# Is deleting a question while it is still on hold too quick?

This is a follow-up (not a duplicate) to an old question on Meta:

I have noticed recently that there are lots of on-hold questions being deleted. Here is an incomplete list:

Such deletion could be rather quick if it were coordinated by folks in the CRUDE room. IMHO, deleting an on-hold question makes the notice such as "Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking." rather useless.

Question: Is deleting a question while it is still on hold too quick?

• A couple of those questions were on hold for less than 24 hours before they were deleted. That's certainly too quick. – Gerry Myerson Feb 21 '18 at 1:56
• As a side remark, the first three questions had been previously deleted by the same trio of users. None of them cared to post even a comment here. But two of the questions have been reopened since, and just as promptly they now each have $1$ delete vote again, and all posted answers have been downvoted in block. I call that bullyish behavior and poor communication on someone's part. – dxiv Feb 21 '18 at 4:06
• @dxiv Requiring that every downvote and/or every vote to close should be accompanied by a comment is a sure way to make ineffective the whole mechanism, simply because of the mass of junk that (at least some users think) should be eliminated. Simply put, the site was not meant to function like this and it would quickly succomb to the weight of dead wood if this request was implemented. Note that this exact suggestion has been made and discussed (and refused) several times before. – Did Feb 21 '18 at 8:24
• @dxiv As a concrete case, take the first question the OP is linking to above (2657605). Personally, I am grateful to the 8 different users (five to vote to close, three to delete) who took on their time to study the question, decided it was not following the modus operandi of the site (a rather clearcut case) and acted as is explicitely recommended in such circumstances. Declaring that simply following "the law" is bullying, seriously? – Did Feb 21 '18 at 8:30
• @dxiv closing and deleting terrible questions is a service to the community and people have absolutely no obligation to explain. – user223391 Feb 21 '18 at 13:36
• Not quick enough, @Jack, when you've been proven to intervene and change questions to something entirely different, to organize reopen campaigns, upvote posts out of pity, for some ill-conceived notion of justice? Can I ask you if you might be too trigger happy to manipulate asker's closed posts, to create different questions than were asked, edit and edit and edit and prevent anyone trying to help the asker retain the question they in fact asked? – Namaste Feb 21 '18 at 16:20
• @amWhy: your comment is off-topic and rather rude. And it seems to me that you don't want to give a reason at all why you think it is not quick but simply want to demean me, personally. What is your point? – Jack Feb 21 '18 at 16:23
• @amWhy: It seems to me that you constantly want to put off-topic comments by demeaning and distorting me and not want to answer my question in a reasonable way, I will not reply to you. If you do have a good reason for quickly deleting on-hold questions, PLEASE write your own answer and I'm listening. If you simply want to question my motive of posting this question, and think if there is any conspiracy against you, I suggest you stop. – Jack Feb 21 '18 at 16:32
• Would you please either bring your long comments to a chat room or write your own answer? You seem to have a good reason to believe that on-hold questions should be deleted quickly. Do you want to talk to everybody or just me? – Jack Feb 21 '18 at 17:00
• @Did IMHO downvoting both the question and all posted answers in block as to bring the score low enough to take advantage of the exemption is not what the law had in mind. Coordinating all those downvotes between just a few "trusted users" in CRUDE makes it even shadier. Lastly, re-voting to delete immediately after the question had been just reopened as having been deleted too soon the first time around is, yes, bullyish in my books. – dxiv Feb 22 '18 at 1:45
• @ZacharySelk closing and deleting terrible questions is a service to the community What fraction of the community even had a chance to weigh in, if the question was deleted within hours? A few users rushing the decision, and claiming to do it in the name of the entire community - that's precisely the point of contention here. – dxiv Feb 22 '18 at 1:46
• @ZacharySelk People are free to undelete Only those with 10K+ rep, which is less than $\,0.2 \%\,$ of the MSE total at last count. Hardly the entire community that my comment was referring to. – dxiv Feb 22 '18 at 3:32
• If the asker is really serious about the question, (s)he will respond to the feedback given via downvote/close vote and final deletion. It may well be the case that the asker is not addicted to MSE and the question gets deleted before (s)he has any chance to improve the question. No worry, just ask another question with improved version. Apart from the well intentioned people arguing here, the asker has the primary responsibility to fight for his cause. – Paramanand Singh Feb 22 '18 at 3:34
• @user21820 Only those with 10k rep can vote to delete Yes, but the other $99.8\%$ "lowly" users should still have the chance to at least see the question before it's forever hidden from them. As much as some of the previous comments tend to obfuscate the point of the original question, that's not about why deleting, but rather why rush to delete. If the reasoning is "let's get it over with, before too many have a chance to weigh in on it and perhaps even upvote, which would then make deleting more difficult for us" then, sorry, that's gaming the system IMHO. – dxiv Feb 22 '18 at 4:46
• It's nice to drop by meta every once in a while and read discussions that remind me why I participate less and less frequently here. :( $\$ – tilper Feb 22 '18 at 20:18

