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While reading the meta topic about How to determine if a homework question is going to be closed? the following troubling question has raised again in my mind.

Imagine a closed question with some really good answer which does not just address the homework trouble OP has, but has some value on its own (see e.g. this question). There is a risk that the question will be deleted in the future, since it is in principle possible for users with moderator privileges to delete a closed question.1 Therefore I ask: Is it appropriate to change the question so that it would not qualify as the homework one anymore, will be reopened and never get deleted?

I think it is appropriate:

  • it won't hurt OP since the question is already closed, so he already got the most out of it;
  • it won't hurt community as well, rather it will help us to keep some great pieces of information.

1 And please, don't tell me that this is unlikely to happen because the community simply won't let this. I have seen a lot of maybe not so good-quality questions but with answers worth it deleted at Stack Overflow, so there is no any guarantee the same won't happen here.

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  • $\begingroup$ IIRC, closed questions with upboated$\ldots$ I mean upvoted answers couldn't be deleted. And again, you could raise the issue here on meta if they do get deleted. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Jul 26 '15 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ Thank god we are not SO! I know this is not the answer you are looking for, but I would never delete a question that has a valuable answer and I suspect neither jonsca nor Manish would do that. And I believe this should not even be a practise in SE at all. Valuable answers should not be deleted - at all. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Jul 26 '15 at 15:47
  • $\begingroup$ BTW, I tell you that this is unlikely to happen. SO is like a very big and crowded city, thus needs more strict moderation. Furthermore, the number of deletions, 10k users etc. is incomparably gigantic there, and the control is harder. Chem.SE was born when almost all of the SE norms were set; but SO isn't like that. SO got subjective questions, and some (nitpicky?) 10k'ers tend to delete them nowadays. Chem.SE never got a close-worthy question that got answered and popular, AFAICT. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Jul 26 '15 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M Mods can delete these questions, but they are exempt from automatic deletion. And the OP cannot delete them either. It is really only an issue about how mods will act on these questions and I don't see any reason why we should act on them at all. For the linked question I was the one suggesting this could be a good candidate for reversal... $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Jul 26 '15 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Martin indeed. But I know it won't happen. I have my eagle eyes on them$\ldots$ Oh darn it, I still don't have 10k. Goes rep farming $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Jul 26 '15 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ @inɒzɘmɒЯ.A.M IIRC you need to have 20k to cast a delete vote on these questions, too. I think 10k is not enough, but I am not 100% sure. $\endgroup$ – Martin - マーチン Jul 26 '15 at 15:54
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Yes. Thinking about it, well, rather not. I mean maybe yes. Well actually NO.

Confused? Good. I am too.

First of all I would like to restate what I already wrote in the comments:

I know this is not the answer you are looking for, but I would never delete a question that has a valuable answer and I suspect neither jonsca nor Manish would do that. And I believe this should not even be a practise in SE at all. Valuable answers should not be deleted - at all.

If we establish this as the norm through this post, every future mod can be pointed to this (as long as the community does not revisit this practice) and will most likely act acordingly.

I have a serious problem with making substantial edits to very bad questions. They have been downvoted a lot. If you go about and actually turn the question into a good question, so that the answer still fits to that post, the downvotes will not vanish. New users will find the post with a -5 score and might think: "Oh, this is a nice post, but why was it so terribly received by the community?!" As a new user I (personally) would be a bit afraid to ask a question here.

Closed and downvoted questions with good answers actually show that we are a nice community and that we are still trying to help, even when it sometimes means bending our own rules.

I encourage making the post look neat. The contents of the post might not comply with our policy, that does not mean it should be horrid on the eye. They also should be categorised by the correct tags and the title should be as meaningful as possible. (Just have a before & after look)


What can be done instead of editing and reopening?

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion - I am not sure this is the right way to go.

Once the post is in a preservable state, it could be locked:

Historical significance
This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. More info: help center.

But, when reading the following:

Posts should only be locked when something seriously bad is happening. A locked post cannot be changed in any way or voted on, and if the locked post is a question, no new answers can be added.

I gained some doubts, because the answer cannot be voted on any more, which is not how an answer to such a post should be rewarded.

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  • $\begingroup$ Indeed, historical lock was preserved for quality answers that might have gotten deleted because the parent question was crappy. See the most downvoted question in SO for an example. (No, no links!) I recommend locking the post in case it gets in danger of being deleted. $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Aug 5 '15 at 13:42
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Yes.

Improve questions that you feel you can improve. Nominate/flag edited questions to be reopened. Improving questions benefits:

  • The OP - more rep
  • The community - higher quality content
  • The interwebs at large - easier to find our content by searching
  • The community - new traffic and hopefully new users

If the OP or other members of the community feel that your edits have really mucked the question up beyond its original intent, the edit(s) can be rolled back.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, not sure why this was downvoted. To the downvoter, could you provide the reasons for your disagreement? $\endgroup$ – M.A.R. Jul 31 '15 at 13:01

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