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This site has a necro-thread problem. Old questions get commented on (often in a questionalble manner).

Perhaps SE in general needs a way to graphically show the age of the thread to give you a warning? I often mistakenly comment on or answer obviously dead threads before I think to check the question date.

EDIT: To clarify - How can we prevent OLD threads from being mistaken for NEW threads.

Old threads often have an acceptable answer, but are not marked as answered. Or, even if un-answered, the discussion has died out. Therefore, any comment or answer is probably wasted effort, because the original poster has long since lost interest.

This is the real problem. When an old thread is mistaken for new, one answers it in all seriousness - perhaps spending a non-trivial amount of effort, but the asker never sees the answer.

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The fact that an old question can reappear and get new answers is by design. Things change, what was the best answer a year or two ago might not be any more. Admittedly this is less likely in the world of DIY, but it can still happen - especially if electrical codes change.

I too get thrown sometimes by old questions reappearing - they might have been edited for example - you just have to be careful.

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    I agree: it is a good thing when an old question is rekindled and receives new questions (typically from someone who was not here when the question first was posted). Remember that we're building a resource for posterity, not just helping the OP. – Vebjorn Ljosa Aug 21 '12 at 20:58
  • It is a very negative experience to spend time working on an answer, only to realize that the asker will never see it. – dbracey Aug 21 '12 at 21:20
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    @dbracey - don't focus on the asker. Focus on all the other people who'll find the question because they have the same problem. – ChrisF Aug 21 '12 at 21:33
  • Very doubtful. Is there even any way to discover if that is happening? How can it be shown that old answers are helping people? – dbracey Aug 21 '12 at 21:37
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    @dbracey - if they keep getting up-votes – ChrisF Aug 21 '12 at 22:19
  • Actually, the fact that you have a "Community" bot that randomly resurrects dead threads is probably the explanation. The other odd thing is the prevalence with which these necro-threads are then answered by brand-new accounts with only a first name and no other information, and no other activity. – dbracey Aug 21 '12 at 22:55
  • @dbracey - that might well be spam. If the "answer" pretty much consists of a barely link and not much else flag it as spam. It'll get removed pretty quickly. – ChrisF Aug 21 '12 at 22:59
  • It's weird because the answers seem legit, but you would expect a person interested in answering questions would answer more than one. – dbracey Aug 21 '12 at 23:07
  • @dbracey You could always just use a filter to only look at the Newest Questions – Tester101 Aug 22 '12 at 11:29
  • I'm curious - How could I have possibly known about that feature? Where are they listed? – dbracey Aug 22 '12 at 18:22
  • Ah - I see. You must come to the site, then click "questions", then the "newest" button/tab appears. That would never have been apparent to me, had you not pointed out that it existed. When you follow a link to the DIY site - boom - there's the list of questions. Why would a user feel they need to hit the "questions" button? – dbracey Aug 22 '12 at 18:34
  • Finding old answers / questions happens quite often. I'm a regular Stack Overflow user and I frequently find answers to questions I need help with, and the questions/answers are over a year old. They get upvotes from me when that happens. – The Evil Greebo Sep 12 '12 at 17:03
  • I like it when old questions get fresh answers. But sometimes it's hard to get enough votes on those good answers to push off a (worse) old answer. – Bryce Oct 29 '12 at 4:49

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