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Posts with a historical lock notice look almost like ordinary posts. All that distinguishes them is:

  • The absence of voting arrows, a minor detail, especially to people who are not habitual Stack Exchange users.
  • The absence of the edit or improve this question link.
  • A discrete notice under the question that indicates that “it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site”. This notice often blends in with the protection and closure notice. It's well-known that users don't read, and we're not even making it easy for them to find this important piece of information.

Historically noticed posts should be indicated far more prominently.

  • Put the lock notice at the top. That way, it won't blend in with the other notices, and it won't be lost below a potentially long question text.
  • Use the deleted question style.

This is in effect what had been proposed by Jeremy Banks in Add the alternative of "delisting" questions; deletion is usually harmful overkill) and Pekka in Show embattled deleted questions to the public as if they were 10k+ users. As things stand now, the historically noticed posts are pretty much displayed as ordinary posts; we might as well not bother.

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Hmmm, if this gets done I'd say use a different colour (say green) as the background - to reflect the fact they are not deleted, but archived. – user142852 Mar 6 '12 at 11:25
A faded parchment background would be cool... in particular with the historical context ;) – Oded Mar 6 '12 at 11:56
@Won't - Genius! Great minds and all that :) – Oded Mar 6 '12 at 13:38
We have plans for this...but the current state certainly isn't a bug. – Nick Craver Mar 6 '12 at 15:33
@Gilles - you can disagree with the design, sure, but that's still not a bug. – Nick Craver Mar 6 '12 at 15:47
@NickCraver Sure, the implementation conforms to the technical specification. The problem is that the technical specification does not conform to the concrete requirements. – Gilles Mar 6 '12 at 15:50
@Gilles - Who's requirements? Yours? That's a feature request, literally, by definition. We have larger plans for archiving questions, and won't waste time here on an interim would be totally wasted effort. – Nick Craver Mar 6 '12 at 15:53
@NickCraver Ok, this requirement wasn't spelled out in the blog post. But the lock notice reads “… it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site …”; I took it as a requirement that this lock notice should be visible to people with no SE experience. – Gilles Mar 6 '12 at 21:44

If these posts are being kept around in part because of off-site users (which would explain why they're delisted from searches), having them displayed with the deleted color-scheme would be wrong.

I'm not saying that they shouldn't have a different color-scheme. But the deleted one is very... harsh. It's off-putting, and looks really unpleasant on the site. It also makes the text harder to read.

Remember: these off-site links could be the first that a user sees of Stack Overflow. We should try to make a good impression, even with questions that are not in keeping with the site's current best practices. It's good information (that's why we're not deleting it, after all); we shouldn't make it look like non-information. And we shouldn't suggest that all of SO looks like that.

A shiny heading would probably be the best way to go for this. A special header, possibly with a slight background shift to a off-white grey.

share|improve this answer
Looking off-putting is the point. – Gilles Mar 6 '12 at 21:42
@Gilles: Your point, perhaps, but not mine. They should look different, to show that they're not the standard fare. But they shouldn't look off-putting. Remember: this may be the first view of Stack Overflow for some people. They need to see something attractive. – Nicol Bolas Mar 6 '12 at 21:45

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