In the case of Can I create a user-specific hosts file to complement /etc/hosts? , the question was asked and answered some time ago. After a while, the landscape in which the question was asked has changed and a much better, more current answer has emerged.

The user that asked the question is not really maintaining the question. (unaccepting the old answer and accepting the new, better answer)

As-is, links from Google (and others) hit a question/answer for which the "right" answer is ambiguous in spite of the accepted answer no longer being right and the right answer just beating the pants off the accepted answer's vote count.

While a Google link follower should be able to sort out that for the link I provided, the old answer is now stale and that the more recent, highly voted answer is more correct, there are other unmaintained questions for which this is far less clear.

Is there any mechanism for dealing with this?


3 Answers 3


No, the only mechanisms are to vote the better answer(s) up above the one that's marked as the accepted answer. It's not a huge deal, IMO, so long as the answers are basically the 1st 2 a user coming in via Google will see. The marked one and the best answer that's voted with more upvotes than the accepted.

It may take time for a better answer to get significantly more votes than a previously accepted answer but beyond editing the previous answer there isn't really anything than can be done.


I remember a post notice saying something like "this answer is obsolete by now" being discussed, but as far as I know, it has not been implemented. It is a difficult thing to work with, as it would require a moderator to know the subject matter sufficiently well to can judge when it's appropriate to put it on a post.

For the time being, you can comment on the accepted answer that it's obsolete (in addition to the bounty) and hope that the comment will get enough upvotes to draw attention. If there are already tons of other comments, flag custom and write in the reason that the answer needs a cleanup so the new comment will get visibility.

Update: apparently a bounty is not an effective mechanism, so I removed that recommendation.

  • 2
    A bounty doesn't add to the score of the answer, which is the default sort order. See for, example, meta.stackexchange.com/a/226677/270345, which is below 6-7 posts, despite having a bounty, because it has a lower score than those. (The answer right below the accepted answer also has a bounty, but it's also the highest voted.)
    – muru
    Dec 28, 2015 at 22:21
  • @muru thank you for clearing that up! I don't know why was under the wrong impression, probably because bountied answers are pretty popular and usually rise to the second place when there is a different accepted answer. I'll delete that part.
    – rumtscho
    Dec 29, 2015 at 21:42
  • You can always leave a comment saying the answer is stale
    – vonbrand
    Dec 29, 2015 at 23:54

There isn't a single way that's best in all circumstances. Ideally the asker is still around, and will change the accepted answer if a now-better one comes along. But if the asker isn't around or won't change the accepted answer, nobody else can do it for them.

If an answer is no longer the best, it's often a good idea to edit it to succintly but prominently mention qualifications, and refer to other answers. For example, add a preamble that says something like

Since version 3.5, you can <one-sentence summary>. For more information, see <link to other answer>. This answer applies to versions 3.4 and below.

That keeps the information about older versions around (keep in mind that people will keep using 3.4 until long after 3.5 was released) and adds a clearly visible notice at the top of the first answer, so that people will see it even if they aren't paying much attention.

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