8

I regularly see various interesting, but old (unanswered)questions in the 'Similar Questions' box. Sometimes I could add a useful contribution and I'd like to answer them, but I'm hesitating because they've been asked a long time ago. OP might have already solved the problem, or he's not even thinking or caring about it anymore. To re-activate the question would be unnecessary for him(or her). On the other side, it still can be of value for users that come across it and have the same question. So I'm in doubt, what do you guys say is the 'limit'? a week? 1 month? 3 months?

Of course it depends on the question. If it's very personal there's no need to put in any effort after months, but a general question about principles can still be susceptible for an answer. It's not always easy to determine if a question is general or personal though. Any suggestions?

NB. This question is similar but different from this question.

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8

There are two badges for answering old questions.

The first is Necromancer, a silver badge.

Answer a question more than 60 days later with score of 5 or more. This badge can be awarded multiple times.

The second is Revival, a bronze badge.

Answer more than 30 days after a question was asked as first answer scoring 2 or more. This badge can be awarded multiple times.

SE sites are geared toward ongoing incremental improvement and since they provide motivation badges towards that end I would say anything you can do to improve answers to old questions only fullfills the dream of what SE is trying to do, which is to provide more accurate information over time.

Answer away!

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  • I was doubting whether to mark your or Pauls answer. Close call but i think this gives the little extra bit. Thanks. – Bart Nov 2 '16 at 13:57
  • @Bart - Don't worry about it. On Meta, it really doesn't make a difference. We're both saying the same thing anyway ... answer your heart out! We appreciate great and better content on the site. It's what the site is all about. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 2 '16 at 14:25
8

Never be afraid to answer a question, no matter how old it is, whether it has answers already, or whether there's been an accepted answer. If you are bringing better content to the site, write it. There should be no issue in doing this, what-so-ever.

In the course of your travails, if you see an unanswered question which you feel does not fall within the bounds of the site, put it up for closure. The community can vote on it and close it as such. Some things have fallen by the wayside over the course of time. Ones which should have been closed a long time ago, but never were. Your choice though.

Thanks for taking a look at older questions and posting on them. If you like, grab the URL and throw it into the chat (The Pitstop) window and I'm sure you'll be rewarded for your efforts.

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  • 1
    Thanks. So the determining factor is: 'does it bring better content to the site'? Sounds like a clear requirement. If nobody has problems with old questions put back to life, than that's the answer to my question. I'll wait a bit for others to reply to this, and then whether or not mark your answer as accepted. – Bart Nov 1 '16 at 18:54
  • The "better content" litmus is just world according to Paul the person, not "Paul the Mod" ... but, yes, if you feel the content brings something to the site, corrects something which is incorrect in a previous answer, or clarifies something, I'd say bring it. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Nov 1 '16 at 19:07
  • The only thing I would strongly argue against is both posting an answer and flagging/voting for closure. The question is either appropriate for the site and then should remain open and be answered if you have the expertise to, or it is inappropriate for the site and should be closed, possibly deleted, but not answered (including in comments). // cc @Bart – a CVn Nov 8 '16 at 16:01
  • @MichaelKjörling that seems logical at first, and it certainly is in case of questions that provoke subjective answers. But sometimes i encounter questions that are outside the scope of this site, but i still can contribute a useful answer. To keep the site clean i can vote to close, but to still be of help to someone at the same time, i can do a suggestion or just post an answer. – Bart Nov 8 '16 at 19:02
  • @Bart There are two problems with that. One, by posting an answer to an off-topic question, you encourage further off-topic questions. Two, by participating in the process of closing an obviously off-topic question (that is, one that is not likely to be reopened), you prevent others from posting additional answers, which can easily be seen as rep-whoring. If Motor Vehicle Maintenance & Repair happens to have some unusual policy in the matter then feel free to point me to a meta discussion on it, but that's how it's usually seen on most of the rest of the Stack Exchange network. – a CVn Nov 8 '16 at 23:17
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This is the reason the Unanswered tab exists - so people can easily find questions which need an answer in order to do them justice.

There is a risk that some of those old questions may have been asked by a drive-by, someone who never came back. So the answer might not get accepted, but if it is good you will get upvotes, and the site will be improved, so it's definitely worth doing.

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5

As Paul says, it's all about improving the quality of the content - and just because the OP might not be thinking about the question they asked two or three years ago, your answer could still be useful to other people who have the same problem - perhaps it's better than the accepted one, or quicker, or simply provides an alternative that someone could try if the other answers didn't fix their own problem.

Go for it!

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