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I have noticed that quite a few Old questions are appearing in the Close Vote Review Queue.

They mention older releases and have been flagged as past "end of standard support or end of life date".

Most of these questions seem to have high votes and to have been on-topic at the time they were asked.

I think old obsolete questions and old obsolete answers are of no use to anyone and are just confusing, especially if they have a high number of positive votes.

What is the best way to flag these old obsolete questions and answers so they are closed ASAP? Should every question that is tagged with an EoSS or EoL release version be closed?

It might be a good idea to notify the OP, and give them the opportunity to update the question, however this does not guarantee that the up-votes are still warranted.

For example see: https://askubuntu.com/review/close/1153065 and https://askubuntu.com/review/close/1153068

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    Does this answer your question? A note on flagging end of life questions
    – muru
    Jun 24 at 5:52
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    Is it even possible for an OP to update this type of question? At least in this case, changing to a supported version would be akin to posting a fictional issue with mismatching answers. I suppose there are some questions where the version is included at the very beginning, along with machine specs, just for context. Even then, unless OP were to actually test the premise of the question with his/ her current environment, we can't be sure of its validity. Still, youre right about the notification, just so they don't think they've done something wrong. And Im sure I am overlooking something..
    – Nate T
    Jun 24 at 6:15
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    Thanks @muru for the comment, but the question did not point to any published AU rules. only to the OP's opinion, as far as I could see. The answers did not address the original question of EOL, but only commented on the subject of "This describes a problem that can't be reproduced...". My understanding is that AU now has plans to phase out old obsolete questions. I would like to know what the current published rules are about closing old obsolete questions and answers that would be off-topic if asked today? Why make a user walk a path through a maze of junk to get their question answered? Jun 24 at 7:23
  • @Nate: thanks for your reply, I agree, how do you make current a question about Unity or Remastersys? Sometimes these questions have 20 answers all of which are also obsolete. This must be frustrating for a new user. However some of the old questions can be brought up to date by adding "(and later)" after "12.10" or such. Better I think to just get rid of every question over five years old, (that has not been updated) and give the younger crowd a chance to provide some up to date answers and keep the site fresh. Jun 24 at 7:58
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    "My understanding is that AU now has plans to phase out old obsolete questions." What do you mean by that and where has this been mentioned. Personally, I'm against closing old questions simply because our review queues are too long and we don't have enough people reviewing to keep up. Pushing old questions to the queue will be a big problem as they can overshadow more recent posts.
    – Dan
    Jun 24 at 8:18
  • @Dan: I saw a notice about this a few weeks back in Ask Ubuntu General Room. I went looking for it a few minutes ago but could not locate it, so it may have been a few months ago. Jun 24 at 8:32
  • Could you explain what benefit you see in closing these? If they are answered, they won't be deleted (which is a good thing IMO), so what difference does it make if they remain open or closed?
    – terdon
    Jun 25 at 13:31
  • They make trying to find a good answer like trying to find a needle in a haystack. Also if we are shutting down current answers for being past "end of standard support or end of life date", why would we not shut down old obsolete answers for the same reason? If a user wants an answer to a question, they want one that applies. Users tend to try answers with the highest up-votes first but these are often the oldest and most obsolete. Jun 25 at 14:18
  • @terdon: Why do you want to keep Questions like this: askubuntu.com/questions/1185037/… What does it offer our users. Jun 26 at 2:55
  • @C.S.Cameron I didn't say I wanted to keep them. You said you wanted to close them and I am trying to understand what benefit you see in that. Personally, I have always found our rule against older releases pointless, but I accept that that's what the community wants. However, I don't see any benefit in actively searching for old questions to close them. Most of the information there will still be relevant and you never know what might come in useful so as a general rule I dislike making information harder to find.
    – terdon
    Jun 26 at 13:26
  • @terdon I also find our rule against older releases pointless, but I think consistency is a good thing, it shows thought. If we are going to shut down questions about obsolete versions, shut them all down. At least if it is a new question about an obsolete version, we know someone needs an answer now. As a general rule, don't you think that creating a bigger hay stack makes the needle harder to find? Jun 26 at 13:46
  • Not really. People search using search engines. The hay stack is basically the entire internet, whether a question is open or closed doesn't affect this one way or the other. In any case, closing won't make a difference. If the question has a positive score or an upvoted answer, it won't be deleted so closing will just add a message to it. If it doesn't have a positive score or an upvoted answer, it will be deleted automatically anyway. So spending time finding old questions just to mark them as closed doesn't seem to have any benefit.
    – terdon
    Jun 26 at 13:52
  • @terdon: I don't know how you search, but when I search the questions and answers with the most up-votes come to the top. These are invariably the oldest most obsolete questions and answers. My question on CAELinux got closed and even I could not find it. We see most closed questions and answers because we have a rep over 1000. Jun 26 at 14:26
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At Stack Overflow there is a SO Close Vote Review chat room for discussing these kinds of questions. It's an active chat room that is regularly visited by SO mods. Although this doesn't answer all of the points in your question, Raiders of the Lost Downboat is a similar chat room at Ask Ubuntu. This chat room would be especially helpful for questions that require further discussion.

