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For questions that we're not going to allow on the site (e.g., my licensing question), should the person asking the question delete or close the question?

The main argument I see for closing the question is to leave it around so that when people search for "licensing" in the future, they'll see that question as an example and know that licensing is off topic.

On the other hand, leaving the question around without a decent answer does seem like it just adds clutter to the site. Jeff Atwood suggests posts should be deleted in the following scenarios:

  • Some questions are of such poor quality that they cannot be salvaged. They're literally nonsense. Not every byte of data that is created in the world is infinite and sacred.
  • Some questions are so incredibly off topic that they add no value to a programming community.
  • The mental cost of processing these closed questions is not zero, particularly for users who are actively engaged and scanning questions to find things they can help answer.
  • If users see a lot of closed questions, they'll note that we don't enforce the guidelines, so why should they? Without any final resolution, asking questions that get closed becomes something we are implicitly encouraging -- a broken windows problem. If this goes on for long enough, we're no longer a community of programmers who ask and answer programming questions, we're a community of random people discussing.. whatever. That's toxic.
  • If enough of these closed questions are allowed to hang around, they become clutter that reduces the overall signal to noise ratio -- which further reduces confidence in the system.

What do we think?

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I believe that leaving questions closed but not deleted during this early period are of some value, namely:

  1. It shows that a specific question has been asked before, and
  2. That the community believes that those types of questions are out of scope.

During closed beta we're working to define the scope of the site, so having anti-content (imo) is not inherently a bad thing.

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  • Good argument. I think some cleanup in public beta might be in order though. – Dan Solovay Oct 7 '16 at 1:52

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