There's a lot to process here, from the question (and the examples therein), the comments and the answers. I'll try to divide this answer in order to organize my thoughts.

First and foremost:

1. Is deleting a question while it is still on hold too quick?

This general question does not have a clear answer, mainly because people have different priorities. Risking being too reductionist, I think there are people that prioritize cleanness of the site, and there are people who prioritize a welcoming environment to the site. Both are valid points of view which should not conflict, but usually do for obvious reasons.

Talking about my point of view, I frequently oscillate between two thoughts:

1: Most things are non-salvageable, and thus it is a waste of time to try and attempt to heal everything.

2: I do not want to exclude people from a group simply because of lack of acquaintance with said group.

To be clear, this is in reality a false dichotomy. But in terms of large-scale behaviour, it is a good approximation, in the sense that if you want to significantly erase bad content you must allow yourself not to enter too personally in them (as reference, see discussions about downvote explanations: one of the arguments is that necessary comments would create a barrier for downvoting). But an answer must be given, so I will get to the second point.

1. The examples.

Personally, I think some of the examples were harshly treated. So, with respect to those examples: yes, I think the deletion was rather quick. I know that MSE's informal policies change with time, but my very first question would probably be on that list if it was made today (I think it is quite similar to this and this examples, and many others). If I could recall my train of thought in the time, my conception of mathematics was of a frigid and formal discipline. If my question was well-stated, clear and succint (and dry), it would be good. MSE helped me in part in understanding how context and communication is important to mathematics. Specifically, that single and simple $4$-word question from Did in the comments may have resulted in huge consequences. If he said something like: "We are not here to do your homework" like I've already seen people saying, I would probably refrain from asking anymore (curiously, it was not a homework). If my question was hastly put on hold and deleted, it would have probably been worse. This may happen more often than not, and this worries me a bit.

1. In general.

Being honest, there is a lot of garbage in this site. It is good that we have people who are willing to basically work for free for the maintenance of this site's well-being. In general, I personally think that there should not exist a time gap for deletion, and it is good to be this way.

But I think that it is worth mentioning that if you spend too much time on a job, your patience will eventually suffer from that. Seeing repetitive patterns will inevitably make you conflate things. It is natural instinct. For instance, you may see any question which does not provide what the person has tried as worthy of deletion. You will look at a question without LaTeX with disregard. It is good to bring this kind of discussion up so we can refresh our decision making. As is clear in the examples, there are a number of people who are quite engaged in the process of deletion/closure etc. I am grateful for their work, a work that I only occasionally do. My only concern is that if I, who do not partake in deletions so oftenly, have fallen for those "sins" of bias, I think it is not unreasonable to say that this may happen to those that do this recursively. The thing that I ask of them is only to listen with open ears the concerns of people who are not that engaged with deletion, and to consider things like those that I said in the previous "point".

I think it is also worth saying that I personally think that the deletions/closure etc as done today are good in general. This whole discussion is about improving them even further. We have a good site, with good community and with a good purpose. This leads me to my last point.

1. An important observation.

This is a little off-topic with respect to the question, but pertinent due to the comments etc.

