What's the norm about answering old questions? I've seen some with not very good answers. So far, I've tried not to answer them (I say tried b/c sometimes I haven't noticed the age until after I've written my answer). Mostly, that's because I a) don't know the norms and don't want to be a bad citizen; and, b) don't want to waste time writing an answer to a question nobody now cares about. I figured I'd check to see if anyone has an ideas or suggestions.
Unlike some other websites on the Internet who explicitly discourage or forbid 'necroposting', Stack Exchange has always encouraged it:
- There's a special questions tab for unanswered questions, showing very old ones as well
- You can post bounties on old, forgotten questions as well as on new ones
- We have two badges, Revival and Necromancer, which specifically reward answering old questions with decent answers
As the Tour says:
With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about law.
That includes old questions.
Thanks. It's very helpful to see how answering questions fits with the overall purpose of the SEs. I never would have seen all of these connections. Aug 11, 2020 at 2:05
Answering old questions is encouraged—mostly because the asker is but one audience. If all goes well subsequent viewers are the larger viewership.
Oops! I wrote a comment thanking you, but screwed up posting it. So: Thank you for the concise and insightful comment. It really did give me a new perspective. Aug 11, 2020 at 20:09
I have a normative answer to the question, not a descriptive one, because sometimes people do things that it would be better if they didn't do. So I'm taking "norm" to be prescriptive, not a statistical statement. Some questions are terrible and deserve to be ignored. Some questions are The Same Old Thing which we've answered many times, and deserve to be ignored. Some questions are highly personal requests for immediate legal advice, and deserve to be ignored because the OP is long gone and nobody else cares. You shouldn't answer those questions, let them rest in peace.
Some questions are interesting, and have not yet gotten the perfect answer (idem a decent answer, or any answer). If you have an interesting answer to the question, you should answer it. Answers are not, or should not be, strictly addressed to the person who asked, they are there for anybody who is interested in the class of cases that the question exemplifies. I am encouraging long-term thinking, that is "Could anybody else possibly care?"; "Does this have any generality to it?".
Thanks for this very thoughtful and helpful complement to the other answers. I will definitely try to take your perspective to heart when thinking about whether to answer old questions. Aug 11, 2020 at 2:10