Recently there have been a very large number of deletions of older questions (and answers). Occasionally, this has caused some very helpful answers to be deleted - with no review at all.

Currently SE provides no effective way to review deletions. It is difficult if not impossible to even track deletions because they are displayed only in a (10K+ users) moderation tool of very short length, which frequently quickly overflows (especially during the nightly flood of Community deletions). Consequently many deletions are seen only by the few users who voted to delete.

Given that SE consistently declines all feature requests for tools to track and review deletions (e.g. here), I propose that we discuss community implementable methods of doing so.

For example, one simple solution would be to have a meta thread dedicated to this purpose. We could require that deletion votes can be cast only if an entry has been made into the meta thread linking to the deletion candidate. In effect, this implements a delete votes review queue. (Other means of deletion are outside the scope of this discussion.)

With such a queue, we would have some chance to rescue good answers before they disappear forever (e.g. maybe the question could be improved, or the answer could be migrated to another question, or it could be saved by the author for use in a later question, etc).

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    $\begingroup$ Ah. Honestly, I don't think people want to waste their energy in saving a question about finding the tangent to a function at a point or finding what $1092093^{21093094}$ is congruent to modulo $1204$. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Tamaroff Mod Mar 29 '15 at 23:37
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    $\begingroup$ As "quickly" is a vague term I will add that at the moment it is possible to have a list of all questions deleted within the last 17 hours. It is also possible to see questions that have delete votes on them before they are deleted. This allows for additional time to notice questions that might be deleted. If one sees a question that might be deleted and one wants to preserve a record of it, the feature of favorites can be used. Favorites links to deleted questions are maintained. $\endgroup$ – quid Mod Mar 29 '15 at 23:42
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    $\begingroup$ @quid Having attempted to track deletions recently I can assure you that it is so difficult that I cannot imagine anyone investing the immense effort required to do so. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 29 '15 at 23:45
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    $\begingroup$ I think the overhead caused by such a thread and the lack of control (How can you force users to comply if they don't want to?) makes this suggestion hardly suitable for practice. On the other hand enabling the deleted: search keyword for 10k+ (currently mod only) or similar feature-requests would give more for less effort. Maybe we should thus try to bring these feature-requests to a more prominent position. $\endgroup$ – AlexR Mar 29 '15 at 23:45
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque Not really. There are roughly 360 10k+ users and 9 moderators. They have other things to do than to enforce such a policy. $\endgroup$ – AlexR Mar 29 '15 at 23:49
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque How do you find an abuser? Might it just be that he wasn't notified of the new policy? Also imagine the length of that thread. It will be similar to the close/reopen thread. How do you want to check back. Was this particular question posted there? $\endgroup$ – AlexR Mar 29 '15 at 23:55
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexR indeed, it should be especially hard to find abusers, since supposedly it is very difficult to track deleted question. $\endgroup$ – quid Mod Mar 30 '15 at 0:00
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    $\begingroup$ @AlexR The point is to at least make the data available. Currently a deleted post is lost forever unless you were lucky enought to save a link somewhere. It wouldn't be hard to implement software that searched the list it it were maintained in some standard format. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 30 '15 at 0:05
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque It would be wiser in my opinion to push forward the extended privileges of 10k+ users regarding searching for deleted questions. Somewhat related: meta.math.stackexchange.com/questions/19517/…. $\endgroup$ – AlexR Mar 30 '15 at 0:07
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    $\begingroup$ This just sounds like something designed to discourage deletion: large overhead, ability for other to criticize directly the one who cast the delete vote every single time... People only care about their own answers anyway, and they already have tools to help them find those deleted answers. The size of that data set would make it difficult to use too -- over the past six months, I alone have cast about 1500 delete votes, for example. Finally, as others noted, that policy is unenforceable, if supposedly finding deleted questions is so difficult (and if it isn't, the policy is useless). $\endgroup$ – Najib Idrissi Mar 30 '15 at 7:51
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with @Najib. This feels like a bureaucratic attempt to hinder deletions, in an attempt to force users to take the side of "let's hoard all the questions and answers". Whether or not we should be more moderate about deletions is irrelevant. This proposal as it stands, is a flat out bureaucratic brutality, and I don't want to live in this sort of world. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Mod Mar 30 '15 at 8:00
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    $\begingroup$ @Najib Just as I surmised. Those who are responsible for the massive destruction don't want others to be able to see this destruction. This thread will serve to document that when the destruction eventually kills the site. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 30 '15 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ I fail to see the relevance of "This thread will serve to document that when the destruction eventually kills the site." I think the proposal should be optimized for improving the site right now or in the near future, as opposed to being focused on who is to have the historical blame in the hypothetical event "when the destruction eventually kills the site." $\endgroup$ – quid Mod Mar 30 '15 at 15:17
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    $\begingroup$ On a related note, it is worth pointing out the this declined feature request for the ability to see one's deleted answers has a few hundred upvotes, and the ridiculous answer by SE founder Jeff Atwood has a couple hundred downvotes. Yet another example of extremely poor platform design. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Apr 7 '15 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque I fail to see the relevance of your last comment to a discussion on your specfic proposal at hand. The (relevant) point that SE declined related feature-requests is in OP, yet evaluations of particular such decisions seem off-topic. $\endgroup$ – quid Mod Apr 7 '15 at 14:27

