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There was a time—a dark, dark time—in which there were no standard loopholes. Since we began classifying certain things as loopholes and banning their use, the overall quality of the content on this site has improved. However, answers from the Dark Ages remain, answers which violate loopholes but predate the introduction of loopholes, so at the time they were posted they were not breaking any rules.

Should our standards of quality apply retroactively? That is, what should we do with these old answers that now violate loopholes but didn't when they were posted? Some options I can think of offhand are

  • Flag and/or delete
  • Lock popular ones for historical significance
  • Should we leave them all alone

Surely there are other possible courses of action as well. Thoughts?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Is it possible to lock an answer? I thought you could only lock a challenge. \$\endgroup\$ – DJMcMayhem Apr 26 '16 at 23:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @DrGreenEggsandHamDJ it is possible. The SO HTML/Regex Cthulu answer is locked. \$\endgroup\$ – Rɪᴋᴇʀ Apr 26 '16 at 23:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ I would say it depends on the loophole, but that doesn't work as a rule. :/ \$\endgroup\$ – Rɪᴋᴇʀ Apr 26 '16 at 23:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ It's fine if they predate It I think... just leave them alone but put a banner under them saying NOT A GOOD EXAMPLE PLS DONT DO THIS ITS NOT FUNNY ANYMORE with a link to standard loopholes. But the answer should be valid. \$\endgroup\$ – Bald Bantha Apr 26 '16 at 23:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ The problem is that we don't want bad examples for n00bs \$\endgroup\$ – Bald Bantha Apr 26 '16 at 23:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @epicTCK "n00bs" will make mistakes anyhow--they still post bad popcons. :P \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Apr 26 '16 at 23:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ But still... (3 more to go...) \$\endgroup\$ – Bald Bantha Apr 26 '16 at 23:06
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Leave alone if they were funny once, delete if they were not

We have a few loopholes that are actually common flaws in the spec, and exploiting them in the appropriate challenges could be considered clever.

For example, answers that violate

all were honest perfectly valid attempts at solving a challenge one time.

There's no reason to delete these answers now, as they were valid when they were posted.

They would be prime candidates for locking with the historical significance reason, but that isn't possible for answers (anymore).

Then they were answers that are not no longer funny, they never were.

Any answer that violates

is (and always has been) very low quality, which is reason enough for deletion.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ We can lock for content dispute rather than historical significance since the content is... disputed. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex A. Apr 26 '16 at 23:32
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    \$\begingroup\$ To me this seems only marginally less problematic than handling them on a case-by-case basis. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex A. Apr 26 '16 at 23:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Maybe so, but I don't think there's a single course of action that is appropriate in all cases. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis Apr 26 '16 at 23:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ Using trigraphs for obfuscation was never funny. \$\endgroup\$ – John Dvorak Apr 28 '16 at 7:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ "Funny" is too subjective of a criteria to use for moderation purposes \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Apr 29 '16 at 3:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego I was just going along with the the original wording of the loophole thread, but fair enough. The questions that should be asked is Was this a high-quality contribution when it was posted? If the answer is yes, the post shouldn't be deleted. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis Apr 29 '16 at 3:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dennis If it was a high-quality contribution, it wouldn't have ended up on the standard loopholes list. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Apr 29 '16 at 3:25
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego That's debatable. Imagine the Using built-in functions to do the work proposal finally getting enough support to be considered a loophole. Should we just mass-delete all answers that use built-ins? \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis Apr 29 '16 at 3:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Dennis Allow me to clarify, then: high-quality contributions don't end up on the standard loopholes list with support (a significantly positive overall score). \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Apr 29 '16 at 3:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ The use of built-ins actually was an accepted standard loophole for a time. It has since lost support and dropped below the threshold for being considered a loophole. Most of the loopholes aren't as "controversial" (for lack of a better word) and have remained solidly positive or negative overall. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex A. May 9 '16 at 23:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm still confused by this answer... This other answer by you seems to say the opposite. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Sep 30 '16 at 14:30
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego Answers that were always invalid should be deleted even if they were posted before out policy. This makes sense because they were always invalid, we just hadn't decided what to do with them. However, answers were valid when they were posted but later get invalidated by a new rule should not get removed. This distinction is also one of the reasons we close and/or lock questions that fell out of scope: the existing answers get to stay, but new ones are lo longer accepted. \$\endgroup\$ – Dennis Sep 30 '16 at 15:42
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Leave them all alone.

Just as it's a common practice in law for people who have done acts that were legal at the time, but are in the future illegal, we should leave them alone. It's unnecessary trouble to "fix what isn't broken", if you will. Though it's not allowed now, I believe its a silly thing to penalize answers that were doing no harm at the time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This parallel doesn't work. We have quality standards. The timestamp on a post shouldn't factor into whether or not it is low quality. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Apr 27 '16 at 3:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is also separate from what we do for questions; if we deem a question type off topic, we retroactively close those/delete/lock those challenges. It seems odd that we'd apply that standard to questions but not to answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex A. Apr 27 '16 at 5:04
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Mego I'll stick with my parallel, and you stick with your unexplained opinion. ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Apr 27 '16 at 11:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @AlexA. Deviance is fine if the community thinks it to be the best course of action. \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Apr 27 '16 at 11:13
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Flag and delete them

The standards of quality should apply retroactively to all content on the site, just as we've been doing with challenges. Just because an answer is old shouldn't exempt it from our standards.

Having low quality answers like that on the site perpetuates the image that we're a "joke site" and that answers like that are acceptable. They lower the overall quality of the site and as such should be removed.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ But they were funny back then.... and clever. Just cliche now \$\endgroup\$ – Bald Bantha Apr 26 '16 at 23:07
  • \$\begingroup\$ @epicTCK So you would propose locking them? \$\endgroup\$ – Conor O'Brien Apr 26 '16 at 23:07
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    \$\begingroup\$ @epicTCK I would argue that they were never funny. To me they seem like the answer equivalent of code trolling. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex A. Apr 26 '16 at 23:08
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    \$\begingroup\$ The content on the site should match the current policies. Predating a policy doesn't excuse an answer - keeping something low-quality for the sake of posterity is a terrible idea. \$\endgroup\$ – Mego Apr 27 '16 at 3:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Mego I wholeheartedly agree. It appears we're in the minority on this one though. \$\endgroup\$ – Alex A. Apr 27 '16 at 3:11
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Lock them.

They have historical significance. They were fine at the time, but times changed.

@epicTCK summed it up:

But they were funny back then.... and clever. Just cliche now - epicTCK.

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