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I have just noticed that the question "How do I find new long-distance running routes?" has been deleted. But I have absolutely no ideas why that should be the case. Can somebody please tell me.

For refernce, here is a link to the version of the question cached by Google:

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:F_5UGZqPtpMJ:fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/3949/how-do-i-find-new-long-distance-running-routes+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk

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The asker wants ways to find new long-distance running routes, but states the neighborhood isn't set up for long distance runs. Aside from being self-contradicting, that question is also asking:

Does anyone have a favorite way to find new routes?

which is one of the type of question that shouldn't be asked. The question is low on details, the asker hasn't said anything about what he or she has tried so far, and the answers cover a range of things. Being more specific and providing more details would help, but the question in its current state isn't a good indicator of what other type of questions that should be asked (and how) on Stack Exchange.

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I deleted the question for two reasons:

  • Its trying to compose a list, worse its asking for a list of favorite ways to find new routes. The Not Constructive close reason description reads:

    This question is not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling or extended discussion.

    So instead of deleting it, I could have closed it instead, but closing could and probably should eventually lead to deletion, unless it serves as an example of questions we don't want. The reason we normally first close, wait and only then delete is so users can raise objections, edit the question to make it more constructive and have it reopened. So to do you a favor and give you a chance to fix it, I've undeleted and only closed it.

  • The second reason I deleted/closed it is that, in my not so humble opinion, this wasn't an example of questions we should be wanting on our site. While the first two answers (including yours) are mildly useful, the other answers were one-liners referring to some website, links to social services such as Runkeeper or simply not useful.

    When I came upon this question last week I asked myself the question: does this question make a new visitor coming in from Google happy? Would that visitor, based on the quality of the question and answers, think to himself: "Geeh, this is a nice website, I think I'll browse around and see if they have more useful content." I believe the answer to that is a firm no. That's not to say a similar question, that's more focused couldn't be, just that this incarnation of the question is a bad one.

Because the question is undeleted, but closed now, you do have a chance to 'fix' the question. However, given are relatively small community of active users, most old questions are dead questions. Editing it would bring it back to the front page and might encourage someone to answer it in a better way, but its quite unlikely. Still, another problem is that making the question less broad (I mean, finding running routes all over the world? That's a bit broad isn't it?) would either invalidate a lot of answers, which would have to be updated (not going to happen) or deleted (already done in some cases).

This is related to a bigger issue, which Greg also tried raising on chat, people don't downvote enough. Heck, I'm guilty of it myself! The result is that unless a question get's a decent amount of views, there's barely a distinction between bad answers and good answers. Worse, because some answers don't get downvoted, those users might think there's nothing wrong with their answer and they keep posting similar answers (For example, users who continuously post one-liners that should have been comments or links as answers).

So honestly, I don't think this particular question was worth the trouble of saving. I'd rather encourage you to ask a new question, that's more focused and doesn't attract the same answers as the original did and we all just forget about this one. I'm sorry that it cost you rep in the process, but I think its for a greater good.

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  • PS: Given the comments I've read on meta.Sports about how people view our site, I think we have to be more strict about what kind of questions we want to cater to, if we want to stand a chance of attracting such users
    – Ivo Flipse
    Feb 27 '12 at 12:43
  • I have tried to get involved in both F&N and S and I would be very sorry if this ends up with some sort of war of experts and professionalism... I for one would much prefer the two sites was merged into a new F&S (minus the too-easy-to-find-the-answer-on-google type of questions)... Feb 27 '12 at 13:01
  • Thanks for the explanation... I would prefer that we first close the questions before we delete them to allow the "ordinary" users - such as me - to voice our opinions before it is too late. Never mind the lose of rep... Feb 27 '12 at 13:04
  • And I quite forgot: If we don't want these practical questions on F&N - how to find good tried out routes for running, biking, etc - where should they go? Feb 27 '12 at 13:09
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    @TonnyMadsen I didn't say you couldn't ask any question like this one, just that in its current incarnation that its too broad. Do you life near woods? Do you mind running on pavement? How long should the runs be? Does it have to be flat? There's a ton of things to take into consideration, a better question would be: how do I discover new routes? Which would go into details about how to find your way, check Google Maps, use GPS or god knows what. That's applicable in a lot more situations
    – Ivo Flipse
    Feb 27 '12 at 13:34
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    @TonnyMadsen as for merging, as you can see on their Meta, I'm totally in favor of it. I find it insulting to our community that the team even added the competitiveness distinction. As if we don't want those users around?!?
    – Ivo Flipse
    Feb 27 '12 at 13:35
  • Also feel free to join us in our chatroom, we've had quite a lot of discussions about this topic the past few weeks
    – Ivo Flipse
    Feb 27 '12 at 13:37
  • Yes, the question is broad, but would we really want to answer seven different incarnations of the same question - especially since the answers will essentially be the same for all seven? Feb 27 '12 at 13:40
  • I know you pro merging. I have just seen a number of comments lately - including yours as I read it - of the "us and them" type. And I think they should be avoided if possible, if we are to work together in some near future :-) Feb 27 '12 at 13:42
  • I'll check the chat when possible... Feb 27 '12 at 13:42
  • let us continue this discussion in chat
    – Ivo Flipse
    Feb 27 '12 at 13:46

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