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There are a few old questions (often very popular) which are now deemed to be off-topic by community consensus. For example, questions "What are the hidden features of X?", "What are the strangest corner cases of X", and so on.

SO novices come across these questions, and think they can ask them themselves, replacing "X" with "Y". And their questions get closed as off-topic within 5 minutes, leading to complaints of the form "if he can do it, why can't I?".

How can we deal with this? (I think it is a bit of a problem ... but feel free to disagree.)

Should we:

  • Simply try to make the questions go away vote to close / vote to delete?
  • Have a conversation with the "programmers" moderators and (if they agree) migrate the posts there?
  • Do one or the other of the above en-mass, or on a case-by-case basis?
  • Ignore it. No problem here, move along?
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This question might be of interest to you: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/71731 A lot of the questions have already been considered for options 1-3 and they chose to go with option 4. –  Brandon Mar 9 '11 at 23:14
    
See - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/80272/… –  ChrisF Mar 10 '11 at 23:02

3 Answers 3

Although now off topic, these old questions are precious, and a consistent part of the site legacy. I would certainly lock them. I would migrate those that pop up occasionally, eventually coordinating with others on the chat so to vote to migrate, but I would certainly not delete them. Deletion is like killing brain cells. SO is a brain, don't kill brain cells. It's bad.

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Agreed. I would not advocate deleting them. –  Stephen C Mar 10 '11 at 0:01

Have a conversation with the "programmers" moderators and (if they agree) migrate the posts there?

I see no benefit in migrating old questions regardless of where they are now and where they "should" be. There are three cases here:

  1. Popular question - it will have lots of answers, and will have exhausted the discussion. What benefit is there to the question to resurrect it?
  2. Answered question - there'll be a few answers and one will be accepted. There's no benefit to either the question or the target site for this question to be migrated.
  3. Unanswered question - this is the only case where migration might be useful, but if there hasn't been an upvoted answer there a good chance the OP has abandoned the question.

Anyway why would you assume that an old question that's now deemed off topic on SO would be automatically on topic for Programmers'?

I happen to be a moderator on Programmers' but I would apply the above to any "now off-topic" question on any site.

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In my view, the utility of migrating old off-topic questions to a site where they are (now) on-topic is that is provides the opportunity for new answers / discussion ... whether or not it will be useful. And we cannot predict whether or not it will. (FWIW - useful versus useless is not an overt criterion on SO for deciding whether to close a question or delete an answer. We apply more specific criteria.) –  Stephen C Mar 10 '11 at 0:17
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"Anyway why would you assume that an old question that's now deemed off topic on SO would be automatically on topic for Programmers'?". I don't assume that. Part of the problem is figuring out which questions would be on topic. –  Stephen C Mar 10 '11 at 0:21

I really like what Robert did when he closed and locked the question How much does it cost to develop an iPhone application?:

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here.

More info: http://stackoverflow.com/faq

I'm not sure if this is a new template for a moderator action or something he did on his own. I think it works well for a question like this that has useful content but no longer fits on Stack Overflow or one of the other network sites.

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It's not a moderator template; it's just something I came up with. I am using it on a case-by-base basis on questions like this that show up in the moderator queue. See also meta.stackexchange.com/questions/80272/… –  Robert Harvey Mar 10 '11 at 22:48

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