22

A fair number of posts get deleted on Server Fault, for a wide variety of reasons and by a diverse set of methods.

Because these posts are, by definition, not visible and not searchable, there tends to be a lot of misinformation about how much gets deleted and who deletes it.

So, for the sake of discussion, let's have some numbers on what has been recently deleted, who deleted it, and why.

(I posted these numbers for Stack Overflow a while back, and tend to think it's helped in various discussions there. Hoping they're useful here as well...)

  • Note that if you have 10k+ reputation, you can see most deleted answers. – Flimm Feb 23 '16 at 15:12
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Here are pie charts for comparison of SF and SO stats (the two sites for which these are available). I made these for SO first, so the categories are in the order of size on SO. The percentages are not exactly the same as in the table, because I omitted some of the obscure reasons for deletion.

questions

Auto N means the script deleting questions after N days.

Moderator deletions and migrations are much more significant on SF. Deletion by 10K users is not very frequent on either site. Among the automatic reasons for deletion, 9-day roomba dominates on SF while 365-day roomba is most prolific on SO.


answers

SO authors seemingly love to delete their answers. Maybe because they get downvoted? Again, moderators delete much more on SF (proportionally): directly and indirectly, via deletion of parent question. The yellow Review slice is almost invisible on SF. The cyan slice, answers to migrated questions, is prominent on SF but invisible on SO. A lot of answered questions get migrated away from SF.

  • 15
    "Moderator deletions and migrations are much more significant on SF" and may I say three cheers for our dedicated, indispensable, and rather-underpaid mods? – MadHatter Feb 17 '16 at 7:59
  • 5
    Our site-culture has long held that repugnant content needs to be removed now rather that wait for a consensus, so such posts get flags. In large part because us mods are trusted to respond to flags in a timely way (the days of the 4 hour average-flag-response time are long gone). If you merge the mod-smack and review-smack segments on both SO and SF charts, you get close-ish numbers. – sysadmin1138 Feb 17 '16 at 13:42
  • 5
    > Deletion by 10K users is not very frequent on either site - there is a good reason for that, you have hidden the UI in plain sight. When you find it, it is very difficult to use. For example it does not hide stuff that you have already voted on so it becomes an exercise in self flagellation and most people give up. I even raised the issue on mSE and it got ignored and merged into something completely different. So mission accomplished from your side I guess – Iain Feb 18 '16 at 7:43
  • "A lot of answered questions get migrated away from SF." I have a not-amazing but still top 21% rep on DBA.stackexchange.com that's mostly from migrations. :) – Katherine Villyard Feb 19 '16 at 19:36
  • @sysadmin1138 I don't know if that's the case, I'd like to see flag numbers for both sites to compare. If I'm reading the numbers below correctly, only .86% of questions were flagged. – Jim B Feb 21 '16 at 2:12
  • @JimB Sally is right. The 5th line down, questions deleted by moderator, is a better proxy for a flag causing a moderator to hammer a question. The same goes for third down, answers mod-hammered. It is a rare question or answer that earns 6 spam-flags without being mod-hammered. – sysadmin1138 Feb 21 '16 at 3:10
  • @sysadmin1138 so it looks like we have no numbers on actual flags other than spam/offensive. – Jim B Feb 21 '16 at 19:27
  • @JimB There are very few people actively engaged with SF beyond getting their (mostly crappy) questions answered. Those few that are left mostly have the tools available to them not to need moderator intervention. For example I have cast just <10 non spam/rude flags since 2014. It is the people in the middle gronud that generally cast flags. SF has very few of them. – Iain Feb 25 '16 at 7:06
16

27,911 posts were deleted on Server Fault during the past 365 days (query run on Feb. 16th, 2016). That breaks down as follows:

Post Type Deleted by...                                            Posts Deleted % of total 
--------- -------------------------------------------------------- ------------- ---------- 
Question  Auto-deletion: AbandonedClosed                           6105          21.87 %    
Question  Author vote                                              3776          13.53 %    
Answer    Moderator                                                3220          11.54 %    
Question  Auto-deletion: AbandonedQuestions                        2955          10.59 %    
Question  Moderator                                                2035          7.29 %     
Question  Auto-deletion: DeadQuestions                             1777          6.37 %     
Answer    Parent question deleted (Moderator)                      1657          5.94 %     
Question  Auto-deletion: MigrationStubs                            1374          4.92 %     
Answer    Author vote                                              1172          4.20 %     
Answer    Converted to Comment                                     1166          4.18 %     
Answer    Parent question deleted (Auto-deletion: AbandonedClosed) 998           3.58 %     
Answer    Parent question migrated                                 526           1.88 %     
Answer    Spam/Offensive flags                                     239           0.86 %     
Answer    Parent question deleted (Author vote)                    226           0.81 %     
Answer    Parent question deleted (3rd-party vote)                 173           0.62 %     
Question  3rd-party vote                                           116           0.42 %     
Question  Spam/Offensive flags                                     76            0.27 %     
Answer    Parent question migration rejected                       65            0.23 %     
Question  Author was deleted                                       60            0.21 %     
Answer    Author was deleted                                       59            0.21 %     
Answer    Review                                                   48            0.17 %     
Answer    Parent question deleted (Author was deleted)             31            0.11 %     
Answer    Parent question deleted                                  28            0.10 %     
Answer    3rd-party vote                                           16            0.06 %     
Answer    Parent question deleted (via Vote)                       10            0.04 %     
Answer    Parent question deleted (Spam/Offensive flags)           2             0.01 %     
Answer    Parent question deleted (Auto-deletion: MigrationStubs)  1             0.00 %     

Note that during this same time period, 83,140 posts were created.

This looks only at posts that were deleted during this time period and remain deleted. It does not count posts that were deleted and then undeleted, nor does it double-count those that were deleted, undeleted, and then re-deleted. There are arguments to be made for counting all of these things, but they are few in number and mostly just add confusion.

See also: Rules for auto-deletion

  • 3
    Fascinating stuff; +1 for both answers and the question from me. Thank you! – MadHatter Feb 17 '16 at 8:11
  • What MadHatter said. Thanks, Shog9! – Katherine Villyard Feb 19 '16 at 19:32

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