I feel there is a lot of hostility sometimes in meta. I understand that for some of us, this website is a very significant part of their life and thus we hold it to heart, leading us to feel threatened or even attacked when our point of view regarding it is challenged somehow. However, I think that it is important to notice that:

If someone comes to meta to discuss, they want the same thing as you: to improve the site. They are not your enemy, they are your ally.

Different points of view should not change that.

• Very well written answer. I hope everyone agrees to your important observation at the end. – Paramanand Singh Feb 23 '18 at 3:52
• Excellent answer. – user 170039 Feb 23 '18 at 4:26
• Agreed with point 3 about doing too much, I need a break sometimes x.x – Simply Beautiful Art Feb 23 '18 at 13:36
• Very good points, IMO. – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 1 '18 at 12:02
• You managed to get a downvote on this excellent answer! Hard to believe that! – Paramanand Singh Mar 13 '18 at 9:23
• I guess this message: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/48040643#48040643 might apply to you too. Please let me know if you're interested in becoming an admin of the room. – samerivertwice Dec 13 '18 at 13:35

I agree that questions that are put on hold should not be deleted too quickly.

Users might come back and improve their questions. This is not often, but I've seen occasionally users putting a lot more efforts into the question after it's put on hold. It could be that they do not find it necessary at first to put more effort, since they found their ideas going nowhere.

On the other hand, I do not see what is gained by deleting those questions quickly, instead of waiting for sometimes.

Personally I will, in general, wait at least for two days before voting to delete. I do not expect users to visit MSE and to be responsive continuously. Even for myself: I do have my phone connected to MSE at all time, but I am able to do some serious editing/voting only when I am in front of a computer. So waiting at least one day before voting to delete seem reasonable to me.

There are exceptions: I will delete immediately Spam, on going contest questions, and when the questioners clearly are not improving the questions (e.g. they wrote "I've found my errors, thanks" or "this site is not friendly, I am NOT coming back again!" or they showed in the comment there is no way they are able to even understand they are asking)

