SuperUser has a much higher ratio of "personal" question. I mean that many questions are linked to one user only, with his particular configuration. Of course his question can be of help to other people, when it got an answer, and given that the user was providing the correct feedback.

However, there are plenty of questions which are rather abandoned, because the user only asked them and left them there, without adding more details or anything. A good example of this is when a question is migrated from SO or SF, to SU, and the author just left it like this, didn't create another account or associated it. Typically, we know that this one will never evolve, and with lacking details will never be "answered".

Since these questions are not answered, they will occasionally pop to the front page, adding noise.

When it's obvious that the original poster will never update his question (never took ownership back, or simply never visited since then), can we consider that he will never be interested in the answer, or maybe found it somewhere else? And in this case, should we close them as "no longer relevant"?

Note: I talk mostly about closing the ones which pop on front page, because going for a hunt on all old questions would be taking quite some time ;-)

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    Sounds like yer goin' ahuntin'. – random Jan 20 '10 at 9:44
  • provide examples please, without data..... – Jeff Atwood Jan 20 '10 at 10:34
  • Check their "Last seen" time/date as well. In case they can't think of a way to bump without a pointless edit or don't see a bounty helping. – random Jan 20 '10 at 10:46
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    Look here first: superuser.com/questions/tagged/troubleshooting – random Jan 20 '10 at 10:47
  • @Jeff Atwood here are 2 such examples: superuser.com/questions/213/… and superuser.com/questions/13062/…. They don't have a solution, they don't have any activity. The questions are good, they can be reopened if there's more activity. – alex Jan 20 '10 at 11:09
  • @alex how can there be more activity once they are closed? – splattne Jan 20 '10 at 12:38
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    An edit to update with any new info would still bump (activity) would it not? @spl – random Jan 20 '10 at 12:49
  • @splattne comments are the most obvious way. But you can also edit the question or any answer, retag; that still counts as activity. – alex Jan 20 '10 at 12:50
  • @alex - Comments are the most obvious, but also the most silent way, nobody will notice it. Editing however, with new details, seems like a good way to proceed. – Gnoupi Jan 20 '10 at 13:24
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    Well, the system could be semi-automated. That's why I proposed a tab for this type of questions available for moderators. Comments would trigger a notification and maybe that would make mods reopen them. – alex Jan 20 '10 at 13:43
  • That would make my work even "easier" – Ivo Flipse Jan 20 '10 at 14:00


If they come back and they ever do get around to updating their question with relevant information or interest, then the community can then re-open them.

  • How long we should wait though? – random Jan 20 '10 at 9:48
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    I think this should be mostly for the ones "poked" by Community, They are not too recent, usually. Hard to put an actual "limit", though. Sometimes it's obvious that after one week the poor question is an orphan (mostly in a migration case), sometimes much less. – Gnoupi Jan 20 '10 at 10:00
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    As soon as I see Gnoupi hitting those closing votes, they go down! – Ivo Flipse Jan 20 '10 at 10:09

I completely agree, BUT

please leave a comment as to why you don't think it's no longer relevant. Makes it easier for the moderators to judge what you think makes it so.

Actually this should go for every closing reason

  • I totally agree, I try to do that for all close reasons. It's easy for us to close, but without explanation, it's really frustrating for a new user. – Gnoupi Jan 20 '10 at 10:55
  • And for me to close on sight ;-) I do like having all these minions around alerting us on these things! – Ivo Flipse Jan 20 '10 at 11:02
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    I almost always leave comments before closing on SU. It's good for both the OPs and all the other users to see. That way, the OP can change or delete his question and the other users can discuss if it's a valid close reason or not. – alex Jan 20 '10 at 11:04
  • totally agree with this. – quack quixote Jan 20 '10 at 13:58

The idea is nice, I kind of, sort of agree with you.

It's not that easy, though. There should be a way to mark such questions as being inactive. If the questions are completely inactive (no new answers, comments and edits) close them as being no longer relevant. The minimum time should be 2 months since the last activity on it (a long time, during which the question will surely get bumped by Community).

There should be clear rules for this, otherwise we're going to have big problems with angry users! Also, it should be easier to reopen such questions. Could there perhaps be a way for moderators to see both the inactive questions that are eligible for closure and the ones that have had hits on them (comments or edits)? Just have a different tab, specially for this.

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    Hopefully nobody deletes them either. They may still be useful if left to hang around. – random Jan 20 '10 at 11:23
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    @random no, don't delete anything. Closing is one thing, deleting is a completely different thing. A lot of those questions have value to them, they just don't have a solution and are completely inactive. – alex Jan 20 '10 at 11:26

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