Having some interesting questions in my favorite list that could help me if I stumble over them in the future, I wondered about how long the questions and answers will be stored (so, if I should save some of my favorites offline to still have access to them in a year). Of course there can't be a guarantee that SO will still be available, but if it is, will my favorite question also be? Or is there some sort of "timeout" and questions/answers get deleted from the database after some time?
There are three ways posts can be deleted:
- You can delete your own post
- Moderators can delete your post
The post reaches the 5-vote offensive threshold and is deleted
Posts aren't physically deleted -- just hidden. (aka soft delete)
I'm fairly sure your question will not be deleted because it's "old" :) .
One issue is that "correct answers" for many problems may no longer be the best answer down the line. Even if someone posts a new, updated, even more correct answer on a post later on (unlikely, there's 60k questions now, so old questions will be found by people looking for answers, not looking to give answers) it is unlikely that they will be scored up, or accepted.
So the site needs to ensure that old questions are "rebubbled" to the top occasionally - in a year or two at least, to get updated answers and keep them alive, maybe get some more upvotes for still correct answers.
In hundreds of years future generations will browse Stackoverflow in a Minority Report stylish way like we do it today looking at historical version of Encyclopedia Britannica on the intarweb. ;-)
There could only be one problem: the Stackoverflow content could be too small for the minimum size of 1 Petabyte of "data objects" on future computers.
I wouldn't worry too much about the data being lost any time soon. It has been created for developers by developers, and even if, at some point in the future, they decide to shut the whole thing down, I couldn't imagine that anyone (especially our lovable overlords J & J) wouldn't at least offer the database to someone else to host: even as a static archive.
If sh*t happens, hopefully there's still the archive.org version of Stackoverflow.
Did you know that the site existed back in 2000? ;-)