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Retagging very old posts - why not just delete?

Oct 13, 2017 at 08:21 PM


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Some very old (2016) posts started to surface suddenly in different tags. Not sure why but I'm guessing they were posted in a wrong tag and just got moved.

Is there really any value in keeping these old questions? I seriously doubt anyone is still waiting for an answer after almost a year. For example, this one was on top of Q&A list and I almost went on to answer (just to say that it seemed very odd) but fortunately noticed it was dated November 2016.

Would it make more sense to just delete such questions? Exception could be made for a few technical ones but 99.9% of the old resurfaced posts I've seen are either obsolete or just RTFM / not enough info questions.

Keeping them just adds to the confusion and "digital landfill" IMHO.

Thank you!

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4 Answers

Tammy Powlas
Oct 13, 2017 at 08:53 PM

I think it's a tough call. The Global team reached out to me on some old retagged questions and said the poster was still looking for an this old song

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Thanks, Tammy! I suspect it might be better if OP just posts the question again. In this way everyone will see an answer is needed. If someone wants to reply and they see an old date most likely they'll assume it's an abandoned question and move on.

Veselina Peykova
Oct 13, 2017 at 08:56 PM

This is probably related to the tag cleanup that we were promised some time ago.

If this is the case and if the question has no replies and if it is older than 3 weeks, re-tagging it adds no value.

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Jelena Perfiljeva
Nov 17, 2017 at 05:34 PM

This is still an issue. Can we please set some kind of cut-off time after which the questions would be simply deleted instead of retagging? 6 months maybe?

It is quite frustrating when you start answering a question from the top of the list just to realize it is 8 months old and most likely OP moved on already. If someone is truly still looking for an answer after such long time they could re-post it.

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lets shout out for Brian Bernard and Moshe Naveh


Jelena Perfiljeva Thank you for raising this discussion.

I think the main discussion is how important is the fact that the question is still relevant for the OP or the fact that the OP is not active anymore. I think in most cases it is relevant as more details are required to completely answer the question.

In this case, I think the main question is, why should we keep untouched questions in the system after a certain time period.

I would love to hear your opinion as I didn't decide yet what I think is best.




I would say that automated clean-up with an automatic notification to the OP would do the trick.

Do it in two runs:

  1. Notify the OP that their question is subject to deletion in say one month.
  2. One month after the notification delete the question.

Such a system could be developed to later on also automatically close questions that have answers, but were not closed by the OP.


Of course for old questions with accepted answer subject to re-tagging deletion should not happen, only re-tagging :)

For questions with existing answers, but no accepted answer: check when was the last reply (excluding the OP and moderator).

If less than 10 days - send message to the OP that there is 1 week grace period to provide update, mark as answered etc, otherwise - close. Here re-tagging makes sense.

If >= 10 days - re-tag & close. Send also message to the OP, but without grace period option.

Questions with no replies (excluding the OP and moderator): if less than 1 month old - re-tag (if the question quality is acceptable, otherwise reject).

Questions with no replies (excluding the OP and moderator): if >= 1 month old - delete . Send message to the OP that the question will be deleted due to inactivity 1 week before the deletion.


Sorry it took me a while to get back to this.

While I would love to see some kind of automated closure of the old questions, it's not really a priority for me personally TBH.

I raised the issue with the retagged questions because in this case obviously a real person (moderator) takes an action anyway. So instead of retagging why not just take a different action and delete it? That's all I'm asking (for now).

If someone wants to go further and implement automated closure as well (along the lines described by Veselina) it's great but it's not a prerequisite to start deleting instead of retagging. Let's avoid "scope creep", shall we? :)


I think ‘closure’ is a hopeless cause on this platform.

But I think a visual indicator that a thread has had no activity in the past month (or whatever) would be useful. I’ve seen many cases and done it myself where an ancient question was resurrected by accident.

Old orphan questions add a tiny bit of value for me when I see that an issue I’m searching for has been asked before. Even unanswered it makes my problem seem more real and gives me hope that I’m not just doing something stupid.

I guess it depends on whether a question is unanswered because it’s a duff question or because it really is something nobody had an answer to. The tagger should probably make the call and decide whether to retag or let it die.


Enjoy not being a moderator...otherwise you would even see retagging of deleted questions in your activities :-)

Jelena Perfiljeva
May 16 at 06:15 PM

May 2018. This continues to happen. The other day I went to see if any SD questions needed to be answered and found the whole bunch of very old questions. Some were already answered (to the extent it's possible to answer a very vague question). OPs clearly don't care about these questions. Why do we keep dragging around this digital garbage?

This is just one example, question dated NOVEMBER 2016 with 0 replies! For cripes sake...

Brian Bernard Moshe Naveh - why? Who benefits? It just messes up the Q&A routine for active contributors and adds no value that I can see. Sorry, I fail to understand these actions.

Please delete such old questions instead of updating them.

Thank you.

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The issues resulting by changing tags has been raised by G Lakshmipathi as well. Probably the thing to do in the immediate term is to simply not mass-update tags on old content so that we don't see old stuff at the top. I've been doing this in some cases to "clean up" content based on tag chnages, but I understand that this has also made the job of moderation more difficult in some areas. I don't know about deleting old content, but I'll be more careful going forward.

cc Sajid Amir


Thanks for a reply, Brian!

I believe that the old/abandoned question deletion should be discussed by the SCN team. At minimum, they need to be closed to avoid confusion. Please note that the regular community members don't see the same things as the moderators. In the question list, we can see that a question was updated by a moderator. But in the question itself we see no indications of such update or why it was done.


I have already raised this issue in Moderators tag Jelena Perfiljeva and Global Moderators need to initiate action on this. As you rightly said, almost all old threads were come to top of the forum making the moderation activity even more difficulty.

cc : Sajid Amir