During my time using GIS SE I have seen quite a few questions posted that attract attention, often as comments as people try to get the Original Poster to elaborate as their initial question does not have enough information. Then suddenly the original poster will say something like "worked it out, wrong file/field name" in the comments.

So everybody has wasted their time and the question really does not have an answer. In this scenario I would have expected the original poster to delete their question as it adds absolutely nothing to the knowledge base that GIS SE trying to build. Typically such posters are unconcerned about reputation or contributing to the greater good so these questions hang around, why would anyone come searching for an answer when the final solution was the original poster actually paying attention to their code?

So I would like to have the power to simply suggest that this question gets deleted. Currently under the close options I can't choose an option to say "to be deleted, pointless question". This is not the same as unclear, duplicate, too broad or off-topic. Could these choices be expanded to include "immediate deletion, pointless question"?


My brief answer is that we already have under-used tools to do this:

  • moderators can delete questions,
  • some users can vote to delete questions (and that now includes you),
  • more users can vote to close questions,
  • many more users can downvote questions, and
  • the Roomba does the rest.

This is the long answer:

Within our site the only option we have to customize the Close Reasons is in the Off-topic section (below) where we are restricted to being able to specify the top three. We only do this after careful consultation with the community like we did at at Improving wording of "non-reproducible" custom close reason? (I often use this rather than deleting to deal with questions like those concerning you).

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In theory we could swap out one of these but I could not see a "immediate deletion, pointless question" alternative being supported by the community.

By going outside the community to the network-wide Meta Stack Exchange you could try to get an additional close reason added to the first close menu (below).

enter image description here

However, I do not think that this would be successful either, and unsuccessful feature requests there can receive a lot of downvotes, so I recommend caution if you take that path.

Personally, I think we currently have the tools to deal with the very real problem that you have identified, but I think those tools are being under-used by those within our community with the privileges to use them.

  • The six moderators can instantly delete questions, which we sometimes do, but that is exercised rarely (answers are deleted much more often).
  • We currently have 14 non-moderator Trusted Users (20,000+ rep; includes you) who can vote to delete questions.
  • We have 205 users with the Cast Close and Re-open Votes privilege (3,000+ rep).
  • We also have 5,118 users with the Cast Downvote privilege (125+ rep).

It is this last group who can help to make a big difference because when they downvote questions (which costs no reputation; downvoting answers costs 1 rep) they nudge the questions that are concerning you here into the path of the Roomba which can auto-delete them. To learn more about the Roomba see the accepted answer to Turbocharging the Roomba: solutions for premature deletion.

Something to be aware of is that every time an upvote is placed on a question like the ones you are wanting to delete, which I think some users may do out of sympathy, it makes it harder for the Roomba to do its job.

Some recommended reading, that shows there are even more ways that questions can be deleted than those I have listed above, can be found at How does deleting work? What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean? What are the criteria for deletion?

  • "unsuccessful feature requests there can receive a lot of downvotes, so I recommend caution if you take that path." I too highly recommend doing some thinking before going there. Some useful links before going to adventure in Meta :How do I participate in Meta and not die trying? : meta.stackexchange.com/a/44189/165773 and The “I Get It” Reputation Problem : meta.stackexchange.com/q/552/165773
    – gisnside
    Sep 29 '17 at 6:13
  • @gisnside Meta Stack Exchange is not for the faint-hearted - I've had questions go quickly to -10 or more and it takes some work to get them back positive. The trick is to ask a brief neutral question and only inject your thoughts in an answer. Thus quarantined, your answer can be deleted if it is out of step with the community and you only appreciate why later.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Sep 29 '17 at 6:35
  • Thank you for your kind advice, I'll definitively keep that in mind :)
    – gisnside
    Sep 29 '17 at 7:19

I would agree with your motivation and have the same feeling at times. On the other hand,

The close reason itself

"to be deleted, pointless question".

seems to be too broad, and it can be easily abused by reviewers, shrinking a user base that is already small.

Could these choices be expanded to include "immediate deletion, pointless question"?

This seems a bit extreme to me. I have seen how difficult it was for undelete a question by power users such as moderators. Granting the same rights to more users seems dangerous to me.

I'd think a more specific close reason than "pointless question" would be better.

  • I agree with your answer but be aware that it is very easy for moderators to both undelete and delete a question. We just don't do either very often.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Oct 10 '17 at 22:54

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