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.
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?".