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 ;-)

  • 2
    Sounds like yer goin' ahuntin'.
    – random
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 9:44
  • provide examples please, without data..... Commented Jan 20, 2010 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
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 10:46
  • 3
    Look here first: superuser.com/questions/tagged/troubleshooting
    – random
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 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
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 11:09
  • @alex how can there be more activity once they are closed?
    – splattne
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 12:38
  • 2
    An edit to update with any new info would still bump (activity) would it not? @spl
    – random
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 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
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 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
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 13:24
  • 3
    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
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 13:43
  • That would make my work even "easier"
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 14:00

4 Answers 4



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
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 9:48
  • 2
    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
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 10:00
  • 2
    As soon as I see Gnoupi hitting those closing votes, they go down!
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 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
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 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
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 11:02
  • 4
    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
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 11:04
  • totally agree with this.
    – quack quixote
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 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.

  • 1
    Hopefully nobody deletes them either. They may still be useful if left to hang around.
    – random
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 11:23
  • 4
    @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
    Commented Jan 20, 2010 at 11:26

I realize that I am probably digging up a corpse that is long dead ... but ... there is no mechanism for the Question submitter to identify "end-of-pursuit" for responses or interactions regarding a previously submitted question. I am sure that is one reason why the above question was submitted.

Also, there is no way for a Question submitter to apply the "Acceptable Solution" checkmark to any of the given comments, which are sometimes very helpful and resolve the original issue (being able to do so would give due credit to commentor, and closure to the question, highlighting a "state of resolution").

To that end, when the submitter does not want to mislead by inappropriately selecting the "checkmark for accepted solution", could there also be another icon for a new state that flags a question as "submitter dormant/abandoned/archived" ?

Also, as another viewpoint regarding the handling of these questions "ignored" by the submitter, what if there was a mandatory deadline of 1 or 2 weeks after the last submitted comment/answer, and if that is not addressed by the Question submitter, then they would be blocked from submitting additional questions within that forum only (i.e. SuperUser, or Linux&Unix), allowing for the fact that some members "move on" and never come back, until that "deliquent" Question has been addressed.

Going a step further (not sure about this one), if the member has been blocked on a forum for over 1 year, it would seem reasonable (IMHO) to consider they are not coming back and that the member be removed from that forum completely.

I see these as progressive responses to the demonstrated lack of complying with expected interaction as regards to a given question that remains in limbo. After all, if the site is geared to Question AND Answers, there must be either that ... OR ... Question AND "Notice of Abandonment" of some kind. I believe it is reasonable to say that NO Question should be allowed to remain in limbo indefinitely.

"Unsettled" issues, which "abandoned" questions represent, don't seem to be serve much purpose for anyone.

I would suggest that such "abandoned" questions should maybe have a color-coding associated with the Title listing, thereby flagging they have been deemed as "unresolved", one way or another, and would thus discourage visits/views that would likely not be fruitful to the visitors, regardless of how attractive the Question's original wording might have been.

Just some food for thought.

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