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Due to changes in technologies, many answers were outdated. However, these answers were very good for the past, and they might also be useful for the same cases, but not for most. An example is a depreciated MySQL extension that was replaced with MySQLi, and the older PHP date time function whose use should be replaced by the newer (PHP date time class).

I am putting myself in a scenario: I do all my best to answer a question, my answer will be accepted and upvoted, but after one year, someone might write a comment and say:

This is a bad answer, outdated.

This is ethically right, notifying about an outdated answer is not a bad thing, but I am sure we can do this in another way, that does not destruct the person, considering that the answer was good in the past. My aim in this discussion is: What is the best etiquette for doing that? Is there any systematic procedure to be taken for improving the quality of answers?

Another issue here is someone that is searching for an answer. In case that we post an updated answer to the question, it might not get any upvotes, and then the user will probably chose the one with a high number of upvotes (considering that it's peer reviewed).

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Add a new and up to date answer? –  Bart Aug 3 '13 at 21:09
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@Bart: but how to tell user that this answer was outdated, people whose searching for an answer means that they are not familiar with that topic, then, they will probably chose the one that has max vote. –  user210003 Aug 3 '13 at 21:12
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Leave a comment along the lines of "Excellent answer, but unfortunately time caught up with you. Now X is the proper practice. Perhaps update your answer to say so". –  Bart Aug 3 '13 at 21:13
    
@Bart: very nice, what if SO standardize something like this? and create a systemic review for older answer. –  user210003 Aug 3 '13 at 21:15
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I think you may need to grow thicker skin. If the comment is correct, then I don't see how this would "destruct the person." There's no reason to take the comment personally. –  Ernest Friedman-Hill Aug 3 '13 at 21:41

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

There are quite a few ways of handling this and its best to look at this on a case to case basis. There are some general steps you can follow, though.

If you come across a question with outdated answers then you could do either of the following :

  • Write a new answer with updated details
  • Put a bounty asking for up to date answers
  • Comment under the existing answers regarding the same (both as a means of notifying the OPs as well as putting up a sign post for future readers)
  • Suggest an edit to an existing answer covering the updated methodology (not recommended, as such edits have a high probability of getting rejected)

If you get a comment on your own answer, suggesting that its outdated, then you could do either of the following :

  • Update the existing answer (if its the accepted answer)
  • Write a new answer, and edit the previous one to say that its now outdated.
  • Put a bounty asking for up-to-date answers

As every edit brings a post back to the front page, your updated answers will not go unnoticed.

Alternatively, if you want to prevent this issue from happening at all, you can commit to maintaining some of your own answers over time. For best utilisation of your time, just look at the questions you answered which have received the maximum number of views (as these are the ones that most probably turn up in search results), and keep updating them at regular intervals. Even though this may appear to be a thankless job, users who frequent the tag will identify you and appreciate your work (and you will be helping out a whole lot of other people too!)

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"such edits have a high probability of getting rejected" [citation needed] –  Jan Dvorak Aug 4 '13 at 4:29
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@JanDvorak When updating an answer leads to an entirely new answer either because of API changes, or totally new techniques, a reviewer can quite correctly reject these as radical changes. I have personally seen quite a few reviews which resulted in such updates getting rejected. –  AsheeshR Aug 4 '13 at 4:33
    
if adding a new solution would be too radical, you can just edit in a short notice along the lines of "<sub>note: this answer is for jQuery version 1.5. live has been deprecated in jQuery 1.7 and removed in jQuery 1.9, but can still be used if you happen to use a version prior to 1.9</sub>". –  Jan Dvorak Aug 4 '13 at 4:36
    
I suggest: adding a comment unless you can edit yourself and decide to, and suggesting an edit if the answerer seems to be inactive. If you cannot watch the question for a while to give the OP a chance, or if you don't want to wait because the outdated information is now actively harmful, edit / suggest an edit immediately. –  Jan Dvorak Aug 4 '13 at 4:40
    
there's a difference between adding a version info as an edit (which is perfectly fine and should be approved) and adding a whole new solution (which I wouldn't do, unless you can fit that into one sentence or two - e.g. a link to the new API simplifying the problem radically) –  Jan Dvorak Aug 4 '13 at 4:43
    
@JanDvorak A whole new solution is what I was hinting at from that point. –  AsheeshR Aug 4 '13 at 4:48
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even if you decide to add a whole new answer, I recommend editing in a version info into the old one. –  Jan Dvorak Aug 4 '13 at 4:49

I think the best solution would be either to edit the answer yourself if minor changes need to be made or add a new answer if major changes would need to be made.

If you don't have an updated solution, you could add a bounty if it's important to you. I think one of the options for a bounty is saying that the answers are outdated.

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I do thought about that, I am thinking about group of editors to accept the claim on outdated answers, therefore, the owner can edit the question not us. –  user210003 Aug 3 '13 at 21:13
    
@Akam Actually, any user can suggest edits (which will go through a review queue), and >2k users can make edits. –  Joshua Dwire Aug 3 '13 at 21:15
    
Personally I can edit, but, what if all user notified to review their answers, and questions, this will be good step toward improving quality. –  user210003 Aug 3 '13 at 21:21
    
@Akam you can place multiple comments if you think it's important for multiple answerers to update their own answers. In most technologies adding an updated answer and perhaps a comment on the question should be sufficient, since the old way of doing things isn't usually broken, there's just a new, better way. –  Aaron Bertrand Aug 3 '13 at 22:43
    
even if you decide to add a whole new answer, I recommend editing in a version info into the old one. –  Jan Dvorak Aug 4 '13 at 4:50

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