Like this one: How do I get Haml to work with Rails?

This is actually pretty common to rapidly-evolving stacks like Rails (for that question, haml-rails is considered as the current standard)

I would offer the following observations:

  1. There is no point in punishing the old answer, but then:
  2. There is no guarantee that the new answers will ever amass sufficient votes to be on par with the older answer, as it depends on changing trends and other factors (like a drop in popularity of the topic as compared to a previous period)

For the uninitiated, a +4 but highly relevant answer is likely to be denied the attention it deserves when there is a +70 answer dangling. So the question is, is there anything else that can be done to increase the prominence of newer answers for such questions apart from raw votes?

An idea that occurred to me is that, apart from commenting on the older answers, would it be better to have a way to flag an answer as outdated? Such a flag would have no effect on votes, but will reduce the likelihood of the popular answer appearing at the top as compared to the rest of the answers.

Another idea is to sort a group of answers that have met a certain vote threshold, say 10, (to establish notability) by descending order of their posted time.

  • @Bart I think for certain cases, it is better to preserve the answers that were relevant to the respective time periods they belong to, but at the same time, make it more obvious that the question is time-sensitive and less attention should be accorded to the vote disparity.
    – prusswan
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 12:57
  • Made it an answer instead. I was going to ramble in the comments anyway. ;)
    – Bart
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:19

1 Answer 1


Instead of introducing new flags or other means to achieve what you want, I would suggest simply using what we already have: comments.

Just leave a clear comment to the original answer with the now outdated content, stating that while originally valid the situation has changed somewhat. If you have answered the question (or if someone else has answered the question) with up-to-date information, you could even leave a link to that answer.

If the OP of the previously best answer then decides that his answer is worth to update, he could simply add a new section for the updated information. This leaves the old (possibly still valuable) content intact, while the new info is also available. And if not, users are still made aware of the new situation and the up-to-date answer slightly further down (awaiting masses of upvotes ;) ).

Since this is a collaboratively edited Q&A it is also possible to amend the top answer with the new information you have, but that does not always seem to go over too well. Perhaps prodding the OP to include it is a better alternative.

  • That will work good enough indeed, in my opinion. In the worst case, someone coming on the question from external will see the accepted answer as first, see the comment under that this is outdated, and have a link to a more up to date one. And it's good enough.
    – Gnoupi
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:23
  • I was hoping for a better method than commenting, because I know for that question I would have been unduly influenced by the sheer number of outdated answers and their votes if I was less versed in the subject. I would rather have people leaving the 2010 or even 2011 answers intact, and focus on how to bring attention to the 2012 answer instead. All three answers have a place for historical reasons.
    – prusswan
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:39
  • Once again, I am not telling anyone to destroy the content of older answers, but perhaps to add to it. The old (previously valid) content can stay in place just fine.
    – Bart
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:40
  • The problem is that not everyone will share the same understanding of "update", it may appear perfectly fine to someone to replace an old answer entirely, as the old answer is no longer deemed relevant.
    – prusswan
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:46
  • You ask here how to handle such a situation. My answer: add the correct answer and leave a comment that the situation has changed. Perhaps inform the OP of the original answer to add the new content to his answer. Nowhere in there is there any deletion of the old content. And if the OP decides to delete his old answer then, well...that's up to him. All you can do is inform.
    – Bart
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:49
  • but why bother the OP even? I don't think it should be obligatory for people to keep watch over their answers indefinitely, so their involvement should not be taken for granted. I understand your answer, but I don't think we should stop there.
    – prusswan
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:54
  • There is no requirement for the OP to change anything. Your comment would simply indicate that something changed (to other users as well). The link to your answer points them to the new information. And the OP of the original answer can the decide on his own whether or not to update his answer. As simple as that. No obligation for anyone. Job done.
    – Bart
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:56
  • Then don't do anything to ping the OP, otherwise you are still putting an obligation on the person(s) who posted an answer, to decide if something should be done, isn't it? The comment should not be used to indicate that something changed (obviously something did change given multiple answers; it just isn't obvious enough in this context). Btw, I am only an observer, if I have to make up to two extra comments to emphasize that one answer is really outdated and the other is not, and pinging posters who do not need to be pinged, I see that as an unnecessary abuse of the comment system.
    – prusswan
    Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 14:01

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