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Some questions and their answers on StackOverflow are getting old. This is part of a natural process. Nothing wrong.

I think that people should have an option to vote questions as obsolete or outdated (after a year or so). Such questions would then be archived if a quorum is reached. It would help keeping the forum free from bloating with unnecessary or unhelpful information.

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Do you have examples of questions and answers where doing this would be beneficial? –  Anna Lear May 24 '11 at 19:56
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Maybe an obsolete tag? Granted a lot of the times this is obvious if there are good tags (.NET vs .NET-2.0; I may give LINQ answers applicable only to .NET 4.0 if I don't see a 2.0 qualifier, but just because 4.0 is out doesn't mean 2.0 is obsolete). –  user7116 May 24 '11 at 20:34
    
This is especially true on gaming.SE, where games are patched. –  user157130 May 24 '11 at 21:24
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@sixlettervariables: Meta tags are discouraged 'round these here parts. And "obsolete" definitely qualifies as a meta tag. –  Cody Gray May 25 '11 at 5:07
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@Cody Gray: I miss those tags, allowed me to filter out more noise. I realize many folks are opposed, but I found them more helpful than harmful to my SO workflow. –  user7116 May 25 '11 at 14:58
    
@Anna Lear See Lukas Eder's answer and my comment. –  JVerstry Jun 17 '11 at 8:47
    
Example of outdated question - stackoverflow.com/q/4126745/239247 –  techtonik Oct 26 at 15:21

7 Answers 7

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I came across this question here:

Firebird vs HSQLDB at Java

And I think its accepted answer is outdated. I'm closely following the developments of many RDBMS and I can say, HSQLDB has caught up a lot in the last 2 years, also Firebird has some new momentum.

While the accepted answer might have been right at that time, it is not, today. Flagging this answer (not the question, in this case) might help users with less knowledge about these databases to assess whether this is a useful answer or not. I think it might be quite a nice feature.

On the other hand, the answer date itself might be sufficient, too.

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This is a typical example of outdated answer to questions. This is what initially motivated my question. –  JVerstry Jun 17 '11 at 8:46

I read all the other answers and for many situations there definitely is benefit for keeping say older technology questions around. Even cases where the relative merits of solutions has changed can still benefit the community. An example of where obsoletization could work is with web services. If a web service or related feed is shut off, it is gone. I don't care if I used it 5 years ago, I cannot keep calling it from legacy systems because it is gone. Among others, this is especially true with Google and Microsoft over the years who have switched from free to pay alternatives or from free to oops we're not making any money off of it so it will disappear off the face of the Earth.

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When you see a question that is clearly outdated, for example it claims something cannot be done in a language but the feature has since been added, the situation isn't too much trouble - you can always answer the question yourself with the new information. Sure, probably the reputation gain won't be as big, but at least you'll leave something for future Googlers to see and feel relieved.

However, the issue is more troublesome when you see an old question get an answer saying something, but you want to know if anything changed. Because the question is "answered", people looking for unanswered questions won't find it. You are left to hope someone who knows about recent developments will see the question, and post an update - unlikely.

For example, this question: What language must I use for a Pidgin plugin?

The answer states, my options are C, Tcl, Perl. Ok. But that was 3 years ago! Did something change? How do I find out?

The only solution I can imagine is, to make a new question linking to this one: "Bla bla, last time someone asked, you had to use C, Tcl, Perl. Anything change yet?" But imagine SO is around for 10 more years. Imagine I'm average- now you have 4 instances of "are we there yet" pointing to the same question. That seems inefficient and messy.

My solution would be, to allow reopening an old, answered question. Perhaps for questions asked and answered by others, I could click "reopen question", and then I would also get to choose the best answer - perhaps using a blue or pink tick mark - so the question would have two correct answers.

The important thing here is, to have a mechanism for moving old, answered, but possibly obsolete questions back to the top of the recent unanswered questions queue, both to bring them to the attention of the community as well as differentiating "asked, resolved and done" questions from "asked, resolved at the time, but solution possibly no longer valid or best" questions.

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request for reopening a question +1 –  Seçkin Savaşçı Aug 26 '12 at 7:41
    
The question wasn't closed, so how can it be "reopened"? –  Nicol Bolas Aug 26 '12 at 10:36
    
@NicolBolas Reopen in the sense of making the question unanswered again, so that it shows up in lists of questions needing answers. –  Superbest Aug 28 '12 at 15:36
    
@Superbest: So you want what, exactly? To undo all of the upvotes on the answers that were given in good faith? To take away the accept check? Or to remove all of those answers that were written in good faith entirely? Or do you just mean that this will make a question with several answers and an accepted one appear in the unanswered question list? Because the last one is going to take some explaining when people see it there. –  Nicol Bolas Aug 28 '12 at 15:54
    
@NicolBolas The last one. –  Superbest Aug 29 '12 at 15:57

Questions that apply to old versions of software can be useful precisely because they are documentation of behaviour of older systems, so they shouldn't be closed or archived, imho (and besides, just think of the extra works that having duplicate questions of something in the archive would produce).

That said, it would be nice to have them tagged so a warning along the lines suggested by Slaks appears.

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Why don't you edit the questions or answers to update them, then?

Even anonymous users can click edit and submit a suggested edit.

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Other than adding a warning, that frequently doesn't apply; many such answers either become irrelevant or must be completely changed. –  SLaks May 25 '11 at 2:42
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@slaks hard to say since the OP provided no examples. –  Jeff Atwood May 25 '11 at 2:57

I fail to see the purpose here.

Overcrowding is not possible on SO; with over a million questions, it really doesn't matter if you get rid of a couple of thousand older ones. (and disk space is cheap)

If people come to such a question from Google, there's a good chance that they're still using the older technology (there are people who still use VS 2003), and specifically want older questions.

In some cases, it may make sense to warn people that some information is no longer current; if so, a simple edit should suffce:

Warning: This question discusses foo version X, which was deprecated in 2002.

Older questions certainly should not be closed, since even old technology can get new answers.

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Yeah, people are still asking questions about VB 6, which is far more "obsolete" or "outdated" than VS 2003. But I don't think we should close all those questions just because it's not the latest and greatest tech. –  Cody Gray May 25 '11 at 5:08
    
REM: I don't mean that because there is a newer version of a product that older version Q&A should be made obsolete. Not at all. That's not what I mean. –  JVerstry May 25 '11 at 15:37
    
Here's an example: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/35/… –  SLaks May 25 '11 at 22:17

This is what the close reason "too localized" is for. If the question is only relevant to a specific moment in time, and that moment has passed, it is obsolete and should be closed. No more answers will be added, and it could even be locked to prevent reopening. Deletion is also an option if it is no longer useful.

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That is not what "a specific moment in time" refers to. –  Emil Vikström Aug 25 '12 at 22:04

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