With the increased usage of technology and particularly with the internet, the world changes at an increasingly rapid rate more than ever before. We’re still relatively bad at creating with this in mind but that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to do just that.
One of, the biggest problems with the SE model is its outdated answers. These days I find myself answering old questions which have out of date or not complete answers more than I answer new questions. I also see some other higher rep users also posting new answers to old questions fairly often. However, there are many more questions with old, outdated, or partially complete answers that could be improved. They are sometimes not easy to come across for us because we, as professionals, have sometimes moved past the stage at which we’re looking up the information involved in the post.
Here on SE we want very high quality posts and content. This is the reason why the “too minor” rejected edit reason was removed. Leaving incorrect old posts (even partially incorrect ones) when lots of people are viewing them should be a big priority to fix.
My goal in this proposition isn’t primarily to address what to do with out of date answers on old questions (besides improve them), there are already several others on the subject, but to have an easier way for these questions and answers to be found, added to, and improved.
I’d like to have another review queue to help users find and appropriately deal with these dated answers.
The way I imagine the queue would be similar to just viewing an old question currently. The reviewer can vote on the question and answers, leave comments, edit questions and answers, close and flag when needed, and provide an answer them self if they’d like. The only thing required in addition is something like “Bump this question”, “No improvement needed”, and “Skip this post” buttons. If 3 (or however many) reviewers choose to bump the question, it would get bumped to the main page by the Community. If 5 (or however many) reviewers choose that no improvement is needed, then it is not bumped and nothing is harmed. If the reviewer can’t make a good decision, they can skip it.
There would have to be some question requirements for questions to be eligible to be in the review queue. Here are my initial thoughts for those requirements:
- A view limit - If no one really looks at a question there’s no real point in improving it. This view limit would be nice to be able on a per-site basis as SO gets a lot more traffic than smaller sites. Allowing a variable one set by moderators would also allow the most viewed questions (there are currently 223,000 SO questions with over 10,000 views) to be fixed first before moving on to lesser viewed questions.
- A date limit - A certain period of time since the question has been posted or until it was last reviewed. I haven’t given this requirement too much thought or research, but most out of date answers I see are at least two years old. so a timeframe of about that long seems to be appropriate.
There would also need to be some reviewer requirements in order to assure that an appropriate person is reviewing the old question and answers:
- A reputation limit should be required to view the queue in order to prevent crappy answers to old questions. I think something as low as 1k should be allowed as reputation doesn’t necessarily determine the quality of answers given, but something higher may be more appropriate.
- There also needs to be some way to make sure the reviewer is knowledgeable about the subject. The way I can see that being true is requiring a score of 40 (or some other amount, maybe a bronze badge) for one of the tags used. This will also help prevent robo reviewers because I feel like most people with >40 usually know the system somewhat well and care some for the subject they're knowledgeable in. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the reviewer will know enough to make a good judgement, it will help do so. Perhaps additionally allowing reviewers with a lower score (say 20 or so) in two of the tags could be useful.
I am unsure whether or not the post should remain in the queue if a user chooses to edit one or more of the posts (and therefore automatically bumps the question). On the one hand if it stays then more useful content could be added. On the other hand it has already been bumped, so voting to bump it wouldn’t have much of an effect at all in most cases.
Overall there are some things we need to consider in more detail, but I think this is a step in the right direction because it would help improve the quality of content across the board. By providing the community with better tools to both post new, quality content and to moderate older but still relevant content, it’d help fix a big problem of the model SE uses. As such, it’s a feature I’d really like to see implemented.