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Skeptics is already a pretty old site (by Internet standards), there are questions here that are over 10 years old. Science advances all the time and new research is conducted which can lead to changes in the currently prevailing opinions.

In light of this, is it OK to re-ask an old question? Technically it's a duplicate, but the answers today may very well be radically different than those 10 years ago. If yes, what would be the cutoff age before re-asking an old question becomes acceptable?

Alternatively, if we're not allowed to make a duplicate of a 10-year old question, is there any way to mark an old question as "needs a revisit" which would bring it back to the top of the queue and to everyone's attention?

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Interestingly, this question was already asked 10 years ago, but without a satisfying answer (the questions weren't actually the same).

The current policy is that exact duplicates are not accepted, and I'd be opposed to allowing the creation of new duplicates of old questions.

If we were to allow it, we'd end up with multiple questions with different answers. If a user only sees the old question, they'd miss the new answers. So it would actually serve the opposite of what you intend: the new research would be more difficult to find.

Alternatively, if we're not allowed to make a duplicate of a 10-year old question, is there any way to mark an old question as "needs a revisit" which would bring it back to the top of the queue and to everyone's attention?

You can add a bounty to the question, which will feature it in the bountied tab and incentivizes people to add new answers.

You can also post your own, up-to-date answer, which will push the question into the active question stack.

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  • Hmm... Sounds reasonable, except that I don't have enough rep to add bounties and I don't have an up-to-date answer either - that's why I came here, to find an answer from people who know where to look for one. Perhaps it's worth creating a feature-request and brainstorming for something else?
    – Vilx-
    Aug 26 at 13:33
  • @Vilx- if you believe there is an up-to-date answer (but you don’t have one) you can bring it up in chat. Also, FYI, you do have enough reputation to make bounties (4 of them). Aug 26 at 17:13
  • What do you think about closing the old question as the duplicate?
    – fredsbend Mod
    Aug 26 at 18:16
  • @fredsbend - For what it's worth - I like this idea.
    – Vilx-
    Aug 26 at 18:19
  • @fredsbend That's not a bad idea, though I'm not sure how well it would work in practice. It certainly would solve the problem of people not finding the newer answers. But it still feels wrong somehow. For one I think it might not feel great to have a question closed after a certain timeframe, even though it was perfectly fine when it was asked. And it might also make it difficult to identify the top answer (though votes on answers and accepted answer may be skewed / outdated in the case of a new answer to the old question anyways).
    – tim Mod
    Aug 26 at 19:35
  • And then there's the question of when we will accept a new question vs when we would instead recommend to update existing answers or to post new ones. Is a certain fixed timeframe even reasonable for that? It seems like a sensible timeframe would vary widely for different types of questions. Or would we pick another threshold, such as if any / how much significant new information has come out since the question was asked?
    – tim Mod
    Aug 26 at 19:36
  • I’m not a fan of bounties, especially not on this site. They’re a week deadline to write something of quality (when it’s also possible the only new research will come out afterwards). Maybe we should have a meta question where people can promise to give bounties to answers in the future, if any are posted of sufficient quality (as has been done on SciFi SE and others with success).
    – Laurel
    Aug 26 at 21:15
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Nowadays, my personal policy is to ignore them, as much as I can. Here's is why: Stack Exchange doesn't make any money of sites like Skeptics so they have few incentives to make them be more than passing HNQ (hot network questions) entertainment for their less unprofitable sites. A question cannot hit HNQ twice, so you'd be lucky to get a vote or two even for a well written answer to an old question, the rare bounty aside. Also, bounty points don't affect answer ranking. Additionally, there are a lot of questions written by abandoned accounts, who won't accept a better answer simply because they aren't around anymore.

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  • It’s not uncommon that an answer to an old question gets more than a couple of upvotes (though it’s not as much as answers to a new question can get).
    – Laurel
    Aug 29 at 12:01
  • Sure but that badge also provides ample examples of what I'm talking about e.g. skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/14487/… (Also, that's only from the 2nd page out of 19, even though the answer is from 2019. Perhaps some algorithmic or usebrase changes have made that badge less common over the years, not sure.)
    – Fizz
    Aug 29 at 12:24

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