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I have answered some old-unanswered questions, but is it beneficial to Stack Overflow? It seems as if no one views the old posts. For example, none of my answers for old questions have been voted on (up or down). Should I not bother answering old questions?

Here are some examples:

creating AIML for chatbot to ask questions

aiml 2.0 ported to python

AIML: not getting the right answer

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2  
If your answers are adding value then please continue to do this. There are two advantages, your answer may help someone in the future. Secondly, it helps Stack Exchange community in becoming a prime source of knowledge on the Internet. –  Aziz Shaikh Jun 20 '13 at 12:57
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If you feel inclined, you can search for "answers:0 is:question closed:no", sort by newest ( stackoverflow.com/… ) and jump to the last page. –  Daniel Daranas Jun 20 '13 at 13:23
    
Patience. You found those old questions, sooner or later someone else will find them too. If your answer helps they may upvote it. Good things come to those who wait, and that is even more relevant in niche tags. There is a certain satisfaction to be gained from getting an upvote long after you've answered a long forgotten question. –  McNab Jun 20 '13 at 21:59

3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

We appreciate it greatly when people take the time to answer old, forgotten questions, but there are a few things you can do to improve the chances of having your efforts rewarded.

  1. Answer questions in popular tags. It looks like you're targeting the tag from the examples you posted. That's fine if that's what you know, but it's a very low traffic tag (34 questions, 6 followers). You might edit those questions to add more tags if they're relevant, or you might just try answering questions with more popular tags.

  2. Check to see if the person who posted the question is active before answering a question. The OP is the most likely person to notice an answer to an old question. If they don't come around anymore, your answer might get no attention at all.

  3. Make sure the question is good. One of the questions you answered is already closed since you asked this Meta question. You probably should have just voted to close this question and saved your time for answering a question that stood a better chance of staying open (and attracting votes).

  4. Make sure your answers are substantial. Provide working examples whenever you can. (Even if you're linking to a project on github or launchpad, provide a working example that shows how that project answers the question.) One of your answers, "The AIML code looks fine. The engine that you are using may not support in a topic tag." could have been a comment, so it's unlikely that anyone will upvote it. It's probably better to leave that as a comment and come back and give a better answer if the OP ever reveals what engine they're using.

  5. Promote your answers! If you're on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, or some other social network, don't be shy about sharing links to questions you answered. People who follow you on social media do so for a reason. Some of them probably follow you because of a shared interest in Artificial Intelligence Markup Language. Why not let them know that you're answering AIML questions on Stack Overflow? (Stack Exchange doesn't mind the free promotion.) Some of your followers might become contributors themselves, and some might give you an upvote or two.

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Yes! There's even a badge for that!

Answered a question more than 60 days later with score of 5 or more. This badge can be awarded multiple times.

Answering an old question bumps it up to the top of the "active" list again, so then more people can see it. If you provide a very good quality answer to an old question, it will most likely get some upvotes.

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Is something wrong with my answers for the above listed questions? I have never received a vote (up or down). I enjoy answering old questions, but I want to make sure that I am greatly benefiting the StackExchange community. –  Devyn Collier Johnson Jun 20 '13 at 12:57
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@DevynCollierJohnson Well, for example, this answer should really be a comment. The answers you provide still have to be high quality answers. –  Doorknob Jun 20 '13 at 13:00

One of the great things about this site is that I can find answers to questions I have and those questions may not be relevant or hot topics. My introduction to SO was via a googled question about C#, which had been answered 3 years ago. It gave me what I needed, then I became a member of the community. So, since the objective here is to help others, it's ALWAYS a good idea to provide answers. It may not get you points, but I can assure you it's beneficial to Stack Overflow.

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