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So far, the Stack Exchange automated deletion script have deleted 39 questions I posted. That's ~17% of the questions I posted.

Most of these deleted 39 questions are of good quality and on-topic (almost all of them have some references, and there is no personal medical question).

How do you expect users to invest time writing well written+researched questions?

It typically takes some time to formulate a question and research for existing scientific studies. But the question may be automatically deleted, without any warning to the OP, and without any way for the OP to retrieve the deleted questions unless they have enough rep (the rep bar is high).


Screenshot of my account, using the query user:43 deleted:1 closed:0 is:question, which can only viewed by admins:

enter image description here

The more filtered query user:43 deleted:1 closed:0 is:question migrated:no duplicate:no also yields 39 questions deleted. Looking at the results of user:43 deleted:1 closed:0 is:question score:0, 32 questions have a score of 0, which means the remaining 39-32=7 questions (i.e., only ~18% of the deleted questions) have a negative score.


  • Well, that is quite a number. As the deletion was done by a robot, thanks for bringing that up here. And the perseverance. – LаngLаngС Jul 18 '18 at 9:41
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    I suspect that many of your tightly focused niche questions just lack sufficient data to answer them with evidence. So, they end up being opinion based which no one wants to answer. But I'm also curious as to why you're not the expert here now since this topic is so dear to you. – Graham Chiu Jul 29 '18 at 21:25
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    @GrahamChiu does that justify deleting the questions! – Franck Dernoncourt Jul 29 '18 at 21:55
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    No, but it does suggest that you would be better off asking them elsewhere! – Graham Chiu Jul 30 '18 at 2:01
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    @GrahamChiu (sorry i meant to type a question mark on my previous comment) if a question lack sufficient data to answer, then the answer could say so. I have a decent knowledge in the field, but stopped writing answers as one day some admin decided to deleted almost all of my answers. If this website wants to attract experts, then we may want to have expert questions as well. – Franck Dernoncourt Jul 30 '18 at 2:06
  • And now you're going to use this thread as a sympathy tool on the main site? – Carey Gregory Mar 25 at 5:13
  • @CareyGregory No, only as a reference that spending time writing well polished questions isn't time well spent. – Franck Dernoncourt Mar 25 at 5:15
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Carey Gregory Mar 26 at 1:06
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All of the automatic deletion criteria are listed in this meta post. Since yours appear to fall into the second category, I will list those criteria here:

If the question is more than 365 days old, and ...

  • has a score of 0 or less, or a score of 1 or less in case the owner's account is deleted
  • has no answers
  • is not locked
  • has view count <= the age of the question in days times 1.5
  • has 1 or 0 comments
  • isn't on a meta site

    ... it will be automatically deleted. These are "abandoned" questions (RemoveAbandonedQuestions).

So basically it looks like while they were well written questions, they were niche specific enough that they did not receive enough notice to stay around and/or be upvoted.

What you could do, since the traffic and user group has changed significantly over that time, is post one or two as new questions again and see if they get more notice the second time around.

  • Thanks, I am aware of the auto-deletion criteria. One solution could be to relax them on health.meta.stackexchange.com due to the lack of experts/answers, visits and upvotes, as the current auto-deletion criteria discourage advanced questions. I am open to other solutions but losing 17% of questions (in practice it is >20% because I reposted some of the deleted questions, which sometime get upvoted) isn't acceptable. – Franck Dernoncourt Jul 18 '18 at 17:25
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    @FranckDernoncourt that is a SE thing. Dont think it is site adjustable, might be worth a main meta ? – JohnP Jul 18 '18 at 19:57
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    Each website can have their own settings: perhaps changing the auto-deletion criteria is one of them. I think we should first agree amongst users on Health.SE that we want to relax the auto-deletion criteria, then bring it up to the Stack Exchange admins. If we simply raise the question as such on main meta, it'll most likely get down voted by people who have no clue what's going on on Health.SE. Most votes come from active users, and active users tend to mostly write answers: they typically don't care much about people losing their questions. – Franck Dernoncourt Jul 24 '18 at 3:49
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It is not entirely clear to me what the actual content and quality of these deleted posts is. That you think that they "are of good quality and on-topic (almost all of them have some references, and there is no personal medical question)" is one thing. That the community decision was something different is another thing. As far as I can see, your questions are usually quite well constructed, phrase and researched on the positive side, and very often revolving around "tendinopathy". [Given the amount of time you have spent also on high quality content around that topic I wonder why you are not an expert on that by now that might (self-)answer one or the question on that theme?]

But it looks as if the community decision was mostly: "something is not quite right with the question as is" and therefore the question was

  1. put on hold
  2. closed
  3. deleted by the bot with "abandoned closed"?

That means primarily two things:

  1. A rift in judging the quality of the questions between your perception and that of a number of community members, the actual close voters. (I honestly do not remember if I might have been part of none, any or all of those votes.)
  2. This is a multi step process that takes some time. At any stage –– and even now –– someone, including you yourself, might edit these questions to address the small or big grievances or problems that were (hopefully) voiced in comments.

I do not exclude the possibility that we/the community might have closed one, some or all of the questions prematurely, unjustly or without adequate guidance on how to rectify the situation (which in principle should be the case in most of the instances?). 39 deleted questions is a frustratingly high number to be sure.

My guess is that "thing 1" would have to be addressed on an individual basis looking at each question separately.

