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Due to the transient nature of web application features, many of the answers on WebApps can quickly become outdated.

Example 1 Part of accepted answer no longer applies: How to send email with images (embedded) in Gmail?

Example 2 Still current, but work-around will likely soon be out of date, as it goes against the intended functionality of the app in question: How can I read all answers on Quora without having to register?

I feel like this is a familiar problem when looking for answers online -- you finally find a site with the answer, but it's long since out of date. After enough false positives from the same site, you eventually stop trusting that site's content, or at least prep for some mental overhead whenever you look at answers on those sites.

What to do?

I'm assuming people have thought and talked about this before, so I was surprised to not find anything about it in the FAQs or on Meta.

I'm wondering what the current and ideal approaches are when posted answers just don't cut it anymore.

Do people currently just leave outdated answers alone in hopes that someone else will come along with an updated answer? While not ideal, this can work as long as there isn't an accepted answer (the accepted answer will always be outdated, unless the OP comes back and notices the updates).

Could obviously outdated answers be flagged as outdated, possibly through a similar approach as Reopen Votes?

Is there already something in place to deal with this that I don't know about?

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There are several things you can do, in whatever combination you feel comfortable:

  1. Downvote (the answer is incorrect, after all)
  2. Leave a comment explaining why the answer is no longer correct/current
  3. Edit the answer to be correct. (This can be tricky, though, as it may look to some like you're changing too much of the original)

Personally I go for 1 and 2. I tend to avoid 3 unless it's a simple change (and I make sure to write a detailed edit summary). And of course I often try to add a correct answer of my own (if there's not one already there).

It may not have been discussed here, but this has come up more than once at Meta Stack Exchange:

  • 4
    To add, we've also deleted some accepted answers because they are no longer accurate – Sathyajith Bhat Apr 26 '13 at 19:22
  • I like your approach, Al. It's good to know that old ones are being cleaned up and not just being left as downvoted -- thanks @Sathya. – eisb Apr 26 '13 at 22:56
  • I think downvoting it or commenting that it's obsolete, while necessary, isn't sufficient. Please see my answer – Ooker May 13 at 11:55
2

I propose to have a more "impactful" (for the sake of lacking word) solution. Downvoting may not be sufficient if the existing upvote number is high, or it is accepted. A comment can be buried with the whole thread. Here are some suggestions:

  • A post notice
  • An edit at the top, saying it's obsolete

I think everyone should be allowed to do that.

I think we shouldn't delete it, as it's still useful to say the solution once worked.

  • 1
    Especially if there is a new correct answer, the edit having a link to the new answer is very effective. – Jan Doggen May 13 at 11:35
  • The problem of buried comments are solved by flagging unnecessary comments for deletion. and by voting helpful comments. If a comment with many votes becomes obsolete it could be flagged for diamond moderator attention. – Rubén May 14 at 0:53

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