is it rude to respond to old or resolved questions? January 7, 2014 6:31 PM   Subscribe

Hello, I am fairly new to posting answers on Ask Metafilter. I have a general question which I hope is not foolish. I also hope that I am asking in the correct place (I checked the FAQ and also searched MetaTalk with possible keywords but am not sure). My question is: if many days have gone by since a question on Ask Metafilter was posted, or if a question has been marked as "resolved" by the Asker, is it okay to add your comment or is that considered rude (since the question was resolved or the question has become outdated)? I assume it would help members who are catching up after some time has passed, as well as non-members who are Googling for help with similar issues, but I am not sure what the community protocol is and do not want to offend. I am also asking this because I do not come online regularly, and often when I log on I see quite interesting questions that I would like to respond to, however several days have gone by or it has been marked as resolved. Thank you for all your help :)
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose to Etiquette/Policy at 6:31 PM (33 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

Totally fine to add an answer later on in a question or after it's been resolved, yeah.

The main thing I'd say is, be sure to read through the thread and make sure you're answering because you have something specifically new to add to the thread already and not just because you're excited to see a question you have something to say about; I know for me I can get sort of HECK YEAH I'M ON THIS about something I trip across after the fact and if I'm not careful my enthusiasm carries me past caution to the point where I end up breathlessly declaring something that's already been covered, five days after it was covered.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:37 PM on January 7, 2014 [6 favorites]


Comments don't bump posts back up to the top so answers weeks after the question was originally posted won't be noticed by anyone but the OP and other commenters (via recent activity). However people might notice if you were answering lots of old questions which is likely to garner the mods attention. The mods also get notified if you answer a really old question as an anti spammer measure though I'm not sure what the cut off is
posted by Mitheral at 6:39 PM on January 7, 2014


Ask MetaFilter is really high in search results for similar questions so if you think some future person might benefit from your added information, go for it.
posted by Jacqueline at 6:54 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


Yes! I love random new answers to old posts! Sometimes something exciting arises that you wouldn't expect! As long as it's not archived, go for it!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:55 PM on January 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


New answers to old questions are often the most interesting part of AskMe. If the comment box is still open, go for it. Just make sure, as cortex says, that what you have to add is actually new, or better. By better I mean actual sources, links, proof, or examples.
posted by Mizu at 7:08 PM on January 7, 2014


You know, I sort of get what people are saying about trying to bring something new to the table, but, seriously, why should the bar be any higher for someone who comes across the question later? Anyone who is familiar with AskMe can see the quality of answers varies widely, and "adding value" (or whatever we want to call it) is fine as an aspirational goal for all of us, but if we were really focused on adding value, maybe half of the answers shouldn't be made in the first place. Besides, even if you think you're not adding something new, maybe you're saying it in a way that will have particular resonance with the OP or a future reader. I think the only thing you really need to worry about is that some people who have already answered the question (and therefore have the thread in their recent activity) might think it's odd or something, but so what? If you think you have something to contribute, contribute.
posted by MoonOrb at 7:26 PM on January 7, 2014 [8 favorites]


Please add new information, if you do have a new take (or takeout place, or recipe, or coding workaround...) I know people go through old AskMes because I sometimes either see new comments or new favorites on old comments/posts, and I do the same.
posted by jetlagaddict at 8:14 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Yeah, totally fine to add an answer to an older AskMe if you think it adds something to the thread – even if it's marked Resolved, has Best Answers, etc. Just because the asker thinks that they've gotten some good responses doesn't mean that more good responses won't be welcome.

It may be less likely to get read (though if the original asker hasn't gotten totally satisfactory advice then they're probably still checking) but there's nothing to be done about that. If you have an answer you want to share, go ahead and share it. Just make sure to stick to the usual guidelines – don't argue with other answerers, be civil, stay on-topic, etc. – and you'll be fine. The age of a question is not an issue one way or the other, just make sure you provide the same quality of answer as you would ordinarily give.
posted by Scientist at 8:22 PM on January 7, 2014


And yeah, I'm not sure that your answer has to specifically be different from those that have been given before. It doesn't have to be totally new advice, if you ask me (though I'm not in charge of these things). My understanding has always been that in AskMe, it's more important that your answer addresses the original question than that it takes into account previous answers.

