We've had a user who asked many questions, mainly follow-up questions, some of which lacked sufficient detail and a review request. Due to some issues stemming from issues of the user and the community regarding how these questions should be asked, the user eventually had their account deleted.

Most of these questions were already answered, but there are still some that haven't been answered, so they're on our list of unanswered questions.


Given the locality of these questions, visitors are not too likely to find value in them. The only one receiving the most benefit would be the OP, but this is for situations in which the OP is gone. Other than that, these questions may only be good for gaining additional rep and badges. Although it can't be assumed that every other unanswered question's OP is still around, we can still answer them in the hopes that the OP will eventually see them.

Should we bother reviewing these questions? If not, should we just have them deleted since the nature of closure (until the question can be answered again) wouldn't matter? Or should we leave them alone for someone to review them anyway?


2 Answers 2


One of the basic intents of Stack Overflow and the entire Stack Exchange network (from the beginning) has been that answers are intended to provide a service to the entire community, not just to the original poster.

As such, the account status of the original poster should be of (at least nearly) zero relevance to keeping or deleting a question. I suppose it might be reasonable to treat it as a minor factor in a few borderline cases. In general, we should base deletion (or retaining) of a question on the quality of the question itself rather than the account status of the OP.

The primary time I can see the account status being relevant is when a question is poorly enough written that nobody's sure what it's really asking. If that user has also quit the site, then there's little or no chance of their clarifying the question, so it might as well be deleted. Their remaining a member leaves room for at least a little more chance they'll edit the question to make it more understandable, so it can make more sense to just leave it on hold (at least for a little while).

Bottom line: questions should be kept or deleted based primarily upon whether they are worth keeping or deleting in and of themselves. The account status of the OP should (at most) be a factor only in extremely borderline cases where it makes sense to keep a question only to give the OP a chance to edit and fix the question.

  • \$\begingroup\$ That is a good point in general. However, for the questions pertaining to the aforementioned user, there is little reason to believe that he/she will return. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jamal
    Mar 18, 2014 at 5:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ Note that this topic applies to "unanswered" questions. If anyone had cared enough for the question to answer it, that would be a different matter; this is for questions that no-one up until now has yet wanted to answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – ChrisW
    Mar 18, 2014 at 13:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Honestly, if we are talking about a certain prolific JavaScript coder, those questions have little value to the community. \$\endgroup\$
    – konijn
    Mar 19, 2014 at 13:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @konijn: This question is for all related questions, but yes, this was sparked by this user. If there are any other ownerless unanswered questions out there, then we can decide if we should do something with them. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jamal
    Mar 20, 2014 at 1:18

I like to post answers which the OP can understand. I hope they benefit.

If the OP no longer wants an answer, I see no point in writing one: their question has become obsolete, junk. I would vote to delete it; there are other questions to answer.

Alternatively, you can down-vote it if IYO it's not a good question: apparently it will then be auto-deleted:

The system will automatically delete unlocked, unanswered questions that have negative score after 30 days.

(Ibid also says, "The system will automatically delete any question (and its answers) or answer with a score less than 0 when its owner's account is deleted.", but I don't know whether that's true).

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ This is the main post regarding automatic deletion conditions (which is also linked in your pose). It also says that deletion will take place after 365 days and if the post has a score no greater than 1. For ownerless questions we find, we can still take care of them right away, regardless of score. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jamal
    Mar 18, 2014 at 4:24

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