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Old 04-23-2013, 06:08 AM   #1
phaemon
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Updating Ancient Threads


Hi all,

In this thread:
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...lic-key-12593/

win2sux says:
Quote:
I agree that resurrecting a two year old dead thread for this is ridiculous.
...and this is something I have seen on other forums: a complete lack of understanding as to why someone would open an old thread.

I'd like to explain why it is correct to open an old thread and fix faulty information.

It is simple: people find these threads through search engines, not through the main site. If you Google for "dsa vs rsa" the above mentioned thread is the top hit. Therefore anyone Googling for that information will read that thread and

WILL GET FAULTY INFORMATION FROM LINUXQUESTIONS.ORG!

If you don't want ancient threads resurrected when they have faulty information then you should *DELETE THAT THREAD*. Otherwise people searching for information get bad information. Opening a new thread does nothing to fix this issue!

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the matter
 
Old 04-23-2013, 06:14 AM   #2
TobiSGD
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If you can contribute to a thread, assuming the thread topic is still relevant, or correct faulty information then there is nothing wrong with posting in older threads.
Threads on LQ will not be deleted without good reason and being old is not one of those reasons.
 
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Old 04-23-2013, 06:29 AM   #3
phaemon
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Well, it clearly wasn't the policy in the thread I quoted. What's more, that thread is now closed. If it turned out that RSA was actually completely broken, then that thread couldn't be updated and people would find the outdated information when searching. I suggest that if the information is still relevant, then threads should remain open, and if the information is outdated then they should be deleted (or at least, not indexed by Google et al).

The current situation of providing potentially misleading information to people is not optimal...
 
Old 04-23-2013, 07:28 AM   #4
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Again, threads on LQ will not be deleted without a very good reason. If you feel that the information in a thread is wrong or misleading and may cause harm the proper way to solve that issue is to contact a moderator and asking for a correction.
In the thread you linked the correction is already included, so I am not quite sure what you are complaining about.
 
Old 04-23-2013, 08:10 AM   #5
phaemon
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Who's complaining? I'm:

a) explaining why old threads are often resurrected since it seems some folk don't understand it
b) suggesting a discussion on the proper way to deal with old threads.

What's your problem with this anyway? Why not delete them? Is there some sacred duty to preserve ancient discussions of RSA?
 
Old 04-23-2013, 08:39 AM   #6
cynwulf
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You're getting your knickers in a twist over a non-issue...

The age of a thread - in the case of the thread which you linked to it was started back in 2002 - should be a clear indication as to whether the information presented therein is up to date or relevant.

In your linked example:

1) The thread was posted in 2002
2) unspawn replied in 2002
3) The thread was resurrected in 2006 - no problems
4) The thread was resurrected again in 2009 - the post was a reply to unspawn's post in 2002 - not any of the '06 posters.
5) The post in question started with "What kind of bullshit is this?"
6) It was more of a factual error than someone posting a dangerous command which warranted an "emergency" correction, 7 years later.

And that's all it is: someone correcting someone else 7 years down the line on a minor point... a perfect example of why not to resurrect a thread.

The web is full of inaccurate and incomplete information, on forums like this one especially, not in old threads but in threads posted this year, this week or today. Forums are not archives of 100% reliable, up to date information for people to search for on google - that's the job of a wiki, manual or other documentation - and they don't always get it right either.
 
Old 04-23-2013, 09:00 AM   #7
273
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I can see where the OP is coming from in that google hits often turn up older threads which may be out of date -- so if there's a correction it may be worth tacking that on.
However, I think an important skill one needs to use the internet is to vet search results as regards to relevance and the date is part of that. It is quite easy to search for "install x debian" and get a 5 year old tutorial about compiling something when it's now apt-get-able (for example) and if you're not able to see that a 5 year old tutorial might be out of date then somebody coming along and correcting a thread 7 years on isn't going to be of any help to you.
In other words I think the possibility of old threads being inaccurate is a misuse of google problem not a problem with the way threads are dealt with here.
 
Old 04-23-2013, 09:07 AM   #8
phaemon
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Nobody's getting their knickers in a twist - don't be such a drama queen.

Sure, the web is full of inaccurate information. Is that a reason to add more? When you google for information, you get forums such as these and it can be extremely frustrating to find the required information is simply missing in the first page of hits. And then, after you finally find the answer, and you think to update the forum thread to save people from all that tedium in future, forum admins freak out about resurrecting dead threads.

The thread I linked to was just an illustration of the phenomenon. Forget the detail.

If the answer to these sort of questions can easily be found in a wiki, manual or other doc then what exactly is the point of forums like linuxquestions.org?

And, once again, why shouldn't a thread that's "someone correcting someone else 7 years down the line on a minor point" be deleted? What exactly is it being kept *for*?
 
