11

We have quite a lot questions about minecart boosters and water elevators, neither of which work anymore in patch 1.6.

The community's consensus is currently: "add a disclaimer on them all"; as the person who suggested this, I'd like the community to reconsider this.

When I suggested this, I figured that there would be two, three tops questions about a single mechanics, not twenty (more or less). I don't want to litter the entire homepage with questions that are no longer relevant to anybody but players refusing to update Minecraft.

The cleanest solution would be deletion, but it comes at a large number of disadvantages:

  • Massive reputation loss for no real reason (the content isn't bad or something, so we still deserve reputation from it in principle).
  • Permalinks breakage (I hate this, but it's not quite as large as I'd like to make it.)
  • Content loss (there will be some people refusing to update to 1.6, as it'll break all their stations and stuff.)

I could also close as too localized, but that alone doesn't explain that the content is now outdated. What do you think?

  • I was under the impression that water elevators have simply been nerfed and that they do work to some extent. – user821 May 26 '11 at 15:02
  • @Thom I'd have to try... when you do get the server back up, there's one above the theatre by the spawn. – badp May 26 '11 at 15:28
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    Is there any way to edit without bumping an answer on to the home page? Editing seems like the right answer, I don't like @Mark's assumption that "people will know it is out of date". And closing it doesn't really help either, since closed is not synonymous with wrong. – bwarner May 26 '11 at 16:56
  • @bwarner Not without dev access. – Grace Note May 26 '11 at 17:20
  • @Tho my water elevator no longer works at all. – John the Green May 27 '11 at 16:16
  • @John: My bad then, it wasn't something I have checked, I just thought I saw that Notch was nerfing them – user821 May 27 '11 at 22:34
  • @Thomas I read that too, but when I went to test it, it didn't work at all. – John the Green May 27 '11 at 22:36
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I'd keep the content but close it as too localized. The disclaimer you suggest should also be added. I don't really know the game, but if there are equivalent or similar mechanics that can achieve the same goal in the new versions, maybe we should add links to questions about those to steer users to the new way of doing stuff.

Another idea could be to additionally retag them to or something like that, which would free from obsolete questions, but I'm not sure if that would be a good idea.

Obviously questions that can be easily updated should be updated instead of closing them.

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    +1 for the first paragraph. I don't think retagging is a good idea. – Oak May 26 '11 at 10:36
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    Okay: I'll close and comment, rather than edit. – badp May 26 '11 at 21:25
5

I don't think closing is the right answer, since that doesn't communicate that the answer is now wrong, especially to people who aren't familiar with our site. And clearly leaving them alone doesn't do anything for communication either. So I think editing is the right solution. While it does temporarily affect the home page, that is a short-term thing, and is much better than the long-term problems of having incorrect information that is not indicated as such.

1

I think most people would reasonably assume an ancient question for a game that's constantly updated is out-of-date. That is, if you've played Minecraft for more than a minute, or did any amount of searching for the game (here or elsewhere), you expect that a question/page/forum thread that's been inactive for more than a month contains dubious information that needs verification. Unfortunately, that's the inherent risk in covering perpetually updated games and it's why Stack Exchange has wiki-like features.

So it comes down to two classes of questions: the ones that ask about an active feature but produced now-obsolete answers, and ones that ask about a feature that was removed from the game.

In the former, I would hope any bulk action wouldn't affect them: they can be updated to be current by the community.

In the latter, you'd have a few different types of people who would find that question:

  1. People browsing the list of Minecraft questions.

  2. People specifically searching for an obsolete feature for whatever reason. They may just be interested in the history of Minecraft, or a person who hasn't updated Minecraft in a while and in for a rude surprise when they do

  3. People searching about a related, active feature. Like, perhaps, a person interested in how to speed up their minecarts (powered rail vs. booster track)

The first group has no defined goal to cater towards, and can be ignored for the purposes of this issue.

The second group would be unhappy if there was no information, and are reason enough not to delete the questions.

And it's the third group that would cause the most confusion. In order to handle that confusion, questions should be closed as too localized without further action in obvious cases of obsolescence. The reason the question is closed as too localized should be obvious to any player for the reasons I mentioned above.

But otherwise, if a question hasn't gotten any activity in a while, let it be: there's no need to proactively take action on all possibly obsolete questions as it only increases the chance for human error that a question gets closed for the wrong reasons (i.e. a moderator thinks a question is obsolete, but after 8 minor patches, the feature the question discusses is back).

But if a question is getting activity due to misguided attempts to point out it's obsolete (like someone leaving a "This was removed in 1.6" non-answer), close them as too localized and add a moderator note as per the previous consensus.

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    Unless they compete for eyeballs with our new Minecraft questions, simply ignore them. They are obsolete, so nobody will bother asking for them anyway. If you go editing them or something, you just bring them back to the front page. – Ivo Flipse May 26 '11 at 12:12
  • I don't really agree with this. The last thing I want when browsing a SE site (or searching Google) is to find a bunch of out-of-date, irrelevant, or wrong answers. Ridding the internet of that stuff is one of the reasons SO was created in the first place. – Brant May 26 '11 at 15:16
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    You forget that the vast majority of our users come through Google, so like I said: unless a new version of the same problem arises and the old version would compete for attention, it doesn't matter. Nobody will see a question if they don't actively Google for it. – Ivo Flipse May 26 '11 at 17:34
  • @Brant what's being discussed here doesn't affect questions that discuss current mechanics but have answers that are obsolete: that's an on-going problem across the SE network when covering stuff that changes. It's up to the community to update those answers to be relevant, and it's why the SE engine has wiki features. This is solely about questions that ask about obsolete features, where the only current correct answer is "That feature no longer exists." – user3389 May 26 '11 at 18:27
  • Hmm, good point. That's a distinction (obsolete vs. wrong) which I didn't really think about. – Brant May 26 '11 at 18:29
  • Notch has stated that, in the future, users will be able to choose not to update their client and server to the newest version. What would make a moderator consider a version "no longer available" and why should users not updating be prevented from asking/finding answers about their question? This obviously extends beyond Minecraft as well, since there are many games that allow you to play outdated versions. Is that to say that users not running the newest version aren't allowed to find answers about outdated (but not obsoleted) mechanics? – Dave McClelland May 26 '11 at 18:40
  • @Dave I edited my answer to hopefully address people interested in outdated versions of Minecraft, and removed my suggestion for the notice as the previous community consensus about this topic defined what the note would be, which seems to be more welcoming towards the out-of-daters. – user3389 May 26 '11 at 18:48

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