I noticed that here on MSE, there's an unofficial policy of closing questions, especially unanswered questions, about deprecated or removed features of Stack Exchange. From what I can tell, this has several advantages; for example, unanswered questions about such features can no longer be answered reasonably, so it makes sense to remove them from the "unanswered" list by closing them. Also, this appears to have been done for many years, with such closures being under the "off-topic" close reason, and older ones done under the old "too localized" close reason.

Generally, when I come across such a question, I opt to use a custom off-topic close reason with a comment, such as:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the concept of "accept rate" has long been removed from the system.


I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the "tagged" list on the right has been removed many years ago.


I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's no longer relevant as moderators are now intentionally restricted from suspending users from longer than 365 days.

In most of these cases, including all of the above, the question does get closed as off-topic, but most of the time it's for a different reason:

The problem described here can no longer be reproduced. Changes to the system or to the circumstances affecting the asker have rendered it obsolete. If you encounter a similar problem, please post a new question.

I believe that this close reason is only intended for reports of problems that are ephemeral or user-specific, and the answer to that question would not help other users, and vote accordingly. I don't believe it's for questions about deprecated or removed features whose answer would have been helpful to others back when the feature was in service. But others generally close for that reason.

Why is this? Is my definition of the close reason wrong, or are these close voters wrong? Should we even be closing these questions, in your opinion?

  • 1
    I was confused and annoyed when I found that the flag weight post had been removed. I once asked something related to that on Physics Meta (a month ago), but I couldn't find any real comprehensive stuff here once people there told me that flag weight was a thing. – user392547 Aug 27 '18 at 15:53
  • Is it a problem that I am tempted to flag this question as "can no longer be reproduced"? – Robert Columbia Aug 27 '18 at 16:20
  • What made you think the “can no longer be reproduced” reason isn’t intended for these questions? It literally says ”Changes to the system ... have rendered it obsolete”, which is exactly the type of question you’re describing. – Cai Aug 27 '18 at 17:00
  • @Cai Catija said so in the Tavern. – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Aug 27 '18 at 17:02
  • Well it’s clearly been used as such and Shog’s answer agrees. I don’t really see how it couldn’t be meant for such questions – Cai Aug 27 '18 at 17:07
  • @Cai Well, then I guess my definition of the close reason is wrong :) – Sonic the Bracketed Hedgehog Aug 27 '18 at 17:08

It really doesn't matter, so long as there's a clear and valid explanation for why the question will not and should not ever be addressed.

IOW, you could pick the "can no longer be reproduced" reason yourself and just leave a comment.

What's critical is that this not be used for questions where it doesn't apply:

  • Bugs / FRs in systems that still exist but are obscure or little-used.
  • Bugs / FRs in systems that are only accessible to a subgroup of users (20K users, mods, employees)
  • Bugs that have been fixed (yes, by definition a bug that is fixed can no longer be reproduced, but this is not in keeping with the spirit of the close reason)
  • Etc.

The close reason was created for stuff like the old review system (the one that existed for a year or two prior to the current one) or the first thing named Teams or Documentation. There's no chance bugs will be fixed in it because there's nothing left to fix, and particularly for the first two examples there's a good chance that leaving them around just adds confusion for both folks reporting new bugs and the folks trying to fix them. If those concerns don't apply... Don't bother closing.

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