• I appreciate you acknowledge there are circumstances in which you make exception of waiting two days to delete. That's important; and I'll add that when you list questions where the asker states in a comment "this site is not friendly, I am NOT coming back again!" or when askers "showed in the comment there is no way they are able to even understand [what] they are asking" (brackets mine), you find enough reason to delete post haste, on hold, or not. So I'm guessing you'd also acknowledge that, just as you see some (valid) exceptions as obvious... – Namaste Feb 21 '18 at 17:54
• ... the criteria admits of some subjectivity. E.g., It may be clear to you that an asker demonstrated they are not even able to understand what they asked, another user might object because that user believes the asker knows what is being asked, but having a hard time expressing it? There is no getting around that there (1) are indeed valid exceptions, meaning that in some cases, it is best not to wait on deleting a question, and (2) whatever criteria is bound to be subjectively interpreted. – Namaste Feb 21 '18 at 17:59
• Also, questions that are "closed" (put on hold) remain on hold for five days. So, you must recognize that being willing to cast a delete vote after two days, given no response from, or edit by, the asker, still amounts to casting a delete vote while a question is on hold. Apparently, at the very bottom of this Help Center question, questions are considered "on-hold" for five days, not two, and there is absolutely no difference between the status of "on-hold", and "closed". – Namaste Feb 21 '18 at 18:07
• I think, one week is more realistic deadline. One should take into account that not every user visits the site every day. To give additional message in comments what's going on would be also a good practice. During absence the posts should not be removed, maybe only after much longer time. It would also a good thing that the right to improve questions stay opened for anyone in the case of absence of the asker.. – Widawensen Feb 21 '18 at 18:09
• In any case, like you, I think waiting two days in most cases is waiting for a sufficiently long enough time before voting to delete a question. There's nothing magic, nor any difference in status, between "on-hold" and "closed". – Namaste Feb 21 '18 at 18:10
• There is no such right, @Widawensen, beyond a couple of days, perhaps. Are you saying that an answer that is wrong, and has been downvoted 25 times, should remain open, nonetheless, in case the answerer wants to come back in one year and edit it? There is no right hold out indefinitely, even forever, and to expect this site to take up space and distraction, just in case, down the road, a user might come back and edit their post. That is observe. You need to remember that asking, as well as answering on this site are privileges, not automatically guaranteed.... – Namaste Feb 21 '18 at 18:14
• Anyway, again, @Widawensen, I suggest you look into maintaining a blog, where you can insist on keeping every golden nugget, and every piece of popcorn, on your blog, as long as you want. That is your right. – Namaste Feb 21 '18 at 18:21
• Downvoted 25 times is perhaps extreme case I didn't see such one, but 3 times probably can be improved. Maybe they would be useful additional classifying markers for example of type "Caution: homework" but there is no such feature I suppose. To make the process transparent can remove misunderstandings which can arise form the lack of information.. – Widawensen Feb 21 '18 at 18:24
• If this is worth taking into account, I will just remind the fact that a post goes into reopen review queue if it is edited within 5 days of closure. (I suppose this is well-known to users who are active in closing/reopening business.) Five days is also the period after which on hold is changed to closed, as explained here: Two announcements: new “FAQ” and new “closure rules”. – Martin Sleziak Feb 21 '18 at 18:43
• If this is worth taking into account, "I will just remind the fact that a post goes into reopen review queue if it is edited within 5 days" (of being put on hold), after which the asker disappears and sees no point in fixing it (having already missed the deadline) and all this, despite some "wanna-be-do-gooder, on day five, steps in to "save" a, say, incoherent post by editing it themself, in order to at least ask something that might be coherent, even if it doesn't come close to representing the asked question, and for what end? In such a case, the question would best have been deleted. – Namaste Feb 21 '18 at 19:12
• @MartinSleziak That post was posted in 2013. Five years old, By definition, they are not new. The site has changed significantly since 2013, and likely for the worse. – Namaste Feb 21 '18 at 19:33
• Final point being, @John Ma, your own "policy" is contrary to the proposal of the OP here. Hooray! – Namaste Feb 21 '18 at 23:44
• @MartinSleziak I am aware of the different between on hold and closed questions,but it seems 5 days is an arbitrary set up. If there is any reason we should wait until longer, I am happy to know. – user99914 Feb 22 '18 at 2:45
• In any case, thanks for agreeing that waiting two days is sufficient, and that waiting five days is a bit of a stretch. So you are, in effect advocating that users need not wait five days before moving to delete a crappy post. For you, that may mean 2 days is good; for another, perhaps one day is sufficient. – Namaste Feb 22 '18 at 16:48
• @Widawensen "To make the process transparent can remove misunderstandings which can arise form the lack of information." We cannot force users to read, to learn, to listen to, nor follow already existent material readily available for askers and answerers alike. Don't put the responsibility each and every user has to to this site on the shoulder's of a handful of folks. If askers don't bother to get to know the site and its expectations, and answerers insist on answering crap, then they're not entitled to whine and and claim, "do-over!", and rant about some fictitious conspiracy!!, – Namaste Feb 22 '18 at 20:03

My feeling is that quick deletion, as organized by folks in the CRUDE chatroom is a bit too quick. As a teacher of mathematics, I too am irritated that some folks get away with cheating here and I have participated in my fair share of deletions. Ultimately, I have to ask, though - does quick deletion do more harm or good?

According to this Main Meta Page which is linked from this math.stackexchange help page:

for questions, a post that no longer adds anything to the site should be deleted. Basically, this includes most closed questions that cannot be improved and reopened.

Unless it's clearly an exact duplicate, I think it is rarely the case that a Problem Statement Questions (or PSQs, as some call them) cannot be improved.

Also, it's hardly the case that there is overwhelming community consensus on what to do with PSQs. While proposals nearly five years ago that PSQs be banned or at least discouraged received a lot of support, there was still a significant minority of folks who felt otherwise. Furthermore, those previous discussions don't really deal with deletion, but focus on down voting.

