My thoughts is that posts should either expire or go into an archive site after some period of time, because the structure of Unix changes over a period of time by default.

I think the person starting the thread should be able to specify when the thread expires or if it doesn't.

I think this will be the case because most questions will become stale after a period of time ( for example from SO "What's the best mouse for programming" changes over time bvecause available mice change. )


First, your example question (“What’s the best mouse for programming?”) seems particularly bad since it is quite subjective and thus already discouraged here, on SO and on many other SE sites (with exceptions like the programmers SE).

Second, I am having trouble understanding exactly what you mean by “the structure of Unix changes over a period of time by default”. Of course individual Unix systems and their individual components (programs, tools, languages) evolve and change. Usually things do not change so much that “old” answers are completely inapplicable; there may be new options or tools but usually old solutions are still usable (though they may require small modifications).

Do you have any specific examples of “stale” questions/answers that are not already explicitly discouraged?

What would be the difference between expired/archived questions and normal questions?

  • Would this new state just be another version of “closed”?
  • Are you suggesting (an optional) mechanism for de-emphasizing old questions in search results?

Overall, I am not sure I think such a mechanism is necessary. I have occasionally run into “stale” answers on SO; usually I add a comment or a new answer if there is a better way to accomplish what the asker needed.

Maybe the situation is different for someone that is more focused on finding answers instead of giving them. An alternative might the ability to bump a question that has no “fresh” answers so that it might get some new attention; the system already does this for questions without an accepted answer, this alternative could be a way for users to manually bump questions that do not have “fresh” answers even if there is a (presumably old and stale) accepted answer.

  • 1
    +1: nothing to add
    – echox
    Oct 1 '10 at 9:43
  • I was googling for tablets when I stumbled across this link: stackoverflow.com/questions/53132/mouse-for-programmer. That was about the same time as I made this request. Which is why I used that example. So now while you extract your foot from your mouth, I will be replying to the rest of your response.
    – HandyGandy
    Oct 3 '10 at 3:42
  • @Handy: That question is from the early days of SO (just slightly before it left private beta). The standards for acceptable questions were different back then. Some of these old posts have been “grandfathered” into the modern system even though they go against modern standards. Oct 3 '10 at 8:09

I am very strongly against posts expiring. I would not participate on this site if they did. As far as I'm concerned, the feature that most differentiates SE from other webforums is that answers aren't just for the original asker, they're also for anyone else who has a similar question in the future. (Thus tagging, searchability, one question per thread, editable posts, answers can be added to old threads, ...) If you want newsgroups, you know where to find them.

In any case, there's very little information that goes stale. Just because there's a new version of a program doesn't mean answers about old versions aren't relevant. Those few questions that are localized in time, such as shopping recommendations, are in fact actively discouraged on SE sites.

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