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What happens to users who have not seen their accounts for more than a couple of years? Do their accounts remain intact? I wanted to know so because, there are often a few questions with about 7-8 votes but no answers posted, by users who haven't seen their account for a couple of years. Will it be of any help if I answer them? More importantly, often before giving a good answer, one needs some simple clarifications about the question itself; but in this case, what am I to do if the O.P is not available?

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    $\begingroup$ The fact that you saw these Questions strongly hints that future Readers will see them as well. Unless the only reason you spot them is prowling the unanswered-question list, (not that there's anything wrong with that), these future Readers will benefit from your incisive, well-reasoned Answers. $\endgroup$ – hardmath Apr 20 '16 at 19:14
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    $\begingroup$ Did the user only have an account on Mathematics or did the user also have accounts on other stackexchange sites? If the user is still using any stackexchange site, they will get notified of answers to their questions across all of the stackexchange sits, even those they aren't currently active on. $\endgroup$ – kasperd Nov 3 '16 at 9:46
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If a user has at least one visible (non-deleted) post on the site, their account is preserved indefinitely. However, this does not mean they will ever use it again. So you should not expect any notes of gratitude from that particular user if you answer.

And you can expect is that an unanswered question with 7-8 votes is of interest to other people. Those who upvoted it, and many more who visited but did not have the privilege to upvote (you can gauge their number by looking at Views count). Additionally, when a question gets a good answer, this boosts the visits long term, since it gets inbound links over time. You may end up helping thousands of people, even if the author of the question never sees your answer. You will never know who they were... So, to have a visible token of appreciation, the site gives Revival badge for the first answer to an old unanswered question (provided the answer gets the score of 2).

As for clarifications: if the question cannot be answered because it's unclear, vote to close: "Unclear what you are asking". If the question never gets fixed, it should eventually be deleted: there is no point in having unanswerable questions lying around.

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  • $\begingroup$ The clarification part : $1$ doubt. Often in answering questions, you must have seen that you understand the full question and are even ready to answer, but one slight doubt clarification would clear all hurdles. For example in this question [link]( math.stackexchange.com/questions/455886/…) , if you read my comment (at the very last), you will understand what minimal doubt I am talking about. $\endgroup$ – Qwerty Apr 20 '16 at 16:17
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    $\begingroup$ You want to know if the tetrahedron is assumed to be regular. There is no such assumption made in the question: therefore, the tetrahedron is not assumed to be regular. But if you have a proof for the regular tetrahedron, you can still post an answer, saying that you solved the problem in this special case. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Apr 20 '16 at 16:36
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    $\begingroup$ The best example is this post. $\endgroup$ – user249332 Apr 22 '16 at 10:21

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