As many of you are aware, there are people active on Maths.SE that close and delete posts. The CRUDE chat is probably the best known concentration point of them.

As part of the activities, also old(er) posts are being closed. It has come to my attention before that these are mostly closed using "no context" as a reason, and as of late I have noticed it again.

I consider this to be confusing, not only for the posts at hand (OP is long gone and/or the question has been answered, and the aim is not for "context" to be added -- although this is certainly still possible), but also for understanding the intended scope of the "no context" close reason (in relation to the previous parenthetical remark: "why do people use this close reason when there is obviously no context to be added?").

Should there be a specific close reason for (old) posts that don't add value?

I'm specifically asking about old posts because it is most clear there that there is not really activity to be expected, so we might assess the question and its answers on their long-term added value to the site.

Particularly, (poor) questions whose (one or more) answers don't have positive score will count as unanswered, and will never be curated by any automatic pruning. Consider e.g. the following queries:

The former count as "unanswered" to the system. The latter are of questionable long-term value due to their score. These two queries comprise thousands of questions; others undoubtedly can find similar queries yielding bigger numbers.

Let me stress that these questions in some cases can also be improved and any stellar answer that might be written to them might thus be salvaged. But for the 99% other posts, closure and deletion might be considered a good riddance, and if one makes this call, one ought to own up to the intention and label these posts as such, and not by using "no context" as a proxy.

PS. This question is NOT about:

  • whether closure and deletion is a good idea at all;
  • the specific wording of such a close reason (this would be a subsequent post).

PPS: I am aware that there are many more posts elaborating on related topics (e.g. this). Please link to any that are particularly relevant.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Note that upvoting/downvoting are the essential mechanism (on the main site) to ascribe "value" to posts, in particular to "old" Questions. Heavily downvoted inactive unanswered Questions are removed automatically by the system "roomba". $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Dec 6, 2018 at 14:22
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @hardmath In principle you are right, however the criteria for "unanswered" in search and in deletion are not identical. Particularly "unanswered" questions with answers are not automatically removed. See this meta.SE post. My example query covers the "gap" between these two definitions. $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Dec 6, 2018 at 16:46
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ My biggest concern about the systematic exercise of late closure and deletion is that the asker doesn't get pinged upon closure or deletion. This compounds the situation when there are really useful comments that answer the question, but if the OP returns some time later to digest the comments, perhaps when time permits an in-depth study, the question is nowhere to be found and not only the askers work in asking but the commenter's time, generously given, are both wasted. It can take hours to pose a question, decades to acquire the capacity to leave an insightful comment, but seconds to delete $\endgroup$ Dec 6, 2018 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ I think I'd like to, before voting on this proposal, Lord_Farin, is better understand how you define "posts that turned out not to add value". Because there lies the rub, so to speak. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Dec 7, 2018 at 20:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Unanswered, or answered with no upvoted answer, doesn't necessarily designate a question as being a poor question. It sounds as though your closure reason, as proposed, would require (1) the evaluation of an old question from the vantage point of MSE 2018 as poor + (2) dismissal of any attempts to answer that aren't positive in score, or, (3) interpreting an unanswered question someone in 2018 judges to be poor as worthy of this closure reason. I'd like for this closure reason, if it is to be enacted, to be better defined. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Dec 7, 2018 at 20:53
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    $\begingroup$ We need to, I believe, honor the site that once was, and grew to become the site it is now, which are two incomparable states. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Dec 7, 2018 at 20:55
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy Thanks for your remark. I think you are right that the post at present is written too universal in certain directions. The aim was not to be uniformly deletionist but to give a proper reason once a decision was made. I'll edit later to make the post reflect this. $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Dec 7, 2018 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ @amWhy Given the views and voting response so far, it turns out that people are not feeling they're hugely missing out on this at present. I'll therefore leave the proposal alone, maybe I'll come up with a different take at it at some other point. In such a case, I'll take your remarks here into account. Thanks again. $\endgroup$
    – Lord_Farin
    Dec 11, 2018 at 19:18


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