Furthermore, there should be dissent on this issue because PSQs have the advantage of being concise and mathematical. They are not chatty, open-ended, or subjective as the help center specifically advises users to avoid. Frankly, requests to an already confused user that they show work often makes the question more chatty and less clear.

One potential positive that arises from deletion is that it helps organize the site into a useful reference resource. While I do think this is a valid point, I also believe it's truth is greatly exaggerated. Frankly, vote count correlates rather poorly with post quality. I think it very unlikely that the quality of the enormous amount of information here will ever rival the quality of the well edited textbooks in a library.

Taking all this into account, my preference would be to see the pace of question deletion slowed.

• You entirely mischaracterize the CRUDE chatroom. Anyone, everyone is welcome there; there is no "organized" group to speak of. Please don't characterize users who come to chat as covertly trying to organize anything. You may claim your belief of the need to refrain from delete votes, despite your actual behavior to the contrary; I too am working on my own understanding of the best interest of the site. To suggest that some users who may disagree with you are therefore conspirators is over the top, and it's a straw-man argument. – Namaste Feb 22 '18 at 16:56
• Whenever you encounter a question that you think should not have been deleted, you have the privilege to vote to undelete it. If a post is closed, and you think it should be reopened, vote to reopen it. – Namaste Feb 22 '18 at 16:59
• That whining users fail to make use of their option to vote to undelete, or to reopen is not the users who voted to delete or close problem. If there was such an opposition to closing, deleting worth its weight, we'd see it en force, in more frequent undeletions and reopens. That's your problem, if you fail to participate. Don't blame some of the most active users on this site who aren't in it for the rep for your, and too many others', inaction. – Namaste Feb 22 '18 at 17:04
• @amWhy I fail to see how I've "whined" or mischaracterized the CRUDE chatroom. I'm well aware that it's been around for a long time and is public. I'm not at all under the impression that anyone there is acting covertly - nor did I say so. It's just simple observation that a small cohort of folks there frequent the chatroom and ping one another to draw attention to specific questions and to specific users. The effect is that the deletion process has recently been accelerated. In my opinion, as well as in the opinion of others, this has not been a good thing. My post simply articulates this. – Mark McClure Feb 22 '18 at 18:19
• And in my opinion, as well as in the opinion of many others, the posting of very poor questions and answers has accelerated, so in response, if you see an increase in deletions, perhaps consider that this is merely a consequence of the rapidly climbing number of poor questions, and very poor answers. Deletions go up or down based on the influx of very poor questions. Don't blame the messengers. – Namaste Feb 22 '18 at 18:29
• "My feeling is that quick deletion, as organized by folks in the CRUDE chatroom is a bit too quick." I'm sorry you feel that way, but you are in error in suggesting that there aren't any organized folks in the CRUDE chatroom. So your first statement is a misrepresentation of reality. – Namaste Feb 22 '18 at 19:45
• "I think it very unlikely that the quality of the enormous amount of information here will ever rival the quality of the well edited textbooks in a library." Well that's only to be guaranteed by the continued influx of do-it-for-me PSQ's and rep-"hunters" who don't give a damn about site quality and will take a virtually empty post, and pretend there's a question, when there isn't, or they make it up for the sole reason of being able to answer it!. So instead of condemning users who believe this site can be improved, if your not working to improve it, you're part of the problem. – Namaste Feb 22 '18 at 19:52
• "[...] rarely the case [...]cannot be improved" As said that misses the point in my opinion. For example the third question in OP certainly it could be improved. But what's the point. OP got an answer and that's that. Why waste time to bring it over the threshold of deletion. It won't be all that relevant regardless. – quid Feb 22 '18 at 22:13
• @quid Uhm... I think I agree. :) – Mark McClure Feb 22 '18 at 22:34
• Just a minor point about quality of content here. It's way more than what one gets from textbooks and classroom instructors. One reason is that most of those well edited books are not used as textbooks and another reason is that they are so few in number. Even famous books (like those yellow ones from Springer publisher) are genuinely dry/boring. – Paramanand Singh Feb 23 '18 at 3:41
• For the sake of showing two sides of the same coin, I don't vote blindly in the CRUDE chatroom and I suspect the others don't either. I'll agree it has been a tad too fast sometimes, but there are times where I think it's too slow. Just my two cents. – Simply Beautiful Art Feb 23 '18 at 13:33

