Should questions requesting advice using end-of-life (i.e., officially unsupported) Ubuntu releases (like this question), when the questions are neither about nor directly useful to upgrading to a supported release (or migrating to a supported version of some non-Ubuntu OS), be closed?
I concur with Oli. These types of questions should still be answered; after all, Ask Ubuntu is about Ubuntu regardless of the version, and there's nothing in the FAQ saying that these questions are offtopic.
One advantage that Ask Ubuntu has versus doing a regular online search is that it makes it easy to find relevant information if questions are tagged properly. As I understand, a major problem some people run into when trying to find solutions to their problems is that they find information that is for the wrong version. Oftentimes the problem is that this information is too out-of-date, but in other cases where people are looking for information regarding an older version of Ubuntu, they may run into stuff that is too up-to-date. One solution to this problem is that Ask Ubuntu has tags for the different versions of Ubuntu, which should be used to indicate that a given question has information that is relevant for version X, etc. We are in a unique position to provide users of obsolete versions support that is easy to locate and more likely to be relevant to them.
That being said, we should still gently remind these people that they should consider upgrading when it is convenient for them, even as we help them. After all, it gets harder to continue providing quality support for older versions of Ubuntu when fewer people are using them, and it takes away from our ability to help those out with newer, officially-supported versions.
As somebody who had their own 9.10 install up until a few days ago, I think there's still call to support it, as your example question shows: people still have problems.
And while I agree "UPGRADE YOU FOOL!" is probably going to be the most popular answer on new threads about old versions, some people can't upgrade without a large amount of pain. I had six different applications that I knew would break if I upgraded so chose to leave things very late.
So no, I think we should give them a chance. It's still somebody who needs help.
j-johan-edwards pointed out a very important drawback to keeping these questions open and answering them:
"What about the threat that Google will point people to "old version" problems (ie the Can I Delete Parts Of The Internet problem) and they will apply counter-productive "old version" solutions?"
I believe I have the answer that will solve this problem. For all questions that are specific to an unsupported Ubuntu release, I propose we add the following header to the top of the question (excuse the terrible markdown):
——— WARNING ———
This question concerns an Ubuntu release that is no longer supported. The answers to this question should be considered specific to that release and should not be applied to a more recent release. For your convenience, here are links to similar questions that concern Ubuntu releases that are still supported:
Note: those are sample questions at the bottom and will point the user to a similar post for a more recent Ubuntu release.
The real benefit to this is that we could ask the SE team to have this banner automatically inserted when a question is tagged with 9.10, 7.04, etc. That saves us from having to manually copy / paste the banner every time such a question is asked.