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Many questions on this stackexchange are years old (such that the OP probably no longer checks for new answers, no longer needs an answer, or no longer cares). Many of these abandoned questions are so vague or have such an idiosyncratic focus that it would be impossible to judge a "rigorous" answer other than by whether it satisfied the OP (or motivated him to clarify/refine his question).

People occasionally necro these — is the correct policy to vote to close, or to remove, or is there some other option? (I feel in the long-term low-effort, ambiguous questions with no or low-effort answers crowding up the stack will make it unusable, and also when people make minor edits to these - why? - it confuses the "active" queue.)

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    I don't think that vagueness or idiosyncrasy characterises 'Older Questions' on the whole or even in large part. I should be reluctant to see them purged or 'necroed' : many are very good questions with very good answers. – Geoffrey Thomas Nov 12 '18 at 16:21
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My favorite source of reading on this site are these old questions. I approach them by picking a tag or by searching with a keyword (that I might later turn into a tag). This gives me access to many years of accumulated answers by people, some very intelligent people, who are no longer here.

There are some stack exchange badges that encourage this behavior. https://philosophy.stackexchange.com/help/badges

  • There's the "revival" badge: "Answer more than 30 days after a question was asked as first answer scoring 2 or more".
  • There's the "necromancer" badge: "Answer a question more than 60 days later with score of 5 or more"
  • There's the "excavator" badge: "Edit first post that was inactive for 6 months"
  • There's the "archeologist" badge: "Edit 100 posts that were inactive for 6 months"

It is true that it doesn't make much sense commenting on these old posts because the people who might be interested in reading those comments are no longer here. Nor can one expect an answer to an old question to be accepted any longer, but one can offer perhaps a better answer than the ones that have been offered.

I recommend taking advantage of these old posts. I don't see how the presence of these old questions makes the site "unusable".

  • To each their own. – guest1806 Nov 6 '18 at 3:41
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    @guest1806 I agree with Frank on this and I think this reflects a common attitude on SE sites (see for example this and this). The idea is that answers aren't just for the OP but for future visitors who might also benefit from them. This works especially well in more technical SEs (stackoverflow, math, etc) and I see no reason why it shouldn't apply here as well. – Eliran Nov 6 '18 at 14:57
  • +1. See comment above - GT – Geoffrey Thomas Nov 12 '18 at 16:24
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For questions that are unanswered but actually good, there are two "techniques" in addition to those already mentioned by Frank Hubeny:

  • setting bounties; however, these may expire before someone submits a good answer;
  • creating a meta-question for a "List of bounties with no deadline", like this example on Literature Stack Exchange; each answer to this question would then identify a question and promise to award a bounty for a good answer to that question. This meta-post would need to be tagged as "featured" (by a mod) in order to get some attention.
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If you find a question very hard to understand, then it is always appropriate to flag/vote to close it as unclear. Likewise, if you think a question is off-topic, or too opinion based, or too broad. Site scopes can change over time, but questions are to be closed or reopened based on the current site scopes and standards.

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