This question popped up in the close queue this evening. I'm all for closing questions that don't fit the scope of the site, but what do we really gain here? The question is four years old, has an accepted answer, and was probably only dug up by a badge hunter or new user that has no idea how to use the site. At what point do we leave well enough alone, know that the question was useful at some point, and realize that the community has evolved since? What about cases where technology changes? All questions and answers will eventually become obsolete. How do we handle this as a repository for Q&A? The only option seems to be regular review and editing, but how is that practical?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Even yet, what about the evolving scope and close reasons? Things that were okay a few years ago might not be okay anymore (or vis-versa)? That question should have been left alone, not closed. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Feb 23 '14 at 20:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ On top of that, the answer was posted by @kortuk, you know, a mod, who you would think knows a thing or two about questions that should or not have been closed, at the time. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Feb 23 '14 at 20:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby That was my logic, and left it open. I think the best way to deal with these types of situations would be an automatic [archived] status after some time period, where no new answers can be added, and edits done only be users above some reputation threshold. Then the question is protected, content can be updated, and it's immediately obvious it's not an active question. \$\endgroup\$
    – Matt Young
    Feb 23 '14 at 20:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ When Ohm's Law is repealed, we are in trouble. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kaz
    Feb 24 '14 at 6:15

One thing that's gained is to make things less confusing for new users. If I was new to the site and found that question while searching with seven upvotes I might conlude it was OK to post my question asking for a recommendation for a RS485 to USB adapter. The What types of questions should I avoid asking? page in the new help center doesn't make it all that clear that shopping / product recommendations are off-topic (maybe that needs addressing).

Here's a recent example where the person asking the question has referenced a similar question that wasn't closed at that time:

What software/frameworks should I use for a production-ready embedded design?

The other thing is that closed != deleted so the information still remains available. I know that on Stack Overflow some old questions are automatically deleted, I'm not sure if the same script is running on EE.SE but even if so that wouldn't be deleted. You can see the rules at How does deleting work? What can cause a post to be deleted, and what does that actually mean? What are the criteria for deletion?

I think obsolescence is a bit of a different issue and those questions and related answers can stay useful for a long time. I've seen quite a few interesting hobbyist questions lately about parts not manufactured for quite some time but still available in limited supply. On a professional level understanding how old technology worked can be useful when updating an old design.

When a technology becomes obsolete one way to address it is adding new answers to technology neutral questions recommending a newer solution. Many could also be addressed by a new question, a future example might be "I read this question about controlling a relay and all the answers recommend a MOSFET. Now they are obsolete how do I control a relay with an XFET?".


The thread in question got dug up by the spammer, who had made a promotional post. That post was duly marked as spam (I have contributed to that). Then I've initiated close-voting on the whole thread, because it's providing a bad example and attracting spam too.

I've come across a few old questions, which were marked with something like the following:

sub-standard question, but we keep it for historical reasons as a relic from the early days of this stack
[rough recollection]

I'd like to post a link to such old question, but I can't seem to find one at the moment.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Attracting spam, really? Like the question's content matters to spam bots. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Feb 23 '14 at 20:32
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Passerby (1) The spam post was made by a human. I don't think that was a bot. You have 10k+ rep, so you can see for yourself. The spam post was made by wal5hy it's at the bottom of the pile in pink. (2) It's not inconceivable that question content might matter to a spam bot. \$\endgroup\$ Feb 23 '14 at 21:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not inconceivable no, but most of the time a spam bot doesn't care about where it posts. I've seen way too many louis vuitton knockoff spam on electronics forums to think that relevance matters to spammers. Though granted, that was not a spam bot. \$\endgroup\$
    – Passerby
    Feb 24 '14 at 3:44

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