and with 230 "answers" (some deleted) is the original Requests for Reopen & Undeletion Votes, etc. (volume 10/2012 - 12/2014).

Some were interested for several reasons in closing the old thread and starting with a clean new version, very recently appearing as Requests for Reopen & Undeletion Votes, etc. (volume 01/2015 - ) [current version]. I don't have anything against this, but it isn't clear to me what others' opinions are, and I don't understand what problems it is intended to solve.

One problem that has been mentioned is that it is "hard to scroll through" the old version. But sorting by active makes it so the recently modified posts are near the top, and those are all that are relevant most of the time. At first it will be nice to have a cleaner version, but it seems to me it will not take long before it is a very similar experience. I also don't see any harm in making the new thread.

My basic question(s) could be summarized as, "Should we have the new version and why?" Elaborated a bit, somewhat redundantly:

  • What are some advantages or disadvantages of posting the new version?
  • If you are in favor of the new version, how (and for how long) will it solve the problems with the old version?
  • If you are in favor of keeping everything in one thread, what are the advantages of this?
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    $\begingroup$ Why not have each request be its own question on meta? The discussion for each would be self-contained and as each request is discussed and resolved, it would drop off... $\endgroup$ – Isaac Jan 2 '15 at 4:38
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    $\begingroup$ @Isaac Because that would take up much valuable space on the front page. The point of localizing these in a unique thread is that it minimizes front page noise (in the active question list), and it minimizes noise in search results, etc. This was already discussed when I created the original thread. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jan 2 '15 at 4:49
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque There were 230 answers over 2+ years—that's like 1 post every 3 days. That's not a lot of bumping on the meta front page and not a lot of noise to gain a lot of clarity. The Stack Exchange platform is not a threaded discussion board and abusing it as one has downsides, too. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Jan 2 '15 at 4:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Isaac More recently one can see a few per day, and that may increase with the massive deletions. Combine that with other noise from sandboxes (drafts,formatting) etc and it may yield noise on a significant percentage of the front page for small screens (e.g. phones). Users who have no interest in such can easily ignore a single reopen thread (with unique title), but that's not so easy if each request has a random title. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jan 2 '15 at 5:02
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque: As to ignoring, that's what tags are for. $\endgroup$ – Isaac Jan 2 '15 at 5:06
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    $\begingroup$ @Isaac I'm sympathetic to bringing more attention to those issues. But I worry too about possibly much more noise in search results, which may then contain many (usually uninteresting) matches to reopen threads instead of one match (to the unique reopen thread). Recall also that the reopen thread was not intended for discussion or debate. One was supposed to open a new meta question if that was needed. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jan 2 '15 at 5:10
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    $\begingroup$ The "Request for Reopen Votes" thread is one of the most useful things I have ever seen. We have even stolen the idea to implement community moderation on PhysicsOverflow, with properly citing it of course. I consider having all request in a single thread the best way. In a chat room (as suggested in an answer belwo), the undelete/reopen process would be much less efficient as less people would take part, which would also reduce its efficiency in counteracting the still (!) ongoing deletion campaings. It would give the deletists a by the community unchecked free pass to do as they please ... $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Jan 2 '15 at 7:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Isaac There is plenty of awareness about the cleaning up going on already. (Calling it a "massive deletion campaign" is very biased, by the way: there is also a lot of editing to retag questions, reformat titles, and generally improve questions instead of deleting them. Something I don't see many people doing. And there is no tag for "poor question": how do you ignore them, exactly?) Anyway, there was some debate two months ago on what the thread was for and whether to keep it at all. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Jan 2 '15 at 9:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton In what way would a chat room be less efficient? Anyway now that there is a review queue for reopening posts (remember the thread was created in ancient times in a different context) and that everyone should know that they can go to /tools and check standing undelete votes, why is there a need for anything at all? $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Jan 2 '15 at 9:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton I don't think you read correctly what I wrote. The people who delete questions also improve other questions, in most cases. Everyone wants the best for the website. Calling this "campaign" destructive is like calling the trimming of a tree destructive because you destroy a lot of leaves -- biased and loaded. To get back on-topic, there is a reason if only people with a certain amount of reputation can vote to close/open (this website is not a democracy, so I'm not sure what your point is), and they can already comment directly on the closed post where it's most relevant. $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Jan 2 '15 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ Dear @Dilaton : As attention about the site grows we face increasing traffic, and that includes increasing traffic in poor quality questions. There is also evolving debate/consensus on quality standards involved. The increase in the raw number of deletions is therefore unsurprising. So, in the future, if you see similar conspiracy-theory-colored comments like that, remember to ask yourself what they're actually describing. (And also try to notice who the usual suspect is.) Regards $\endgroup$ – rschwieb Jan 2 '15 at 13:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: You write "with properly citing it of course." but you say that the thread is based on the MathOverflow thread, rather than the one on MSE. :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 2 '15 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: The claim that "deletionists" are not doing anything to improve the posts is simply WRONG. A moderator has access to certain stats about the review queue. I don't think I'm allowed to post details, but it is the "keep open" -faction that does next to zero editing. The contrast is very clear. I won't post individual stats, because those are for mod eyes only. But please be educated about facts. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jan 3 '15 at 8:24
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    $\begingroup$ @JyrkiLahtonen Who cares if there is some trivial editing to some low percentage of posts by deletionists. This does very little to make up for the huge amount of global destruction caused by this recent ill-advised campaign. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Jan 3 '15 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque in case you missed it, this (off-topic) debate was spurred by Dilaton saying "it would indeed be a good idea for the deletists to consider improving posts too, instead of exclusively just pushing the delete button." I agree it is not a relevant remark, still it seems to be false or rather based on the false premise that the deletists or deletionists or whatever you want to call them "exclusively just push[ing] the delete button." This was rectified. If you find the initial remark irrelevant, as I do, you might let its author know. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 3 '15 at 18:51
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I would call the new thread [current] rather than [new version], and identify the old one as [archive 1]. Then people will get used to looking at the "current" thread for new material. The thread names can be amended at each cycle where a new thread needs to open.


