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There seems to be a lack of consensus on when a question or answer should be deleted and this frequently leads to conflict on the site. We should discuss the issue clearly and reach a clear policy. We can then use it as a guideline for users who can vote to delete (moderators and high reputation users) and as a reference for users whose questions gets deleted.

If you think a category of questions or answers should be deleted post an answer explaining the rational.

Try to be specific about the categories so we don't run into disagreement over their interpretation.

Any post that doesn't fall under the general SE rules (i.e. they would be deleted on any SE site, e.g. advertising spam) or the ones agreed in this discussion should not be deleted.


Keep in mind that deleted answers and questions can still be edited. If your post is deleted and you think you can fix the problem then edit and flag for moderator attention. If you need feedback on how to fix your post you can ask for help politely on the meta or in the chat room.

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  • If you have ideas on how to improve one of the answers please comment under it. – Kaveh Aug 26 '14 at 0:52
  • Please up-vote those which you agree with and down-vote those you disagree with. – Kaveh Aug 26 '14 at 1:15
  • Great initiative! A lot of moderation practices in this site are in a bad need for consensual regularization. This was one of them! – infatuated Aug 26 '14 at 3:11
  • While I agree with and understand the need for a thread of this nature, I can't accept the tone; the hard-line mentality of "if it's not clear and agreed upon in this discussion, it shouldn't be deleted ever" will be dangerously prone to rules-lawyering and gaming (whether that was your intent or not, the wording still needs work because it can be easily read as that). Like most of meta, it should be worded such that it's a strong guideline rather than a hard-line decree. – goldPseudo Aug 26 '14 at 3:33
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    @goldPseudo, I partly understand your worry. The point of the discussion is to avoid too much variance in understanding of the rules among users. It should be clear for almost everyone that deletions fall under some general rules and moderators and other high reputation users are just applying them. Of course there will be exceptional cases but they should be really infrequent exceptions (say happens once in a year) not deletion that occur every week. – Kaveh Aug 26 '14 at 5:22
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    If we see posts that do not fall under the agreed categories get regularly deleted then we should discuss if they are really harmful for the site and if they are we should add them as a new category to the list. – Kaveh Aug 26 '14 at 5:24
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Plagiarized answers

Plagiarized answers should be deleted.

What is considered plagiarized answers

  1. If an answer consists of content from another site without citation.
  2. If an answer consists of content from another site with citation but the answer does not contain anything significant more than that content.

How to avoid posting plagiarized answers?

  1. Always cite the sources you used for your answer. If possible provide a link to an online copy.
  2. It is OK to quote primary Islamic sources like Quran or Hadith (with citation).
  3. It is OK to quote historically important sources when (e.g. writings of Al-Ghazali) but keep the quotation to a reasonable size. Try to quote only portions that are directly relevant to the question and support your answer.
  4. It is OK to express your understanding of other people's writing in your own words.
  5. If all you want to write is what someone else has written on some other site but you cannot express it in your own words then probably you are not qualified to answer the question.

Example

Unacceptable:

Acceptable:

Related

Shog9's answer to "What to do about plagiarism?"

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  • Did you mean to put something in those quotes? – Shog9 Aug 26 '14 at 0:34
  • @Shog9, yes, I think we should give a few typical small examples of what we consider unacceptable and their modified versions which we consider acceptable. It would help people avoid plagiarizing I hope. – Kaveh Aug 26 '14 at 0:38
  • Good luck - I think this is a badly-needed resource, if y'all can agree on what it should contain. – Shog9 Aug 26 '14 at 0:39
  • @Shog9, thanks, we will see how it goes. If we can address this one then hopefully we can do something similar for other issues so everyone is more or less on the same page about the site rules. – Kaveh Aug 26 '14 at 0:49
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Unfixed old closed questions

Deleting indicates that the question has very serious problems and it is clearly harmful to allow the question to stay even as a closed question.

Being closed by itself is not an acceptable reason for deleting a post.

However if a question is

  • has remained closed for a long time (e.g. over a month), and
  • its author or others have not tried to fix the issue that caused its closure, and
  • it seems that there is no way to salvage any reasonable question, and
  • there is not significant interest in keeping the question (e.g. not many up-votes or reopen votes).

then it can be OK to delete the question.

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  • Relevant MSE discussion: meta.stackexchange.com/q/58842/132874 – goldPseudo Aug 26 '14 at 3:35
  • @goldPseudo, that is a quite old discussion. E.g. take a look at closed questions on SO. A better one is here. If a questions has considerable up or reopen votes or if one of its answers has considerable up votes it is a sign that some users think it is a valuable content. – Kaveh Aug 26 '14 at 5:38
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    In practice it is very difficult for a non-mod user on a graduated site to gain enough reputation to cast a delete vote for a post with positive net vote. And the number of users who have to cast delete vote increases by the number of up-votes. The reason is clear: deletion is a really serious action. It is also very difficult to reverse. So in practice it is applied only when there is a serious problem. If a question or its answers have potentially salvageable content and are not causing serious problems (no flags) then they should not be deleted. Someone might fix them a few weeks later. – Kaveh Aug 26 '14 at 5:51
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    Those restrictions do not apply to moderators because they need to handle exceptions. However moderators should keep in mind that the moderator votes are binding so they can handle exceptions and serious problems. They should be used with more care. – Kaveh Aug 26 '14 at 6:09

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