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While my code is compiling, I usually like to go through some reviewing and especially the late answers.

What I do see a lot in answers to old questions is the self-defense mechanism

"I know this question is like two years old but..."

As if there is something fundamentally wrong with answering old questions. This leads me to two questions/thoughts:

  • Should we edit phrases like that out of the answer? (Given it's a good/valid answer to begin with, without any of the likely "old answer" problems. I realize the example linked to has its flaws.)
  • Should we perhaps explicitly encourage answering old unanswered questions somewhere in the FAQ? (I'm unaware of any such recommendation, but might have read over it. Let me know if I did)
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15  
Answering a question is answering a question, it should not matter how old a question is. If you have something of value to say, then say it. And yes, that note should be removed. –  Time Traveling Bobby Feb 10 '12 at 10:45
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The whole "sorry for posting on an old thread" thing makes no sense to me even if it were a forum - what logical reason can there possibly be for actively encouraging history to repeat itself? –  Flexo Feb 10 '12 at 10:48
    
I thought such a problem only existed these days when compiling Windows. –  Grant Thomas Feb 10 '12 at 10:58
    
@Mr.Disappointment I hesitated to put in the reference. :) –  Bart Feb 10 '12 at 11:09
    
I'd add an edit comment: "No need to apologise" –  Benjol Feb 10 '12 at 11:55
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3 Answers

up vote 27 down vote accepted
+50

The Necromancer badge certainly encourages posting answers to old questions:

Answered a question more than 60 days later with score of 5 or more

When I come accross an answer with such a disclaimer, I edit it out. Just like I edit out greetings and similar fluff.

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There are two badges that encourage answering old questions:

  1. The Revival Badge: Answered more than 30 days later as first answer scoring 2 or more. This badge can be awarded multiple times.
  2. The Necromancer Badge: Answered a question more than 60 days later with score of 5 or more. This badge can be awarded multiple times.

I also asked this question when I was starting and Jeff gave me two additional links:

  1. [site-address]/review = It brings you to the review page;
  2. [site-address]/unanswered/tagged/?tab=votes = it brings you to a list showing the questions with no upvoted answers. (You can simply access this by clicking "Unanswered" and then choosing the tab "Votes".)
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Thank you. I was unaware of those badges. –  Bart Feb 10 '12 at 11:08
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@Bart I won something similar once, the "Excavator" badge which says "Edited first post that was inactive for 6 months"... SE is not like other fast-paced Social Networks. Apart that it's not a SN, but putting that aside, what matters is the content. You can even answer old questions with accepted answers, if you think that you can add some nice content. –  Alenanno Feb 10 '12 at 12:36
    
The thing is, for me this is not much of a personal question. If I have input to provide which is relevant, I'll do so no matter what the age. I merely started to notice a pattern in which some users (I could not give you a percentage) seem almost apologetic or fearful about answering old questions. That sparked my interest in the questions I asked. But I largely agree with what you say. –  Bart Feb 10 '12 at 13:06
    
@Bart Ah yes you're right. You did well to ask! :) –  Alenanno Feb 10 '12 at 13:13
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  1. Yes you should. It adds nothing to the answer. I believe answers should be as concise as possible.
  2. No, there is nothing particularly wrong with answering old questions, as long as it adds something new to the discussion, such as stating that the current answers are obsolete (and why they are obsolete and an updated solution) or giving a new solution that the existing answers don't provide.
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Just stating that the current answers are obsolete without providing an up to date solution is to be discouraged. At best it should be a comment on the question. –  ChrisF Feb 10 '12 at 10:58
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