I was viewing some old posts on Stack Overflow (two-year-old posts) and found that due to "fast technology trend changing," some of them are no longer valid. Stack Overflow (and the Stack Exchange sites generally) should have some sort of criteria to tag questions as Obsolete, or a vote-based system to mark them as such.

I am not in favour of closing obsolete questions.

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    Could you give examples on which questions you think are "no longer valid"? And what would you suggest should be done with them? Jun 24 '11 at 9:24
  • Question updated Jun 24 '11 at 9:37
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/92574/… Jun 24 '11 at 10:28
  • 1
    The last line of your post ("i am not in favour of closing it.") seems to directly contradict your title ("question closure based on technology obselete"). So which one are you actually supporting? (I was editing for spelling/grammar, so I had to make a choice; sorry if I made the wrong one.)
    – Pops
    Jun 24 '11 at 18:37
  • @Popular demand no you made the right one :) Jun 24 '11 at 20:51
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    A good example of an obsolete question is "How do I access my “GMail Drive” via DOS command". Gmail Drive was officially declared dead in 2015. The program no longer functions, is no longer in development, and has been replaced by Google Drive.
    – Stevoisiak
    May 8 '17 at 15:20

It depends on what you mean by obsolete technology: If you're talking about something that is frozen in time while the world has moved on (for example, VB6) then while the question and its answers may be obsolete in one sense, in another they may still be valid and useful for anyone who has to support an old project written in that environment.

As such, I'd say those questions were still useful and should stay "mainstream" to some degree.

If you're talking about a bug with a particular version of Java which has since been rendered moot by umpteen new versions that people really should be using instead then these may be less useful. Arguably they should then be closed instead of kept around and tagged - if we assume that tags are meant to be useful then what use will people get out of tagging these posts as "obsolete" along with a great sea of other equally "obsolete" but possibly unrelated questions?

  • +1 I work with a bunch of guys who still swear by VB6 :) Jun 24 '11 at 10:44
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    Even bugs in "obsolete" products may still be useful to someone who is searching for the reason for some unexplainable behavior in an old project. Jun 24 '11 at 14:34
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    @davidsleeps well then let me introduce you to careers.stackoverflow.com Jun 24 '11 at 15:07
  • @daniel quite the contrary, I get more development work. Do love careers though! Jun 25 '11 at 5:31

I agree with @ChrisF but I feel it doesn't do justice to questions that have been useful for a long period time even if that time is now past...

I think some form of indication would be useful, but maybe its just that the question is protected in some way...

And as is as always the way, someone will end up inheriting something that is effectively obsolete but is certainly not to them, and I doubt they'd be alone...so it may well be useful to others...

  • i agree closure or deletion shouldn't be an option only a flag/tag to question so that some one searching the thread should know right away Jun 24 '11 at 10:40

If the technology is truly obsolete (though now I'm re-reading this I don't think there's anything that can be truly called obsolete) then just vote to close as "too localized".

This question is unlikely to ever help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet.

(my bold).

However, if it's just an old version of a language, framework etc. then it's not appropriate to close the question at all.

If you don't have enough reputation to close or you think it won't get the other 4 votes in the normal operation of the site, flag it for moderator attention.

  • 7
    No, closing as “too localized” is not appropriate just because there's a new version of a library/framework/whatever. Please do not encourage abuse of the “too localized” close reason. The only case I can think of where a question wasn't too localized but became so over time is if it's about interaction with some provider-hosted web application that's no longer available. But whenever you're dealing with software you can run on your own computers, there's always someone somewhere running this precise version and unable to upgrade. Jun 24 '11 at 14:12
  • @Gilles - better? I didn't mean to imply that it was for new versions of frameworks etc. though I can see that would be implied from the question.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jun 24 '11 at 14:24
  • @ChrisF: No, still misleading. You should define “truly obsolete” (ad then I may or may not agree, but at least we'll know if we're talking about the same thing). Jun 24 '11 at 14:57
  • @Gilles - changed the tone of my answer, as I've come round to your point of view.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jun 24 '11 at 15:02
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    @ChrisF I'd define obsolete as no one can possibly use the technology any more. And even then the question may have value; for example a question about a no-longer-available web app API may still be useful to someone who's upgrading old code to the new version and struggling to figure out what the old code is doing. Jun 24 '11 at 15:58
  • I understand the point you're trying to make, I just think that the times it will be truly appropriate to close a question like this when it wasn't already appropriate to close it for other issues is going to be a very thin slice of the questions on SO/SF/SU
    – Rob Moir
    Jun 24 '11 at 16:49

I say leave the questions and their answers, but perhaps include a version specific tag, or suggest an edit given more specific version information.

My current position is about 70% computer archeology and 30% bleeding edge. If a question and answer existed on HoneyBoxenOverflow that was superseded by a question and answer 5 years later on the new and improved MicroVaxenOverflow I would be really disappointed if the original one was closed!

Some of us are stuck with technology older than ourselves...


I agree with this idea 100%.

I think people overlook the possibility that the scenario explained in a question simply might not exist anymore.

Take the (now deleted) Super User question "How do I access my "GMail Drive" via DOS command". The question is asking about Gmail Drive, a product which:

  • Was officially declared dead by its developer in 2015
  • Relies on outdated Gmail APIs which no longer exist
  • Was replaced by Google Drive in 2012

This isn't just a case of the program in question being obsolete. The program being asked about simply hasn't functioned for any user any circumstances, and the software in question will likely never run properly ever again.

I can't think of any circumstance where a new answer to this question could be considered helpful outside of "The software in question has been discontinued and no longer runs properly"

  • 2
    That's why, at Web Applications, we have a close reason specifically for web apps or features that no longer exist
    – ale
    May 8 '17 at 16:10

I don't feel this is necessary. This is not like a forum where threads may die forever. If there is a new technology, comment on the original answer that a new and better technology has replace the old one - though it may confuse the OP why you are commenting when that person was having a problem with that technology at that point in time. Maybe someone has new information to add to an old question. Usenet posts are not marked as obsolete.

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