Obviously you'll want to take stock of the existing answers to make sure that your new answer isn't totally redundant, but even just saying something like "I want to reinforce what Joe Cool said above...[rest of answer here]" is usually a perfectly fine answer in AskMe. I can't see why it would be different for an older question.
posted by Scientist at 8:25 PM on January 7, 2014


Also, can I just tack on a thank you for the way you went about posting this? No contentiousness, just a polite question about site etiquette from an active member (who even took time to check the FAQ first!).

In all sincerity, this is an utterly delightful use of Metatalk. Thank you.
posted by misha at 8:30 PM on January 7, 2014 [33 favorites]


Go for it.

Comments don't bump posts back up to the top so answers weeks after the question was originally posted won't be noticed by anyone but the OP and other commenters (via recent activity).


aka all relevant parties
posted by Sys Rq at 9:56 PM on January 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also, can I just tack on a thank you for the way you went about posting this?

I'll just second what misha said. Any responder who puts as as much effort into composing as thoughtful and considerate a post as is this one is will be a welcome addition to the community; and likely has as least as much to offer as some of the more prolific posters who jump in during the early going.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 11:43 PM on January 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


nthing yes. For example; if searching turns up a thread about buying something, but that store closed two months ago, I'd be really happy for a fresh answer that mentions this.

make sure you're answering because you have something specifically new to add to the thread already... posted by cortex

I'm not sure that your answer has to specifically be different from those that have been given before... posted by Scientist

I'm interested in this. Can anyone settle it?
posted by 0 answers at 1:05 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: New Answers To Old Questions
posted by Chairboy at 4:28 AM on January 8, 2014 [4 favorites]


make sure you're answering because you have something specifically new to add to the thread already... posted by cortex

I'm not sure that your answer has to specifically be different from those that have been given before... posted by Scientist

I'm interested in this. Can anyone settle it?


I'd go with cortex here.
posted by Chairboy at 4:36 AM on January 8, 2014


I think the point is simply to try and add something of use to the thread. That usually means taking note of the existing answers and not replicating them verbatim, yeah. So I agree with both cortex and Scientist; I think where the difference comes into play is between questions that have a singular, narrowly defined answer and ones asking for advice/experiences or that are open to interpretation.

So if someone asks "Which movie is this" and someone already said "Ghostbusters II" you're not going to type those exact same characters and hit Post, is all. It's usually fine to say "Yeah I would also suggest X, because Y" where X = a specific suggestion already offered and Y = reasons from experience, your personal background, etc.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 5:07 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


N'thing DTMFA.
posted by spitbull at 6:01 AM on January 8, 2014 [5 favorites]


Hey now, Rick Moranis is a sweet and honest man.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 6:33 AM on January 8, 2014


But, c'mon. Are we really so uncharitable toward the OP of this MeTa that we're treating her as if she asked "is it okay to show up in an old question and give literally the same exact answer as has been previously given?"

That's not what she's asking, right? In her question it's implicit that she believes she has something of value to add, but she's wondering if it's rude to do so if either the question has been marked resolved or if significant time has passed. That's the issue we should be addressing here, and answering the OP here by saying some version of "you need to add something new" is unhelpful at best and confusing at worst.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:39 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Lot of words to just say:



"Yes, you can do this. It is not rude."
posted by edgeways at 6:43 AM on January 8, 2014


Just remember to answer it before the comments close (12 months from original posting of the question?). There's a question I answered in 2011 that I would love to re-answer based on what I now know, but sadly cannot.
posted by kisch mokusch at 6:53 AM on January 8, 2014


Oh no, MoonOrb, I was merely responding to 0 answers' hypothetical, not to the OP, if that's what you mean.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 7:14 AM on January 8, 2014


I'd say of course. I mean, I actually joined because of past asks I found while searching Google. They were advice based asks, not fact based. Certain answers that resonated with me personally were not necessarily the ones marked as best answer. Were I the OP, then I'd have marked those but I wasn't, so...

My point is, don't assume the only person benefiting from your answer is the OP. Sure, the OP asked it, but a lot of people might be wondering a similar thing and your answer may help them. There are a lot more people reading than one would think.

And just because it's resolved, doesn't mean it won't help the OP either. Sometimes posters like to mark more than one best answer. I've seen threads where the answer is marked resolved, but they wanted more thoughts and have added others as best answer later, too.

