ServerFault contains numerous questions, some dating back 2+ years, that were on-topic when posted but have become off-topic due to changes in our standards for acceptable questions. This is particularly true of questions seeking product recommendations and software licensing advice.



  1. Have we created a situation wherein ServerFault in effect offers only outdated advice when it comes to product recommendations and software licensing?
  2. Over the long term, could this situation have a negative impact on our recommendation as a best practice community? For example: could a future Windows Server 8 admin come here looking for information on terminal services licensing, but only find answers pertaining to Server 2003 and Server 2008? Could that give the incorrect impression that ServerFault is a derelict Q&A site that lost its wings in 2010?
  3. Should there be an organized campaign to flag and remove old questions have become off-topic due to changes in our rules?

7 Answers 7


Whenever an old question pops to the surface I treat it no differently than if it was posted today. If it's off topic now I vote accordingly. In the early days of SF the guidelines had yet to be placed and there was considerable tolerance for some questions simply because nobody was sure just what to to with them. I see no reason to use that as an excuse for keeping that stuff.

  • Although they only bubble to the surface if they are relatively unloved ( no answers/no upvoted answers etc).
    – user9517
    Commented Oct 27, 2011 at 20:58

IMHO Software Licensing questions (even old ones) should be closed as duplicates of Can you help me with my software licensing issue? ;

I believe we have something similar for "Can you recommend hardware" type questions but those are more of a gray area (if the question is about a particular Storage need - say "deduplication and tiered storage of legacy data" an answer may include recommendations for hardware/software/systems with those features ; If the question is "What kind of SAN should I buy?" the answer will probably be "Figure out your needs and talk to some vendors (we aren't going to do your job for you)."

Just my $3.50

  • Either inflation is worse than I thought or you're charging consultant's rates ;)
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 0:17
  • That's not consulting rate. The decimal point is in the wrong spot :-)
    – voretaq7
    Commented Nov 1, 2011 at 14:56

If we could all get together and kill the "Cool Server Names" question even after Jeff revived it, I don't see a reason not to band together and destroy other old ones.

  • Sadly, I think there are two problems with this idea. 1 - Some people are too frightened to go against anything Jeff and co. do or say. 2 - I don't think there aren't enough of us that will do it to get the needed results. Regardless, my vote has already been cast, more than once. Commented Oct 31, 2011 at 6:49

I'm not personally motivated enough to look for old would-now-be-closed questions, but I think that if a question would likely get closed today, it's fair game for posting in the Vote to Close chat and I'd go along with closing them.

I haven't looked at all the samples you posted, the one about recommending server hardware seems general enough that I'd probably leave it open. The other ones look like what would now be "Too Localized."


Sure, things have changed a bit since the site started and many of the questions would probably be closed as off topic today but they are here and may be of use to someone in the future.

I would say that if they have answers and especially accepted answers then leave them. If people feel strongly about it then drop them in vote to close (with a reason) as flagging them forces one person to make what should be a community decision.


There is a little known feature us mods have known as the "Historical significance" lock.

Historical Significance

This also adds a "post notice" to this effect. There are reported to be several of these floating around on StackOverflow, but I don't think we have any yet. If any of those would be good candidates for this, we do have this power.

  • This is very interesting. Could one infer, then, that you are in favor of removing historical off-topic questions that do not rise to the level of "historical significance"?
    – Skyhawk
    Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 5:12
  • @MilesErickson The lock prevents further upvoting and commenting, where a close doesn't. The 'historical significance' lock would be for questions that have gotten a lot of answers and still get one or two every few months. I do support closing old, off-topic questions.
    – sysadmin1138 Mod
    Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 11:47

This, I feel, could be a general topic for SE as a whole (i.e. meta S.E). At the very least, the technology related sites. As things get out of date and obsolete, the answers for such wouldn't really become as obsolete because they were the best answer for that moment in time (Timestamps are the public's friend).

If someone is taking advice from a question about an older technology, I would imagine they would have the sense to realize that the matter is pertaining out of date advice/information (people have common sense right?).

For things that are constantly in production and are updated, I don't think older answers should be downvoted but if a new answer is posted that answers the question in a better way for the modern implementation (assuming the asker is still active, unless there's a mod tool for this) then that should change to the accepted answer and flag the old answer as outdated. Do not signify it as wrong but that it is merely past it's prime for that version of the item.

  • I wasn't proposing to remove outdated answers in general. The purpose of my question is to invite a discussion of what to do with "orphaned" topics that have substantial outdated content but do not allow new content. Of course, information about outdated platforms remains potentially useful long after they such products fall out of common usage.
    – Skyhawk
    Commented Oct 27, 2011 at 19:27
  • my mistake then
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Oct 27, 2011 at 21:44

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