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  • Thanks, I see that the question has already made it to Ask Ubuntu General Room. I usually take a bigger beating in chat rooms than I do even on Meta. Jun 24 at 8:22
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I think there may be something else at play here.

First things first, in the spirit of @Oli's answer to the question @muru linked in his comment, I agree that these old questions should not be "closed": they were on-topic at the time of posting; no need to update their status for that reason.

As time passes, a lot of content becomes obsolete: we should expect that and embrace that, as I have written about it earlier in this answer.


However, I agree that we do need something: something that could be a feature-request.

That would be a new flag-variant. This new flag could be labelled as such:

Prevent the Community bot from upcycling this question to the front page.

Because that indeed seems to be an issue.

There were earlier meta conversations about whether the Community bot should upcycle old questions at all, and the consensus seemed to suggest that yes, it should, because many of the old questions still contain relevant / useful information. (I think this may be the specific thread that I have seen earlier.)

At the same time however, there are those old posts that are entirely irrelevant today, e.g. because they are asking about some subsystem that got entirely abandoned, and is not part of Ubuntu since a long time.

These latter posts are pretty irritating on the front page, I agree, and can trigger one's OCD: "something is not right with this. This is a kind of a problem that could be sorted out with a little piece of code: so it should be". This is the very drive that makes us write software. I believe ignoring this feeling would not be right.

That's how the new flag variant could help: it would allow keeping the habit of upcycling old questions to the front page for the useful parts in them, but would allow us to vote out old content that proves to have grown entirely irrelevant.

This flag could work in a comparable fashion as the close votes: as in, at least n number of people should cast it for it to take effect. In turn, it could work without needing manual effort from mods.


It would be interesting to consider how many other stacks could benefit from such a feature. If there would be more such stacks, we could actually hope that SE takes on this feature request: it does not seem to need a huge effort — it could be achieved (re-)using/expanding already existing features.

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  • Thanks for your answer Levente, +1. Your solution would be a good partial solution, but I do not think recycling obsolete questions does anybody any good. If the question and answers no longer apply, get rid of them. We are here to help people, not create frustration. Of course the OP should be able to keep their up-votes. Jun 24 at 8:16
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    @C.S.Cameron "If the question and answers no longer apply, get rid of them." — that seems to imply destroying information? But the general practice in information systems seems to be not destroying, rather, archiving! There is a strong difference. Or did you just mean to entirely stop with the bumping / upcycling? (Btw. I have found the earlier thread, my latest edit added the link to it.)
    – Levente
    Jun 24 at 8:24
  • I probably meant "Get rid of them into the archive", but stopping with the bumping / up-cycling should keep the new users safe. I will read your edit, thanks again. Jun 24 at 8:37
  • This could be a great solution, but I am afraid it isn't an option. It would require i) a new flag category in the SE system, ii) a new entry for it in the frontend, iii) code to handle it on the backend, iv) presumably more changes so that the community knows to skip such posts. This means that it would have to be presented as a feature request to SE and then, even if they decide to do it, we would have to wait several months or years until it was implemented. For the moment, since it ins't something we can do ourselves, I fear it won't be a practical solution.
    – terdon
    Jun 25 at 13:30
  • @Terdon, When Thomas Ward decided to change end of AU support from EoL to EoSS, all he did is hold a Micky Mouse vote here on AUM. (99% of Ubuntu users were not eligible to vote), so EoSS won the vote. I think the same thing would work here. Just tell the helpers to vote to close these obsolete questions, when they appear in the review queue. They will obey. Or as Levente suggests, just tell the helpers not to bump them. No need to start writting code as a solution. Jun 26 at 14:36
  • @C.S.Cameron wow. Yeah, OK, if that's the sort of behavior you will stoop to, I don't see much point in discussing. Next time, try to have an honest conversation without insulting the entire Meta community, one of our moderators and the rest of us and without trying to misrepresent what happened. And I suggest you first understand how bumping works and who does it. It's an automatic process so yes, code would be needed. But since you have made it clear you are not interested in any constructive debate, let's leave it at that.
    – terdon
    Jun 26 at 14:44
  • @terdon That is pretty insulting, The whole purpose of my question was meant to be constructive and to help users. Any insult to the entire Meta community is in your mind, not in mine, I am part of this community, it is not all about you. The automatic process already knows how to deal with "end of standard support or end of life date" as does the Review Queue. Jun 26 at 16:11
  • "Or as Levente suggests, just tell the helpers not to bump them." — I don't get what you mean. I think the "Community bot" does that automatically. It's like a cron job, that bumps old questions if (I think) there are not enough new ones submitted. "No need to start writing code as a solution." — but yes, my solution would involve not only code (code would be the easier part in it), but it would need to modify the schema of the "posts" table in the database, and the query querying them. I thought if there was a challenge, it would be keeping the database queries performant enough.
    – Levente
    Jun 26 at 17:14

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