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Sometimes we have outdated answers like this one:

How to unattach an object and reattach it somewhere else in an animation?

There is no information about disable and keep transform for example, probably because where was no such function at the moment that the post was written. And community keeps linking as duplicate at these answers.

So the question is - what should we do with outdated answers? I don't mean outdated screenshots, I'm speaking about answers, what have to be rewritten completely due to new tools and functions.

  • Change the original answer
    use your authority and destroy original answer or maybe keeping it in the end just in case
  • Add another answer
    But in this case, the new answer will be at the bottom and not marked as correct
  • Add the new question in QA-style, seems to be reasonable because you can make question itself more common and appeal to others
    probably, new answer will not be used as link for duplicate because outdated answer has more votes.
  • Breaking duplicate links, and leave answer as it is.
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  • $\begingroup$ I didn't mention "disable and keep transform" because I wasn't aware of it. It probably existed; that answer isn't so old. You should add your own answer to the question. (It doesn't seem like such an innovation as to worry about adding it, not to me; it saves a single operation from something you don't need to do very often.) $\endgroup$
    – Nathan
    May 18, 2022 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ It is just for example to clarify what I mean $\endgroup$
    – Crantisz
    May 19, 2022 at 10:31
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    $\begingroup$ It would actually be ideal if answers could be marked "outdated" and thus simply lose the "Accepted Answer" marker (like when closing a question once a certain number of votes exist) $\endgroup$
    – quellenform Mod
    May 24, 2022 at 0:47

2 Answers 2

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My take on this is always to never remove or deface old answers or workflows.

They may always help people that for one reason or another are stuck with older versions of Blender. Say support old hardware, LTS versions, finishing an old project part of a larger studio pipeline, or if something breaks on newer versions beyond reasonable efforts to repair. At the very least they may be historically relevant, maybe as a reminder how (hard or convoluted) things were before.

First attempt should always be to update existing answers to reflect changes. Insert additional screenshots, add a line describing the new menu structure or shelf where it can be found, etc. without removing the old ones.

If this is unpractical, like say changes to the workflow were significant enough that an answer would be hard to follow if it tries to cover multiple versions, there are more than two possible workflows for different releases, or a completely new (or deprecated) feature changes the fundamental way to go about it, then post a new answer.

Last resort would be to post an entirely new question and answer it there. Having a new answer in an older well established post helps for a few reasons.

It reduces information scattering. By having all possible solutions in a single post makes them easier to find. From the point of view of a user looking for answers, it is also easier to have a single long list of solutions than to jump around a multitude of tangentially related posts that are easy to miss.

One of the biggest hurdles of people pointing new users to duplicates is finding the actual duplicates. To the extreme that more often than not it is easier to just type a new answer than to look for that darn old duplicate. Stack exchange search isn't always the best either, and finding relevant answers potentially worded differently can be hard even for veterans, let alone for new users.

A single well written and comprehensive post is easier to follow than ten superficial ones scattered all over. Updating a single one in the future is also a lot less maintenance work then keeping ten posts relevant when there is a change.

Having all answers in a single post makes it more comprehensive, more memorable and easier to go back to. It also helps people who deal with review queues, making the canonical post used more often and hence easier to remember. Gaining more votes also gives people looking at it more confidence.

Conversely having different questions with multiple answers each for the same problem makes it all the harder to dealt with. For these reasons I would urge anyone posting an updated answer to an old problem to prefer doing so in an original "canonical" question.

I understand this is less appealing for users trying to build reputation, and get their hard earned points for their efforts. Earning points these days is hard enough as it is, and answering in some dusty question of yore makes it even less visible.

All the while the new and updated answer, that is arguably more desirable, is pushed down the list and made less visible, since it hasn't yet gained as much points compared to the old and tried one. Maybe it never will.

For that I don't have an easy solution and would like to hear the opinion rest of the community.

If the price to pay for that is having duplicate answers then let it be so. Post your new and shiny answer in two places, the newer question for points (or at least a "lite" simplified or summarized version of it, pointing to the older more complete question for more details), and a full version of it "for future reference" in the canonical post, complete with all the details where it would ideally gather more points in the long term.

Again this is my take on it, that definitely has its shortcomings like duplicate answers, data buildup, and extra work for the poster which can be discouraging, and maintenance work enforcing it. Lets hear what others have to say about this, looking for better solutions.

