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Shortly after “ … as if the dog were its mother” - why “were” and not “was”? was closed as a duplicate, the OP deleted the question.

I've no idea whether you lose rep points for having your question closed (though if so, I think on balance maybe that wouldn't be such a good idea).

But it seems to me that it's often a good idea to retain closed questions. Particularly if they're closed for being duplicates, since this improves the chances of future questioners finding one or more earlier posts that resolve their problem without them needing to ask again.


Cutting to the chase, I voted to undelete that question for my reason as given here (obviously I can't post to that effect on the question itself, because comments are disabled there).

I realise I'm effectively overriding the OP's wishes, but it seems to me that once a post has been made here, it more or less "belongs" to the community, to be used as we see fit.

If you agree or disagree with me about the principle, please vote for/against this meta question. If you agree about my judgement in this specific case (AND have whatever rep is necessary), please vote there as well.

(I'm surprised I can't find an earlier meta question on this. Apologies if I just didn't look hard enough.)

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  • There is a related discussion on Meta Stack Exchange meta.stackexchange.com/q/32311. I have undeleted the question for now because it was up-voted and significantly different wording from the "master". – ColleenV Apr 14 '17 at 22:51
  • FumbleFingers i only deleted it since it was marked as duplicate, however i don't really think it is because i'm still confused about the answer. Also you don't lose reputation for closed answer, but it will record a hidden 'not constructive' on your profile which if is repeated several times, will temporarily suspend your account from asking new questions. – Jack Johansson Apr 14 '17 at 23:21
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    @JackJohansson There is more information about duplicates in the help center: ell.stackexchange.com/help/duplicates The blog that is linked in that help topic says: "One thing I want to be clear about, though, is that duplication is not necessarily bad. Quite the contrary — some duplication is desirable. There’s often benefit to having multiple subtle variants of a question around, as people tend to ask and search using completely different words, and the better our coverage, the better odds people can find the answer they’re looking for." – ColleenV Apr 15 '17 at 3:56
  • @ColleenV Unfortunately one of my other accounts was suspended just because of this. I had 3-4 duplicate questions and on the 5th one the system told me that no longer questions are accepted from this account. – Jack Johansson Apr 15 '17 at 6:55
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    @JackJohansson You should get a warning before you actually get blocked. Keep in mind that things that contribute toward the question ban expire after a certain time period, and and getting up-votes (on questions or answers) can help offset it. If you are interacting in good-faith with the community and making an effort to stay on-topic, you shouldn't worry too much about the question ban. Also, deleting the question doesn't "fix" it - getting positive reputation through up-votes does. – ColleenV Apr 15 '17 at 11:10
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    @Jack see my answer and the linked answer. Votes are much more important than duplicates and closures. (BTW, if it's a real ban, you shouldn't delete, because that does nothing to help your ban) – M.A.R. Apr 15 '17 at 18:15
  • @JackJohansson: The specific issue I wanted to raise here has been somewhat confused by the fact that you edited your question to imply that you disagree with the closure anyway (this edit being made after a mod endorsed my position by unilaterally reversing your deletion). Note that I completely disagree with your reason for claiming the earlier questions don't address your specific problem. It's true sumelic posted a comment link to a subjunctive usage with you as subject - but he didn't closevote, and my link was to If I were you (with I as the subject). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Apr 16 '17 at 14:48
  • I guess in essence, I'm disagreeing with the principle, though I don't think I should downvote it because I agree partially as well. Yes, it belongs to the community, but I would say that it still belongs to the original poster as well, which is why OP's are given authority to delete the question. – Teacher KSHuang Apr 17 '17 at 10:18
  • On the other hand, if perhaps, after some (arbitrary) length of time has passed and we want to revoke the OP's authority to delete the question, I wouldn't be against this being built into the system. It's deciding on what that exact length of time should be that's giving me trouble, though.... – Teacher KSHuang Apr 17 '17 at 10:20
  • And while the OP loses the ability to delete the question, perhaps being able to edit ad infinitum (within a(nother arbitrary) character limit, perhaps?), so that it's not a total loss of control? Basically, the converse of comments (which we can edit for only a certain amount of time, but for which we have the authority to delete forever). – Teacher KSHuang Apr 17 '17 at 10:28
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    I realize I'm probably the only crazy person here that reads all the legal stuff, but the SE notices are pretty easy to understand compared to some other sites. The TOS states quite clearly that by posting you give the network the right to your contributed content "... even if such Subscriber Content has been contributed and subsequently removed by You." That license is absolutely necessary for the network to actually serve its purpose. You can have your name disassociated from content, but you can't insist it be removed. – ColleenV Apr 17 '17 at 14:17
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I've no idea whether you lose rep points for having your question closed . . .

