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I apologize if this has been discussed, but I didn't find any info on a quick search.

What is the proper etiquette when you see a user resurrect a dead question that has been thoroughly answered? Is the best response to just let it be? I'm thinking specifically of this thread: Proving : $ \bigl(1+\frac{1}{n+1}\bigr)^{n+1} \gt (1+\frac{1}{n})^{n} $

This question had five answers already, four of which are over a year old. I'm not sure what this answer adds. Is this sort of resurrection frowned upon?

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  • $\begingroup$ To help focus the discussion, it would help if you told us why you think that such resurrections might be frowned upon. $\endgroup$ – Bill Dubuque Oct 21 '12 at 15:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Bill: Presumably, he thought so because frowning upon necromancy is fairly widespread on internet forums. I don't expect the rationale against it to apply here, though. $\endgroup$ – Hurkyl Oct 21 '12 at 17:39
  • $\begingroup$ @BillDubuque: Hurkyl is correct. In most other forums I frequent, necromancy is very much frowned upon. I wasn't sure what the etiquette was here. In the specific example I linked, it's not clear (to me) what purpose there is in resurrecting the thread: OP's question had been very thoroughly answered $\endgroup$ – Bey Oct 21 '12 at 21:00
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    $\begingroup$ "Is the best response to just let it be?" What alternative responses did you have in mind? You are within your rights to downvote the new answer, if you feel that's justified. You can leave a polite-but-pointed comment asking what the new answer purports to accomplish. Tarring-and-feathering seems a bit out of proportion. What else? $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Oct 21 '12 at 22:58
  • $\begingroup$ To drive Gerry's point home, any editing, deleting, or whatever would bump the question again. While that wouldn't be a proper necrobump, it would still bump something you would rather stay hidden in the dunes of time. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 21 '12 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ Typical options include informal/formal censure, closure of the offending thread, deletion of the offending post. One possible reaction unique to this site would be to modify voting behavior: e.g. to be more liberal with votes/flags (in either direction) to compensate for limited exposure, or to strive to place an answer where you think it deserves to be in relation to the other answers. $\endgroup$ – Hurkyl Oct 21 '12 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Hurkyl. Personally, I've never seen anything wrong with "thread necromancy" on any online forum. I definitely don't see a problem with it on SE. $\endgroup$ – TRiG Oct 21 '12 at 23:36
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    $\begingroup$ @GerryMyerson: In my experience on other forums, a moderator would be notified of necro threads and s/he would usually lock or delete the thread. I'm not arguing for or against any particular response, but I wanted to know how these things are handled here. Now I know :) $\endgroup$ – Bey Oct 22 '12 at 0:05
  • $\begingroup$ @TRiG: The biggest problem, I think, is that one of the prime targets of necromancy are old heated discussions that were allowed to run their course when fresh, but really shouldn't be rekindled months/years later (and probably should have been closed even when they were fresh). Beating an undead horse is problematic too. These, I think, are the cases that draw the most ire rather than just amused teasing. Another problematic situation that comes up is when outdated information is resurrected, which can confuse/mislead people who don't know it's outdated. $\endgroup$ – Hurkyl Oct 22 '12 at 0:28
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    $\begingroup$ Bey, you're again within your rights to flag an answer for moderator attention. I can't imagine a moderator deleting a thread that has good answers on it, but a moderator might be persuaded to lock such a thread. To get an answer deleted, the option is available (though not universally approved) to downvote it and then vote to delete it. $\endgroup$ – Gerry Myerson Oct 22 '12 at 5:38
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The relevant concern for necromancy in this situation is having old, 'stale' questions pollute the active list.

The only negative reaction I've seen vocalized was an incident a while back (I can't find the link to the relevant meta topic) where someone has made many edits to old posts, bringing a whole bunch of them to the active list at once. (or threatening to -- I don't recall if the edits went through and people complained, or the edits were rejected with this rationale)

Of course, just because nobody complains out loud on meta doesn't mean it doesn't bother people and doesn't cause problems. But even if necromancy is ultimately a bad idea, I expect the status quo to have too much inertia for anything to change until enough of it happens at once to cause a big problem, rather than a minor problem people find easy to dismiss.


The top related question is from nearly two years ago on this topic. The top voted responses were essentially "answer them" and "responsibly answer those questions with wide appeal in favor of those with niche interest". But, to be fair, nobody put forth an answer that makes the case for the alternative.

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    $\begingroup$ The thread you are talking about is by Bill The Lizard who deleted his user after the incident. The edits were rejected because bumping one question is fine, but his edits were quite too minor and there were six or eight of them at once. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Oct 21 '12 at 18:26
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There is nothing wrong with bumping posts to make substantial edits or to give new answers sufficiently different from existing ones. Posts that are bumped don't stay there for that long, and meaningful edits and new answers help improve the quality of the site.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree. I thought my answer was sufficiently different from the existing answers, and its method was applicable to other problems, as well. $\endgroup$ – robjohn Oct 23 '12 at 4:43

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