While I largely agree with the quality standards of C.R.U.D.E. activists, and won't really shed tears for the listed threads, the speed of deletion makes me uncomfortable:

• For the purposes of discouraging low-quality questions (and the rep-farming answers) the act of putting the question on hold is sufficient. This step should be done as swiftly as possible, and the use of chatroom resources to collect links to doubtful material is a great tool in facilitating this.
• Deletion, on the other hand, is a different animal. True, it is clear that many questions cannot be salvaged, and are best disposed of. I am not discussing such threads. But, I fail to see the need to delete potentially salvageable questions speedily. What's the rush? Giving a bona fide opportunity to fix a bad question feels like a decent thing to do. Because a newbie asker may be shell-shocked, they may require time to absorb what just happened. And even more time to digest the pieces of advice. They may have gone to bed already, planning to return a day later. 3 hours is not gonna be enough for such a user.
• But, I agree with user21820 in the cases, where the asker is a 3-year veteran of the site. Such an asker is IMO more likely just testing waters, trying to locate yet another rep-farmer willing to do their homework.

• I recommend a minimum of 24-hour grace window for askers to improve the question.
• But, if there's a reopen/close war, I wouldn't restart that 24 hour clock. IMO it should start ticking from the first closure.
• All this disagreement was foreseeable. If only we had decided not to allow homework questions to begin with. Sigh. We have made, IMO, a very good attempt to be accomodating. Almost succeeded, but without a binding (i.e. something e.g. we diamond mods would agree to enforce) code/policy for homework questions, the problem persists. If I only could turn back the clock :-(
• I agree with almost everything you said - right up to the last point. Whether HW should be allowed is the disagreement. – Mark McClure Mar 1 '18 at 12:21
• Let me add that I do not approve of the practice of answering poor questions before the question has been improved. I want to emphasize the need for speed in the closing stage. The users indulging in answering such questions are IMO also responsible for this sorry state of affairs. – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 1 '18 at 12:56
• +1 for your answer and also for your last comment. I believe the contention over poor quality questions is not so much related to their deletion but rather due to the rep loss when the answers also get deleted. But I admit the desire to give answers sometimes is overwhelming and supersedes other considerations and I have fallen into this trap occasionally. One needs more self control here and perhaps the CRUDE room is just trying to help in this direction. – Paramanand Singh Mar 2 '18 at 13:09
• Very true @ParamanandSingh. Darn few saints here. Because: When I do it, I am adding valuable content to the site, but when they do it, they are farming for rep. The beam in your own eye and all that :-/ – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 2 '18 at 21:57
• Jyrki, you can turn back the clock. Just not the flow of time. You may take comfort in knowing that (1) from a physical point of view, there is no difference and you can play this backwards, although that will also result in an increased accommodation of PSQ homework questions; and (2) you can be sure that if you turn back the clock, it would happen all the same. You think that the people who pushed so hard to be "maximally accommodating" are going to let someone who claims to be from the future change their minds? – Asaf Karagila Mar 8 '18 at 8:29
• ROTFL @Asaf. Thanks. – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 8 '18 at 9:10
• I fell from grace myself just yesterday. Thankfully we have at least one user who cared enough to downvote my answer as a reminder. – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 8 '18 at 9:13
• @JyrkiLahtonen That is a reasonable downvote that you received. But this question is not about downvotes; it's about deletion - quick deletion, organized by a handful users who openly scold moderators and other users of all levels for simply answering questions. That is the behavior that I would hope that you as moderators could come to some agreement on. In the case of RobJohns recent request for undeletion, I don't think there should be any problem with the use of diamond powers. – Mark McClure Mar 8 '18 at 11:51
• @MarkMcClure You see, I'm in favor of scolding users who simply answer questions. From my point of view those users invited all the Calculus101 help vampires in, and ruined a fine math site while doing that. All so that they could gain a few ego points. I don't agree with rapid deletions, but in my opinion the bigger problem is that bad questions get answered so fast that the close voters have trouble keeping up with the pace. Personally I will happily give the C.R.U.D.E. gang some slack, if that is the only way to motivate them to continue putting bad questions on hold. – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 8 '18 at 13:02
• @JyrkiLahtonen The reality is that, while some questions are clearly non-sense or spam, there's no real consensus on good and bad - even in the small group of moderators. PSQs, in particular, clearly fit the non-chatty Q&A format originally espoused by StackExchange. Like them or not, it's easy to see how a reasonable person could conclude that PSQs are fine. In fact, PSQs are probably why the vast majority of users (like them or not) are here. – Mark McClure Mar 8 '18 at 13:40
• Another issue with the CRUDE gang that they freely throw around denigrating terms, like "help vampire" and "rep whore". Where did those huge reputations come from in the first place? At least two of them have served long suspensions and at least one of those suspensions was for voting irregularities. For some of them (not necessarily all), their current actions are not consistent with their past. – Mark McClure Mar 8 '18 at 13:41
• @MarkMcClure How do you expect these users should react to somebody taking a dump on their lawn, which is what dumping homework amounts to? How would you react to that? Of course plenty of people will like homework problems because it fertilizes their egos (or displaces crap). Personally, PSQ is not a red flag for me. But a PSQ homework problem is. Neither askers nor the answerers pay any attention to site hygiene. If I have any say on the matter, this site won't be turned into a calculus honor roll. True, many of us think the site was better when we had 30 questions per day :-) – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 8 '18 at 14:16
• But, I'm quite tolerant of PSQs asked by laymen. Outsourcing homework here is the cancer I will fight tooth and nail. – Jyrki Lahtonen Mar 8 '18 at 14:19
• @JyrkiLahtonen I guess I expect them to react better than that. :) – Mark McClure Mar 8 '18 at 14:20

