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My understanding is that a question is historically locked because the information in it is too valuable for the question to be deleted.

But if the "valuable information" becomes obsolete, what happens then? We cannot modify the question content, or the answers for a historically locked question, right?

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Flag it for review? – Mike B Nov 20 '12 at 13:42
The word "historical" implies a chronological freeze of the content involved. It goes against the concept of a historical lock, IMO, to be able to update content that was locked this way. Just like how species are hunted to extinction, information becomes obsolete. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Nov 20 '12 at 13:49
(I get that scientists are trying to revive certain species through fertilizing fossil DNA with extant DNA or whatever, but that's really not my point...) – BoltClock's a Unicorn Nov 20 '12 at 13:53
see also: Can't flag historically locked questions "...posting here is the correct thing to do." – gnat Oct 28 '13 at 11:17
up vote 15 down vote accepted

Consider this: posts are historically locked because they are viewed by the community as being immensely useful even though they are glaring examples of what not to do on a Stack Exchange site.

If the answers on a historically locked question are veering towards being (or actually are) not useful anymore, then the justification for the post being historically locked should be revisited. If the value is not there anymore on a historically locked post, then by definition, it shouldn't be historically locked.

Naturally, if it's no longer historically locked, and still a glaring example of a post that is not a good fit for a Stack Exchange site, then it should be deleted.

If this is indeed the case, then you should raise the issue on Meta: it's generally better to get community consensus on these (as they would have been the ones to ask for a historical lock in the first place).

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It would be nice if we could see anonymous feedback gathered from posts that have such a lock. That lets us see how useful people find them over time. On the one hand, we're telling people not to flag for technical inaccuracies, then on the other we're .. ugh. – Tim Post Nov 20 '12 at 14:55
I posed a similar question a few minutes ago:…, and I was pointed here. This answer is not fully satisfying me though. What if the locked post is still very useful and only a little part of the information it provides is outdated? Deleting it doesn't sound right, still it's providing outdated information which is not a good thing given its visibility. – Gabriele Petronella Nov 11 '13 at 23:18
@GabrielePetronella The subtle point is "veering towards"; if a question is locked, it can't be updated. At some point the content in the question will be outdated to the point of it not being useful anymore. It will be at that point that the post should be deleted. – casperOne Nov 12 '13 at 12:19

There is really no direct system in place to handle this other than flagging, as casperOne indicated.

However, If such a post:

  • Received negative anonymous feedback
  • And the velocity of views tapered off
  • And other posts linking to it reduced
  • And did gyre and gimble in the wabe

... the system could conceivably raise an automatic flag to alert moderators that the historical lock might not be appropriate any longer. Still, removing such a hard earned lock is something a moderator is not likely to do without good reason.

What I recommend you do in this case is flag and raise a discussion here questioning the validity of the lock, while clearly stating why some or all content is no longer relevant or perhaps even harmful. The post can then be unlocked, edited and re-locked, or removed with the blessing of a consensus.

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Not for nothing, Community is kind of stupid in the flags it raises. I don't need another one that barely produces any actionable results. – casperOne Nov 20 '12 at 16:24
@casperOne How can gyring and gimbling in the wabe possibly result in that? :P I must stop posting half baked ideas for others to finish. – Tim Post Nov 20 '12 at 17:47
It's not half-baked as much as it would require Skynet to pull off. I'd love to see this feedback, but they're a long way from it (they really should tap some of the Cross Validated folks for that). – casperOne Nov 20 '12 at 18:25
Great suggestion ! – Eric Ouellet Feb 6 '14 at 16:53

I suppose you could flag it, but then you're asking Moderators to make a judgment as to whether the answer is still accurate. The Moderator may not have enough knowledge to effectively make that determination. Even using the "Other" option with a nice long explanation is likely to be insufficient.

I suggest that in such a case it would be an excellent discussion topic for that site's Meta. The community can decide what can be done, whether it's to unlock the question, delete it, edit the answer, or whatever.

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as of now, can the community vote to remove the historical lock? – SatheeshJM Nov 20 '12 at 14:31
@SatheeshJM No, but if the general consensus in a meta post (based on votes for the post advocating different positions) are clear the moderators are likely to take that action (at least for issues such as this). – Servy Nov 20 '12 at 16:03
FWIW, there's no flag option on Historically Locked questions. If they need to be updated or moderated, they shouldn't be locked. – Shog9 Nov 11 '13 at 23:16

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