UPDATE: As of 16/3/2012, Identify this game questions are now prohibited on the site.

Take Mike. Mike joined as an unregistered user February 22nd at 19:25:24 Zulu as he posted this question tagged . He last visited on the same day at 23:11:05 Zulu (ranking him above a real lot of unregistered users who leave one post and never look back again).

For normal questions, this isn't really a problem. For ITGs, it is, because he is the only user who can actually say "yes, this is it." An abandoned ITG is just a in disguise. That's not very good.

However, I should note unregistered users only are tracked via cookies, for lack of anything better; that's the "price" to pay for allowing anonymous users to post. If When the user clears his cookies, he gets effectively locked out from his account (that's fixable if he requests a merge). This makes, however, the last seen value less useful. For all we know, he could've cleared his cookies on the 23rd and checked the question every day since. It's however quite unlikely, and human exception handlers can probably take care of this situation.

So: when can we declare an ITG question abandoned? What should we do about them?

Keep in mind that the condition must be actually enforceable. If your abandonment condition can't be expressed in (at the very most!) an SQL query, it's probably too complicated to be usable. :)

What about questions that can never have an accepted answer, as they have no owner? This one has a +16 answer with a +50 bounty... I'm kinda hesitant to closing and deleting this one as well. (Other example.)


3 Answers 3


Okay, current plan:

Close NARQ and delete posts with no accepted answer (list) if their last activity timestamp is older than a month.

If a question is then undeleted by 10kers and/or moderators (list of deleted posts), this rule should not be applied a second time.

The checkmark merely means that this has been done; it does not mean that the above is set in stone. I'm aware this is not perfect; please contribute ideas for improvement if you have any!

  • 4
    Hold on, this thread is about abandoned questions - i.e. the OP is no longer active. As long as the OP is active, the question should remain open (as long as it's not too vague, of course, in which case it needs to be closed as NARQ).
    – Oak
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 8:49
  • @Oak Yes, roughly half of those come from registered users. However, you must consider that most of the registered users actually come from SO and only own that question; they still would get notified by new answers and they would be able to accept one. However, they don't actually help search engines in matching a game with those search terms, which is one of the (few) saving graces of ITG questions... they do the opposite and pollute search results. They're still poisonous. That said I'm open to suggestions!
    – badp
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 9:31
  • 6
    Please, please, add a condition so that a question with an answer with score ≥4 won't be deleted. For example, it's clear that the Qix/Xonix/… question has worthwhile answers and should stay. (No, I don't really care about Gaming. But you're setting a precedent, that I don't want to have to fight on Scifi.) Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 14:13
  • @Gilles I underlined the possibility of manual review by moderators and 10kers; I would rather not make it too easy to game the system my merely voting things up.
    – badp
    Commented Apr 3, 2011 at 22:05
  • Even if the answers did not help the OP, the answers could easily help someone else in the future who is looking for the same or similar game. I really don't understand what we gain by closing/deleting old questions - that is what Yahoo Answers does, and it is annoying as all-hell. Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 23:15
  • @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft For the record SE also removes questions with low score, low views, no answers automatically.
    – badp
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 23:21
  • Also, out of 383 identify-this-game questions with answers, 31 of them were given accepted answers more than 28 days after being asked. That's 8% - nearly one out of ten - of them which would have been deleted under this new rule. Deleting even one of them, if it helped someone in the future find what they're looking for, would be unfortunate IMHO. Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 23:28
  • @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft Yes, but the problem is, yknow, the other 92%. I don't think picking up dust being only visible in the list of all questions with that tag is a way to be the 8% of late answered questions. Also. The plan considers a month since last activity - any edit, any new answer, etc. - not time of asking)
    – badp
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 23:44

I'd just go for no accepted answer and no activity for a month (meaning no new answers, comments or edits). Something close to this should be possible in the Data Explorer. One could also manually check if the OP commented that it was the right game, in case he didn't know he was supposed to accept the answer.

Any question fitting these criteria should be deleted, they add nothing useful to the site (as LessPop_MoreFizz already mentioned).


As for the criteria for abandonment, I'll leave that to the folks with a better understanding of what data is availiable.

As for what to do: these questions are broken windows. They include some of the worst questions on the network. They should be closed, and eventually deleted. They offer no value to the site, the network, or the internet as a whole by remaining here.

  • Just because I mentioned the data.SE SQL numbo jumbo doesn't mean something simpler than that wouldn't work (say, a search would be adequate)
    – badp
    Commented Apr 1, 2011 at 12:01

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