For some threads it is pretty clear from the get-go that there is no real use keeping and trying to improve them.

Sure one can turn every thread into something interesting, but for some it just seems like a poor allocation of resources.

Sometimes deletion is just fine, and everybody (including the original poster) can move on to more interesting things.

(I did not check all the examples. The above is a general statement.)

Firstly, your question seems to be based on a false premise. Questions have to be first put on hold before they can be deleted. Secondly, questions that are on hold cannot be deleted quickly unless they have too negative score. I don't know the exact details of this, but this mechanism already prevents questions from being deleted unless the community downvotes them sufficiently. (This provides a barrier to deletion, and there is no corresponding barrier to undeletion.)

I consider it reasonable to wait if the asker is a new user. But take a look at your own examples:

The first question was a zero-context question posted by a user that has been a member for nearly 3 years with over 1000 rep, who has consistently posted equally poor quality questions; see the most recent five: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

The second question was also a zero-context question posted by a 3-year-old user, who certainly knows how to post good questions, so your implicit suggestion that the asker would not know the reason for deletion is moot in this case.

The third question was posted by a new user who did not put in any effort into the question despite the instructions that pop up right before every new user gets to post a question, telling them to use LaTeX and how to ask a good question. Observe that this user saw the close-banner and had plenty of time to improve the question, but did not, and the question was deleted 3 hours later.

Let me emphasize strongly that it is the responsibility of the asker to put effort into his/her own question. This site does not owe anyone anything; it is already giving free mathematical help to those who wish to learn. Someone here said (roughly) that a student ought to put in the same effort into a question that he/she would if the recipient was the teacher. If not, the student is just like treating Math SE as a dumping ground for questions that are too lousy to ask of the teacher. I think there have been many variants of this analogy, like here and here.

See here for the 'official' site policy on how to ask a good question, which I believe is prominently shown to every new user on the Ask-A-Question page itself.

And, by the way, there is no way to maintain site quality if we leave junk lying around all the time. Eventually someone has to do the dirty cleanup work.

