I've knocked a couple of questions off that list, but still, we are in a much worse state than we were when we left beta. IIRC, we had around 40 back then.

The reason for them seems to be the drive to move [latex] questions off SO if they do not involve non-Tex programming aspects. Many of these questions are abandoned, poor quality questions that were unanswered on SO. The typical pattern for them is that we receive them, they get a comment or two asking for clarification, but the asker never turns up here, so they languish unanswered and unanswerable.

I'd like to tackle these questions. I propose to flag for moderator attention questions of this sort with a comment based on "Ill-posed and abandoned migrated text", and add a comment to them linking to this meta thread. It would be appropriate then, assuming I am right in my assessment, for a moderator to close these questions as "Not a real question".

An alternative course of action would be to vote to close these for the same ground. The advantage of going the flag route is that the flag text marks these items out, and so allows them to be dealt with a bit more expediently. I don't plan on spending so much time each day on these items that they would unduly clog up the 10k+ dashboard, but that might happen if several people joined me in this effort.

Is this a good plan? The prize is to have a useful unanswered-questions list again.

  • Good post! Note that by default also questions with 0-score answers are listed as "unanswered" (227 just now). You need to go to the "no answers" tab to see the question with no answers at all ("only" 170 at the moment). Apr 20, 2011 at 10:03
  • @Martin: Right, and negatively scored questions. I'm reluctant to vote up some of these answers, which would get the questions off the main unanswered list, because they are grasping at straws. But I am not too choosy about these. Apr 20, 2011 at 11:07
  • One thing to keep in mind in this context is that there is some automatic deletion of old unanswered questions without upvotes. Apr 20, 2011 at 14:17
  • @Hendrik: As we've got a policy of not down-voting, it's going to take a long time for anything to disappear that way!
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Apr 20, 2011 at 17:03
  • @Joseph: True, I just wanted to point this out to people who don't know that feature. Apr 20, 2011 at 17:05
  • 2
    @Joseph: One way could be to do give the really bad questions a downvote when they're old enough; then the auto-delete mechanism has a chance. Or would that be too much against our policy? Apr 20, 2011 at 18:27
  • 1
    @Joseph: we have a policy of not down-voting? Apr 21, 2011 at 15:50
  • 1
    @Willie: Around the time the site started, there was some discussion about downvoting. The conclusion was that in the main negative vote numbers were offputting. So the suggestion was that voting should be a broadly positive step.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Apr 21, 2011 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


I would be in favor to close old and dead questions as long some caution is used. Some parameters which should be used to decide if a question is closed could be:

  • Age of the question (e.g. 1 month period to wait for response should be not to short or to long).
  • No visit by the OP for a while.
  • Question is incomplete/vague.
  • No response to comments asking for clarification.
  • Question was migrated.
  • User does not have an account on TeX.SX (either registered or unregistered), but only on the original site the message.
  • User is unregistered and/or has very low reputation, especially for migrated questions where this is also true for the original site.
  • ...

Feel free to expand/edit.

  • (revised comment) We are down to 149, which is to someone's credit. I see the software doesn't show "[migrated]" after those qns anymore, so it is hard to say how we are progressing with those. Apr 21, 2011 at 11:33
  • @Charles: I found at least one open question which was migrated. I have a look at the mod and 10k tools, I think they show migrated questions. Apr 21, 2011 at 13:03
  • @Charles, just to point that out: 149 is (at the moment) the number of questions with no answers at all; that number was 170 before. Apr 23, 2011 at 9:09

Bear in mind that questions closed as "off topic" and "not a real question" get a 'free' downvote from community.

We have automated process that get rid of lower quality zero answer questions over time across all sites. If you want to expedite this process, close them as "not a real question" and/or downvote them.

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