I've been using the search feature to find unanswered questions and if possible answer them.

One question I found today is answerable, however, the question is 3 years old.

Is it acceptable to answer questions this old?

2 Answers 2



The philosophy of all Stack Exchange sites is that you're not just helping the person who asked the question, you're also helping future people who have the same problem and search for a solution. So even if the person that asked that question has moved on or found a solution on their own, there could well be others that haven't and will benefit from your answer.

  • I think this is unequivocally wrong. If I am on stackoverflow answering a question about php4 that has made it through the cracks would possibly cause more harm than good. There are many dated questions on here that if answered could cause harm too. Maybe real harm. So this is certainly not a good answer.
    – DMoore
    Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 17:02
  • @DMoore I understand your thought process, but the OP said, "One question I found today is answerable", if he had found a question that by answering could create a problem then he would know that the question was not answerable, as such he would not of found an answerable question. Commented Sep 1, 2023 at 17:59
  • @DMoore I should have specified, this question is specifically for the Home Improvement site.
    – matt.
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 15:31
  • 5
    "Revival" and "Necromancer" are both badges that are awarded for answering old questions!
    – IronEagle
    Commented Sep 2, 2023 at 22:05
  • @matt I don't understand your comment, why only Home Improvement, does not an answer to any question demand considered attection, if so if a PHP4 question that should not be answered be in this same sinario, should it not be ignored or raised to mods for delection, for me bool Naill C = true Commented Sep 3, 2023 at 7:15
  • @matt. - this is funny. Funny because there is no way in the f'ing world that the voting was done by site members. Kedos for stack for coming in and upvoting other employees. It is sad. That is what stack has become. I feel bad that I am part of this but like helping people. Let me give you another example so you can wrap your brain around something simple. There are old questions that are possibly about electric since that is half our questions. A 2018 question may have an acceptable answer that is not code compliant in 2023. Just one example.......
    – DMoore
    Commented Sep 5, 2023 at 6:22
  • 4
    @DMoore I just upvoted this answer. I'm a moderator on SEEE but nobody has ever offered me $ for my input :-). || This answer is absolutely correct in the general case, both on this site and others. || The counter-examples given are exceptions. They say "Bad answers to old questions are bad" . I agree completely, of course. The strongly implied intention of the OP and of Niall is that the answers should be good. ones. || In your "code compliance" example - the 2018 answer may now be wrong due to code changes. A 2023 answer can reflect code changesand can be better NOW than the old answer. Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 13:27
  • 2
    @DMoore this question was asked on diy.meta, not meta.stackoverflow. There shouldn't be any PHP questions here. Also, if someone is on SO asking about an old version of software/language x and there's a new answer that specifically addresses that old version, what the heck is wrong with that? I get that a new answer saying "sure, expose a Win XP machine to the internet" is a bad answer (unless you're virus hunting), but how is suggesting how to hang a mirror with a new product (not available x years ago) going to cause harm?
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 18:40
  • 1
    As to the comment about a 2018 question not getting a 2023 NEC compliant answer, well, if it was answered 5 minutes after it was asked, the answer wouldn't be compliant with 2023 NEC because it wasn't out then.
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 6, 2023 at 18:42
  • @DMoore it sounds as if you are saying that any answer over X years should be deleted, since it wouldn't be "code compliant" with any new standard. Unfortunately, that's not very helpful. What is helpful is finding solutions that work, even if there are better ways to do thing, because finding any solution is usually the first step in finding a good solution. Without that first step, the remaining steps are usually very difficult and often close to impossible. And the SE/SO desire to be a repository of answers to questions is greatly diminished if even good answers keep getting "age deleted". Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 17:38
  • @FreeMan - the point is when you are answering something that old and the question doesn't have other answers or at least good ones the chances are the user will not be available. Meaning the user cannot give context or update the question. Answering an old active question is perfectly acceptable but contrary to comments here we know that is the exception and most old questions are never going to get feedback from the OP.
    – DMoore
    Commented Sep 7, 2023 at 19:35
  • I'd agree 100% that most old* questions aren't going to get feedback from the OP. However, some people do search and a new answer to an old question with more up to date information may help someone else and prevent a new person's question from getting closed as a dupe of the old one that has out of date info. *"Old" could be as little as 15 minutes based on the lack of feedback I've seen to questions asked of new posters...
    – FreeMan
    Commented Sep 8, 2023 at 11:30

Perhaps it depends on the area: An updated answer to an electrical question in Home Improvement may provide a safer solution that also meets updated code requirements. That seems worthwhile. I would encourage those so inclined to review old questions and offer improved or updated answers when they can.

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