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We have a number of questions that float up to the top of the queue every month or so. This is the latest one: Help needed on method to use for anomaly detection.

But some are zombie questions (like the one linked): which means that

  • the question had some issues, and comments were given on how to refine it
  • the question was left open so as to allow time for the OP to fix the question.
  • the original questioner disappeared or neglected to bother engaging with the commenters
  • the question floated down due to inactivity, and then popped back up thanks to Community.

I'd like to propose that we close these questions. I'm NOT proposing that we kill all community-reset questions, but only ones that have the above characteristics. Since closing is reversible, I'm proposing that we treat such questions as if they were just posted and the OP ignored the suggestions, which would normally lead to close votes.

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  • $\begingroup$ ...and then popped back up thanks to Community. :) $\endgroup$ – M.S. Dousti Feb 12 '11 at 15:03
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I basically agree. I think that after a question survived to allow time for the asker and was forgotten, it is reasonable to reconsider it when it is bumped for whatever reason.

For the particular question, now we have one less reason to keep it alive because the asker was given plenty of time to improve it if he/she wanted to. I understand if it is closed, although I am torn because I like Sadeq’s careful answer (because in my opinion, closing the question suggests that no one should have posted an answer).

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    $\begingroup$ True. We've talked about this earlier as well though I think: that if the answer was better than the question, the best course of action is for a new question to be posted. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Feb 11 '11 at 7:29
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Consider the broken windows factor.

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/files/Atlantic%20Monthly%20-%20Broken%20Windows.htm

Is seeing this question on the site ultimately helpful or harmful for future visitors?

Don't be shy about deleting content that does not make your site, or the internet in general, a better place.

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  • $\begingroup$ Read verbatim, this borders on encouragement of censorship. I know you do not mean that, but since "helpful", "harmful" and "better" are clearly subject to personal preference, you have to be very careful about implementing deletion rules. And yes, I know that the term "censorship" does not legally apply to private providers, but still. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Feb 11 '11 at 10:15
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Isn't it true that questions get resurrected only when there are no answers with score more than zero? Given that Sadeq's answer has now been upvoted three times, I don't think there was any need to close this particular question, although I don't think it did any harm. For zombie questions with no reasonable answers, I totally agree that they should be closed.

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  • $\begingroup$ ok. Maybe I should have been more patient in this case. I've never understood the algorithm for when Community pops up, so thanks for clarifying that. $\endgroup$ – Suresh Venkat Feb 11 '11 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ Community is supposed to randomly pop up unanswered questions (at last, that's what it says under the user "Community.") And from inspection of the unanswered questions list, it appears that as soon as any question has an answer with net score 1, it drops off this list (I thought it was net score 2, but it appears I was wrong). $\endgroup$ – Peter Shor Feb 11 '11 at 21:33

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