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Gaming is a fast moving field and sometimes things get left behind or shut down. What should we do with the content on the site that is no longer pertinent to the current state of gaming? Should we preserve it as a nod to the past and those people who put some effort into answering and curating that knowledge? Or should we delete it since it won't help people of the future become better gamers and might allow some problems creep in if people abuse the system?

Things to think about

This applies to games that have continuing versions (i.e. Minecraft)

It will probably apply to a large number of Free 2 Play titles going forward as they adjust their "services" to continue to make money.

Is there a difference between content from a dead game and dead content from a game?

Google can still point at these questions depending on what we do. How is it going to affect us to have wrong and outdated content on the site?

How should these questions be handled going forward?

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I don't particularly like the proposed solutions for handling content that was valid but obsoleted. Of the available solutions, I am partial to editing in a disclaimer about the content of the question/answers being obsolete, or answering the question with a more current answer.

Here are some things to think about:

  • If the accepted answer is wrong, so be it. This is not a problem localized to these questions. Downvote incorrect information. Just because it has a green check mark does not make it correct.
  • If a better answer to the question is now "This isn't possible," then so be it. There are a lot of questions on the site that are answered in this fashion, obsolete content or no.
  • Closing is a temporary state while questions are improved or are waiting for deletion. When correct answers to the question would be harmful somehow (ie, advocating piracy, leading to extended discussion, etc), then closing is a good recourse.
  • Protection is appropriate in cases where non-answers may be posted by people who don't know better. It's possible for this to be done to any question, especially popular ones.
  • Historical lock is intended for questions that used to be allowed, but don't actually reflect the current community consensus of what is a "good question." It's there to preserve content that has value, while discouraging future copycat questions. (Our community has not been terribly receptive to historical lock, historically.)
  • Deleting has all manner of issues.

I'll tackle deleting in more detail. Deleting is bad because:

  • Sometimes dead content comes back. Minecraft has a pocket edition and an Xbox edition that are both out of sync with the PC version. Perhaps something that is out of date for one is not for one of the others. There are lots of examples of stuff in games that was removed and later (frequently due to fan outcry) readded.
  • Sometimes dead content is interesting. Say someone asked about something that was then removed from the game. Probably there are other places this thing was discussed, in a less updatable fashion. Wouldn't having an answer that says "This is dead, and was replaced by XYZ in patch 1.23" be useful information to have? Think if you're following a tutorial that is out of date, and it references something you can't find in the game. You google search and find an Arqade question that says at the top "This was removed in a patch" - that's useful!
  • It requires moderator intervention, or significant community coordination. Deleting is one of the highest order privileges. There are many things that are easier for the community to handle. Given the current alpha/beta/preview release culture in gaming, it's safe to assume that content is going to bounce around between obsolete and current regularly.
  • It is one of the hardest post modifications to recover from. You lose the content in a massive pile of deleted posts, and there's really no guarantee that deleted stuff will stay in the "SE Recycle Bin" indefinitely.

Finally, it's in opposition to previous community agreements on the subject, such as:

Can we stop closing questions that have become obsolete as "Too Localized"?

Here the community seems to be saying "Don't close this obsolete content, and certainly don't delete it."

Should questions about obsoleted mechanics be simply removed?

Here the highest voted answer was to close it as Too Localized (seems to have been superseded by the other question).

How should we deal with out of date questions/answers?

Here the highest voted answer used to be "edit it into the question/answer" but that was changed at some point. More recent answers seem to support "Too Localized" but are also prior to the discussion in the first question.

  • I really don't know why there are some of us here that don't like historical locks. We don't have to use them the same way they're used on SE. We should be using them, IMHO, as a stronger version of protection. A historical lock is like "Here is a thing. Look at this thing. This thing has value, but we don't want you to change this thing." whereas closing is like "Here is a thing. This thing has little value. Don't bother looking at this thing unless you can give it more value." – MBraedley Jan 10 '13 at 16:01
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  • If the answer to a question changes with a new version of a game, the answer to the question should change with it.
  • If the question as it is becomes irrelevant to answer ("Minecraft boosters don't work anymore", "Nothing special happens when you hit level 15 anymore"), then it should be deleted not to cover information about the game that is relevant here and now.

Consider for example minecraft boosters, which have been replaced 1.5 years ago by minecraft booster tracks. Why did Notch use the same word for both things? Because it's the most natural word choice: booster tracks were built to replace boosters. However this means that somebody googling for "minecraft boosters" can get a mixture of new and old stuff — this is potentially confusing and we've argued in the past that those questions should get a notice on top.

I say that those questions are misleading and confusing by simply being on the internet and that letting them be for a sense of nostalgia or inherent work does the internet a disservice. We're here to make the internet a better place to be; hosting content that has stopped being relevant a year and a half ago does not make the internet a better place to be.

To those who are too worried about allowing things fade in the mists of time, may I remind them that:

  • No one really does care anymore about what happened in Star Wars The Old Republic when a trial account hit level 15.
  • We have a blog for things like this. A lengthy blog post about minecraft boosters, how they worked, how they didn't worked and why they were replaced would be much more awesome than keeping old posts be.
  • who would write such a blog post? – user4139 Jan 4 '13 at 23:21
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    @sarge_smith That doesn't matter, because we don't need such a blog post. The point is it's information which is no longer useful or relevant to anyone. – Wipqozn Jan 5 '13 at 0:31
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    then say that instead of throwing off with the blog as a solution to the issue. – user4139 Jan 5 '13 at 3:02
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What should we do?

I personally believe that the the problem is easiest solved with a slight modification to the historical lock. Instead of saying "This question is not how we do things anymore", we say "The world has moved on from this question. The information contained within is out of date or only applies to an older version of the game."

WHY WE SHOULD DO IT

I understand that we don't want a bunch of older content confusing people, but one of the worst things about gaming culture is how we don't hold any of our past. To the point that we don't even know the actual N.A. release date of Super Mario Bros. As expansions come out and the games as services model grows, this issue is likely to crop up many more times. What happens when Apple moves to a new chip architecture and decides that iOS is as outdated as DOS? The work of this community should be preserved for the future, in case we ever would like to look back at it. The problem with deletion is the content is only available to people who have over 10k rep. That group of people isn't the group of people I was creating content (what simple content I have) for.

I feel like the vast majority would rather jump through some hoops to preserve the history of where we've been. It would be one thing if keeping these questions around were actively destroying the site. But their existence isn't harming a soul. or a page view, for that matter. If the overhead of keeping them around ever becomes a problem, we can always readdress the problem then.

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