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Consider this situation:

  • Answer 1 is highly voted and/or accepted, but wrong.

    • Problem: Votes are conflated with correctness, especially for visitors who don't know how SE works. The accepted answer checkmark is worse, since the convention on many other sites is "THE answer" rather than "the answer the OP liked best".

  • Answer 2 is correct, but not accepted and with a low score.

    • Problem: Low-voted answers at the bottom of the page are often ignored by visitors.

  • Comments on answer 1 pointing out the errors aren't being responded to by answerer 1. If answer 1 is accepted, comments on the question aren't being responded to by the OP.

    • Problem: Comments are not highly visible (by design) and will likely be missed by visitors.

  • Answer 1 is not Community Wiki.

    • Problem: We don't want to steal answer 2 and give credit/reputation for it to answerer 1 instead.

  • The question is highly viewed, ranks well on Google, and is linked to by popular external resources dealing with the subject.

    • Problem: Lots of people are getting incorrect information, potentially leading them to go elsewhere or avoid joining SE and participating.

This mostly does not apply to Stack Overflow since most (?) tools have versioning. It's definitely been a problem I've seen on Gaming (particularly MMOs and evolving games like Minecraft) and Android (new OS versions), and I could see it applying to many other sites like Web Apps (Facebook changing its layout or privacy settings again, etc.).

In these cases, what do you do to make sure that visitors get the correct information? I've tried flagging for CW to avoid one of the problems mentioned above, but this is almost always declined even in cases of clear wiki-type answers that would benefit from more collaborative editing.

  • I'm considering proposing an Outdated post notice, but I want to make sure I have all the information first. – Matthew Read Oct 1 '12 at 21:27
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    I'm in favor of just appending a version number on the top answer. "Applies to versions X, Y, and Z. Does not work for version W". These should be in bold at the top to make it clear. That way you don't punish the answerer by inviting downvotes from future users. – Mysticial Oct 1 '12 at 21:32
  • I agree with @Mysticial on this one. That seems like the best idea all around. – Andrew Barber Oct 1 '12 at 21:32
  • And a big example of this is: stackoverflow.com/a/5115968/922184 But I'm not in that area so I'm not qualified to make such an edit. – Mysticial Oct 1 '12 at 21:34
  • Oh, I see you're asking about this for other sites. Although versioning information may not be clear on those, I still think that an attempt should be made to version them by other means. – Mysticial Oct 1 '12 at 21:36
  • @Mysticial That's a good idea. Glad I didn't make my feature-request :P – Matthew Read Oct 1 '12 at 21:37
  • Oh and flagging for wiki isn't gonna work too well due to social effects. It's not that collaboration is bad, it's that you're taking away something that belongs to someone else. That's why mods are less likely to pull such a trigger. – Mysticial Oct 1 '12 at 21:40
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Each post has the date included, and users should be aware that everything in the internet has a publish date and can be outdated. The same applies to all forums, blogs etc. If someone finds a post about Facebook dating 2 years ago, one should not expect it would be still actual.

The only potential problem I see with Stack Exchange sites is that you don't see when the answer was accepted and when the last upvote was. I think it would also be a good idea to mark questions with no activity since [X] months graphically so that the visitors would be aware that this is an inactive topic, and probably no longer actual.

  • I like the idea. But I feel that it's only useful for experienced users. A new or unregistered user coming in from Google is likely to find this too confusing. – Mysticial Oct 1 '12 at 21:48
  • "Users should know" unfortunately does not mean "users do know". We have to act within reality, or attempt to change it. – Matthew Read Oct 2 '12 at 13:59
  • The acceptance date is actually shown if you hover over the checkmark, but that's really not very discoverable. As a side comment on another issue I once proposed making the acceptance date more visible, which would also help with mobile devices. – Monica Cellio Jun 24 at 15:54

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