• The third question – how much time did the user have, between the closure and the deletion, to improve the question? How do you know the user saw the close-banner? – Gerry Myerson Feb 21 '18 at 11:53
• @GerryMyerson: As I stated in my post, that user had 3 hours. He/she visited the site about 6 hours after the post was closed, did nothing for 3 hours, and then the post was deleted. Furthermore, I believe users get notified of deleted questions of theirs and can see them (including the banner even when it's deleted). In any case, you didn't admit that the first two cases are open-and-shut lousy questions that don't at all meet the 'official' site policy. Why don't you? – user21820 Feb 21 '18 at 12:06
• First, "Firstly, your question seems to be based on a false premise. Questions have to be first put on hold before they can be deleted" I don't think I have a premise in the post. (?) I'm posting what I have seen and asking for discussion. Second, this post is not about whether we should delete "PSQs" or not, but a discussion about whether deleting an on hold question before it is closed is too quick. – Jack Feb 21 '18 at 14:00
• I am curious, @user21820, how do you know the downvotes do not come from the delete voters? (On the other hand, users might not go to CRUDE, but they might read the transcript) – user99914 Feb 21 '18 at 16:19
• @JohnMa: I said "many ... do not come ..." Proof: There are often only 3 delete-voters, but a ton of downvotes. By the pigeonhole principle... Anyway, from my experience, many downvotes come from the close-voters, who are frequently different from the delete-voters. Just take a look at the last 4 questions in the list Jack gave in his question. I didn't even downvote any of them, so you can obtain a lower bound on the number of downvoters there must have been besides delete-voters... – user21820 Feb 21 '18 at 16:39
• Three hours is plenty of time, 21820? Not in my opinion. – Gerry Myerson Feb 21 '18 at 20:28
• @amW, you are setting up straw men. My comment was clearly in the context of the discussion of one specific question, and it was not a question of the type you are describing. It was the third question listed in the original post here. – Gerry Myerson Feb 22 '18 at 2:11
• @GerryMyerson: that question was a PSQ and for quite sometime PSQ's are being treated harshly (thanks to some dedicated people in CRUDE). And for most PSQs, askers never give any response and this is not because of lack of time, but rather laziness. – Paramanand Singh Feb 22 '18 at 4:03
• They see the close vote and do nothing for 3 hours: They could be working, transiting, studying or just sleeping in that 3 hours. I still don't understand, what is the utility of deleting the question quick? What is gained? @user21820 – user99914 Feb 22 '18 at 5:20
• Repeat yourself all you want to, 21820, whatever the case may be with the other two questions, if the third question was deleted too quickly, then the third question was deleted too quickly, and that's something the community should be concerned about. To look at the overall picture, you and I would have to look at not just three questions but at every question that has ever been deleted – probably thousands of them – and debate how many of them were closed too quickly, and I doubt either of us wants to do that. – Gerry Myerson Feb 22 '18 at 5:20
• @Para, you assert that "for most PSQs, askers never give any response" and furhter that "this is not because of lack of time, but rather laziness," but you provide not a skerrick of evidence for these assertions. And even if what you assert is true, there is a serious fallacy in applying what is true of "most" people in any group to "all" the people in that group. – Gerry Myerson Feb 22 '18 at 5:27
• When I wrote, "Repeat yourself all you want to, 21820," I didn't mean that as encouragement. – Gerry Myerson Feb 22 '18 at 5:29
• Well, you've got it the wrong way around, 21820. If a newcomer was so bummed out by a quick deletion that she never came back to the site, how would either of us know whether or not she was a sincere learner of mathematics? – Gerry Myerson Feb 23 '18 at 5:41
• I made no claim, 21820, and I put forward no viewpoint. All I did was ask the question, how do you know who is a sincere learner of mathematics? – Gerry Myerson Feb 23 '18 at 11:24
• 'You made one explicit claim ("Three hours is plenty of time, 21820? Not in my opinion.")' If you can't tell the difference between a claim and an expression of opinion, then I don't think we're going to get very far here. – Gerry Myerson Feb 23 '18 at 20:28