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I would like to be able to close questions as "no longer relevant" if they have been answered in the comments (such questions generally are near the border, but on the MO side, of appropriate for MO). But this option seems to have evaporated in the migration to MO 2.0. Why?

And can we get it back?

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  • $\begingroup$ We do have custom off-topic reasons to close available, but this one makes little sense as a qualifier to 'off-topic'. $\endgroup$ – François G. Dorais Sep 1 '13 at 3:03
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    $\begingroup$ Do you also want to close questions as "no longer relevant" if they have been answered with answers? If bot, what's the difference? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Sep 1 '13 at 6:41
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    $\begingroup$ Presumably because questions that have not received an answer get periodically bumped to the top of the list of active question. Of course there are workarounds, like posting a CW answer stating that it has been answered in comments, but it's not completely satisfactory. $\endgroup$ – Dan Petersen Sep 1 '13 at 7:57
  • $\begingroup$ Unfortunately the SE system likes to see answers posted as answers, even if CW. This is also reflected in the site statistics. $\endgroup$ – András Bátkai Sep 1 '13 at 9:11
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    $\begingroup$ What @DanPetersen says is AFAIK (mainly) a misconception (either this does not happen at all or at least the effect is very minimal): Questions without answer do not get bumped (or at least only extremely rarely). The questions that do get bumped are those with answer(s) that are neither accepted nor have a positive score (ie, those that are still in the 'unanswerd' list). $\endgroup$ – user9072 Sep 1 '13 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ A possible solution is to emulate the attempts on MSE, where, if the comment-answer is by a single user, that user is asked (nicely, of course) if they would provide it as an answer. If this does not work or if the comment-answer is by several, someone puts a CW-answer with the answer given in comments. @quid The unanswered list also contains all those questions with no answers (being a subset of those with no upvoted answers), but whether the bumping is affected by whether an answer exists, I don't know. $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Sep 3 '13 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft the argument they should not be in the unanswered list if they are actually answered in a comment, is certainly a reasonable one (of which I was not unaware). Yet it was not the one that was put forward. It is often people talk about this bumping. I replied to this at least three times already over time. But it just does not happen in practice (with any relevant frequency, possibly not at all). Still people kepp talking about it. So I keep pointing out it does not happen. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Sep 3 '13 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ @quid I may have misread your comment then. I understood it like you distinguished between questions without answers and questions with non-upvoted answers when it comes to the frequency of bumping. I agree that the bumping is not a major issue (it is somewhat larger on MSE where the number of unanswered questions is much higher, but even there it is not something I often notice). $\endgroup$ – Tobias Kildetoft Sep 3 '13 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ @TobiasKildetoft no, you understood me right or at least half-way, I think. Dan Petersen said that comment-answers are bad as then this question will (continue to) be bumped periodically. In my observation it is simply false that questions without answer get bumped. (Or it is extremely rare. Could anybody give any example of this having happened?) So, this is a non-reason. The bumping of questions with answers of nonpositive score does happen with a noticeable frequency, I sometimes find annoying, but this is not very relevant for the current discussion. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Sep 3 '13 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ here is an example that I would like to close as "no longer relevant" mathoverflow.net/questions/141168/… $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Sep 3 '13 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ Theo, do you have a specific example in mind? It's often useful to have concrete instances around; otherwise the arguments pro and con can seem to be in a vacuum and perhaps miss relevant aspects that a specific example can bring to light. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Sep 4 '13 at 10:58
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If a question is really no longer relevant, then presumably it would not be very likely to receive new answers, making closing a sort of redundant concept. On the off chance that someone's circumstances led them to a situation where the answers such a question received were relevant, then there's no harm in leaving it around.

In certain cases, stale questions that lose relevance can become actively harmful by drawing people to the wrong information, at which point we have a couple of options:

  • The question can be closed as a duplicate of the question that's actually helpful in a similar search

  • The question can be deleted if it's causing people to trip over it, or advertising incorrect information or guidance.

The idea of putting posts on hold, later changing to a closed state is so that they can be actively improved so that they're suitable for reopening. If something is gathering dust and making anyone happening by it sneeze, then it's probably something that should just be deleted.

If you think something is actively harmful and should be deleted without hesitation or ceremony, then you can flag it as 'other' for moderator attention and let them know why it might need to be removed. Just be as specific as you can, include any informative links, give the moderators the same background that you have on the subject.

If it's not harming anything, then there's really no reason to think much more about it.

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  • $\begingroup$ This is a good answer. But a practical point. Before being able to delete it, however, most of us need to put it 'on hold'. $\endgroup$ – user9072 Sep 3 '13 at 20:37
  • $\begingroup$ @quid Good point, I expanded a bit to address that. $\endgroup$ – Tim Post Sep 3 '13 at 21:03
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    $\begingroup$ I am not so confident about the claim in your first sentence: there are plenty of people out there who like to write answers down, even if they are not actually answering the question, or even if they are repeating things other people have written. $\endgroup$ – Yemon Choi Sep 3 '13 at 23:02
  • $\begingroup$ @YemonChoi: Actually, I think the main application of 'no longer relevant' in the old MO.1 days was toward a situation where a question did begin to attract subpar answers (contrary to Tim's first sentence). The idea being that a question, while maybe serving a useful purpose at one time, is now only attracting crap and should be put to rest, for the good of the site. This seems to me still a valid reason for closing. But not for deleting, as long as there are still some good and worthwhile answers there. $\endgroup$ – Todd Trimble Sep 5 '13 at 0:33

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