Old 04-23-2013, 09:10 AM   #9
phaemon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 273 View Post
In other words I think the possibility of old threads being inaccurate is a misuse of google problem not a problem with the way threads are dealt with here.
You could well be right, 273, but it still happens. If the threads aren't relevant anymore, surely at least they should stop being indexed by Google then with a robots.txt?
 
Old 04-23-2013, 09:17 AM   #10
273
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phaemon View Post
You could well be right, 273, but it still happens. If the threads aren't relevant anymore, surely at least they should stop being indexed by Google then with a robots.txt?
But how old is too old? Some threads from that long ago are still helpful (I've used some myself) but some are not. To have somebody manually checking every thread on the forum to see when it goes out of date would be impossible.
To refer specifically to the thread you mentioned -- the information in that thread may well have been out of date regardless of any potential mistakes as crypto moves fast so anyone needing advice on crypto ought to look at the latest news on a crypto site not a ten year old post on LQ. The same goes for other topics also. But if the correction was because a script had "rm -rf *" in it by mistake then I suspect an update to it would have been seen as more appropriate even after all that time.
It comes down to judgement though and, as I say, it's your responsibility to google properly.
 
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Old 04-23-2013, 09:28 AM   #11
phaemon
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I see, so what you're saying is: some old threads will have information that is still useful and some old threads will have information that is outdated, and when you're googling for an answer, you should know which answers are useful and which are outdated, presumably by already knowing what the answer you're looking for actually is.

I'm sure there's a flaw in that somewhere...

But this is a little beside the point: my concern was really with the "zombie" threads that are simultaneously too old to reply to, but are too young to be deleted/delisted. I think they should be one or the other, that's all...
 
Old 04-23-2013, 09:34 AM   #12
273
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phaemon View Post
I see, so what you're saying is: some old threads will have information that is still useful and some old threads will have information that is outdated, and when you're googling for an answer, you should know which answers are useful and which are outdated, presumably by already knowing what the answer you're looking for actually is.

I'm sure there's a flaw in that somewhere...
Nope, no flaw. You just have to apply common sense. As in my "installl x in Debian" example. Surely you expect software to change in 10 years? However, if you're looking for a way to determine whether your OS is 32 or 64 bit then running "getconf LONG_BIT" as non-root is worth a shot and still happens to work (one of the examples of an older thread I used).
So, what is your cut-off date for being useful? What is your cut-off date for replying? Some replies add to the thread some, like your example, are rude and not really worth dragging the thread up for.
It is impossible to determine this without reading every thread.
 
Old 04-23-2013, 09:41 AM   #13
phaemon
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I wouldn't have one [a cut off date]. If googling "install x in Debian" throws up a thread with details of compiling x, then it should be open to someone else coming along and saying "actually, you can just apt-get x now instead". Without complaints of resurrecting an ancient thread.

Maybe I happened to hit a singular instance of this and it's actually generally accepted on linuxquestions. I happened to have hit another instance of it last week on another forum so I thought I'd mention it here.

Last edited by phaemon; 04-23-2013 at 09:43 AM. Reason: clarify first sentence
 
Old 04-23-2013, 09:49 AM   #14
273
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phaemon View Post
I wouldn't have one. If googling "install x in Debian" throws up a thread with details of compiling x, then it should be open to someone else coming along and saying "actually, you can just apt-get x now instead". Without complaints of resurrecting an ancient thread.

Maybe I happened to hit a singular instance of this and it's actually generally accepted on linuxquestions. I happened to have hit another instance of it last week on another forum so I thought I'd mention it here.
Actually, in that case the thread would be left open and somebody doing that would likely not find any objection though I can't speak for anyone else of course. I have seen threads which have been updated a few years later giving a solution which either didn't exist at the time or is easier and people have been thanked for doing so.
In my opinion an update to a ten year old software install post ought not to be needed but that is just me and I don't have a problem with anyone updating the thread. My opinion doesn't count for much though.
I think you found an edge-case, which happen sometimes, where judgement could go either way. That, coupled with the abusive update post, would appear to be why the thread was locked.
 
Old 04-23-2013, 10:02 AM   #15
phaemon
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Fair enough. As far as I can see, there are 3 reasonable ways to handle old threads. One of the following:
  • No such thing as old threads. All threads can be replied to.
  • Old threads are prevented from being indexed with a robots.txt. They can still be searched directly on the site, just not with google etc. It is left to the judgement of the community members whether or not to resurrect the thread.
  • Old threads are deleted. The subject can be raised again in a new thread.

There could be other options (e.g. old threads are marked with an "obsolete" header; Google is asked to respect it and lower its search ranking), but I think they pretty much cover it. Note that none of these covers the case of "closed" threads.

Do you agree? Which do you think linuxquestions should use?
 
  


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