I have been sifting through old questions on the site and have noticed what are now considered off-topic homework questions. I see changes to the closing process were discussed in 2016 and subsequent changes were made to what we have now. Should questions be closed that were properly asked under the guidelines at the time to align with our standards now, or should they be grandfathered and let be?

I would imagine that deleting old questions would remove examples that are no longer within the guidelines to new users, but it also risks closing currently okay questions when guidelines change in the future.

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    $\begingroup$ I think in general old questions with poor feedback are deleted automatically, though I'm not sure how bad the feedback has to be for this to be actioned. In general for very old questions I'd be inclined to leave well alone, else the homepage will just get spammed with several pages of newly closed homework questions from the past. $\endgroup$
    – NotEvans.
    Aug 12, 2018 at 10:14
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    $\begingroup$ @NotEvans. regarding automatic deletion, this is called roomba. $\endgroup$
    – Andrew T.
    Aug 13, 2018 at 4:09

1 Answer 1


Our current approach towards old questions is now less oriented towards site mechanisms (voting to close, voting to reopen, etc.) and more oriented towards Spring Cleaning. Although the meta post is a little old, the principles remain the same.

  • If you are looking at an old question (+ answer) that you don't feel is useful for future visitors, we generally lean towards deleting it. Just post a link to the question in the Spring Cleaning chat room and as long as two people agree to delete it, a mod will do the deed.

  • If you are looking at an old question (+ answer) that you feel is potentially useful, then aim to edit it and improve the tags, language, typography, etc. and we really don't need to close it.

    This is particularly so for the homework close reason. I've already highlighted various inconsistencies and double standards in the application of the homework close reason to borderline cases (i.e. not blatant copy-pastes), and I think that trying to apply it to old posts is only going to exacerbate this issue. Because of this inconsistency, I appeal for people to err on the side of leaving open, and I think our stance towards old posts should be no different: leave open, unless it really needs to be closed.

    For the other close reasons, it's best to again post in chat and we will mod-close it if we agree. That way we (1) expedite the process (2) avoid dragging old questions through the close vote queue. Of course, if the question is going to hang around the site, an edit to improve the wording etc. would be much appreciated!

  • If you're on the fence, maybe post in chat and get a second or third opinion.

There are two main actions that lead to a post being bumped to the front page: editing and reopening. Closure is not one of them (and deletion obviously not). We are cognisant of the usual advice to not spam the front page with old posts, but a handful every now and then is perfectly fine. It's not an all-or-none situation where you either edit zero old posts or edit fifty at a time.

  • $\begingroup$ This is along the lines of what I was thinking though I did not know about the spring cleaning chat. I agree we can be a little quick on the close trigger for border questions that do show an attempt to solve the question. And I have edited a few posts from the past to look like the author made more of an attempt to solve. $\endgroup$
    – A.K.
    Aug 13, 2018 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ @A.K., thank you for helping out! And perhaps we'll see you in chat at some point in time, although no pressure if you don't want to, of course. $\endgroup$
    – orthocresol Mod
    Aug 13, 2018 at 15:14
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    $\begingroup$ Ya I'm working into these ancillary discussions. Figure I've been here long enough to where I should participate in more than C&A. $\endgroup$
    – A.K.
    Aug 13, 2018 at 15:39

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