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I was reviewing a question where I noticed that it was recommended to "future proof" older answers. I must admit that even after searching https://meta.askubuntu.com/search?q=future+proof I'm baffled as to what this actually means. I'm all for updating Q&A's as we go but as I'm only human I don't know the future. So I'm curious as to whether there is an approved definition of this phrase or failing that, any tips on how to see far enough into the future to actually manage this.

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Here's what I do:

  • Try to be generic instead of mentioning specific versions of things. (This can be hard).
  • Concentrate on the "teaching to fish" part of the answer. That is, instead of saying "oh yeah, do foo, then bar, then baz", try to explain why things are, this teaches the person how to learn to learn. So even if an answer is out of date, the context on how to figure out the problem can still be useful in the future.
  • I try to make screenshots as generic as possible.
  • Break down your answer so that it's updatable over time. Sort of like how people make "modular code", I try to section off complex answers so that people can independently update them without having to rewrite the entire thing.
  • Encourage people to keep your answer up to date.
  • Every once in a while (I try once a year) go back to your old answers (sort by views!) and make them up to snuff for the latest LTS. This is also hard and time consuming.

So basically, I try to strip down specific versions (unless of course this is unavoidable) to make the answer more generic so that when Ubuntu + 1 comes out I don't have to go modify every answer.

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    I like the "Concentrate on the "teaching to fish"" part. It's pretty clear that many who end up here don't have the first idea how to do that. That would truly be future proof. But as this site is about Ubuntu answers will be limited in scope to that topic. I try to revisit my answers and insure they are up to date (but as it's only been a hair over a year for me and 14.04 is broadly similar to 12.04 thus far I haven't found much updating to do. I agree that solutions that aren't version specific seem to be the most useful, but questioners often think the version matters more than it does. – Elder Geek Feb 11 '15 at 19:57
  • Generally CLI answers are more future proof than GUI answers. – Registered User Feb 18 '15 at 9:45
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    BTW how do I encourage people to keep my answers up to date? Would adding a sentence like Please update the answer if you can, whenever possible and in whichever manner you feel appropriate at the end of every answer do the trick? – Registered User Feb 18 '15 at 9:49

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