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Sometimes one stumbles across (old) questions that are specific to very outdated software versions, where the answers also contribute nothing relevant for today's likely users. The questions were meaningful at the time, but are no longer helpful now.

  • Should we be closing or even deleting such questions?
  • If so, under what criteria? (How old? What if answers contain something salvageable?)
  • What close reason, and do we need to wordsmith close reasons to be better applicable?

I recently came across GDAL version & QGIS, dealing with GDAL 2.1.1 vs 2.1.2 and QGIS 2.14 vs 2.18. We're now up to GDAL 3.3 and QGIS 3.16+. I voted to close with the Custom / non-reproducible close reason. Another frequent moderator concurred and the close has happened. So this pretty non-controversial example is solved.

However, we have lots of other, though sometimes less egregious similar examples (random example: "Add Delimited Text Layer" plugin is enabled, but does not show up in the plugin menu). And the wording of the non-reproducible close reason isn't a perfect fit. It says:

This problem cannot or can no longer be reproduced. Changes to the system or to the asker's circumstances may have rendered the question obsolete, or the question does not include a procedure to enable potential answerers to reproduce the same symptoms. Such questions are off-topic as they are unlikely to help future readers, but editing them to include more details can lead to re-opening.

This sorta applies, and does so better than other reasons I could find, but it's not a perfect fit.

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I do not think that we should use age of a question, or of the software version it is about, as a close reason per se.

I endorsed your vote to close GDAL version & QGIS because it was talking about versions of GDAL (2.1.1 and 2.1.2) and their installation options at a particular point in time 4.5 years ago. I think that answers to that question, are very unlikely to be sought today and "have rendered the question obsolete".

Our custom close reasons each serve multiple purposes and we have tried to maximize their utility. Using some of them, at some times, can be a bit of a compromise, but the most important thing I ask myself when voting to close a question, is whether it needs to be improved (edited) to be worthy of allowing new answers today.

We very rarely delete questions, and the only reason I would delete an old one, or one using an old software version, would be if it was attracting lots of downvotes (for being no longer useful), and its answers did not appear useful either.

Whenever, I think a question, or a software version used in it, is too old to be useful, my preferred tool is the downvote.

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[As thoughtstarter for the discussion, I propose the following, not intended as a final answer:]

Yes, such questions should be closed. However, there is no reason to delete them.

A good rule of thumb for closure would be: question and its answers are only relevant for software versions that are at least 2 years out of date. (I'm trying to be generous here; I can see not everyone upgrading quickly.)

We have limited community-custom reasons available, so we can't generate a new one. But we could rename the non-reproducible reason to non-reproducible/no-longer-relevant and update its text to:

This problem cannot or can no longer be reproduced, or is no longer relevant. Changes to the system or to the asker's circumstances may have rendered the question obsolete, or the question lacks a procedure to enable reproducing the same symptoms, or the question is relevant only to software versions or data that are no longer in common use. Such questions are off-topic as they are unlikely to help future readers, but editing them to include more details or clarify ongoing relevance can lead to re-opening.

(I've done some simplifications in the previous text to avoid excessive bloat).

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  • My recollection is that all of our custom close reasons are very near their text limit, and when I tested yours just now it is 11 characters too long. Your text is 511 characters (with spaces) so I think the limit must be 500 characters.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 10 at 7:29
  • In case you've not seen it gis.meta.stackexchange.com/a/4091/115 is how the current wording came about.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 10 at 8:00

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