No, there's no rep loss associated with having your question closed.

Even the question ban isn't really that much affected by closure, so much as voting.

But it seems to me that it's often a good idea to retain closed questions. Particularly if they're closed for being duplicates, since this improves the chances of future questioners finding one or more earlier posts that resolve their problem without them needing to ask again.

Dr. Strangedupe agrees. Duplicate questions are good to have. It's unfortunate that the duplicate UI is much like closing, which worries some people about their question being marked as a duplicate.

I realise I'm effectively overriding the OP's wishes, but it seems to me that once a post has been made here, it more or less "belongs" to the community, to be used as we see fit.

There's this link in the footer, and basically all Stack Exchange contributions are licensed by cc-by-sa, which means that once the author posts something, it's no longer theirs, but the community's.

It's the same reason we're allowed to edit other users' posts. The content is no longer theirs, and it should be catered to benefit the community the most.

(I'm surprised I can't find an earlier meta question on this. Apologies if I just didn't look hard enough.)

If you didn't find anything in child metas, checking the mother meta, Meta Stack Exchange, can prove pretty useful. There's always some post there with an official answer or a link to a blog that answers most questions.

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    A small niggle: "There's this link in the footer, and basically all Stack Exchange contributions are licensed by cc-by-sa, which means that once the author posts something, it's no longer theirs, but the community's." <-- That bit isn't true, although I understand what you mean. What you write is always yours, even if other people have the right to play with it, and even if it's theirs too. There are certain rights that you always retain in relation to this material. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 16 '17 at 22:49
  • If a post no longer belongs to its author, why does Stack Exchange use the terms OP (original poster)? Why bother with the Community Wiki box? Surely it is by ticking that little box that we relinquish all rights and claims of authorship? If ownership is not recognized or acknowledged by SE, where's the harm in editing any post, correcting errors, and improving on answers after someone has posted a really good answer? – Mari-Lou A Apr 19 '17 at 15:15
  • If user A posts several solutions in a post, i.e a list of words, then user B posts one really good suggestion. How would user B feel if user A added his suggestion in their list? And if I said that User B's suggestion was never his to begin with? What would be your reply? I think you'd protest, wouldn't you? – Mari-Lou A Apr 19 '17 at 15:15
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    @AraucariaMan has a point. the license says that by posting the OP grants anyone (including stack users) the right to edit and reuse the content in any way they like so long attribution is given and the modified content is shared under the same license. Authorship remains with OP. but OTOH this is what M.A.R. meant: after posting, content is no longer theirs to dictate what to do with it. – Mindwin Apr 19 '17 at 16:18
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    @Mari-LouA We don't have to guess about what rights authors do and don't have over content they contribute to StackExchange. It's all spelled out in the Terms of Service. Yes, the community has the ability to edit your posts and you don't have any legal recourse to stop them (based solely on you being the author). However, you do have other community members and your mod team to prevent folks from vandalizing your posts. Likewise, the community can prevent authors from removing valuable content, and the author can appeal that decision to the mod team (or the SE CM team) if necessary. – ColleenV Apr 19 '17 at 22:25
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I find that the best way to get a user to undelete their post is to ask them to. This will often lead to them explaining why they deleted it, and you being able to help them with any issues or worries they may have. Personally, I'd leave an un-delete vote till necessary as a last resort.

So, to be clear: I would use an undelete vote as a last resort - if I didn't have any success after approaching the user.