The suggestion in @quid's comment is a significant improvement: rather than simply numbering old threads as [archive 1] etc use the title to record the time period covered. This improves ability to search old threads as well as to locate the current one.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree with the general I idea. Yet rather than to number the old ones, I would propose to use the dates/years of activity to distinguish them. In addition, duplicate closures will make finding the current version easy by the automatic links. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 2 '15 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ @quid I agree with the dates idea and will amend my text to identify this. $\endgroup$ – Mark Bennet Jan 3 '15 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ I noticed the old thread at the top of the site and seized the opportunity to add the dates. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 6 '15 at 22:57
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I advocate the creation of a new thread, if such a thread should be created at all. My reasons are as follows:

Precedent with similar "questions"

The "request for reopen/undeletion" thread is similar in nature to the annual Tag Management threads. We create a new one every year (and lock down the old one) partly because it's easier to keep smaller questions organized. When people take issue with the thread because of reasons like this, it makes me wonder why they didn't vote to close the $2015$ tag management thread as a duplicate of the $2014$ tag management thread.

The old one is too cluttered!

I have never once used the reopen thread to request reopening. Instead, if I want a question reopened, I vote to reopen and hope the queue takes care of it. If that doesn't work, I post about it in chat.

Why don't I use the thread? To see what the "active" posts are, I need to 1) change my sort order to "most active" (instead of votes), then 2) find the newly updated post, then 3) change sort order back to "votes" so the next meta thread I view is still sorted by votes. Sure, I'll pop in sometimes to look, but it's really too much effort.

I also find the ancient responses in the thread to be distracting. I may be different than some people, but it feels good to clean out the old and start afresh every now and then. We're now at the point that we've generated 5 pages of answers in the last year, and we're growing faster than ever--perhaps it's time to press the "reset" button on the thread annually, just like we do with the tag thread.


See other answer for more about this.