While it is frustrating not to be able to search for Deleted posts, I don't support obligating the Community to compensate for this.

In my experience many deletions of Questions are done by the Original Poster, sometimes after a good answer is received but before any up-vote occurs. Often the deletion is combined with self-defacement of the Question. If these events occur quickly, the system may not retain enough state to rollback the defacement.

I suspect that Bill will tell us my remarks are not at all relevant to the point he wants to discuss, but that's the risk incurred by calling for discussion.

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    $\begingroup$ The proposal has nothing to do with self-deleted questions. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 30 '15 at 2:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: "We could require that deletion votes can be cast only if an entry has been made into the meta thread linking to the deletion candidate." This sounds like it has to do with all deletions; which exactly is it supposed to be about? You mention "older questions"; is it only about those? What is "older" exactly? $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Mar 30 '15 at 2:51
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonas As I said, the question concerns only the types of deletions mentioned in the question. Self deletions rarely if ever pose the same problems. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 30 '15 at 2:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: I do not see what types are mentioned in the question other than "deletions of older questions." But you do refer to the tools menu which only shows non-self-deletions. Should we infer that you mean all non-self-deletions? You say "only the types ... mentioned in the question" but we did not all find clear what all types you mean. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Mar 30 '15 at 3:03
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonas Please read the first paragraph of the question. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 30 '15 at 3:05
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: "Recently there have been a very large number of deletions of older questions (and answers) - apparently by users who believe that the questions do not meet their (current) view of question standards. Occasionally, this has caused some very helpful answers to be deleted." There it is again, with only "deletions of older questions" mentioned. So why can you not answer my questions, "is it only about those? What is "older" exactly?"? There are also "newer" questions with answers deleted. Are you not concerned about those? I would be surprised. $\endgroup$ – Jonas Meyer Mar 30 '15 at 3:07
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    $\begingroup$ @Jonas Again, self-deletions are not considered here, only deletions by 10K users. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Mar 30 '15 at 3:09
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    $\begingroup$ This answer is actually off topic. $\endgroup$ – Pedro Mar 30 '15 at 6:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Pedro at least the first part seems perfectly on-topic (voicing an opinion on the proposal). Then, OP adds some additional remarks. Abstractly, even for an answer on main this might pass the test of "is an answer". $\endgroup$ – quid Mod Mar 30 '15 at 13:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Pedro Off topic answers are allowed on meta.MSE. $\endgroup$ – user103816 Mar 30 '15 at 14:57
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    $\begingroup$ @user103816 Which is one (of many reasons) why, nowadays, it is usually impossible to have any rational discussion on meta. There are mant users who will stop at no end to stifle discussion on topics that they do not like. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Apr 8 '15 at 22:40

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