# Close and/or delete a question abandoned by the asker?

If someone asks the OP a question in the comments, and the OP never answers, and there isn't really enough information to give a good answer to the question, should we be able close the question and/or delete it?

OR

Maybe we need to be able to vote to lock the question (like a close)? If there isn't anything that can be improved, should this not be counted against us?

• going to leave this one pretty generic for the most discussion – Malachi Nov 1 '13 at 18:28
• and then the OP never answers - how much time is never? – Mathieu Guindon Nov 1 '13 at 20:24
• like a year? maybe less, like when the OP hasn't returned to any SE Site in like 6 months? I guess that could be part of what we are discussing to. – Malachi Nov 1 '13 at 20:27

An abandoned question is primarily a sad thing. It means the OP potentially never came back anywhere on SE to notice the "An answer has been posted on [your question]" or "N comments on [your question]" notification.

I can see a couple of valid reasons:

• The OP has completely rewritten their code and the post is moot.
• The OP is now pursuing new challenges as a grocery store manager.
• The OP was hit by a bus and is no longer able to respond.

Whatever the reason is, if after a year or so there hasn't been any activity from that user anywhere on the SE network, it's possible there will never be any more again. But does it mean an unanswered question must be deleted? If so, does it mean all old unanswered questions that nobody cared about for over a whole year should also be deleted?

I don't think so.

These questions are part of the site's history, whether we like it or not. They're part of the site's stats and tell a piece of the site's story, and at one point or another someone's going to post an answer, and might get upvotes for it.

Now if the post is totally unsalvageable without the OP's intervention, there's already something we can do: vote to close for "not clear what you're asking".

• I've just now realized that I completely missed the point in my answer. ;-) – Jamal Nov 2 '13 at 0:34
• I didn't want to be the one saying it... it's still a very informative answer :) – Mathieu Guindon Nov 2 '13 at 0:38
• Yeah, in general. I also wanted to clarify some of the things here, especially "vote to lock." – Jamal Nov 2 '13 at 0:52

Closing

Yes, it would make sense to vote to close if the question is currently off-topic. That's the whole point of the feature-- leave an indicator that said question shouldn't accept new answers at the current time.

In my opinion, closing a question for not containing embedded code is most important. If such a question is posted, someone answers, the link dies, the whole question is now obsolete. But, if it appears that the OP is still around, he/she can be notified to possibly fix the links. If that's not possible, then it can be deleted. It also doesn't matter if there are already upvoted and/or accepted answers-- they should not have been posted in the first place.

Deleting

Deleting is different. If the OP has written a bad question receiving downvotes that can still be improved, then he/she could delete it, improve it, then undelete it. As for other users casting delete votes, I think that should mainly be done if the question is just crap. The best example of this is spam. Beyond that, you may flag for deletion if you're very sure that the post should be deleted. Unfortunately, we don't currently have enough 2K+ users casting delete votes on questions and 4K+ for questions and answers.

This is also mentioned on the moderator tools privilege page:

When should I delete questions?

Closed questions that are of no lasting value whatsoever should be flagged and deleted.

Before voting to delete, please check that there are no good answers; if so, then the question should be flagged for moderator attention as a potential merge candidate. We don't like to lose great answers!

Also, be cautious when deleting questions closed as duplicates; they can serve as a signpost, directing users to useful answers on another question.

And on the trusted user page:

When should I vote to delete an answer?

You may vote to delete answers in the following cases:

• The answer is extremely low quality: There is little to no scope for improvement.
• The answer doesn't answer the question; it may be a comment or a separate question altogether.

Locking

This can only be done by diamond moderators. As such, there is no voting mechanism in place for it. If you're absolutely sure a post should be locked instead of closed or deleted, flag for a moderator. For more information, consult the MSO FAQ post. Quoted from that post:

When should a post be locked?

Posts should generally only be locked in cases where something seriously bad is happening. In particular, where the ongoing updates and edits are actively detrimental to the system.

Some examples of when a post might be locked include:

• A question or answer where repeated voting or editing is happening in a way which attempts to game, hack, or otherwise abuse the system.
• A question that gets opened and closed repeatedly many times without achieving community consensus on whether it should stay open or closed.
• A question that, for whatever reason, continues to attract flame posts, spam, or other inappropriate answers.
• A question that is repeatedly vandalized by its asker; for example, to drastically alter the meaning of the question that invalidates existing answers, or to obliterate/obscure the question.