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It just happened to me, that someone resurrected a question and I answered it, before realizing that it's 12 months old and the user who asked it (who doesn't have any recent activity), won't ever read the answer. Things like that are a waste of time for everyone.

I think that it would be an improvement to show a warning message, when someone resurrects an old question (by a user without recent activity) and let the community moderators vote, if it really should be resurrected, before showing it to everyone.

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  • 1
    SE has lots of mechanisms; one of them is a Community bump of old unanswered questions. That doesn't seem to have happened here. Rather, someone attempted to answer an unanswered question. That's fairly normal, and I'm wondering why you think the mods (surely not the moderators but maybe the community moderators?) should do about new questions on old answers? They show up in the active question view and can be voted on as normal.
    – Jeff Schaller Mod
    Jul 21 at 19:53
  • Yes, I mean "community moderators". I think they should vote, if the question should be rersurrected/shown to everyone, if anyone gives an insignificant answer (for them to decide) to an old question.
    – anick
    Jul 21 at 19:56
  • Btw, how likely is it, that someone without activity for 12 months accepts an answer to one of his questions? Maybe the activity of the questioner should be generally considered before allowing to bump a question.
    – anick
    Jul 21 at 20:12
  • 3
    The fact that the post was reopened is possibly a sign that more people than the original user are interested in it. Answering such a question would benefit others no matter whether the original user saw the answer or not. Or are you worried about not having your answer accepted? An accepted answer is worth 1.5 times an upvote, so go for the upvotes I'd say, if reputation points are what you're fishing for. Also, note that a "vote" by a moderator is never an actual vote but direct action.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Jul 21 at 20:22
  • Won't it be bumped again and again for all eternity, if the OP never accepts an answer? And I meant that there should be "real votes" among "community moderators" about certain actions, IMHO.
    – anick
    Jul 21 at 20:26
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    A question, whether accepted or not, is bumped whenever someone edits it, answers it, or edits one of the answers. Nothing stops anyone from answering questions that already have accepted answers (or editing the question or any of its answers). Nothing stops anyone from doing the same to questions that have no accepted answers and have been dormant for 10 years. I don't see an issue with this that can't be solved thought the existing system of peer review.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Jul 21 at 20:33
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    (Since this comes up a lot here on Meta) - Keep in mind that downvotes on your Meta question here don't mean that it isn't a worthwhile question - Just that those that downvote disagree, and those that upvote agree. Jul 21 at 20:35
  • No need to mention something like that, lol. I don't really care about being downvoted for my opinions, btw.
    – anick
    Jul 21 at 20:37
  • If this comes up a lot, maybe there is some truth to it, btw. I guess people just hate answering questions and realizing it was just some old corpse of a question, no one (but the algorithm or some clueless new user) really cares about.
    – anick
    Jul 21 at 20:38
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    I misunderstood what you meant by "bumped again and again for all eternity". You mean the automatic bumping. Yes, it would be bumped for all eternity, just like the many hundreds or thousands of other questions in the same situation. Do you find this annoying? I believe that the bumping is done somewhat intelligently.
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Jul 21 at 20:42
  • If I had realized that the question is so old, I wouldn't have answered it. I mean, I could have checked when the question was asked by scrolling down to the "asked Jul 22, 2021 at 6:23" text. So it's my fault, in a way. All I'm saying is, that it's not obvious that a question is an old question.
    – anick
    Jul 21 at 20:48
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    Um, a question from 2021 is IMHO not that old. It's not uncommon that I'm answering questions that are far older than that. If you know the answer to a question, why not provided it?
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Jul 21 at 20:59
  • If an old question shows up under unix.stackexchange.com/questions?tab=Active (and, if you realize it's an old one by actively checking when it was asked), do you feel inclined to answer it? I mean, Stackexchange tricks you into doing that, but it doesn't feel very good, because human beings want some kind of interaction, and this interaction won't happen.
    – anick
    Jul 21 at 21:09
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    I'll answer any question regardless of age or whether it's been accepted, if it's interesting, if I know the answer, and if a similar answer has not already been given. I don't really see why the question needs to be "fresh".
    – Kusalananda Mod
    Jul 21 at 21:12
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    @anick You'll often still get feedback when answering old questions, in the form of upvotes from other users (and comments). It just may not be quite as immediate. My highest-voted answer on Stack Overflow actually came almost a year after the question was asked. Jul 21 at 21:28

