4
$\begingroup$

Update (May 6, 2011): This policy received 8 upvotes and 4 down votes and is now in effect.

This is a policy question. The proposed policy in the question (or answers) will be adopted in the case that after 7 days it receives at least 5 up votes with a 2/3 majority in favor. Please upvote or downvote this question based on your opinion of the policy statement as presented (not based on whether the premise of the question is reasonable).

Some clearly off-topic questions are getting answer before we can close them. When I comment and request the users to remove the answers some of them do not remove their answers and don't reply to my comments (e.g. see this one). (Also SE has not replied to my email yet regarding adding migration to Math.SE to list of off-topic migration). So I propose the following policy (at least until we find a better solutions):

Policy Proposal (April 28, 2011): Questions which are clearly off-topic should not be answered. When such a question is answered before being closed, the answers will be removed (we will post a comment linking to this policy to the question to explain the removal of the answers).

$\endgroup$
25
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ What does “clearly off-topic” exactly mean? Does it refer to some subset of the questions that are closed as off topic? $\endgroup$ Apr 28 '11 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Tsuyoshi, it means questions that are clearly not research level and there is almost no possibility of disagreement on the closure (which moderators close unilaterally), e.g. like an exercise in an undergraduate textbook or undergraduate course homework. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Apr 28 '11 at 18:34
  • $\begingroup$ ps: This hasn't happened AFAIR so far, but if such a question gets reopened we can undelete the answers. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Apr 28 '11 at 18:34
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ (1) I think that it is hard to justify applying different rules depending on whether a question is “clearly off-topic” or “non-clearly off-topic.” (2) I do not see the point of deleting answers and leaving the question. Isn’t it easier to just delete the page? It seems that on Stack Overflow, off-topic questions are often closed and deleted by the community. We do not have enough high-rep users to do the same, but it is not wise to introduce a different convention because of that. $\endgroup$ Apr 28 '11 at 20:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Tsuyoshi, I think we are already applying different rules (moderators close such questions unilaterally). IIRC, part of the reason for closing clearly off-topic questions unilaterally was that during certain periods like end of a semester we start to receive considerable number of exercise/homework questions from undergraduate students and the usual process for closing them takes time and they get answered and that may encourages similar questions. With the same rational unilateral removal of their answers is reasonable. This argument doesn't apply to other off-topic questions obviously. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Apr 28 '11 at 20:49
  • $\begingroup$ Regular users of the site know that we don't answer these questions, but new or unregistered users are not familiar with it and post answers before we close the questions which defeats the objective of quickly closing them before they get answered. If it would seem better we can restrict the policy to answers posted by new or unregistered users. Remember that the answers are there and will be visible to high rep users (the only +10k user is Suresh right now but this will change in future, hopefully in near feature). $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Apr 28 '11 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ Tsuyoshi, as regards using a different convention to SO because of not enough hi-rep users, we've done that before, with close votes and so on. I think this is perfectly fine as a stop gap measure till we have a critical mass of users who can delete. Note that in regard to closing questions, we now have enough, and I often see a question closed before I've even read it (so the system works) $\endgroup$ Apr 28 '11 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ Btw, I am not sure about 10k being the required reputation for seeing deleted answers and casting delete/undelete votes. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Apr 28 '11 at 21:38
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: “I think we are already applying different rules (moderators close such questions unilaterally).” That is a good point. As an interim solution, this may be actually good. In the long term, I think that clearly off-topic questions should be deleted by the community (that is, 10k-rep users in this case). $\endgroup$ Apr 28 '11 at 22:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Tsuyoshi, I agree, in the long term those off-topic questions should get deleted by the community. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Apr 28 '11 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ maybe we can note that the policy is intended as interim $\endgroup$ Apr 29 '11 at 1:21
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Suresh, I think I have already said that in the post, at least kind of: "at least until we find a better solution" $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Apr 29 '11 at 5:30
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: I down voted because I think it is crazy to delete legitimate answers while leaving the question (even if closed). I think you should either leave the answers or delete the entire question. $\endgroup$ Apr 29 '11 at 18:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Kaveh and @Suresh: The OP has asked a question that is off topic for the site and this is behaviour we wish to discourage. The situation for the answer is far less clear, however. They have put time and effort into composing an answer, which from my point of view is definitely something we wish to encourage, even though it has been for an off-topic question, and hence has an undesirable side effect of perhaps encouraging more off-topic questions. $\endgroup$ Apr 30 '11 at 0:48
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ For me the concern of attracting and retaining people prepared to put effort into answering questions on this site trumps the hassle of the occassional off-topic question. It is not at all clear to me how many off-topic questions are the result of having seen a previous off-topic question answered, so while I accept that there is a rather high number of off-topic questions, I think it is premature to draw a significant link to off-topic questions being answered. $\endgroup$ Apr 30 '11 at 0:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .