7

Doc raised an interesting point about questions which are out of date (eg law changes for electronics on airplanes, visa rule changes) which google will still find on here.

This has come up before and MSO has an opinion but we have quite a unique site for this sort of thing.

For example This question on using an Amazon Kindle on a flight has an accepted answer from more than 2.5 years ago. Since then, as indicated in a newer answer, the laws have changed regarding Kindles, meaning the accepted answer is out of date, and the new correct answer will never be the accepted one (I'm assuming the answers are correct, btw, for the sake of this argument).

So, I see a few options, feel free to slam:

  • have some sort of 'obsolete' tag. This won't help if people don't notice.
  • vote to delete obsolete questions and re-ask them. Has many risks and rewards.
  • delete the out of date accepted answers. Also rough.
  • downvote out of date accepted answers. Also rough, but probably fairest. Owners can always delete them themselves.
  • leave and hope. Do nothing.
  • edit questions and accepted answers to the new correct answer. All sorts of tricky, but maybe fairer too?

Thoughts?

7

Options 1 to 4 will generate plenty of unnecessary discussions. They will generate additional burden for the moderators. Even with a well cast moderation team this would not be very fortunate. Option 6 is similar.

The best option is to leave it as is. Every question and every answer carries a date. That can give you a good indication of possible obsolescence problems.

If ever you see an answer which you deem obsolete, you can add an alternative more up-to-date answer. If the change is only a minor one (e.g. a price or a fare) you could consider to edit an existing answer. There is also the possibilty to add a comment.

  • 1
    Seconding the "add more up-to-date answer" option. Explain that the other answer(s) are out of date and what the new situation is. Since we don't tend to have dozens of answers for each question to obscure the new question, over time the newly correct answer should float to the top. – dlanod Jan 8 '14 at 21:57
5

I fully agree with Santa C. Let the obscurity do its job.

I still consider my 10 year old lonely planets and other travel guides when traveling, accepting the greater risk to having to deal with out-of-date information.

If questions really need to be changed because currently the information in the current context is blatently wrong, we can treat is with the voting system and if that is not enough the open data license allows anyone to edit accordingly

1

Downvoting accepted answers achieves nothing, they will still show up first. Providing and upvoting other answers is missing from your list and it's the the most important thing to do in my opinion. But it will not fully solve the problem for questions that already have an accepted answer, obviously.

Alternatively, we could edit questions or answers not to make them up-to-date but to add a warning for casual readers on top.

  • I didn't suggest adding updated answers as it was the example given in the question case - someone had provided a more updated answer, and I'd upvoted it, and now was wondering whether more could be done. As you note, it doesn't fully solve the problem. – Mark Mayo Jan 28 '14 at 13:10
  • Your warning suggestion has merit though! The warning could potentially link to the updated-answer as well. – Mark Mayo Jan 28 '14 at 13:10
2

StackOverflow has a "historical lock" that moderators can put on a question. What is a historical lock, and what is it used for?

It looks like this:

locked by Moderator♦ Mar 16 at 20:01

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. More info: FAQ.

We could have something similar for out-of-date questions, e.g.:

locked by Moderator♦ Feb 6 at 20:01

This question exists because it has historical significance, but the answers given are now considered obsolete or out of date, so please do not rely on the advice given. If you need an answer to this question, please search for more recent questions or ask a new question. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. More info: FAQ.

This would mean that:

  • anyone searching and coming across the page would see that it was obsolete
  • original asker and answerers keep their reputation gains (seems fairest since they were accurate at the time)
  • questions and answers for the old question are locked (less confusing than letting people add more recent comments/votes/answers IMO - also means it doesn't get bumped for activity)
  • visitors to the old question are encouraged to re-ask it with a fresh start, obtaining fresh answers and not getting the recent answers merged in with the old answers
  • But as a trade-off, people should also stop to close questions as duplicates. Some users on this site are quite fond about closing questions ... – user3470 Feb 9 '14 at 8:27
  • -1 from me, I think this will just add even more confusion. – Relaxed Feb 11 '14 at 23:28
  • @Annoyed Could you elaborate on that? I don't see what's confusing about "These answers are out of date". – starsplusplus Mar 7 '14 at 14:13

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