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Removing Tags of Closed Questions

+ 3 like - 0 dislike
32 views

Currently there is one closed question on the site, which was a good decision as the question was not research level.

At this point, it isn't yet at an annoying level, but when I go to the questions tab, this question is highlighted since I'm following the quantum-field-theory tag, for which it is tagged. I note that MathOverflow often removes tags of closed questions so they won't mess up the search and people following the tag won't see them. I know MathOverflow isn't part of the StackExchange network, but there is no question that they are a successful site operating on a very similar platform. I don't know about CSTheory.

I propose that tags for closed questions be removed. This may not be an issue if we end up migrating these questions to other sites. The only thing I don't want is to have questions that are clearly not research level highlighted for me, while some that are not highlighted might still be interesting. It would drastically limit the utility of following tags if I always have to ignore some of the highlighted ones.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
asked Sep 16, 2011 in SE.TP.discussion by Logan Maingi (210 points) [ no revision ]
retagged Mar 7, 2014 by dimension10
You can use [advanced search options](http://theoreticalphysics.stackexchange.com/search) to search only for those questions that are open and/or have positive vote. If a question is no research-level it should be closed as off-topic and as a result will not show up in the search for open questions.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@Joe, I think physics has unique challenges and I hope the authorities will allow us the flexibility we'd need to maintain high quality site. I'll just wait and see, so far we are off to a good start.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@Moshe: The impression I get is that they are intervening a lot more now than they will later on, and basically they are just trying to instill good practices early on. Most more mature site seem to have more autonomy.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
You've got my vote. I think there should be some attention paid to keeping things uncluttered. I've also suggested to label closed questions as such, and to find some mechanism to avoid them popping up in the front page everytime the author makes a minor change. Alas, these suggestions do not seem to resonate with the powers that be.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

2 Answers

+ 4 like - 0 dislike

No, tags should not be removed from closed questions.

Sometimes closing a question is just an interim step to deletion… but there are other reasons to close a post.

  • A duplicate post can be closed but kept around provide a valuable cross reference (an alternative entry point) to find the live question.
  • Questions can be closed while they are improved and, eventually, reopened.
  • Some posts are simply closed inappropriately and are eventually reopened by community vote.

Removing the tags is simply vandalizing the post and possibly thwarting the purpose of keeping the post on the site in the first place.

If a close question is interfering with search, it's time to delete the question from the site.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Sep 16, 2011 by Robert Cartaino (0 points) [ no revision ]
Also, as a clarification, I wasn't suggesting this be an automatic process. Rather, I was wondering on what the ethics and community opinion of retagging a closed questions would be.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Is it really the best option to delete the question? Often times they have good information and are interesting questions, but just aren't up to research-level. If these will be typically deleted, I don't have a problem with keeping the tags then. I always thought that the occasional closed questions on MO actually probably helped keep out the people who don't belong, but SE and MO are different enough that this might not be the case here.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@Robert: what is we created an "off-topic" tag for posts which are closed as off-topic. It certainly wouldn't be a meta tag, and people who didn't see it could add it to their ignore list. We don't have moderators pro tem yet or sufficiently high rep users, so can't delete stuff.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@Joe Imagine me posting "How are you all doing?" tagged [tag:off-topic] :P no, seriously, I think while that's not a real meta-tag, off-topic tags should not be permitted...

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@JoeFitzsimons A search for [closed:1](http://theoreticalphysics.stackexchange.com/search?q=closed%3A1) provides a pretty functional "deletion and review queue", to check both for deletion candidates and what could be fixed up instead. Adding `-duplicate` would be useful to cut out duplicates if those get numerous.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
I mean we would basically be queuing them for deletion.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
+ 3 like - 0 dislike

While I can understand the dislike of wanting to see closed questions, my thought pattern is that the rather temporal nature of the "closed" status warrants the need of such an exclusive feature a bit moot. While the question is closed, usually views are wanted to either seal the fate of the question (deletion) or to save it (reopen).

I can see a bit of thought about the favorite tag highlighting on closed questions. I'm hesitant about it because there are always the scenarios where people do look for closed questions (we have a search term for it, even), and in that scenario, they may or may not find benefit in the visual filtering offered by the tag preference.

There's basically three routes that a closed question goes.

Question Gets Reopened

Either the closure was wrong in the first place, or there was improvement that helped repair the question into a proper state. Regardless of the reason that the question gets reopened, it remains that the question will need tags at this state. Removing the tags would require either someone needing to re-input the tags afterwards, or would require storing the tags silently.

Question is Duplicate, Stays Closed

Pretty much the only scenario a question should stay on the site after being closed, if it isn't simply awaiting reopening, is that it is a duplicate. Keeping around duplicates is helpful because it increases search results through the extra verbiage. To that end, visibility is still desirable, and removing tags would only serve to harm this visibility.

Questions shouldn't stick around closed except for this reason, generally. If it isn't something worth reopening, then the following should happen.

Question Gets Deleted

When it isn't a duplicate and it isn't salvageable, it's something that doesn't belong on the site. It's off-topic, it's a ranting discussion, it's not constructive, it's a survey, it's too vague or otherwise not a real question... all of these simply correspond to items you don't want people to find on the site - their fate is to get deleted. Even migration stubs do not need to stick around.

Deleted questions don't show up, period, so their tags do not interfere because it is as if it is not tagged.


The end result is, removing the tags for the closure duration is going to be summarily reversed, harmful, or of no effective impact. The time period during which a question should be closed, and the question does not deserve to have tags, should ideally be small. It may look like a big thorn during the early days, when traffic is slower, but once the site gets up to speed, it will be very unimpactful as long as diligence in maintenance is maintained.

It will take time for users to reach the required reputation level for community deletion, so until then, the moderators (pro tem moderator selections will come shortly after public beta starts) will have to assist in question deletion.

If you want to pay heed to keeping the site uncluttered, keep an eye on closed questions so that you can delete them in due time. Clean the site up and remove what is unwanted, don't leave undesirable junk lagging in dark corners, rotting and unwatched but still leading people to find the site for the wrong reasons.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
answered Sep 16, 2011 by Grace Note (0 points) [ no revision ]
I'd never admit to intending a pun...

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@Moshe "...getting too theoretical?" Pun not intended?

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Thanks. I find this reassuring. Anyhow, all of this is getting too theoretical,,

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
just as a point of information, how do questions get deleted? If memory serves right, you need sufficient number of high rep users to vote for that, or perhaps the moderators can do it? My worry is that for a young site which doesn't have many high rep users this becomes too difficult to be practical. It is then too easy to spam the site by keep tweaking with old and nominally closed questions.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@Moshe Pro tem moderator selections will happen shortly after we enter public beta. They may want to look into tightly watching for questions that need deletion until the community is able to pick up the slack (which is only 2000 reputation during public beta).

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
@Moshe Well over a handful. Most sites accumulate quite a number of deleted questions, and Physics is no exception.

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)
Thanks for the information. Out of curiosity, how many questions were deleted on the physics site overall? Precise numbers are probably not public, but is it more than a handful?

This post has been migrated from (A51.SE)

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