# How to prevent the loss of excellent answers to poor questions.

This question has rightly been closed for lack of context, which the OP has proved unwilling or unable to attempt to provide. At present, it has two votes for deletion, and I fear it isn't long for the world.

This seems a tragedy to me, not for the loss of the question, but for the loss of rschwieb's answer, which is one of the best I've seen on the site to date.

This sort of thing is certain to crop up again, as it has happened in the past. So, I wonder, what (if anything) can be done to preserve answers despite the questions?

• Edit the question to improve it? – mrf Oct 27 '15 at 12:51
• The delete votes may, at least partly, be a reaction to the OP's misguided zero is neither even nor odd campaign (and related yelling into wind). Ok, the question is also just bad. I don't know what is the best course of action here. Locking the question as a historical relic is a possibility. That will also disable all voting. How do users feel about the possibility? Letting nature take its course is also an alternative, but many may feel that the thread (in its entirey) is worth preserving. – Jyrki Lahtonen Oct 27 '15 at 12:57
• @Jyrki: I would certainly support locking it. The thread is certainly informative, even the misguided parts. – Cameron Buie Oct 27 '15 at 12:59
• +1 for bringing this up. Better to have the discussion now as opposed to after couple rounds of a delete/undelete bout have allowed users to dig themselves into a deep trench. – Jyrki Lahtonen Oct 27 '15 at 12:59
• @mrf: I considered that, but the OP has shown a penchant for vandalizing his own posts when he doesn't like them anymore, and I fear any such edit would only begin a war of the rollbacks. – Cameron Buie Oct 27 '15 at 13:01
• @CameronBuie The OP seems to want to leave, so after they left, the danger of vandalising an edited post is small. Since three more delete votes are needed, it's probably not going to be deleted soon, and if it is edited, it could be kept unlocked. (If somebody makes a really good edit, it could even be reopened, yay.) – Daniel Fischer Oct 27 '15 at 13:05
• A thing to consider: I have not discussed this with other moderators, but "locking for historical reasons" should, IMO, not become a standard solution to all contested threads. It would be counterproductive to litter the site with such relics (may be even abuse of that feature). There should be something exceptional about the questions given such a treatment. – Jyrki Lahtonen Oct 27 '15 at 13:05
• The situation is very particular here: OP vandalizes their own questions, preventing improvements; but OP is about to leave the site; there are three largely unrelated questions in one (and the third one barely makes sense), which is completely unacceptable; but the interesting part of rschwieb's answer is only about one of the three. Is your question a general one (as the title suggests) or about this particular case? In any case you could probably edit your question (either the title or the body, and the tags in both cases, it's not a feature request by any stretch of imagination...). – Najib Idrissi Oct 27 '15 at 13:29
• Then I'm pretty sure mrf's comment is the answer (and the counterargument you've offered doesn't apply in general, most users aren't as stubborn as OP here): if you don't want a question to be deleted for whatever reason (including "it has great answers", "I like it", "I answered it and want to keep the rep"), but the question is about to be deleted because it's not good enough, then edit it to improve it. Or even ask someone else how to improve it if you don't know how (I've seen that happen a few times in the RUCD chat room). – Najib Idrissi Oct 27 '15 at 13:35
• Here I think simply keeping the question "Is zero prime?" and adding a few lines like "A prime number is a number that cannot be divided, and you cannot divide zero items into more parts, but I've read that 2 is the smallest prime, what's happening here?", or "Zero is a very special number, I know the definition of prime but does it also apply in this special case?" or something to that effect would be enough to get the question reopened. Maybe also links to other questions were zero behaves bizarrely in arithmetic. – Najib Idrissi Oct 27 '15 at 13:39
• @Najib Idrissi: I don't support other people writing "I" in the question, because that gives to the wrong impression that the sentence was written by the OP, who is the "I" in that context. – Carl Mummert Oct 27 '15 at 14:04
• @Carl first-person narrative is a well-established style. – quid Oct 27 '15 at 14:08
• @Carl If need be the whole thing can be rewritten from an impersonal point of view: "Zero is a very special number. The definition of a prime number is [...]. However zero sometimes behaves differently from other numbers, does the definition still apply? Why?" To be honest it doesn't matter much to me, but I understand if some people prefer that way. – Najib Idrissi Oct 27 '15 at 14:21
• @Najib Idrissi: I think that is preferable to writing a question that (perhaps misleadingly) suggests the OP wrote something about themselves that they did not write. – Carl Mummert Oct 27 '15 at 14:23
• @CameronBuie Yes, whether the account of the OP has been deleted or not is completely irrelevant for that. Considering that the question has a couple of good answers, you wouldn't even need to make a brilliant edit to collect the necessary undeletion votes. Making it a sensible question would suffice. (I would recommend to remove the "odd or even" and "number" parts, the single "is $0$ prime" stands better alone.) – Daniel Fischer Oct 27 '15 at 21:54

The general consensus in the comments above seems to be that the best approach, in general, is to edit the original post to improve the question, if at all possible. This approach is available to any user with $2000$ reputation or more (which I see no particular reason to adjust).