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I came across an answer to this question whilst carrying out reviews. I'm wondering what the best way to handle this kind of situation is as I'm sure others have come across it too.

The question if asked today would be flagged as not constructive and closed rather quickly. It was posted in April 2009 however when the rules were slightly more relaxed I believe.

I think maybe it should be locked rather than closed but I am not sure on this. Looking for some guidance. It seems to have been useful with over 1800 views and 12 favourites.

Also, is there some message that can be given to the user that posted the new answer to not post answers on old questions that aren't constructive? I suppose if the question was locked, this wouldn't have been an issue though :)

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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

The question should be closed, the fact that it was asked when the rules were slightly more relaxed is irrelevant. Right now it's a broken window and sends the wrong idea about what the site is about and what kind of questions we welcome.

We can't blame the new guy for posting an answer. He found an open question he could answer and went for it, that's exactly what we want new users to do. Posting a comment criticizing him for answering a "not constructive" question would be awful (even if we are extremely polite about it), we can't really expect new users to have the slightest idea of what "not constructive" means for us.

Lastly, I don't think the question qualifies for a historical lock. It's not stellar, it doesn't have tons of inbound links, most of the answers are not particularly useful (some were, but have since aged) and there are quite a few higher quality duplicates around (two are even linked to in the question). I don't really see any reason to delete it, but I wouldn't really care if it was. But it should certainly be closed.

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I was thinking more of a guiding comment rather than berating them but point taken. –  Ren Apr 3 '13 at 11:59
    
@Ren Hm, that's a poor choice of words there on my part, I was under the impression that "berate" had a softer meaning than it actually does (just checked a dictionary). Any ideas on a better word or phrasing? If so, feel free to edit. –  Yannis Apr 3 '13 at 12:06
    
I've flagged it now in any case. Perhaps 'criticising' would be a better word for it? –  Ren Apr 3 '13 at 12:08
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The question if asked today would be flagged as not constructive and closed rather quickly.

Then, if you see it now, do the same. It probably just slipped under the radar for now.

I think maybe it should be locked rather than closed but I am not sure on this. Looking for some guidance.

It should always be closed. The real question is whether it should be deleted right away (or within, say a few weeks) or remain on the site, but in a locked state. There are many arguments pro and against each position, and Meta is full of discussions around this.

In essence, if the question is really useful, it might deserve a lock, but if you don't have vote to close privileges, just flag the question and see what the moderators think about it.

is there some message that can be given to the user that posted the new answer to not post answers on old questions that aren't constructive?

Not really. On an ideal site, we wouldn't even have any of these old, not constructive questions. Another reason for deleting them, and not keeping them just for the sake of it. Even when the questions are locked, they are still there and might encourage people to ask similar questions.

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