During discussion of this meta question, it was noted that our current rules are different from our historical rules. As a result some older challenges would be closed as off topic if posted now. Notable examples are some of the older popularity contests mentioned in that question.

As new users are much more likely to have seen old challenges on main than to have browsed meta, it seems misleading to leave these challenges open, inviting similar challenges. Especially since this wastes the time of people we are hoping will join our community.

This applies to all challenge types, not just popularity contests. How should we deal with historic posts that are no longer good examples of what is on topic?

Should they be closed as off topic? Should they be locked to prevent further answers? Should they be edited with a warning that further challenges of this type are no longer accepted?

Ideally we can settle on a single consistent approach to avoid any further confusion or disappointment for new users.


3 Answers 3


View all question with today's standards. If the question fits as current standards then leave it open; if it doesn't fit then vote/flag to close it. If we keep the questions which don't fit as per current standards, then people will ask why the questions are still open.

hims056 on meta.SE

The same thing applies to all Stack Exchange sites, really. Just because a question is old doesn't mean it gets a free pass for being off-topic.

Vote to close without restraint.

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    \$\begingroup\$ For insanely popular challenges, a historical lock may be more appropriate. It explains clearly why such a popular challenge was closed, removes it from Questions list, and prevents it from getting reopened. \$\endgroup\$
    – Dennis
    Commented Jan 18, 2016 at 15:12
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ I agree with Dennis' suggestion regarding historical locks. They are designed for this very purpose: keeping an old, great/popular challenge while still saying that it's no longer a good fit for the site. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 2:15
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    \$\begingroup\$ Alternatively, post a new question with the same core concept as the old challenge, but that actually fits with our standards today, and close the old one as a dupe of the new one. \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 23:51
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Mego No, then that invalidates all the answers on the first question. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 8:40
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    \$\begingroup\$ @ghosts_in_the_code The answers on the first question don't matter. It's off-topic, so it'll get closed anyway. If a new version is posted and the old one is closed as a dupe, there will be an opportunity for new, valid answers. \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 8:42
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @Mego But people would have put quite some effort on the answers. Some of them may be valid in the new Q as well. Some of the answerers may be absent or unhappy with the idea that they must repost answers to the new Q. And on a site like PPCG, there could be 40-50 such answers on a single Q. Historical lock seems a better option. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 8:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @ghosts_in_the_code In my opinion, historical locks should be used sparingly - only for questions with major historical value, and not "this used to be on-topic". For example, the original code trolling challenge deserves its historical lock. The subsequent ones do not. \$\endgroup\$
    – user45941
    Commented Jan 26, 2016 at 8:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1, but unless people review the Close Votes queue regularly, the votes may get expired. \$\endgroup\$
    Commented Apr 13, 2018 at 1:17

Mixed up output (older 7 years old)

Was recently marked as a duplicate of

We're no strangers to code golf, you know the rules, and so do I (younger 5 years old)

Due to the consensus that

What should we do with old challenges no longer on topic?

The one thing this meta-post didn't cover was...

Which one is the real duplicate?

The one with the most recent date, or the one that was most well received?

Personally I think we should VTC old challenges with the more well-received ones being the ones to stay open. I believe this is what we're doing anyway, I just wanted it to be stated somewhere.


Let them stay open

Give all our users a chance to participate in the older challenges. I think most new users will not be confronted with older challenges (and therefore not influenced), because (as far as I know) all the questions that are advertised on other sites are ones with a lot of activity. Also when entering PPCG you will first of all only find the newest challenges.


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