For "thing 2" there are again two sub-problems: first, the community did not help enough by directly editing the question it deemed problematic into shape; but second, you did not enough during the hold-close-delete chain to ensure the survival of the question!

Since I might have the wrong perspective on this situation: as I currently understand the second part of the headline here, I might say that I –– as one of the potential voters on that –– expect a question that was marked as having problems with [on hold] to be edited, voted for re-opening or un-deletion. Once it was delete-abandoned it really vanishes out of any potential focus and help from the community.

One thing to keep in mind is that the delete-roomba operates with a fixed timeframe. That might explain why there is no warning for the OP, as it is always around the same time passed that deletion kicks in. Further you might look with any reputation level at your own "recently deleted" questions. That link for you should be https://health.stackexchange.com/users/recently-deleted-questions/43 or to be found at the bottom of your userpage, tab: questions?


I would like to encourage strongly that this meta question gets at least another answer addressing those aspects I did not understand correctly, left out or overlooked.

  • Thanks, I'd point out that none of the 39 questions were closed, as I used closed:0 in the search query. – Franck Dernoncourt Jul 18 '18 at 17:30
  • @FranckDernoncourt Thx to you. That's what I suspected with "overlooked" on the one hand and I wasn't even aware of the "0 points" deletion JohnP mentioned. Learning every day. Do you think this answer is so way off from your current issue and unhelpful for a more general audience? (Thinking of self-deletion?) – LаngLаngС Jul 18 '18 at 17:46
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    You're welcome to leave your answer, can be useful for future readers. – Franck Dernoncourt Jul 24 '18 at 3:48
  • I think the lack of upvotes can also be an indicator of the range of members here. Those who would find such niche questions useful to them surely would upvote? Even though they may be niche questions, surely they would be useful to general practitioners who have patients suffering with tendinopathy related problems? I think the upvoting issue does need addressing. We need to be upvoting more as a community. If the question is well researched and can be useful to others it should be upvoted. That way, issues like this won't arise though no upvoting. – Chris Rogers Aug 4 at 10:31
  • @ChrisRogers Addressing the need: The voting behaviour is also illustrated by an otherwise avid user, member for >4 years with 'only' <570 votes and lots of Qs deleted? That's not an accusation. I voted a lot, also under the old regime, called for voting drive on meta, and yet: I do not see every Q, and from those I do see I cannot upvote indiscriminately. It remains imo a prime problem of too small user base and then voting laziness? – LаngLаngС Aug 4 at 11:35
  • @LangLangC - My comment was not meant to sound accusatory either. I was just thinking out loud how we as a community could possibly work to combat the problem. I am not necessarily looking to everyone voting indiscriminately. I am just wondering if everyone (including me) thinks they may be voting enough. – Chris Rogers Aug 4 at 14:36
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Since you mentioned this meta question elsewhere and I just happened to notice it, let me offer a somewhat belated remark:

Insofar as this is an actual issue, it only takes one or two active users to fix it.

How? It's simple: whenever you see a good question that you think should stay on the site, upvote it!

As JohnP correctly notes, unanswered questions are never* automatically deleted if they have a positive score. So as long as all new questions get viewed by at least one user other than their asker, and as long as these users remember to upvote any questions which they consider good and useful, automatic deletion due to lack of attention should not be a common problem.

Conversely, if you see a lot of questions that you consider good being automatically deleted, that suggests one of two things:

  • If it's a site-wide issue that happens to many askers, that suggests that the voting culture on the site is too stingy and out of alignment with how SE expects people to vote. In that case, bringing the issue up on meta and encouraging other regular users to upvote more may be a good idea.

    Also note that, even if you can't immediately change how everyone else on the site votes, just changing how you vote on questions can be enough to make a big difference. This really is something where the action of even just a single user can bring about a major change!

    (In fact, why not go take a look at some zero-score unanswered questions right now? I'm sure there are some there that could use an upvote. Or, for that matter, a downvote — those are an important and useful quality signal, too!)

  • On the other hand, if it really seems to be happening only (or mostly) to you, it may be worth considering the possibility that your questions may not seem as useful and valuable to others as they do to you. After all, your perspective on your own questions is unavoidably biased, as is everyone else's on theirs. You may feel that the question you asked is important and something that humanity definitely needs an answer to — and you probably do, at least a little, or you wouldn't have bothered asking it here to begin with. But to others, who don't see things from your particular perspective, it may just seem like an uninteresting piece of trivia.

    That doesn't necessarily mean that you're wrong and others are right, of course. But since Stack Exchange is a collaborative site, and since it generally requires the shared interest and effort of at least two users — the asker and the answerer — for a question to get answered, it does mean that, if your interests don't align sufficiently well with the rest of community, you may have to consider finding another place for your questions or at least limiting your participation here only to issues that do enjoy broader interest among the local community.

    (Or, alternatively, it may just mean that you need to work a little more on how you express and motivate your questions, so that others can more easily tell why the question matters and why it deserves the chance to be answered, even if no easy answer is immediately available.)

I won't presume to actually make any claims about which of these two possibilities may apply to your particular case here, as I'm not an active participant on this site and as this answer is in any case written for a general audience, not just for you personally. In general, though, it's a good idea to at least consider both possibilities, and to keep in mind that they are not mutually exclusive, either.


*) Unless the user account that asked them has been deleted for some reason, in which case the threshold is increased by one vote. This is pretty rare, since user accounts with questions are also not automatically deleted; typically it only happens if a user is caught somehow abusing the site, or rage-quits and asks for their account to be deleted.

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