As member of SU for more than 5 years, I have quite a number of old answers lying around. Some of them are so old and outdated that today they are just ridiculous, such as recommending the installation of SP2 for XP.
Because of these old answers, I am experiencing a slow trickle of down-votes. Although the total reputation lose is insignificant, this is still extremely irritating. It also seems that voting causes the post to go up in the list of answers, because one such down-vote may bring one or two more in succession.
In self-protection I have taken to deleting any old answer that gets a down-vote, but this is only an after-the-fact reaction, and it may penalize persons looking for a solution for an old computer.
The question of what to do with old posts and answers has been debated here
- How to vote on old/dated answers to a question with a now incorrect accepted answer
- What is the correct way to deal with obsolete answers?
- What to do about permanently outdated questions/answers on SU
Most of the answers assume a thoughtful voting attitude, which is apparently not the general rule.
Therefore I raise the question of how to protect old posts and answers from thoughtless down-vote. "Old-timers" on this site since several years should not, in my opinion, be penalized for their past answers. This problem will certainly only become more and more acute with time.
Some protection mechanisms I can imagine are :
A warning for when a down-vote is attempted on an old answer, along the line of:
"This is an old answer and so may not relate to current technology. Please do not down-vote answers that still pertain to computers running an older version of Operating System. Are you sure you want to down-vote this answer?"
Simply disallow down-votes for posts/answers older than x years.
Automatically post an informative message on posts/answers older than x years, warning that it may pertain to older technology and should not be accessed except for older computers.
Microsoft, for example, already posts such warnings on older Knowledge Base articles.
Any such mechanism will also launch a debate of what is the age of a post/answer that is to be called "old". I would vote for 3 years, since technology moves quite fast.
This post has produced much spirited discussion, so I have achieved my main goal.
From the above three proposed options, it seems that the first one is relatively the most acceptable, the second is mostly unacceptable, and the third seems like too much noise added to posts and answers.
An idea proposed by @Duncan was to add an "Obsolete" tag to posts/answers, maybe voted upon by the community. Another one by @Abraxas, proposed requiring a mandatory commented reason for downvoting an old post/answer.
A constructive idea for a partial solution for my personal problem came from @Chenmunka, which is that rather than deleting such posts or answers, to convert them instead to Community Wiki to protect them from further downvotes.
It may yet take some years for people to feel that the problem needs addressing, and I agree that at the moment there is no urgency.
EDIT : We have all forgotten one solution : Education.
Before posting this I was getting 1-2 such downvotes per week. But since, there are none. This post seems to have unexpectedly solved my problem (for now).
Conclusion: The Help Center should explain better when down-voting is not appropriate.