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I've noticed (particularly on 3D Printing SE, but as I understand it this happens across many sites) a number of instances of new users wrongly posting an answer to an old question to bump it, asking if the OP ever found a solution.

This is of course a misuse of the answer workflow and gets deleted or converted to a comment by moderators, but the reason it's happening is because there's a genuine need for new users that's not being met.

They arrive at the site after searching for a solution to their problem, find a question that matches it, but for which there is no good answer, and they're unable to comment or interact in any other way because they don't have sufficient reputation.

In order to avoid this misuse of answers and the perpetual need for moderators to clean them up, and frustration from new users on the other side, could something be done to make a constructive workflow to meet their needs?

Maybe allowing users without comment privileges to post an account-lifetime-limited number (3?) of "prefab comments" along the lines of "I'm having this problem too. Did you ever find a solution?" This would avoid making it a vector for spam and low quality comments while allowing users to do what they're trying to do (which is something useful and legitimate) and giving them a better first experience with the site.

I noted in the comments that, when this kind of action prompts me to self-answer my own old questions I'd forgotten about, it's not actually the bump that matters, but the inbox notification. So perhaps a decent workflow would be something to express new interest to the author of a question with no accepted answer. But this only works if the OP is still around.

Allowing limited commenting would also facilitate other users seeing renewed interest in the question and taking a stab at answering it.

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2 Answers 2

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"Bumping" a question isn't really a workflow on Stack Exchange. Questions are still discoverable based on search, and we should be pushing users to search for questions and answers through that (or through Google).

Also too, "hey I have this issue too" is expressly discouraged since it's not substantive to Q&A. "Me too" is neither a question nor answer and the network doesn't optimize for it.

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  • Commenting on an old question that never received an answer to ask if it was ever resolved does tend to improve the site. Chances are that the OP eventually solved their problem somehow and just didn't bother to self-answer, and poking them about that can end up getting a good self-answer describing how the problem was solved. May 27 at 21:49
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    @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE: I tend to disagree. If they didn't self-answer, what are the odds that they're still on the site and willing to then answer? Do you have evidence to suggest that this has improved things in the past, and to what degree versus no action taken?
    – Makoto
    May 27 at 21:52
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    My "evidence" (modulo "plural of anecdote is not evidence", etc.) is my own reaction to my own old questions getting bumped. It's not actually the bump that matters but the notification of a new comment or (non)answer on my question, so just a way to send that notification would work just as well. May 27 at 22:28
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    @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE sorry, contrary to your personal experience, as a mod who has observed many "me too" NAAs, I more often observed that: either 1) OP already lost their credential to their unregistered cookie-based account, or 2) OP abandoned the issue altogether and moved on. May 28 at 13:25
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We already have an "I'm having this problem, too" button. It's to the left of the question, and it looks like this: screenshot of upvote button

When you press it, it generates a notification on the asker's "Recent achievements" button to let them know people are interested in the question, and it lets other people know, too, by incrementing the question's score to make it easier to find among all the other unanswered questions that might need answers. Best of all, it only requires 15 reputation to use, which you can easily obtain by suggesting just 7 edits to posts in need of a little help (maybe including the one you need help with—that will bump it if approved, plus it'll get some people to look at it when they review the edit).

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    This is blatently not what that button means. The upvote means "this is a good, well-researched/well-stated question which the community should be made aware is good, and whose author should be rewarded with reputation". It does not mean "I'm having this problem too". I typically get 3-5 upvotes on old questions every day, and I generally assume they're just people expressing that it's a good question, not soliciting me to update or self-answer. May 28 at 1:10
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    Well, it's the only thing we got, and if you also have the problem, the question previously being asked is defacto also helpful is it not? You can also offer a bounty, to draw attention to the question, if it's not been answered.
    – Ramhound
    May 28 at 4:34
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    @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE A clear question is useful if other people are having the same problem and they can't find a solution for it. If the question isn't even good enough to merit an upvote, the user should just post a new question, not ask the poster of the original one.
    – Ryan M
    May 28 at 6:42
  • @Ramhound: A new user with no reputation cannot offer a bounty. My whole question here is about how new users end up doing something wrong that annoys mods and community because they're unable to use any of the features that would advance their goal and improve the site. May 28 at 14:21
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    @R..GitHubSTOPHELPINGICE - They can always come back to the question after contributing to the community. An upvote cast requires a very small amount of reputation
    – Ramhound
    May 28 at 15:30

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