I believe that crap and/or off topic questions merely attract more of the same, whether they are closed or not. With that in mind, should we make more of an effort to delete them, especially the really bad examples? I very rarely see delete votes cast. Maybe there should also be a delete queue in the review system.

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I believe that any closed question that is not automagically deleted by the StackExchange system needs to remain in its ignoble state as a documented warning for future contributors. Something like staking the heads of our victims outside the castle gates. Abandon all hope... –  Wesley Dec 27 '12 at 23:00
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Good theory but there's no evidence to suggest that it's working –  John Gardeniers Dec 28 '12 at 1:41
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@WesleyDavid: The reverse happens - people use them as support for posting their own questions many new people (and some longer term contributors) don't understand what closed means. –  Iain Dec 28 '12 at 8:27
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3 Answers

Old, Closed Questions, with no Upvoted Answers and not more than 1 Upvote on the Question itself are automatically deleted (I believe "old" is 6 months, but I'm sure someone will correct me).

Particularly bad questions, flag'em... along with any Post that's especially bad for any reason.

"Normal" bad should not be flagged, just VTC/VTD/etc. If you're unsure, flag and pay attention to your Flag Summary (in your profile, click on your Helpful Flag count). You'll get the idea pretty quick from the feedback. There's no "benefit" to avoiding declined flags anymore either.

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Every time I've flagged a post for being particularly bad, especially those which encourage illegal or immoral activity, that flag has been declined, so there's precious little incentive to do so again. It's unfortunate that we can't see who declines flags, as I have often suspected that it's not one of our elected mods. The automatic deletion is effectively disabled when people who cast close votes also answer the question (I'm guilty of that too) and get upvotes for it. Overall, very little gets deleted. –  John Gardeniers Dec 28 '12 at 1:51
    
@JohnGardeniers You have had 5 Flags declined. All were on Answers. All of your flags on Questions have been marked helpful. To be fair, there are over 250 helpful flags, I didn't check how many were on Questions or what the outcomes of the flags actually were. –  Chris S Dec 28 '12 at 2:30
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Delete votes are hard to come by so take care not to waste them on stuff that will be automagically deleted.

There are currently ~1700 questions that are closed and have no answers. If they are older than a month then chucking downvotes at them so they reach -1 is the best solution.

There are >5000 Closed questions that have answers, the back of the list would be a good place to start casting delete votes. Please though, pay attention to the view counts, some older questions that are now not favoured are great crowd pullers.

The rules for automagic deletion

If the question is more than 30 days old, and ...

  • has -1 or lower score
  • has no answers
  • is not locked

... it will be automatically deleted.

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

  • has a score of 0 or a score of 1 with a deleted owner
  • has no answers
  • is not locked
  • has a viewcount <= the age of the question in days times 1.5
  • has 1 or 0 comments

... it will be automatically deleted

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Given that the purpose of SE is to make money for Joel and his investors (and maybe still Jeff too?), I don't think we'll see a lot of incentivization to delete old questions, even closed ones. Google and the other search engines still index them, still drive traffic here and still make ad money.

So while I don't necessarily disagree (or care much either way), I'd be blown away if we ever saw a delete queue or a clean-up effort that might (or almost certainly would) reduce traffic and therefore ad revenue.

Falling into obscurity and getting no views really isn't that different from being deleted, as far as the internet's concerned.

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The side effect of your logic, which I agree with, is that it does just what I'd like to prevent. i.e. It encourages others to post the same crap. So although we may never get a delete queue there's nothing stopping us from doing it manually. –  John Gardeniers Dec 28 '12 at 1:44
    
@JohnGardeniers I tried to prod people to go use up their delete votes in chat a little while back, but got no traction, so... well, whatcha gonna do? I'll throw mine on whenever I see a deserving target, but with them expiring after 4 days or whatever, it doesn't do any good without at least 3 people diligently monitoring the delete tools. –  HopelessN00b Dec 28 '12 at 2:01
    
@HopelessN00b: Delete votes for people with >20k don't expire. –  Iain Dec 28 '12 at 8:25
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