What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 133 Stack Exchange communities.

It appears that if an question has been asked before, the policy is to mark it as duplication. This makes sense in cases where there is a definite and absolute answer, but I can think of two instances where this model breaks down:

  1. when the answer is time sensitive – for example, when recommending a plugin/gem to solve an issue, newer solutions become available, and the old answers become irrelevant.

  2. when the question's main purpose is to generate relevant discussion, and the old thread is stale – the main purpose of stackoverflow sites is to answer questions, but the value (at least to me) is the community. Relegating discussions to an dead archive, just because they've been had before, lessens the value of stackoverflow.

I request you consider revising your mark as duplicate policy for these two instances.

share|improve this question
    
Regarding outdated answers... If duplicate questions are not allowed, there should – at least – be a means of marking an answer as out-of-date. Otherwise, there is no way for a current answer to gain the prominence to be relevant (given the lack of traffic to upvote). –  kingjeffrey Jul 20 '10 at 20:20
    
Some responders have misunderstood the portion of my question regarding relevant discussion. This does not refer to meaningless banter; rather discussion relevant to a particular issue. For example, consider a question regarding graceful degradation v. progressive enhancement. There is no "right" answer, it's a value judgement. Stackoverflow's value is found in the multitude responders opinions. If a dead question preexists, it is pointless to post a comment there seeking clarification on a point. The archives are insufficient and duplicate questions are disallowed. What's a boy to do? –  kingjeffrey Jul 20 '10 at 20:28

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is likely to end up as [Status-declined]

  1. When the answer is time sensitive – for example, when [...] newer solutions [make] old answers [...] irrelevant.

If the question itself is time sensitive, it is not appropriate for StackOverflow. This topic has been broached here:

"On SO all questions are treated urgently." Basically, the fact that one user asked before it became urgent while another user waited until the last minute is none of my concern. I don't judge either one of them. Their questions are the same to me.

If the answers are time sensitive, such as (in your example) plug-ins or frameworks that have been updated, it is best to add information to the original question.

This is actually critically important, because users who are desperately checking every link in their search results will come across the old question first. If the information in it is out of date, that is bad for the entire StackOverflow community because it means that the app is stale. We should update old entries, not create new ones.

2 when the question's main purpose is to generate relevant discussion, and the old thread is stale

This has been mentioned many times before as well. StackOverflow is simply not for discussion questions. The format is not built for it, the application is not meant for it. It was designed from the outset with discussion specifically discouraged.

When you say "the old thread is stale" you are free to add your input onto that thread, although if it is truly a discussion question, added attention may just get it closed.

share|improve this answer
    
I understand and agree with your answer, specifically regarding time sensitive answers. But there is a practical deficiency in this configuration. If answers to a popular question are outdated, current answers will never be given the prominence needed to be relevant. Old questions just don't generate enough traffic for those answers to gain significant votes. Perhaps my complaint is not one of duplicate questions, but rather the inability to mark a question, answer or thread as out-of-date. –  kingjeffrey Jul 20 '10 at 19:50
    
That is a completely valid concern. There are a few options. If you have low rep: Flag for moderator attention ("the top answer is outdated/false. Would mis-lead any new users."), go to meta and inform the meta community about it. If you have mid-low rep Comment on the incorrect/invalid post, "This is outdated as of DATETIME, to current version would have you XYZ. See my post(Link to a current correct answer you've posted)". If you have rep Edit the post (ONLY if you are certain*) add "EDIT (DATETIME): With the ugrade to version G.H you should XYZ" –  devinb Jul 20 '10 at 19:58
    
@kingjeffrey didn't have space for notification in last comment –  devinb Jul 20 '10 at 19:59
    
@devinb I agree, but my guess is that does not get done. It is non-obvious. If I were to design a solution, I would have a new out-of-date link appear for trusted members after a fixed time period. –  kingjeffrey Jul 20 '10 at 20:26
    
@kingjeffrey I fear it would be wildly and unfairly overused. Consider these scenarios: Breaking change in framework, solution WILL NOT work. Deprecated in framework, solution WILL work with some performance degradation. Deprecated in framework, solution will work with NO performance degradation. New method introduced in framework, performance benefit minimal, conversion cost high. New method introduced in framework, performance benefit high, conversion cost high... and so on. ALL of those could be marked "out of date" but very few were actually meaningfully so. –  devinb Jul 20 '10 at 20:40
    
@devinb, it could work similar like flagging: a single click notifies the moderators; clicks meeting a certain threshold apply an action automatically (applying an out-of-date badge with a new button to report improper use?) –  kingjeffrey Jul 20 '10 at 21:14
    
@kingjeffrey that helps with the "abuse of system" part of it, but not with the "when is it applicable" system. There are enough high-rep users now that we can assume that anything that can be flagged, will be flagged. People would use it for design patterns that have fallen out of favour, for when they think their own pet algorithm is better than the option someone else used. It would be used on every javascript question with the note "Use JQuery". –  devinb Jul 20 '10 at 21:31

In case 1, new answers should be posted to the old question. Stack Overflow is not just about getting answers to your questions, but about having information readily available for any developer.

In case 2, discussion is generally frowned upon on the Stack Exchange sites.

share|improve this answer
    
That's right. Remember, Stack Exchange and SOUFM are Q&A sites. Not necessarily a community board for lols and discussion. –  rlb.usa Jul 20 '10 at 17:18
    
@rlb.usa That is why my question was careful to reference relevant discussion. See my comment to the original question for further clarification. –  kingjeffrey Jul 20 '10 at 20:32

-1. (EDIT: I see you're new to Meta; welcome! I know my downvote does not seem welcoming; you might find the question How does Meta work? relevant.)

In the first case, a new answer should be posted with the updated information and the old answer downvoted. If the old answer is accepted, hopefully the OP is around to un-accept it and accept the new answer, but if not, it's not the end of the world.

In the second case, the question should be closed, as discussion questions are — with rare exception — not welcome on Stack Exchange sites.

share|improve this answer
    
My self-worth is neither enhanced or devalued by reputation points. No offense taken. –  kingjeffrey Jul 20 '10 at 19:40

You must log in to answer this question.

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