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Sometimes, poorly formulated questions contain enough information to answer them and, more importantly, for the community to find them interesting enough. Then I found that there is a race between upvoting and downvoting the question. In addition, people vote to close the question, usually as low quality.

Based on a previous meta question, I am wondering what the policy on deleting such posts is. For example, this recently deleted question had 6 up votes and 5 down votes. There were 4 answers, total 7 up votes and no down votes. That means that a significant number of people found the thread interesting. Yet the post was deleted. This is puzzling for me. Does that mean that the people who vote to delete these questions don't see any value in them? Or just that they are "delete vote" happy?

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  • $\begingroup$ I think the OP gave enough information. Plus, the OP showed effort by answering the question. I have voted to undelete the question, and reopen it. $\endgroup$ – Batominovski Jul 25 at 18:46
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    $\begingroup$ @Batominovski Thanks. But I would like to see a discussion on this from a point of view of policy, not for only one question in particular. $\endgroup$ – Andrei Jul 25 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ If your question is about a general deletion policy, this might be a duplicate. (Or are you asking about deletion of polarizing posts)? $\endgroup$ – Arctic Char Jul 25 at 19:10
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    $\begingroup$ @ArcticChar The second. Deleting low quality post or rude/offensive is no brainer. I am talking about post that some people find interesting and some people don't. $\endgroup$ – Andrei Jul 25 at 19:11
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    $\begingroup$ Note that if someone people downvoted the post, then very likely they also find it of low quality and it is a no-brainer for them to vote to delete it. $\endgroup$ – Arctic Char Jul 25 at 19:16
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    $\begingroup$ If the aim is to discuss policy, how are you defining significant? Clearly a post with significant positive attention should be harder to delete (and I believe that this is the case; increased number of upvotes mean something requires increased close-voters to close). But in your example you've mentioned a total of 14 upvotes over 1 questions and 4 answers which makes it look like you think fewer than 3 votes on average is signfiicant. $\endgroup$ – postmortes Jul 25 at 19:22
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    $\begingroup$ I noticed, also, @Andrei, that you answered the math question you cited that had been deleted. So your post seems a little bit self-interested. If you had cited a post in which you had no invested interest, your point might have had more impact. But as is, I think this is you posting because you are upset about losing 30-some points do the the one question's deletion. $\endgroup$ – amWhy Jul 25 at 22:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Batominovski: Thank you for that edit; I (and probably some of the delete-voters) was not aware that the asker answered the question (it was right at the bottom). However, I disagree that the closure and deletion were incorrect, because you can see from the timelines that the asker posted the PSQ without the answer, and that answer came much later. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Jul 26 at 4:23
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    $\begingroup$ The on hold/close/delete criteria have been discussed here many times. If you searched meta mush like the askers in main should search before posting, you might have found one of 1,2,3,4. Or some other thread where this was discussed. It's not like the rules would only be posted in our Alpha Centauri office. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 26 at 4:26
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    $\begingroup$ If you only wanted to collect more opinions about this particular question, this thread was designed to serve that end. $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 26 at 4:28
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks @JyrkiLahtonen. Following your links, I think math.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/21800/… is closer to my question. But none of them really address what are the criteria for deleting if there are more than a few upvotes (and more than downvotes) $\endgroup$ – Andrei Jul 26 at 5:08
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy Indeed my question is based on the question that I've answered, and I see why it would seem like self serving. But I don't care about the 30 points, I care about the good answer. The 30 points just draw my attention to it. For example, the answer for which I receive the most votes was also to a question that was deleted (math.stackexchange.com/questions/2835349), but I agree with that decision. And I just realized that you were also involved in deleting that :) $\endgroup$ – Andrei Jul 26 at 5:18
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    $\begingroup$ Most of you are part of the community for long and I am just over a month old here. So it may be a different perspective and may be with time, my perspective will change. Many a times there are good questions but without showing attempt by the OP and they eventually get deleted. With that goes away a good question, good answers and recognition for the effort of the answerer, $\endgroup$ – Math Lover Jul 26 at 6:28
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    $\begingroup$ Note that the bulk of PSQs on this site are from homework. If you're interested in my view on that you can read here and in the ensuing comments. This is not just my opinion; if you check the many meta posts about PSQs you will find a lot of people who also think we cannot just treat Math SE as an isolated website but as part of the larger mathematical community. $\endgroup$ – user21820 Jul 26 at 7:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Batominovski actually it isn't really "the colored area is unique under a unique condition on the rectangle" in principle allows two readings. I agree one can figure it out, but why make it difficult. In my mind, the main point is really that the post is harder to read and understand than necessary. That should be fixed. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 26 at 11:48
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You say that:

Sometimes poorly formulated questions contain enough information to both answer them, but more important to find them interesting enough for the community. [...] [P]eople vote to close the question, usually as low quality.

This is how the system is intended to work. If there is a "poorly formulated question" it should be closed. Then, it can be improved and reopened.

Why would you want to keep "poorly formulated questions" on the site just because they arguably are somewhat interesting when we already have more questions on the site than anyone will ever read?

Why keep "poorly formulated" ones? Why not just keep those where we all agree they are good? It would still be more than enough for everyone. I do not understand this minimalist approach.

Why fight for something that by your own evaluation is "poorly formulated"? Why not strive for having the best possible content on the site?

On a case by case basis, we can decide to do this by improving or by removing.

If there is something worth to salvage, then by all means go for the first option, but please do something to increase the quality of the site. Just keeping "poorly formulated questions" on the site out of inertia is not the way to move the site forward.

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  • $\begingroup$ It seems that OP is more interested about deciding when a question is beyond improvement and should be deleted rather than the purpose of closing questions. $\endgroup$ – N. Bar Jul 25 at 21:49
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    $\begingroup$ @N.Bar it is not clear to me whether you read the post until the end. Anyway, to recap, a question that is "poorly formulated" should be either improved or removed. There is no permanent place on the site for "poorly formulated questions." $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 25 at 21:55
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    $\begingroup$ If you want a more explicit version: the policy is that "poorly formulated questions" that do not get improved are up for deletion. There might be rare exceptions to this, but overall and for things of the type linked to as example that is the policy: They can and rather should be deleted. If no one shows up to do it, well, then that's that. If somebody thinks that something should not be deleted, it is up to them to improve it so that it is not "poorly formulated" anymore. [Of course this leaves open what "poorly formulated" means but that's orthogonal.] $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 25 at 22:03
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for outlining that specific policy for me. Yes, I did read your entire post. Obviously I'm just trying to interpret his question (so maybe @Andrei can clarify what he was asking), but it seems like he's concerned about how long one should wait to see improvement on a post before deleting "Does that mean that the people who vote to delete these questions don't see any value in them? Or just that they are 'delete vote' happy?" $\endgroup$ – N. Bar Jul 25 at 22:17
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    $\begingroup$ @N.Bar I think I answered that. It is not at all clear that we should keep every post that has some value (in isolation). We should keep good posts and for the rest it is improve or remove. Since OP agrees the post is not good, the question becomes rather why the users did not improve rather than delete. But then OP did not improve it either. $\endgroup$ – quid Jul 25 at 22:26
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    $\begingroup$ @quid. Thanks for the reply and the comments. The reason I did not improve this particular post it was that it was clear enough for me, so I was focused on answering it instead. After I've seen the votes to close, I realized that maybe some people might find it more difficult to comprehend what was required. I agree that in this case people might want to vote it down, same way that I thought that it was interesting (and clear enough for me), so I've voted up. My complaint is that deleting some of these posts is too harsh action based on subjective rather than objective criteria. $\endgroup$ – Andrei Jul 26 at 4:18
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    $\begingroup$ An excellent summary @quid. I confess to being nerd sniped on a semi-regular basis. I certainly have room for improvement here. The pals in CURED are more objective on those occasions :-) $\endgroup$ – Jyrki Lahtonen Jul 26 at 5:42

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