410 Gone – Our policy for deleting documentation

(Florian Scholz) #1

Hi all,

I’ve deleted a good chunk of SIMD documentation in the last few days. See https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=1416723#c22 for a full list of pages that got deleted.

So, why did I just delete this? Was it a good idea? I think it was. I feel comfortable, mainly because of a two reasons:

  • There was only one implementing browser (Firefox Nightly) and only experimental projects were probably using SIMD.js.
  • In February this year (6 months ago), I added a banner to the top of all these pages explaining that the API isn’t going anywhere and the standards work is discontinued. So, I think people had enough time to also discontinue their experimental use of the API.

Note that I also deleted all translations to properly clean up the now useless docs. (also searched in KumaScript to remove mentions of SIMD).

Now I’m wondering: How did you make decisions on when to delete docs? I feel like we have a lot of things moved into the archive or many pages with banners, but when do they reach End Of Life? Should we delete more? When?


(Eric Shepherd) #2

This is a good question. I’m never comfortable with the idea of deleting documentation outright, just because you never know when you might be removing something that someone out there needs. But realistically, this is a case where it made sense to do so, I think.

That said, I think we should delete content extremely rarely. I would at least make sure there’s something somewhere on the site that mentions what SIMD is, why it’s gone, and what to use instead. I’d say similar for anything we decide to delete in the future, I think, too.

But I think we should archive rather than delete whenever possible. That decision will make more sense if/when we have the opportunity to fix the archive experience a bit.


(Connor Shea) #3

It’d be nice if the pages were added to something like archive.org before deletion, at least. I assume archive.org already archives everything on MDN, but I don’t know that for sure.

(Janet Swisher) #4

Archive.org does take snapshots of MDN. Here’s a recent one, for example. I don’t know what prompts them to make snapshots, or why they make more on some days than others.

(Kadir Topal) #5

I’d suggest to delete liberally and use archive.org for snapshots of deleted content. MDN is pretty large already, and every time we remove content that is very unlikely to be helpful we make it a little easier to find the content you are actually looking for. If you are unsure, you can always check Google Analytics to find out whether a page is seeing any use and who is linking to it. I’m also very happy to help with that.

Keep in mind that Kuma actually soft-deletes. So, if we have to restore an article we have an option to do so.

(Eric Shepherd) #6

Although the soft delete is temporary; deleted pages are purged automatically after 30 days, if I recall correctly.

(Florian Scholz) #7

After a month without SIMD docs, I have not received complaints about their absence. I’m happy with them being purged now. I don’t know when or how that happens.

Archive.org looks good to me: https://web.archive.org/web/20180308120633/https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Web/JavaScript/Reference/Global_Objects/SIMD

I think I will start “Intent to delete” threads on here whenever I want to delete a collection of docs (say 20 pages or more) and we can decide on a case by case basis.


(ExE Boss) #8

Same here, I prefer moving things under docs/Archive where possible.