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  • $\begingroup$ In a related discussion in chat quid mentioned this older discussion. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jan 2 '15 at 8:17
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    $\begingroup$ Why are you sorting by votes on meta? Since votes don't correspond to "useful" but rather to "agreeable". $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 2 '15 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ I think it could make sense to have the chat idea separately. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 2 '15 at 11:49
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    $\begingroup$ Let me comment on this: To see what the "active" posts are, I need to... It does not help much - since this only show one post with most recent activity - but to see the last post, you only have to click on the timestamp in the list of question ordered by recent activity or in the post itself. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jan 2 '15 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ @quid Done...... $\endgroup$ – apnorton Jan 2 '15 at 14:59
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila I sort by votes on meta because my most frequent use of meta is to find "finalized" policy. That is, I look at old threads and want to see what the community thinks at a glance. My second most frequent use of meta is to participate in discussions like these, where there are few enough answers that I can scroll through them all to find the new updates. $\endgroup$ – apnorton Jan 2 '15 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ So you'll use the new thread for a couple of months, and then what? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 2 '15 at 18:37
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf we create a new one. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 2 '15 at 18:54
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, but perhaps annually. If it gets to the point that the thread fills up every quarter (or so), then I think it's time to move to a chatroom, since there would be enough users actively interested in that issue to continuously populate a room. (Kind-of like the Tavern on the Meta--when one of the "regulars" there sees a thread that needs to be closed/reopened/deleted/undeleted/flagged, they post it in the room and it's handled in a matter of seconds.) $\endgroup$ – apnorton Jan 2 '15 at 18:58
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    $\begingroup$ @anorton: "fills up" = has more than 30 answers? $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Jan 2 '15 at 19:05
  • $\begingroup$ @JonasMeyer No... We created 5 pages of content on the old thread in 2014. If we ever reach the point where we're generating 5 pages of content in 3 months, I think it's certainly time to consider moving to a different medium (like a chatroom). $\endgroup$ – apnorton Jan 2 '15 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ @JonasMeyer Personally I think the 30 answer threshold would not be that unreasonable. That'd mean, at current speed, about a thread per quater. Seems not unreasonable to me. $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 2 '15 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf «Why are you sorting by votes on meta» — btw, I don't know a way to change sorting order in mobile app... $\endgroup$ – Grigory M Jan 2 '15 at 22:40
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf one more reason for "votes" can be that it is the default and one might not be logged in. (This might not be very relevant for the specific question at hand, but for your general question it is a situation in which I am not infrequently.) $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 2 '15 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ @quid: As you say, that's not a valid reason in this case, though. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 2 '15 at 23:53
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Moved to other answer to organize comments

My actual preference is that the requests for reopen/undelete votes would take place in a chatroom dedicated to that purpose. This is more suited to the temporary nature of such requests (do we really need to save a request from over two years ago?), because answers can't ever really be deleted. The "voting" aspect of SE answers also makes no sense with these reopen requests, since sometimes the same answer is "reused" to make a new request.

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    $\begingroup$ Since there might be users unaware of this, I will mention that chat has been used in connection with closing/reopening an similar stuff. Such messages were posted both in the main chatroom and in a separate chatroom created for this purpose. The creation of this room predates both reopen request thread and reopen-review queue; but maybe it can be useful in combination with them, too. $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jan 2 '15 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ (As you divided your original answer into two posts, I thought that the best thing for me to do is to remove my comment from there and post it here. It does not seem relevant to that answer after the edit.) $\endgroup$ – Martin Sleziak Jan 2 '15 at 15:42
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    $\begingroup$ I would not prefer to need to add another place to check, in addition to meta and the main site. If people are re-using old answers, by the way, that should be discouraged. $\endgroup$ – Carl Mummert Jan 3 '15 at 0:35
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The old thread is auto-protected and cannot be unprotected for a reasonable period of time in its current form. This was, initially, considered as undersirable, and later ignored.

For a new thread we can decide if it should be protected or not; this flexibility is an argument in favor of having a new thread (periodically).

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  • $\begingroup$ I used to think this was an issue and unprotect the old thread. But then I stopped. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 2 '15 at 13:46
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    $\begingroup$ This is what I meant to describe with "This was, initially, considered as undersirable, and later ignored." $\endgroup$ – quid Jan 2 '15 at 13:50

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