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Note: This was originally posted about apple.stackexchange, but applies more broadly to any technology or evolving topic.

It appears that because Apple changes a lot in each release of Xcode/iOS/Cocoa, answers (and questions) from two years ago are not only completely useless, they clog Google results to the point you can't possibly find a valid answer to your question. (SO should care about Google, I'm sure).

Looking for UIButton gets you a ton of Q&A from 3 years back, and it has become a major annoyance to look for the date before reading the Q&A.

What do you think about this drastic move - hide all Apple-related Q&A with no updates since 2009, say ? Or, at least hide it to crawlers.

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If this is indeed true, then I think I like the idea. But then either a lot of Xcode/iOS/Cocoa folks need to confirm that. Or maybe some more examples (old & new API, or failing searches) might help? – Arjan Jul 8 '12 at 11:15
A lot of objective C answers are still correct using knowledge of NeXT ApIs written in the mid 90s so if this is a problem it is only for some APIs and not all Apple related answers – Mark Jul 8 '12 at 11:24
Can you give an example of such a "completely useless" question/answer? – jrturton Jul 8 '12 at 12:08
Like with any outdated information, best thing is to edit the answer to be up to date or alternatively close the question as duplicate of a newer question with the same solution, just more up to date. – Shadow Wizard Jul 8 '12 at 12:35
Is something different about UI button? Ask a new question. Are xcode questions not tagged by version at all? – Ben Brocka Jul 8 '12 at 17:20
It's a shame I didn't keep track of my experience. Also, maybe it's more apparent when you're new to iOS. At any rate, I'll update this question as I stumble on examples. – user1071136 Jul 9 '12 at 10:20

Google already have a solution to this. You can restrict your search to recent pages:

google past year search

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Good point, but arguably this might indeed need some additional work on SO's end. (If it's indeed true that Apple dev answers get stale fast on such a large scale. I don't know the domain so I can't say. It may not be a problem at all, or easy to fix using version tags) – Pëkka Jul 8 '12 at 14:33
@DiscountGucciHandbags - This doesn't match at all with my experience (and I should know). We're still using some classes and APIs designed in the early 90's, but people become too fixated on the new stuff and ignore the vast majority of things that haven't changed much over time. Even a Google filter like is suggested here will cut out many great answers that were left years ago, but which are still very relevant today. There might be a few areas that have changed more than others, but even those should be handled in the standard way, with comments and updated answers. – Brad Larson Jul 8 '12 at 16:49
@discount this also depends heavily on Google detecting when the page actually was created or changed. In my experience that is not always reliable, etc. See… – Jeff Atwood Jul 8 '12 at 17:45

I strongly disagree with even the base assertion here. While there may be new ways to do many of the things asked in older questions, the vast majority of the upvoted answers in , , and still apply. Apple hasn't completely restructured the Mac and iOS operating systems or development environments in the span of three years. Heck, we're still using classes with an NS prefix that were developed in the NeXTSTEP days of the early 90's.

I taught a class in 2010 on advanced iOS development, where between semesters Apple had gone from iOS 3.0 to 4.0, which is one of the largest OS steps they'd taken in terms of new features and APIs. I anticipated having to change much of my curriculum to deal with this, yet in reality I found that little of the fundamentals had changed. Almost all of the second semester of the course was just a repeat of the first, with a few new twists scattered here and there. People keep asking me to update that class, but there honestly still isn't much that would need to be changed to teach it again two years later.

I just went back and looked at some of my old answers that I'd left years ago, and I can't find one that doesn't still apply today. I just got some votes last week for this answer that I'd left about three and a half years ago, as well as this one from three years ago. Were you to block these search results from appearing to Google, the people who benefited from these answers would not have seen them.

For the vast amounts of information that isn't out of date, you'd be removing that from the world at large, depriving people of the good answers that already exist as well as causing us to be flooded with duplicate questions when people didn't find those older ones. It would be a terrible idea to do this, just because of a few outdated answers.

The better solution is to confront this on a case-by-case basis. If an answer has been made obsolete by a new technology, leave a comment stating as much. Even better, provide a competing answer that describes the modern way of handling the situation. This has happened on a handful of my older answers, and I went back and tweaked them to add in the more modern approaches or fix older broken links. I've also seen older questions get new "as of iOS 5.0" style answers and have those be upvoted to replace obsolete ones.

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That's what I kinda suspected - it would be really odd if answers in one specific tag would have such a high rate of decomposition... – Pëkka Jul 8 '12 at 17:00

I'm sure not all answers are outdated. In addition to risking the loss of good answers, doing a mass hide only solves the problem temporarily, because Apple reference(s) will always be changing.

Why not introduce a special label or tag for answers that are outdated? It could manifest in a header stating The community has flagged this answer as outdated or something to that effect.

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Why the downvotes? Seems like the only sensible suggestion on this entire page. – Manav Jul 19 '12 at 21:03

I think the appropriate response to an outdated, and now incorrect, answer is a downvote.

If you're feeling generous, leave a comment explaining why. If you find a better answer elsewhere on SO, upvote it. If you find an answer on another site, add it to SO and explain why your answer now solves the problem and the others don't.

On many old questions there is a popular answer with a bunch of upvotes that just keeps getting more (even though it may not even work as a solution anymore) and a much better answer below that is newer with almost no votes. Downvote the old one, upvote the new.

If others agree with your assessment that it's outdated, it will organically work its way out of sight and better answers will work their way up and become more prevalent with more views, upvotes, favorites, etc.


Here's an example of where I did this: PhoneGap: Detect if running on desktop browser

I downvoted @GeorgeW's answer, which is old and no longer works (it was at 2 or 3 when I did this). I upvoted @Rob's answer, which is correct, and a great way to do it. It was below @GeorgeW's answer and now it's above it, where it should be. I didn't vote on any other answers. They all work, but @Rob's worked best in my scenario.

If I understand @JeffAtwood's comment correctly, I should have instead edited @GeorgeW's answer to make it the correct one?

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A downvote for an answer that was correct at the time it was written? I don't think that's appropriate or fair. The correct thing to do is submit an edit or comment amending the answer, ideally an edit. – Jeff Atwood Jul 8 '12 at 17:47
@JeffAtwood How do I know it was correct at the time it was written or whether it solves someone else's problem? All I know is that it didn't solve mine right now. – ThinkingStiff Jul 8 '12 at 17:49
@ThinkingStiff If answers have upvotes, means that it was helpfull and has solved someones problem! That's how I see if the answer was good or not at the time! – Zuul Jul 8 '12 at 19:30
@ThinkingStiff I often read old questions and by looking at answers, I see that what's written doesn't apply today... So, either I edit the answer to improve it, if the edit will not ruin the meaning of the answer as to the question she relates, or I just leave it and provide a new answer, with recent methods or relating the same problem on the lastest app version.On either case, I don't downvote answers "from the past" unless I'm completely sure (and can prove it), that the answer is and was wrong even when posted. – Zuul Jul 8 '12 at 19:30

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