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What is the endorsed way of requesting updated answers to an old question?

Say I'd like to know the best GUI application for some command line tool. Of course this question already exists and has an accepted answer dating of two years ago. Since then new applications have seen the light and are maybe also featured in some comments or answers, but I'm not sure that their votes have catched up because old questions don't get that much attention.

Should I just ask a new question pointing out that I consider the duplicate question stale?

There's another question where the answer suggests that the mechanism for keeping answers up to date is downvoting older and upvoting newer answers. I don't have the impression that this mechanism really works for all types of questions.

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I would write a new question and at the top put "> ***Follow-Up:** The [original question](url) is out of date.*" with a link to the original question and then an HR and THEN your question.

Apparently we're reaching a sort of consensus that doesn't involve yelling ;)

Special props to Bobby ;)

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Why the all-caps? Without even reading the text, I'd be predisposed to read it as a "CODEZ PLZ URGENT" question (or worse), and possibly ignore it. YOU AREN'T EXACTLY HELPING YOUR ODDS BY SHOUTING AT EVERYONE - are you? Yes, people will notice if you start shouting - but they won't notice "hey, there's an interesting question"; they'll notice "hey, someone's trying to be annoying". – Piskvor Jan 5 '11 at 12:13
And they'll also downvote without reading if you don't differentiate the thing that you want them to pay attention to. It already happens doesn't it? – jcolebrand Jan 5 '11 at 15:13
@Piskvor: Agreed, I hate it if somebody shouts at me in the morning. :( @drachenstern, then use ` > *Follow-Up: The original question is out of date.*` or something similar, this is my default header for disclaimer/notes. – Time Traveling Bobby Jan 5 '11 at 16:12
@bobby ~ Good idea. I was just trying to get SOME form of commentary there ;) ... I like your idea better, including the use of the quote markdown. – jcolebrand Jan 5 '11 at 16:25
@drachenstern: You're welcome...and thanks for deciding to not go all caps on us. ;D – Time Traveling Bobby Jan 5 '11 at 16:27
@drachenstern: That "downvote without reading" sort of proves my point of "shouting is counterproductive", no? What possibly happened: "Let's see what drachenstern has to say: 'Write new question and at the top [a lot of shouting -> eh, it's just noise, don't bother]'". Yes, the remaining points are sensible, but you might have as well prefixed your message with "Buy cheap rolex viagra", for the same effect: people aren't going to pay attention to the second impression, if the first impression is really bad. – Piskvor Jan 5 '11 at 16:42
@Piskvor Good point. So I suppose I should edit to insert @Bobby's suggestion then? – jcolebrand Jan 5 '11 at 17:23
@drachenstern: I would (and I see you already did) :) – Piskvor Jan 5 '11 at 17:26

I think a system could be put into place that might help.

Add a 'flag as stale' link to questions and answers that reach a sufficient age and have not been edited.

The flagging will do two things:

  • The author of the question or answer will see a notification "Your answer [blah] might be out of date. Consider re-visiting your answer" A flag that the author could dismiss once re-visiting the question.

  • A list of questions flagged as stale could appear on the tag info page, per tag. Given the amount of people who have the S&W / Copy Editor badges, I'm sure that they'll get the attention that they need.

Additionally, offer a 'caretaker' badge to people who edit a sufficient number of questions or answers that meet the criteria, without subsequent down votes to those questions or answers in xx number of days.

Or some variant of the above. I'm sure, though, that the system can be taught how to get possibly stale information in front of the people who have the knowledge to fix it.

Of course we should just be fixing old information as we encounter it. However, given the sheer volume of SO ..

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+1 for some interesting suggestions – Donal Fellows Jan 5 '11 at 12:29
I like the idea of listing these questions for the editors among us, but I would add some weighting to make sure 'hot' questions get some preferred attention. Especially because it's extra bad to have hot questions with outdated info – Ivo Flipse Jan 5 '11 at 14:55

If you know the new answer:

  • Then edit the current answer, so say way it is out of date (just add one line at the top)
  • And add your own answer

Then let other people do the voting.

However if you don't know the correct answer, ask a new question, making it very clear you have read the old question(s), and why you consider a new question is needed.

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What is the policy on the outdated question? Should it be closed? – marcog Jan 5 '11 at 10:32
You might wanna add a note that not everyone can edit an answer. – Tshepang Jan 5 '11 at 11:30
@Marcog, the outdated quesions will still be useful to lots of people, not everyone is allowed to use new systems due to polices at work. – Ian Ringrose Jan 5 '11 at 11:54
-1 disagree: If we're talking about questions that have already been marked answered and they are sufficiently old for the target audience, then I say don't change the answer or the question. But if those two criteria aren't met, then sure, update one or the other or both. – jcolebrand Jan 5 '11 at 15:56
@drachenstern, I think the answer should be edited, but just adding a single line warning a reader it is out of date and pointing to the new question. – Ian Ringrose Jan 6 '11 at 9:17
grrrr my brain doesn't read so well at night for some reason ... but what do you think about just having a new question? – jcolebrand Jan 6 '11 at 13:51

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