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The old question roomba requirements are:

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

has a score of 0 or less, or a score of 1 and a deleted owner
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.

We're discussing this idea of dropping this condition on meta.SE: Modify the 'has 1 or 0 comments' requirement for 'RemoveAbandonedQuestions' script and Examples of questions which would be roomba-ed if it weren't for the 'has 1 or 0 comments' requirement, which have important answers in the comments?.

The main concern is that there's valuable information in those comments. Marijn indicated that TeX.SE is full of answers in comments, citing Why do people answer in comments?. Of course, the people with the most informed opinions about this are here.

Hence...

Question: If the 365-day roomba requirement 'has 1 or 0 comments' were dropped, would valuable contributions be lost?


With this Data Explorer query it seems dropping the "has 1 or 0 comments" condition would result in the deletion of 5271 questions. The first three examples from each year are:

2010:

2011:

2012:

2013:

2014:

2015:

2016:

2017:

2018:

2019:

9
  • 2
    Side note: we don't do Answer the unanswered events anymore, so comment answers are no longer converted into real answers.
    – Marijn
    Feb 15 '20 at 7:19
  • 3
    I don't quite know what "locked" means here. Does that include posts closed as duplicates? If the roomba would delete duplicates than that would be a shame since those often help people find what they are looking for. Especially on a lower-volume site like ours losing those would be an issue (and we are more likely to lose even good duplicate signposts because they might not be able to get past the view count barrier).
    – moewe
    Feb 15 '20 at 11:37
  • I looked at a few of them and they all had mode than 1 comment, so not sure they should be on this list. Furthermore, the ones I looked at were closed as duplicates and I think having duplicates makes it easier to locate actual answers. Feb 16 '20 at 10:39
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    @PeterGrill the new proposal is to automatically delete questions with more than 1 comment, i.e., to remove the comment requirements from the list of auto-delete conditions.
    – Marijn
    Feb 16 '20 at 14:32
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    @Marijn: Oh. Thanks for the clarrification. I don't see why there is a need to delete questions and who benefits from that (except for the minor space savings on the servers)! Feb 16 '20 at 21:11
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    @PeterGrill according to meta.stackexchange.com/help/roomba the reason is that "Abandoned, unanswered questions can be a nuisance for readers when they appear in search results" and therefore such answers should be deleted to clean up the search results. Currently a question is not deleted if it has 2 or more comments. The new proposal is to delete such questions as well. At TeX.SE we would lose useful posts if this proposal is implemented, because we somewhat regularly answer in comments.
    – Marijn
    Feb 17 '20 at 8:29
  • Some sites, like Stack Overflow, have many "meh" questions---they're not of much lasting value, often poorly written, yet are still on-topic. The authors might shoot off a question unique to their at-the-time interests, and perhaps it gets a few "I don't understand" comments. A year later, the OP has perhaps forgotten the question even exists. I believe the idea of deleting these is to raise the overall quality and reduce the uninteresting unanswered questions. (There's often a claim that they can be re-asked, if they are truly important [yet somehow didn't get upvoted much].) Feb 17 '20 at 8:52
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    @RebeccaJ.Stones: Ok, that makes sense. IMO, if the question was closed as a duplicate then it should NOT be delteted as that improves the probability of a person finding it in the future. Feb 17 '20 at 8:55
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    Out of interest: Could you modify the SEDE query that excludes duplicate closures (I tried some things myself, but apparently I don't do SQL)? I'd be interested to see how many cases that would leave. As I hinted at before I think that deleting good duplicates would be a shame, but I would like to understand the scale of non-duplicates that would remove.
    – moewe
    Feb 18 '20 at 21:40

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