I think it goes without saying that regurgitating the content of previous answers is a no-no in general. However, I'd go as far as to say if you do say something similar, but can say it 'better' -- more concise and get your point across more than other posters? Go for it. I mean, I'm super verbose (as people have probably noticed) and sometimes I find it kinda tough to articulate myself well. In those cases, I have trouble getting my point across. Occasionally another poster comes along after me and says pretty much what I said/meant but way better and in a way that resonates more, and it's like-- 'nailed it' -- I actually don't mind when that happens at all, personally speaking. I'd say that's pretty welcome too.

About the only time I'd really advise against it (or even posting at all) if it's a massive pileon and there's already a ton of answers saying similar things. In those cases, there's nothing more to say really. Everyone has said it over and over already. No one will read it and it'll just get lost.
posted by Dimes at 7:15 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


be sure to read through the thread and make sure you're answering because you have something specifically new to add to the thread already

This should apply to any answer beyond the first comment no matter how old the question is.
posted by mullacc at 7:19 AM on January 8, 2014 [6 favorites]


But, c'mon. Are we really so uncharitable toward the OP of this MeTa that we're treating her as if she asked "is it okay to show up in an old question and give literally the same exact answer as has been previously given?"

I'm not, no. But I'm answering a question about the etiquette of a kind-of-thing-that-happens-on-Metafilter, not a private set of instructions to the poster about some notional specific behavior of theirs. And as a mod I can say that the thing I talk about—the "oh, hey, I know the answer to that!" enthusiasm loop coming to a question sometimes overriding the read-and-digest step—is something that happens to lots and lots of folks, including when it's late answers to a question. Just thought I'd broach it while the subject was raised.

And yes, of course it applies as well to folks coming to a question fresh, and we've reiterated that "make sure you're answering because you've got something to add, not because you've got something you want to say" advice for Ask at large many times.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:32 AM on January 8, 2014


I love it when I get an update to an open thread. Often I am still looking for more information.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:14 AM on January 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


I often update my own Asks if I've got new information from trying suggestions/answers.
posted by kalessin at 9:21 AM on January 8, 2014


cortex: ""oh, hey, I know the answer to that!" enthusiasm loop coming to a question sometimes overriding the read-and-digest step"

Yes. Oh boy yes.

I also think it's helpful to acknowledge in your answer that you realize it's an old thread. Sometimes when I see new answers pop up to old threads via Recent Activity I wonder if the commenter realizes that the discussion is no longer active.
posted by desuetude at 9:57 AM on January 8, 2014


I sort of get what people are saying about trying to bring something new to the table, but, seriously, why should the bar be any higher for someone who comes across the question later?

I don't think it's a higher bar. It's an ideal for all answers, whether they're posted ten minutes or ten months after the question is asked.

Anyone who is familiar with AskMe can see the quality of answers varies widely, and "adding value" (or whatever we want to call it) is fine as an aspirational goal for all of us, but if we were really focused on adding value, maybe half of the answers shouldn't be made in the first place.

If wishes were horses...

By which I mean, yes, exactly, it's an aspirational goal for all of us, in fresh threads as well as in old ones, and if we were better at it, there would be fewer comments (but no fewer relevant ones) in AskMe threads. I don't excuse myself from that either—I know I've done it, and I've tried to get better about asking myself whether I'm posting because I have something both new and relevant to say, or if I'm just posting because I like to see my own words on the page. OTOH, it's not an offense which rises to delete-worthy levels when it happens, for the most part. But don't make the mistake of thinking that just because it's not deleted nor explicitly breaks any guideline, that it's a desirable thing.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:43 PM on January 8, 2014


Depending on how old the question is, you might also want to send the OP a MeFi Mail message. This question was finally resolved 6 months after I posted it, but I didn't actually see the answers for another entire year, when I was bored and work one day and going through my old questions. I tried contacted the poster for more info but it seems like they signed up here just to post that one answer so I doubt they'll ever see the MeFi Mail.
posted by Venadium at 6:04 AM on January 9, 2014 [1 favorite]




Thank you to everyone for taking the time to post your thoughts - your guidance and kind words are most appreciated. I am glad I posted this as your responses have encouraged me to be a more active member here, not only because I know I no longer need to worry about accidentally offending, but also because I see this is a very welcoming and considerate community to be a part of. I am looking forward to contributing on a more regular basis :). Thank you again!
posted by partly squamous and partly rugose at 3:39 PM on January 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Totally off-topic, but: partly squamous and partly rugose, you have the BEST username. :D
posted by daisyk at 5:37 AM on January 11, 2014


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