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  • But most users don't respond to comments, and don't visit chat. Some of them even can't visit chat. I don't think asking them is likely to succeed at all. – M.A.R. Apr 16 '17 at 16:02
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    The community has the right to try to reclaim content it finds valuable. The author may ask to have their name disassociated from the content if they really object to it being restored, but once it's been posted, it is no longer theirs. We should recognize that a lot of folks are uncomfortable with community editing in general, but I don't think that the community should feel hesitant about casting an undelete vote. It's difficult to "ask the user", so it makes more sense to restore first. if the author has an objection, they can flag it for the mod team or bring it up here on meta. – ColleenV Apr 16 '17 at 19:31
  • @ColleenV I don't agree. It's very easy to ask the user. It's very difficult to get enough undelete votes to repoen a question. I've had success with the former many times. In fact, I can't think of a time when it hasn't been successful. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 16 '17 at 20:19
  • @M.A.R. I've had loads of success doing so. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 16 '17 at 20:24
  • @Arau you were one of the luckier ones. :) Seriously though, there's no harm in undoing deletion. I would actually expect you to favor preserving content! – M.A.R. Apr 16 '17 at 20:25
  • @M.A.R. I didn't say there wasn't. You're misreading my post! I said it's better to use the undelete as a last resort, not to not use the undelete! Just ask first and then if you don't get any joy then undelete. Simples. (The sun and the wind, my friend. The sun and the wind) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 16 '17 at 20:30
  • @M.A.R. I have edited my post to make it clearer :) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 16 '17 at 20:36
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    How do you leave a comment on a deleted question asking a user to undelete it? – ColleenV Apr 16 '17 at 23:50
  • @ColleenV Ask your fellow mods, perhaps – Araucaria - Not here any more. Apr 19 '17 at 21:59
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    I don't understand how you expect folks that cast un-delete votes (which mods don't, we just undelete directly) to ask the author before they cast the vote. Unless folks that can see it can comment on deleted posts? Maybe I was confused and thinking about editing deleted posts. It's hard for me to tell what I can do as a mod compared to a 10K+ user. – ColleenV Apr 19 '17 at 22:10
  • @ColleenV Only moderators can comment on a post that was deleted. Other users should ask the OP in a different way, for example in a chat room, supposing there is a chat room where the OP can be found. So, as you say, leaving a comment on the deleted post is pretty impossible for normal users. – kiamlaluno May 1 '17 at 13:26
  • @kiamlaluno Nah, you just go to their most recent comment or other post and leave a short comment and then go back and delete it afterwards. – Araucaria - Not here any more. May 1 '17 at 16:51
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    Please do not encourage people to leave unrelated comments under random questions. That's not what comments are supposed to be used for. It's better to just vote to undelete the post, see of other community members agree with you, and then let the author flag for a moderator if they have an issue with the post being undeleted. Most of the folks asking questions are not in chat and many don't have the reputation to be able to leave comments anywhere. @kiamlaluno – ColleenV May 1 '17 at 18:50
  • @ColleenV I know that, but ithe is surely better to use a chat room when possible than leaving comments on random posts, since that is not the purpose of comments, although it is not required to ask the OP opinion before to undelete questions. – kiamlaluno May 1 '17 at 21:54
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Just a few clarifications of some key points:

  • It is preferable to keep duplicate posts intact if they serve a useful purpose, but there are a few limits.

  • The Creative Commons license allows certain use of a post, but that doesn't give the site absolute control over it in all circumstances.

  • The TOS give ownership to SE, but SE is different from a select group of users who can unilaterally decide all matters relating to the content. Decisions about the content are still covered by a framework of guidelines.

    Ownership deals with copyright issues and the ability to apply the Creative Commons license. Also, the content, itself, is owned by SE, but SE doesn't own rights to the user. So SE cannot demand that a post be displayed with attribution to the user (more on that below).

  • The site defines conditions under which a user can delete their own post. A user is generally entitled to delete their own post except when it is not allowed. The user's control over their post diminishes as it begins to affect other people:

When can’t I delete my own post?

You can’t delete answers that have been accepted.

You can’t delete your own question when it:

  • has an upvoted answer, or
  • has an accepted answer, or
  • has multiple answers (even if there are no upvotes)

(See How does deleting work? What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean? What are the criteria for deletion?)

  • In this example, the OP was happy to have the post undeleted after learning that deletion was based on a misunderstanding. Undeletion starts with attempting to get the poster's buy-in or acceptance.

  • Self-deleted posts should not be undeleted as-is against the expressed desire of the poster, and generally should not be (or remain) undeleted as-is without the poster's approval.

    It may not always be obvious why a post was self-deleted. The poster may have personal reasons for not wanting it to remain. People post under a set of guidelines and the guidelines should be honored to maintain trust. If the rules allow a poster to delete their own post, they are entitled to do so.

  • That said, there is a mechanism for preserving a useful post that the author wishes deleted. The author's name can be disassociated from the post,turning it into community property. In that case, anything that is personally identifiable with the author should be edited out.

  • There is also an alternative solution. The original post can remain deleted, and someone can create a similar post that contains the essential points of the post but is different enough to not constitute plagiarism. 10K users can view the deleted post to facilitate this.

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