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    $\begingroup$ Post your new and shiny answer in two places. I think this is quite a good solution. I can see quite alot of positives to this methodology with very few drawbacks $\endgroup$
    – Gunty
    May 17, 2022 at 1:49
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    $\begingroup$ Agree strongly with your thinking here. I think one of the things that makes people less likely to answer old questions is the "solved" mark. Good questions are forever; solutions are temporary; and really, the person asking the question is often not very qualified to designate the solution to the problem, not in the general sense, and often not even in their own specific sense. "Flag as probably a duplicate" would be a good feature that would help people spread the work to those willing to do it. Algorithm for bumping old Qs could use some work; it doesn't choose good ones. $\endgroup$
    – Nathan
    May 18, 2022 at 15:25
  • $\begingroup$ And, it wouldn't hurt one bit to have somebody saying which question should be canonical. There are thousands of duplicates, and when I have to mark something as a duplicate, I just pick one (usually one that I've answered, because I know for a fact that it's a duplicate in that case, and because I can actually find the link that way-- I know what I've said, so I know how to find it on Google.) A way to do this would be to start marking even older questions as duplicates. and we could trace the close messages to figure out which Q to refer people to. $\endgroup$
    – Nathan
    May 18, 2022 at 15:50
  • $\begingroup$ "A way to do this would be to start marking even older questions as duplicates. and we could trace the close messages to figure out which Q to refer people to." Indeed, I've done this on an occasion or two, for the most well known cases, but it starts becoming unpractical for longer "chains" of duplicates. $\endgroup$ May 18, 2022 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ Well, it's probably always going to be a thing where the workload grows faster than it can be done, but if the problem is impractically long chains, that is solvable with coding-- it should be possible to have a "closed as duplicate" iterate through linking questions. Although if duplicates get closed to Google, and SE search remains bad, it might not help any. $\endgroup$
    – Nathan
    May 18, 2022 at 16:18
  • $\begingroup$ That would certainly be an interesting project. Not sure how algorithms handle that, but if a question as answers and/or positive score I think they are still considered for results, I hope $\endgroup$ May 18, 2022 at 16:24
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Sometimes we have outdated answers

From my experience, it's not sometimes. I'd say more than half of the answers seem outdated and don't work with 3.1. For a software with such major changes between versions it is not surprising posts are outdated relatively quickly. Without a mandatory version tagging procedure Stack Exchange format is not effective to manage such obsolescence.

Time is wasted reading outdated posts

For someone following a link in a search engine, unmarked outdated posts are a waste of time, instead of helping they can even add to the problem.

(Note the number of upvotes is not helpful to assess the current value of a post, a post may have been upvoted a long time ago, but never in the recent period. Downvotes are a good indication though, as it's not very common to see a poor answer suddenly becoming a useful one.)

Mitigation

Outdated answers should be either updated or marked outdated and if possible deleted.

  • Marking posts as outdated is an effective solution to prevent wasting time reading useless posts, but is not an incentive to increase posts value.

  • To increase posts value outdated posts could be deleted. Deleting an answer is indeed a problem from a reputation standpoint, but reputation is an indication of how much someone else can be confident in the author's content value, hence it should be decreased for authors concentrating outdated content. Regularly updating posts according to Blender changes should be the normal way to prevent reputation decreasing with time.

The simplest solution would be to downvote outdated posts, but as we know trying to help this way costs reputation to the helper, and possibly triggers some negative assessment of the user by SE AI.

Possible solution at moderator/user level

When a user detects an outdated post (e.g. not valid or not effective for any version released in the last 18 months), it should exists a mechanism in the stack rules to inform the author about the outdated content and the need to update it. I wonder if it can be done by flagging the post "to moderator attention". In case no update is provided, or the question or answer is not relevant any more, it should be edited to mention its outdated status on the first line.

Stack Exchange solution

Indeed the actual solution is in the hands of SE: Put in place a vote based on versions instead of a vote with permanent validity. Alternatively gives the vote a time limit, when it times out delete it, this way posts that once had a high ranking will just die if not regularly upvoted. I'm pretty sure SE, including SO, cannot remain attractive with time without such mechanism as the number of outdated posts is becoming a problem by itself (it's not specific to SE/SO).

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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure deleting answers is the right way to go here. A LOT of people are still using 2.79 for various reasons, we sometimes see people with way older versions because their video game plugin only works with that. There is no limit to the number of answers to a post so up to date answers can be added to the list of existing, maybe outdated, answers. It's the responsibility of the searcher to find what solutions works for them. I don't agree that outdated answers have no value. It can be informative to understand the thought process behind a seemingly wacky solution. Cheers $\endgroup$
    – Gorgious
    May 24, 2022 at 10:07
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    $\begingroup$ + you can now sort by date of creation or edition instead of upvotes $\endgroup$
    – Gorgious
    May 24, 2022 at 10:08
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    $\begingroup$ Stack Exchange itself has proposed, but not yet implemented what may be a better solution: Answer version tags. Any sufficiently privileged user can tag any answer with tags indicating what versions of the software the answer is good for. $\endgroup$ Jun 11, 2022 at 20:15
  • $\begingroup$ @MartyFouts: That's good news and now much awaited. Search engines will be happy too. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Jun 11, 2022 at 21:48

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