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Recently, a user asked a question which referenced another question three years earlier, and asked "Is this still true? What new research has there been?"

My first instinct was to close it as a duplicate, and recommend the use of bounties to ask for updates on the original question, but that seems rather unsatisfying.

As we get older, I can imagine this is going to happen more often. I am nervous about the site being filled with people re-asking the same questions. Also, three years isn't really a long time in science; it probably is a bit premature to be asking 'what's known now that wasn't known just the other day?' Nonetheless, in principle, it seems a reasonable thing to ask.

How would you prefer us to handle these questions? Mark a duplicate? Leave alone? Other?

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    This problem is likely to have been encountered on other sites, mostly in the form of "Is this still the best way to do x?" I will have a look through some other sites I frequent and see what they do. – Ladadadada Apr 26 '14 at 11:27
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    @Oddthinking, in the field of physics 3 years is short, but in the field of medicine quite alot often changes in such a short period of time. – Kenshin Apr 26 '14 at 11:50
  • @Mew: If you are allowed to cherry-pick active areas of medical research, that is true. If you pick a random selection of pieces of the broad knowledge of medicine, wait three years, and check whether that piece of knowledge is still true, I think it is fair to say not much changes in three years. One potential answer to this question might be "The OP must give a strong reason to suggest that there has been progress in the area, and it is worth relooking at." – Oddthinking Apr 27 '14 at 3:08
  • @Oddthinking, yes I think that is a good suggestion. The OP should have a reason for why things might have changed. – Kenshin Apr 27 '14 at 3:11
  • @Mew: Okay, I think Ilya's answer covers that, so you can express your support by upvoting it. – Oddthinking Apr 27 '14 at 4:21
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I think that those question should be accepted as stand alone questions only if a sufficient evidence has been provided for the issue. We can have an endless stream of "has this changed yet" question, as the question "Is this still true" can be asked on every day. In order to not fill the site with "Is gravity still true" only if the question cites a new credible source which goes against the most upvoted answer it should be allowed. Examples:

For an original question asking "Can eye therapy help you improve your eyesight?" with the answer "The recommendations are not based on scientific studies " the question "Have there been any successful scientific studies in the 3 years that passed since the answer posted?" shouldn't be accepted as a separate answer, but the question "Here is a current article citing recent studies saying that eye therapy can help, but the answer on the site says that it can't what is the truth?" should be allowed, as the poster showed sufficient evidence to be skeptical of the answer.

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I think ideally, we'd mark as duplicate and offer a bounty or an edit to the original answer to stay current with new evidence.

I'm not sure if that works in practice though... we'll have to see!

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The questions don't get closed when they are answered. The posts are editable. If an answer is obsolete, improve it or comment on it, but don't open another question.

There are two cases here:

  • the old answer is still valid

    In this case the new question is worthless and should be closed.

  • the old answer is not valid anymore

    In this case the old answer should be fixed, and the new question would become a dupe and should be closed.

TL;DR: close with prejudice

  • How can a user suspicious that it is the second case, above, encourage someone to revisit it? – Oddthinking Apr 27 '14 at 4:19
  • It depends on why they are suspicious: answers come with evidence, and evidence can only be trumped by better evidence, so "being suspicious" without a specific reason seems to be something we can safely ignore. – Sklivvz Apr 28 '14 at 3:03

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