18 minutes ago (at time of writing) a whole swathe of questions appear to have been deleted, some of which seemed not to be obviously sub-par or off-topic, and some of which had a net rep scoire of 0 (in contrast to some things deservedly on around -5 which have been hanging around in the delete queue for some time).

How is the system making these decisions? Something like monotone parabolic systems, convex variational structure and Legendre transform should in my view be undeleted; but my main question is as to why the system has suddenly kicked in and deleted all these questions in one go?

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    $\begingroup$ "in contrast to some things deservedly on around -5 which have been hanging around in the delete queue for some time" Such things are auto-deleted too, and much faster, after 9 days. There is not much point in voting to delete it manually, indeed IMO one should not as it pollutes the delete queue. (This is applies to posts without positively scored or accepted answer.) [I lifted this from the answer-thread, as it rather belongs here, and since again I stumbled over pointless delete-votes.] $\endgroup$ – user9072 Apr 12 '15 at 10:41
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I thought the waiting period was longer than 9 days; thanks for the correction $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Apr 12 '15 at 10:43
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Currently I can see the lowest voted questions for the last 7 days, the last 14 days, etc. How do I combine these with Boolean, i.e. look for the lowest voted questions older than 7 days and within last 14 days? $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Apr 12 '15 at 10:46
  • $\begingroup$ You are welcome. There is also a 30 days period (but this is for open questions with negative score, and migration stubs; maybe the latter can be delete worthy sometimes). For all the details see the relevant MSE post. (The one I mention is the last; it is a bit odd they discuss 30;365;9 in that order.) $\endgroup$ – user9072 Apr 12 '15 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ For you second comment: if you are talking about the list under "tools" I think this just does not work. What I would do instead is just use normal search. For example, the query "is:q score:..-1 closed:yes answers:1" will give all closed questions with score <= -1 and >=1 answers. (These are often not autodeleted, as answers prevent it easily.) Then use the tab "newest" an skip the first few to find the time you are interested in. For example mathoverflow.net/questions/201534 will stay with us forever if we do not delete it by hand. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Apr 12 '15 at 11:06

They got selected for deletion because of lack of community interest:

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

  • has a score of 0, or a score of 1 in case of 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

... it will be automatically deleted.

(See the original post on meta.SE.) Deletions are done in batches, so it's not unusual to see a lot of them being deleted at the same time.

The easy way to prevent this is to upvote the question!

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    $\begingroup$ But this kind of thing is why I don't want the front page having done and dusted answers/questions bumped! It is easy not to notice the questions if they get pushed off the front page! $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Apr 11 '15 at 0:48
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    $\begingroup$ Several of those questions seem an order of magnitude more worthwhile than the crud which is about 2-5 days old and is sitting there in the delete queue with, it seems, hardly anyone other than me voting to delete... $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Apr 11 '15 at 0:49
  • $\begingroup$ @YemonChoi: I think the autodeletion rules make sense -- if a question has score 0 and no answers after an entire year, then it is usually save to assume that it can be removed. Actually you can help cleaning up low-quality questions by going through the lists here or here and downvote everything which you think is not worth to be kept -- then it will be removed in the next autodeletion cycle (once per week or so). $\endgroup$ – Stefan Kohl Apr 11 '15 at 10:00
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    $\begingroup$ @YemonChoi I do check the delete queue from time to time, yet rarely as it seems indeed hardly anybody else does anymore. It is however in my opinion a wasted effort to vote to delete 2-5 days old closed question without answer and negative score. They will be auto-deleted after 9 days anyway. In fact I find such delete votes rather pollute the queue. On Mathematics there is a chat room to coordinate un/deletions; we could do the same. Maybe a new room is not needed we could use the editors' lounge. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Apr 11 '15 at 10:28
  • $\begingroup$ @StefanKohl the list you link to is really not the place where I would start to look. Actually, I think it is not such a good idea to start downvoting questions from +1 to 0 to get open questions deleted. There are plenty of closed questions that did not get deleted for some reason or other (for example a [low] positive score answer). If anything I would focus on those. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Apr 11 '15 at 11:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Stefan: You can also use the search parameters. Only two of them are not eligible for autodelete today. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Apr 11 '15 at 12:17
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf Thanks for adding the query; I was lazy. Some of those are what I meant (but I do not see why they are all eligible for auto-delete; some have high-scoring answers), and had in mind when writing recently that auto-del is not perfect. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Apr 11 '15 at 13:14
  • $\begingroup$ @quid: I didn't say that "one vote will delete this", I just said that those are closed questions without an accepted answer and without votes. Which are almost eligible for auto-deletion. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Apr 11 '15 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ Decisions about ignoring (rather than deleting) questions should be left to USERS. It's WRONG for an automatic system to decide: 1. there is enough of disk to keep arbitrarily many questions; 2. sorts will tell you what you need about the questions, eg voting & reading statistics; 3. there can be users who enjoy questions of the deleted author, even if they didn't vote on the questions--they could always go back to the authors; furthermore, there can be a user interested in an author who (the user) doesn't exist today but may join MO--say--in a year, or five, from now. $\endgroup$ – Włodzimierz Holsztyński Apr 11 '15 at 18:29
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    $\begingroup$ @WłodzimierzHolsztyński : as usual, two points. (1) We have absolutely zero control over the software. (2) In regards to your point 3, this is published behaviour of the software. If the user cannot be bothered to read the manual and upvote those question he enjoys, I think he has no right to complain when the question gets deleted. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Apr 13 '15 at 12:01
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    $\begingroup$ @WillieWong re 1, I disagree a bit as it is not so clear SE would not consider turning off (or modifying) for some sites that part of the auto-delete script when a clear case would be made why this is desirable for some sites. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Apr 13 '15 at 13:05

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