2 Answers 2

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I do realize that it can be frustrating when you spend time answering a question only to then realize that it's due to a NATO (new answer to old question). But keep in mind that the site isn't here just to answer question for the OP (original poster), but also for anyone else that comes along and finds that question later when searching for a similar issue.

As mentioned in the comments, Stack Exchange actually has mechanisms to encourage old, unanswered questions to get solicit new answers. Every hour, the Community Bot selects a question to bump given certain criteria. Again, this doesn't seem to be the reason why this particular one was surfaced, but it does point to the fact that Stack wants this to happen, for the benefit not only of the OP, but potentially those other readers.

While it doesn't necessarily change the default view, if you'd like to view questions so that only "Newest" appear, you can create a Custom Filter:

  1. Look over on the right hand side of the screen for the Custom Filter block.

  2. Create a Custom Filter

  3. Select Sorted by -> Newest

  4. Click the Save custom filter button and provide a name such as "Newest Questions Only".

Bookmark that view, or simply select the filter when returning to the site.

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  • Yeah, you're right. But it's not very obvious, that a question is of old age - you only see that, if you're actively looking for it, it seems.
    – anick
    Jul 21 at 20:52
  • 1
    @anick True - But in case you aren't aware of it, I've added info on Custom Filters to help with this. Jul 21 at 21:13
  • This filter should be the default :P
    – anick
    Jul 21 at 21:26
  • @anick Ironically, I just changed all of mine (on Stack Overflow, Unix & Linux, Super User, and Ask Ubuntu) to show "Recent Activity". It's really a personal style choice -- As a heavy user (in the top 0.2% of rep so far this year on all those sites but this one, where I'm 2%), I like to see when there's been new activity in the tags I follow. It could mean (a) new information that wasn't originally available, (b) all too often, a duplicate or bad answer (or NAA/Comment) from a new user, (c) sometimes a gold nugget of info that teaches me something entirely new. Jul 21 at 21:32
  • Yeah, well, I guess you would benefit from a way to filter out/bypass (b).
    – anick
    Jul 21 at 21:37
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    I don’t think a filter is even necessary for this, just bookmark unix.stackexchange.com/questions?tab=Newest Jul 22 at 12:26
  • SE also awards badges encouraging people to look at old posts. Revival, Excavator, and Archaeologist come to mind.
    – doneal24
    2 days ago
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I would go even further than NotTheDr01ds and say that the person asking the question is only tangentially relevant. If the question can stand on its own and doesn't need clarification, then the job of the OP (original poster, the person who asked) is done and they are not needed any more. They don't need to accept, they don't need to ever come back.

I don't know how many times I have been helped by random solutions I have found online years after they were originally posted as answers to someone else's problem. We don't answer for the person who asked, we answer for the thousands of users who will be seeing the question and its answers in the future.

As for accepting, again that isn't really relevant. Sure, it's a nice little rep boost and a nice little ego boost, we all enjoy having our answers accepted, but that's all it is: a minor perk. The accepted answer isn't always the best one (indeed, it is very often not the best one), and a question doesn't need an accepted answer in order to be counted as "answered". It just needs an upvoted answer. So accept marks are really unimportant.

All this to say that of course we should still answer old questions, you never know who will find them useful and the fact that our answer might never be accepted shouldn't even be taken into consideration. It just isn't relevant. We answer questions to collect a useful library of answers that can help all visitors to the site, both present and future.

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