What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 131 Stack Exchange communities.

I always wonder if I read questions and nobody ever focused on one special point - I constantly think if it is worth the time to answer them.

They usually do not get any upvotes no matter how good the answer is and so remain in the mostly unread lower part of the page.

So should we consider a question as a knowledge base for a topic, or just a way to answer one single person?

share|improve this question
    

7 Answers 7

up vote 24 down vote accepted

Answering old questions has many pros.

  • It will get bumped to the frontpage. Getting more views and your answer possibly getting upvotes

  • You answer the question for anyone who comes later with the exact same question.

  • You show others the question, who might answer it.

  • You might get a badge for answering an old question

  • The user (if still active) will get a notification of new answers to his question

share|improve this answer
    
Don't forget badges. –  Joel Coehoorn Sep 30 '09 at 13:41
13  
We don't need no stinking badges. –  Paul Tomblin Sep 30 '09 at 17:53
    
I'm not sure of the benefit of the bump. I don't know the weighting algorithm but I suspect new answers to old questions don't count for much. –  Mark Ransom Jul 17 '12 at 17:58
    
Did I just get notified of an old question? How meta! –  Ólafur Waage Jul 18 '12 at 15:46

I've answered plenty of old questions. It notifies the original poster, who will occasionally vote it up. A number have changed their chosen answer to my new answer.

In maybe 90% of cases though, it does nothing. Almost no-one else reads it. The OP doesn't notice it, there are no votes up, it doesn't get chosen, etc.

Now I answer them much more rarely.

share|improve this answer

I always try to answer questions, even if they are old. Maybe the OP still needs his question answered. I might not get any upvotes, but that's not all that important; the answer will still be there and someone will find it useful eventually.

share|improve this answer

I like to think of Stack Overflow like a wiki that will live on forever, long after the posters have left, as a repository of programming knowledge for future generations.

share|improve this answer

So should we consider consider a question as a knowledgebase for a topic or just a way to answer one single person?

Definitely a knowledge base for a topic. The question will live on in Google long after the original poster has gone on his way.

share|improve this answer

If an existing and popular answer is just a little out of date, it's better to simply edit that answer to make it current. The task of keeping the wealth of information on Stack Overflow current falls on everyone who has the reputation to do so.

If your answer is sufficiently different from answers that exist, sure - by all means, go ahead and provide it. Another good answer on any question, no matter how old is always a good thing to have.

share|improve this answer

Yes, it is always good. Do not forget one of the major purposes of these sites. It is meant to be an Internet resource of information. People will search and find these questions and want any good answers to their questions. I have found myself finding old questions that were current questions of mine and read through all the answers, not really even paying attention to when they were posted. Just because a question is not on any of the front pages does not mean it is forgotten.

Try not to even think of up/down votes, just answer the question. That is what is important, not how popular it is.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .