This is subtly different from other suggestions I've found, like auto-answering common questions. There is one exact case that was handled here, but it was localized only to PHP/mysql_*().

The Problem

I frequent the PHP tag, and I too am tired of the "mysql_* functions are deprecated" comment. I understand that it will be beginners who ask these questions (particularly ones that copy-pasted from W3schools!), but this is more for the commenters that feel inclined to clutter up comment threads with tangential issues.

Surely other language/library tags suffer from this same problem. I've seen it with a number of jQuery methods as well. (This is the subtle difference from other suggestions. wink)

Preferred Solution

It would seem super-helpful to track commonly used but deprecated (or otherwise not-recommended), language-specific functions, syntax-es, etc., and display a notice near the original question. This way, we could all get straight to the "meat" of the question.

It could also be beneficial for the OP, but that's not the main point here. If SO is trying to be a high-quality source for information, it would be nice to clean up (or at least, discourage) the duplicated tangential stuff that distracts from the problem-solving nature of the community. If duplicate questions are bad, duplicate comments/answers on bad questions might be worse.

Formally recognizing bad practices on a per-language basis could do wonders for cleaning up SO.


However, I see a number of things that might make this hard to implement:

  • Might be too closely tied to specific version numbers of languages/libraries
  • Would be hard to detect problematic approaches (like common logic issues or anti-patterns)

Other Possibilities

  • A Wiki / FAQ-style repository of "gotchas" for beginners to avoid
  • A way of flagging/alerting of the tangential comments themselves (for potential self-moderation, not to add to moderators' plates)


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    I think we should avoid standardizing suggestions that will not work for large portions of the audience. Not everyone who uses mysql_* is a beginner. Not everyone has access to the latest jQuery libraries. We had a discussion about this today. – George Cummins Jun 25 '13 at 21:10
  • @GeorgeCummins Ah. I agree with that, but is there still a way to discourage tangential discussions? – landons Jun 25 '13 at 21:11
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    @landons, you can speak out yourself. Maybe post a comment like Guys, all of us, including the questioner, know the 'mysql_*' family of functions should not be used. Let's get back on-topic and try to address the question at hand. – Frédéric Hamidi Jun 25 '13 at 21:15
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    @landons I am optimistic that the mysqli/PDO spammers will get bored and fade away over time. Yes, it is clutter. Yes, it is annoying. But "all the cool kids" are doing it, so it persists. The fad will die out eventually. – George Cummins Jun 25 '13 at 21:16
  • @FrédéricHamidi I'll start doing that. Now I'm trying to decide if my entire question is completely invalidated by two comments ;) – landons Jun 25 '13 at 21:19
  • @GeorgeCummins Me too. Has that happened in similar cases? – landons Jun 25 '13 at 21:20
  • @landons "Use jQuery" was once an extremely popular mantra. It isn't completely dead, but it is less common than it once was. – George Cummins Jun 25 '13 at 21:21
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    @GeorgeCummins I wonder how much of this is really symptomatic of "I don't know how to answer that unless you're using my preferred library" – landons Jun 25 '13 at 21:23
  • Oooorr, people use mysql_ ones because they're dumb and don't know any better? – Cole Johnson Jun 25 '13 at 21:26
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    @ColeJohnson That's the spirit. – landons Jun 25 '13 at 21:27
  • So... can this question be salvaged, or should it be closed? It doesn't seem like there's anywhere to go with it. – landons Jun 25 '13 at 22:08

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