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They are normally locked with a message asking a potential poster to think again before adding their comment. The problem with locking down due to age is that the ethos of the site is that all the help here is accessible to all. Also, as we have seen recently, there are people out there with Red Hat 5.1 still running so they can add to the flow of even aged threads.
I understand and support the logic and the policy.
An old thread is still useful to read--the advantage of closing would be to ensure that a new question gets answered in the context of the current state of development.
Suppose I posted a thread in the year 2004 asking for help on printing. There could be a lot of answers there that are--in 2007--no longer relevant (or possibly even wrong). If the thread gets re-opened 2-3 years later, someone can read all the old stuff and get thoroughly confused.
Ideally, the newborns would read all the old threads, and then ask a new question based on absorbing all that knowledge. As we know, that seldom happens---we just get a new question. Once that happens, better not to muddy the water with 3 year old answers.
Another consideration: Suppose you posted something back in 04 and I want to ask you for clarification? Since posting, you may have gone dormant, switched back to Windows, or worse. I would just get frustrated trying to find you.
That's true (the final paragraph, I mean) but I would hope that everyone here would look at the dates and make a common sense judgment based on the dates
The problem is that both locking and leaving open old threads have equal merit. I believe that Jeremy put the current system in place as the fairest compromise. As we have seen over the years, age of post is no barrier to creating similar threads....