From time to time you see someone posting yet another answer to very old questions which have many answers. It is almost always the case that the newly added answer is in fact a duplicate or a reiteration of an old answer.

I wanted to bring this up for a while now. And there are two points for this.

  1. Should we close or lock old questions with a lot of answers after it becomes apparent that 99% of the additional answers will either be non-answers (spam, trolling, comments) or repeat previous answers?

  2. If answered positively, what would you think is a reasonable clear case for closing (yes, "over a year old, over 10 distinct undeleted answer"; not something like "over a decade old without any activity for six years, and over 100 answers undeleted").

    If answered negatively, how do you propose we make users (usually users who have been using the site for a while) not post answers to very old questions without first going through a long list of answers to see they are actually adding new information to the thread?

  • $\begingroup$ Would protection have helped? (Likely not given the "using the site for a while"...sorry) $\endgroup$
    – quid Mod
    Sep 2, 2015 at 9:56
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ It's one step, but insufficient. These answers will often times come from users with ~300-1000 points. Well beyond the reach of protection. (Unless you meant racketeering, in which case maybe it will help, but it's probably illegal.) $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Sep 2, 2015 at 9:58
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    $\begingroup$ I see a downvote, and I want to make it clear. I am not suggesting that we do that. I am raising the issue for discussion. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Sep 2, 2015 at 10:35
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    $\begingroup$ Attempting to close a question because "my crystal ball predicts that it will attract many additional non-answers" would bring the abuse of closing to a new low. It boggles the mind to think that anyone would consider any such action proper. What's next. closing questions because they have too few answers? But wait, SE already promotes such stupidity. Good thing mathematicians don't. Instead, we cherish challenging problems that are not easily answered. Stop drinking the SE Kool-aid. $\endgroup$ Sep 2, 2015 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: And what if it already has many duplicate answers? I don't understand why you can't ignore this discussion if you don't like it. No need to get snarky. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Sep 2, 2015 at 15:10
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf Please give some prototypical examples of such questions to help better focus the discussion. $\endgroup$ Sep 2, 2015 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: math.stackexchange.com/questions/11/is-overline9-1 is one example. It actually has 20 deleted answers vs. 17 undeleted answers. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Sep 2, 2015 at 15:46
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    $\begingroup$ @NajibIdrissi hmm, the original problem was replaced with a nonexistent one, then a finally a rhetorical coup-de-grace for the troublemakers (who apparently are nonmathematicians who favor sugary drinks.) hmmmmmm $\endgroup$
    – rschwieb
    Sep 6, 2015 at 12:06

1 Answer 1


If a new answer does not add anything at all it might reasonably be considered as "not useful" (in the given context) and thus could be down-voted.

Basically, I think this suffices to control such activity.

Of course, if a question allows too many distinct answers it is "too broad" and could be closed as such. I think it is difficult to give a hard and fast rule for what is "too broad," for example somebody curating a list-question can make a long list still manageable; the relevance of the question should also be factored in.

That being said, I think some tolerance should be shown towards newer users that might want to add something to old questions. I think one cannot reasonably try to avoid duplicates and not allow additions to old questions.


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