This is not a question about old orphaned questions.

Its about old unorphaned questions like: Does ruby have real multithreading?

To remain correct this question will need constant updating. An absolutely wrong answer is marked correct and receives free advertising by being green and showing up first. There are 3 additional answers that add no value to the discussion and this is the number one result for googling "ruby real multithreading".

This question cannot be asked again, as it will be marked a dupe, there is no motivation to keep it up to date, so it's bound to get out of date.

Do we have some sort of responsibility to clean up this mess? Should there be some sort of incentive to help maintain this knowledge? Should ownership be revoked from the original asker?


I just noticed this is actually an abandoned question. The user no longer uses Stack Overflow. Nonetheless I'm sure I could dig up similar questions by users who have not abandoned the site.

  • 1
    old answers never die, they just deallocate....
    – Jason S
    Jun 29 '09 at 23:37
  • 1
    The correct answer has since been accepted. XKCD 386 no longer applies. Oct 21 '11 at 2:57

To extend on what Jonathan Sampson & Chealion have said, some ideas:

  1. Old questions (or perhaps questions belonging people that haven't been active in months) automatically become community wiki, so that answers can be more easily updated/corrected
  2. Questions that are set to community wiki automatically make the highest voted answer the "accepted answer", since that's what the community thinks (point 1. would lead into this nicely)
  3. Need to allow moderators to "un-accept" accepted answers (& possibly "accept" other answers, although this is less necessary)
  4. Add a new flag for answers, allowing users/moderators to mark items as being out of date and/or wrong (or possibly automatically after a certain amount of time). After a certain threshold (say 5 votes), display a warning at the top of the answer (similar to how the duplicate question warning shows at the top of a question) informing users the content may be out of date. (this is only necessary for answers, since if the whole question is out of date it can simply be closed as no longer relevant).
  • 1
    +1 for point 4 - more flagging possibilities would be nice
    – a_m0d
    Jun 30 '09 at 7:04
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    I like the [Flag Answer: Possibly out of date] idea. Jun 30 '09 at 13:47

Perhaps the SO-Sites should alert you when a question is older than n-months, especially since much of what we discuss on these sites is very time-sensitive.

I do make it a habit to clean up here and there when I mosey from question to question.


Joel has mentioned this several times on the podcast; he was sick of seeing old answers in old, old threads on forums that were locked. I've always seen Stack Overflow (and others) as places where as the real answer changes it can be updated as it comes across - in some ways it's like Wikipedia but focused on questions and answers instead of articles.

Keeping the answers clean and correct is something that only the community can truly take care of and could help determine how much of a long term use SO/SF/SU are to the Internet as a whole.

So yes, I believe we as the community do have the responsibility to help keep the answers as appropriate as possible however there is a hole when the community chosen answer is much better than the one chosen - hopefully there will be some option for those with enough rep to "unchoose" an answer if a question is old enough instead of only being able to downvote (thus saying it's not a good answer)

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