This 12-year-old question was just resurrected by a brand-new user:

fatal error C1034: windows.h: no include path set

The Community system user has a habit of providing attention to un-answered questions by pushing them to the top of the feeds (this is a good thing!); however, the question in...question, can never have an answer selected as correct because the original poster is long gone: their account has been deactivated or deleted (no profile).

Users, particularly new ones, don't tend to notice the age of a question before answering, or that other answers are adequate and just need to provide an upvote instead of a whole new, potentially not useful, answer.

This behavior inevitably could cause an infinite loop of "No selected answer, Community pushes it to the top of the feed, uninformed user adds an answer, [time passes], No selected answer, Community pushes it to the top of the feed, ...continue ad infinitum"

Should there be a system in place to review unanswerable questions like this and potentially delete them? Either add a queue for real users to review them or add logic to Community to purge them after say, 12 months?

  • Ironically, this exact question popped up in my Late Answers queue. The user in question has only ever provided late answers... I dunno what that says about the user.
    – Casey
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 5:02
  • 1
    Theoretically, the Community user only bumps questions that have nonnegative score, have one answer with 0 score, and no answers with more than 0 score. The linked question does not seem to satisfy these criteria.
    – wimi
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 8:18
  • @wimi True. In this case it was bumped by a user that really shouldn't have done so, which led to my question. Hypothetically, the user could have listed the c++ as one of their watched tags and just stumbled up on it by going back far enough in the list.
    – Casey
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 8:28
  • Re "don't tend to notice the age of a question before answering": That is an argument for getting rid of the unnecessary (meta) clutter on top of every question (as it doesn't work anyway). E.g., for that one: "Asked 11 years, 9 months ago. Active 4 days ago. Viewed 52k times" Commented Mar 21, 2021 at 17:04
  • Related (2021): Outdated Answers project kicking off on Stack Overflow (MSE - here) and Introducing Outdated Answers project (MSO). Commented Jul 22, 2021 at 17:16

1 Answer 1


Whenever an unanswerable question is reviewed either formally (via a queue), or informally by any user with the downvote privilege, there is an opportunity for its usefulness to be assessed.

From the queue it may be closed, and sometimes deleted, by those with higher reputations but, irrespective of that, each downvote a question receives nudges it towards the Roomba and automated deletion.

I see no need for additional functionality in this regard.

  • That's just it, this was a good question with high upvotes at the time it was posted and has some good answers with high upvotes for when it was posted. Besides age and unanswerablility it is otherwise a good question. That leads to, once a user leaves the site, why wouldn't their questions be purged after some time when their question may be obsolete? (I certainly wouldn't want a question about Windows 3.1 to show up in a search for a problem with "Windows")
    – Casey
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 5:09
  • 1
    @Casey How would you distinguish an old question that "may be obsolete" from an old question that is still valuable? I think it's by closing, deleting and/or downvoting the former, and answering and/or upvoting the latter. What if that question about Windows 3.1 had an answer that was still applicable to Windows 10? I'd rather someone edited/answered to let us know that it still applies than lose what was perhaps the only time the question was asked at any Windows version.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 5:47
  • 1
    @Casey I gave my take on dealing with Q&As that were good when written but rarely/never useful to anyone nowadays at meta.stackexchange.com/a/361113/215590
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Mar 17, 2021 at 5:52

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