EDIT: Discussion is moved to meta.SO: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/q/118656/176664

I could not find any discussion of this issue so here it is.

I have been involved in helping a user with the externalization feature of tikz. The user first thought that the problem had to do with a loaded library from tikz. See: externalizing groupplots.
But in fact the question is wrong in context.

I pointed this out to him, and he correctly posted a new question (although he could have edited the present question, but nevermind that). The question now resides: References in externalized pgfplots. Good!

The moderators have closed the question as too localized. However what is the policy on questions that are actually wrong in the leading thoughts on error? Are they simply closed or should they be removed as they provide wrong information to new users?

I am in favour of totally removing the question as not to show up when other people search StackOverflow on these terms. But would love to hear other opinions!

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1 Answer

I would be reluctant to actually delete a question. Even a question like this can be of help to someone trying to diagnose the same problem and not knowing the cause. However, I agree that they can be a source of confusion so I think that the best solution is for someone (who knows the situation) to edit the question with some introductory remark explaining, for example, that in the comments it became apparent that the problem was due to something other than first thought (perhaps linking to the follow-up question).

(The questioner can always delete the question, so long as it hasn't been answered - maybe some other conditions apply, I don't know exactly.)

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I can just foresee endless questions with wrong assumptions on causes. But I can also see that people will probably find the questions if they are mistaken as the initial poster. I am in a dilemma as to the procedure, because this is "clocking" (is it spelled like that?) up the system with incorrect questions. So the one that finds that it is wrongly questioned should add an edited comment in the top? What about title? Should that be rephrased? Or perhaps added with a slash with a proper denoted question? –  zeroth Jan 11 '12 at 9:39
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"clogging". The system is designed so that some questions are more likely to come up in searches than others, and closed questions with no votes are pretty low on the list. I'm pretty sure that they've thought about this on the main StackOverflow site so it might be worth hunting around on meta.SO to see how the system works (or asking a question about how it works). (I do agree that there is potential for problem and it's a good point to raise.) –  Andrew Stacey Jan 11 '12 at 9:42
    
Thanks, that seems reasonable for a search engine! Especially here on SO. I would love to get more feedback so that a guideline could be set up. Not only for the admins, but mainly for the one that discovers the error. –  zeroth Jan 11 '12 at 9:51
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The best place to get that feedback is on the meta.SO site (in the list at the bottom of the page, it's the one called "meta"). I recommend that you ask there (and then put the link somewhere here so that the rest of us can find out too). –  Andrew Stacey Jan 11 '12 at 10:06
    
Ahh, ok, I thought that individual sub sites could generate/wanted to have their own set of rules... I will do this in the evening! –  zeroth Jan 11 '12 at 10:10
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We can, and do!, but to do this effectively it would be useful to know what the software does, and it is always helpful to know what those with more experience do (which we can then disregard with aplomb). –  Andrew Stacey Jan 11 '12 at 10:15
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