The question Should “New Spring” be read before the rest of books in the Wheel of Time series? has a score of -2 and no positive scoring answers, meaning that the system automatically deletes it. The link above is only visible to users with over 2000 reputation, but here is a screenshot of the question:


Some members of this community have been periodically manually undeleting the question. I have to ask, is it worth it?

  1. Maybe if someone found a way to word the question better, it would get more votes? Because people keep undeleting the question, we'll never have a chance to try again.

  2. Regardless of what you think personally about the question, the fact is that collectively we have a poor opinion about the question. Is it worth overruling the will of the community, who clearly don't want it? And despite the fact that y'all keep undeleting it, the question hasn't gained any new upvotes--in fact, I think it's been downvoted.

(Personally, I think its a poor question and am not sorry to see it go. I think we're putting way too much effort into keeping a question around that isn't just worth it.)

  • I edited to add a link to and screenshot of the question, so that everybody can see what it's actually asking in order to express an opinion on it. Hope you don't mind.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 16:14
  • @Randal'Thor I don't think the specific details matter in this case, but sure, go ahead.
    – user111
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 16:15

2 Answers 2


I think it's a good question and shouldn't have a negative score. Reading order is definitely on-topic, and this particular case is one where the answer isn't obvious: New Spring comes first in in-universe chronology (a prequel), but it's in the middle in terms of out-of-universe chronology, and involves concepts and characters not introduced in the main series until several books in. A good answer would require knowing which concepts and characters are introduced when throughout the series.

That said ... it's been deleted by the Community bot four times now, and undeleted each time by Mithrandir (sometimes helped by me and/or Gallifreyan). It's starting to seem a bit ridiculous.

I suspect part of the reason for the downvotes may have been the meta effect. This discussion about the now-deleted answer to that question became very heated, with a large group of users from another site piling in to vote and comment as well as attention from moderators across the network. Both of those groups of users may include people who dislike all reading-order questions, and who found this particular question through meta which they otherwise wouldn't have seen. There are a remarkably high number of votes (7 up, 9 down) on the question; 16 people voting is unusual for any non-HNQ on this site, and I suspect not all of those 16 are particularly active users here.

The point of all this is not to sling mud - everyone is entitled to their vote, active user or no - but to make the case that if it were re-asked today, the question would probably be received better. Normally I'm hot against people re-asking poorly received questions instead of simply editing to improve them, but if my hypothesis is correct that most of the downvoters aren't Lit regulars, then editing this question is unlikely to change its vote count by much. So in this particular case (without wanting to set any kind of precedent), I think it would be acceptable to leave the question deleted and re-ask an improved version of it.

How to improve it? Well, some explanation of why it's a decent question, why the answer isn't obvious, would make a good start. Something like the first paragraph of this very meta answer, for example. I'd say we should give @Riker himself the first chance to post an improved version, but it wouldn't be inappropriate for someone else to do so instead.

  • if my hypothesis is correct that most of the downvoters aren't Lit regulars well, you have to have at least earned some reputation in order to downvote. Upvotes are a different story of course.
    – user111
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 16:59
  • "How to improve it? Well, some explanation of why it's a decent question, why the answer isn't obvious, would make a good start. Something like the first paragraph of this very meta answer, for example." If it's possible to improve the question, why on earth wasn't that done, say, after the first time the question was undeleted?
    – user111
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 18:36
  • "I'd say we should give @Riker himself the first chance to post an improved version, but it wouldn't be inappropriate for someone else to do so instead." Why? Riker had ample time to improve the question but didn't. It's not like asking this question took hours upon hours of research and effort.
    – user111
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 18:37
  • @Hamlet Responding to your comments in order: (1) true, but 125 rep isn't much and doesn't make someone a site regular who'll check newly edited posts to revert their votes; (2) well, I do think the question is good as it stands, but since you've raised it, yes, it could be even better - it's always possible to improve; (3) just common courtesy? I dunno, I did say there's nothing wrong with someone else doing it either.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 19:11
  • Could the downvoters give some indication of which part of this they disagree with? Do they think that the existing question should continue being repeatedly undeleted, that reading-order questions shouldn't be allowed at all, that the existing question should be edited instead of posting a new one, that we shouldn't give Riker first shot at reposting, or what?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 19:55
  • I downvoted this answer for the reasons expressed in the comments I made.
    – user111
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 21:59
  • @Hamlet So just for the very last sentence? (Your first comment doesn't detract from my point about non-regulars, and your second comment is about what could have been done in the past, so only your third is about any part of my suggested plan for the future. Or does your second comment mean you think we should undelete and edit instead of re-asking an improved version?) I'm happy to remove the last sentence as it doesn't really affect the main point of my answer.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Jul 1, 2017 at 22:04
  • 3
    I have a separate issue from the quality or lack thereof: while I understand it's okay to have the same question on multiple Stacks as long as it's on-topic for both, I don't see a reason to expend a bunch of effort keeping this one alive since it's already completely answered on SF&F, especially as the answers to reading order questions are pretty cut and dried and won't change much by being answered from the perspective of a literature expert instead of an expert on sci-fi and fantasy. I have no problem with it being here but it seems wasteful to go to this much trouble for it.
    – Torisuda
    Commented Jul 4, 2017 at 19:12

Automatic deletion is a feature, not a bug

If a question has a negative score, and it has no non-negative scoring answers, what does that mean? It means that there's nothing worth keeping.

If you feel that the question is good and is being treated unfairly by the community, well, you can (a) edit the question to communicate its value more clearly to the community, or you can (b) provide a high-quality answer to the question. What you shouldn't do is go around saying "everyone who downvoted this question is wrong, it's a good question that deserves upvotes," even if you are right. That's just not how voting on Stack Exchange works.

If you don't think that a question is editable or that you can't provide a good answer, well, maybe that's a sign that the question isn't worth saving.

The question has been undeleted four times now and in that time hasn't attracted upvotes or a good answer. Maybe that's a sign that its time to let the question go.

Let's leave the question deleted. If you feel that the question has some merit, you can repost a modified version of the question in the hopes that it might get a better reception.

It's a bit surprising to hear people claim that downvotes are coming from people outside the community. Upvotes I can understand: I think it's a legitimate critique of the Stack Exchange platform to say that maybe someone with 200 fake internet points on Literature wouldn't nessessarily be qualified to upvote on, say, a programming site. But everyone downvoting the question has, by definition, fake internet points on the Literature site and therefore has spent some time on the site.

  • On one hand you say score is not indicative of the quality; on other you say here that "the community has spoken". What gives? Besides, is there really any need to discuss this on meta? I can vote to undelete, and I can ask others to do so as well. If people say we shouldn't vote to undelete it anymore on this meta, would I be prohibited from voting to undelete it? Would it be locked? On what grounds? Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 11:51
  • 2
    @Gallifreyan sure, if you want to undelete that question every month, despite the fact that the question hasn't improved in the slightest every time you've done that, go ahead. I won't stop you. But if you actually want the question to succeed, maybe letting the question delete and reposting it would work better, and wouldn't require you to remember to undelete the question every month.
    – user111
    Commented Jul 2, 2017 at 14:08

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