Some sites have gone some significant changes of scope policy over the years. At one time the homework tag was policy on Stack overflow. It isn't anymore. And then there's the entire early history of Not Programming Related Software Engineering.

I'm sure many metas have these old polices sitting around. These old policy pages can often confuse users coming to meta and looking for is something on topic. On Software Engineering.SE, I had a user quoting a page from 2011 about the on-topicness of career questions. It's 2015 now, and career questions are categorically off topic because the experiments of them being on topic in 2011 (and on) really failed to produce good questions or answers (they kept getting asked again and again with minor variations ('the other post was about a 21 year old, I'm 25')... anyways, that's stuff of M.Software Engineering.SE.

Without being revisionist of the history - because that causes confusing comments and not quite answers to questions, create a special lock for meta sites.

This question exists because it has historical significance about the development of the scope of {site}. However, this scope has changed over time and the reader is urged to seek more recent posts on this topic.

Another variation / suggestion:

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered representative of the current policies of this site. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. More info: help center

This way mods can properly identify old policy posts and lock them.

Why mods? Why not just have users dup them to the new one? Mostly because it puts too much power in the hands of the community for being revisionist. We can go all over and silently duplicate things to other things (because how many 10k users actually watch the meta 10k tools?) and also delete historical policies that we don't particularly like.

Locking them freezes the votes, prevents duplication and commentary (there've also been situations where someone comments on an ancient policy and tires stirring up discussion on something we've put behind us for years on that post).

It is important to record where we've been and keep that around. The discussions and meta posts from '10, '11, '12, '13 and '14 have brought us to where we are now. For someone who wants to understand why certain questions are off topic on Software Engineering.SE or how best to ask a certain type of question that frequently comes up (and has been given various meta posts of guidance), it is important to see the gradual changes over time as various policies were attempted and modified later, or wholesale updates and clarifications to policies. Otherwise, meta is even more confusing than it is normally to new users.

  • I'm assuming you want this to function the same as the historical lock on main sites, just with different wording? (locking the entire thread, not just the question)
    – Shog9
    Apr 9, 2015 at 2:35
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    @Shog9 correct. It is a historical lock that is on meta that directly addresses the changing policy rather than the good example of a question (as seen on the main site).
    – user213963
    Apr 9, 2015 at 2:36
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    Is there a particular reason we'd need to keep this information around at all other than "writing a history book" so to speak? If you're effectively saying "this information is outdated and completely useless - don't pay attention to it" - why not just delete it?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Apr 9, 2015 at 3:01
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    @animuson deleting it would deprive new users of the discussions and experience of the past. They are necessary to understand why some locked main site questions exist and why people on Stack Overflow keep leaving comments of "belongs on Programmers". Deleting old policy decisions makes it very hard to understand where we are now.
    – user213963
    Apr 9, 2015 at 3:14
  • I'm having trouble understanding where this would even be applied. Your homework example has been modified heavily so that it is still relevant. Are you saying that if there was a question which had discussion solely for the use of the homework tag, which established a policy of using it, is worthwhile to keep around? Because I would disagree. I can't imagine a discussion establishing a policy that's been repealed being useful to new users. They need the information that established the current policy, which is where we'd need to be directing them.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Apr 9, 2015 at 3:21
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    But if we think of Meta more like a help center - keeping inaccurate information laying around just because it's history is a pretty bad idea. I have no idea if Facebook keeps all their old help center articles around, but if they do they definitely don't display them and let users stumble upon them - because that would cause confusion. Rather, it would make more sense to have a canonical spot for "What is the history of our site?" that describes the specific moments where policies changed, etc, only keeping the current policies around as actual questions for users to find.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Apr 9, 2015 at 3:23
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    @animuson the guidance given in the six subjective guidelines is now dated. P.SE is now much stricter than that when it was given. Should it be deleted? There are half a dozen posts that chronicle the evolution of the policy on career questions - each building on the previous. The oldest is now completely wrong for the site, but the next youngest build on that and references it - where the policy was good and where it failed. And the next youngest and so on until our most recent policy post.
    – user213963
    Apr 9, 2015 at 3:29
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    @animuson here is the key test for you. Should we lock or delete The Six Subjective Question Guidelines -- Enforcement Notice? It is still gathering comments. If you say delete, what happens to everything that links to it? If you say close as a duplicate, what post should it be duped too?
    – user213963
    Apr 9, 2015 at 10:24
  • Locking makes more sense than closure, but it would seem best to also directly link the older question to whatever "more recent posts on this topic" exist whenever possible. This is a lot like duplicate closure, and it's not very helpful to just tell someone "go look again".
    – jscs
    Apr 9, 2015 at 20:02
  • @JoshCaswell ideally, more recent questions link to the older ones. This is not necessarily too much more helpful but can be seen in things like this that have a reasonable number of other linked questions. Though this doesn't say which is newer. Others can have... a few more.
    – user213963
    Apr 9, 2015 at 20:09
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    Sure, they ought to be in the sidebar, but there can be a lot of reasons questions can get linked, especially for those old policy discussions. The exact successor document (or even its closest approximation) can easily be buried. I think directly pointing readers to it would be ideal.
    – jscs
    Apr 9, 2015 at 20:43

2 Answers 2


I like this idea, but I’d favour short and simple wording. This is, after all, mainly for the benefit of newcomers.

This policy discussion is now out of date. Please look for more recent posts on this topic.

You could possibly add a further sentence, but I don’t think it’s necessary:

This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. More info: help centre.

My suggestion differs from yours in two respects:

  • I do not attempt to offer an explanation for why the post is still here and has not been deleted. I really don’t think that's necessary. On the main site, it is: you want to specify that off-topic posts will usually be deleted, and that this is a rare exception. On meta, I don’t see a need for that. The phrase out of date in itself makes clear that this was on topic and accurate at the time, but now no longer is.

  • The phrase please look for is far more direct than the reader is urged to seek. There’s no harm in addressing your readers directly.


I don't think this is a good idea, this literally preserves garbage. New users shouldn't read these posts to understand policy. They shouldn't post new answers to them, since they've since been superseded by more recent discussions. It makes much more sense to just close these as duplicates of the newer discussions, if you really want to preserve them, or delete them if you don't want to preserve them.

Which one is preferable should be discussed on each per-site-meta.

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    Locking them doesn't help either since they still show up near the top of search results, sidebars, and duplicate target lists - over more current, valid policies.
    – Troyen
    Apr 9, 2015 at 6:19
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    what you call "garbage" is often the most efficient way to understand reasons for why things are currently the way they are now. "We already tried supporting those questions, we even gave them their own site. Sadly, it didn't work out..." -- delete this, and after that, try to explain people why certain kinds questions are considered harmful
    – gnat
    Apr 9, 2015 at 7:44
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    What a per-site meta does with this tool is up to them. These posts are not garbage. They are often important milestones in the evolution of the site. However, they are historical artifacts of policy and renewing discussion of the issue should be done on a new question - not by posting a new answer on them.
    – user213963
    Apr 9, 2015 at 17:27

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