10

This is presumably going to become more relevant, and have a bigger backlog over time as things change, but what's prompted this thought right now is Google's recent closure and total shut-down of Google Reader.

Now that there is absolutely no way to use either the Google Reader website, the Android Google Reader app, or the Google Reader API an awful lot of the questions in just aren't relevant or useful any more. While some of them are really more generic RSS related questions that happen to have the Google Reader tag, many of the others are very specific question about the app or service. While I don't think that these necessarily need deleting (there are answers on there that were previously good and useful, and they don't deserve to lose the associated rep just because things have changed), there's also no reason to leave the question open when it's never going to receive another good answer.

Previously these would have been a good candidate to "Vote-To-Close" as "Too Localized" (in time) but there is no "Too Localized" reason any more. What should we do with these types of questions?

Edit: should probably also point out that Google Reader is just a topical example. In the future this could also apply to many other commonly used services that rely on a backend provided by a single company, eg Facebook, GMail, Twitter, Skydrive, Flickr, Dropbox and so on.

7

tl;dr as long as there is no appropriate close reason, leave them open

I would leave them untouched. There is no real problem with them continuing to exist. One could argue that they will show up as irrelevant search results, and if closed they could be filtered out if the search is made with isclosed:0. But that's the only real argument I can think of.

  • 1
    It looks like the consensus is that without a good reason these should be left as they are. So, accepting this answer as it seems to be the most concise. – GAThrawn Jul 9 '13 at 14:56
6

I fully agree with the question. And checking our closure reasons, there's nothing that matches this case. As I already mentioned in chat: Maybe we should propose an appropriate closure reason on Meta SE; I was thinking about something like "NLR" (no-longer-relevant), as matching the "too localized (in time)" (this term also would avoid the confusion we had in the past about what "too localized" means).

I further agree they should be closed, but not deleted (as already described in the question). Not only for the rep, but also for reference. Though specific to Google Reader, parts of those answers might prove useful in other context as well.

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    It's good that we seem to agree that those questions should not be deleted. And I like the idea of a specialized close reason. But I don't think that we should close the questions until there is such a reason. – Flow Jul 4 '13 at 11:48
  • Positive rep will be kept for posts >3 months old at the time of deletion, I believe. Personally I don't see any reason to keep them. – Matthew Read Jul 4 '13 at 15:05
  • @MatthewRead if you find any source on that, it would be great -- I wouldn't like decisions to be based on "belief" (if they do so at CSE, that's another thing ;) – Izzy Jul 4 '13 at 15:10
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    @Izzy I just happen to have asked for details on it in the past! Looks like 2 months, and score must be >= 3. http://meta.stackexchange.com/q/124799/154510 – Matthew Read Jul 4 '13 at 15:12
  • Yepp, proven :) Still, if we just close questions but keep them (i.e. do not delete them), as GAThrawn suggested and I seconded, rep won't be touched anyway. But thanks a lot for bringing this up! That was my lesson of today -- again a step deeper into the mysteries of SE :D – Izzy Jul 4 '13 at 15:19
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    Many people are lamenting the demise of "Too Localized": Responding to your "too localized" concerns . If you have a good example of where it would be useful, go ahead and add to that discussion. – ale Jul 6 '13 at 16:44
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    @AlEverett thanks for the pointer -- added my piece :) – Izzy Jul 6 '13 at 17:14
1

As you say, there's no particular reason to leave these questions open. At the same time, there doesn't seem to be a compelling reason to close them either.

The risks/costs of leaving them open are:

  • Users might answer them inappropriately. On the face of it, this seems unlikely: nobody's even likely to add a "me too" or "thanks" answer any more.
  • 'Community' might occasionally bump unanswered questions to the front page, making it look stale.

The risks/costs of closing are:

  • Someone has to actually go through and close all the questions. In this case, there are only 20, but that's still time that could be better spent.
  • Some of the questions might still be relevant and attract further useful answers. Maybe they're tagged 'google-reader' but actually apply to any RSS reader, or to other apps that sync to the 'cloud'. Questions can be re-opened later, but that's an extra barrier to a user who just wants to add some relevant information: they'll probably go away instead of trying to get the question re-opened.

Unless these questions are doing some harm to the site, I don't think it's worth closing them.

  • I do not agree on the risks described. For the first, GAThrawn already volunteered (and I don't see why we should tell him how to spend his time ;) For the second reason, he already mentioned to leave those RSS questions alone. Moreover, this Google Reader issue is just one example, more similar issues/topics might follow. It would be good to be prepared then. – Izzy Jul 4 '13 at 12:31
  • Questions need five votes to close, so we're not just talking about one person's time here. (A mod could close on their own, but that just increases the risk of making a mistake.) Besides, as you say, we're not just talking about this example: maybe next time there are 200 questions, and it's a much bigger chore. – Dan Hulme Jul 4 '13 at 17:10
0

Questions about apps that no longer exist, especially those tied to a service that is no longer available, are of no use to anyone. These questions should be closed and, in the fullness of time, deleted. They're useless clutter.

Fortunately, people who have gained reputation from upvotes and/or bounties on such questions (and their answers)—in the event they are deleted—will get to keep their reputation if the question or answer has been visible on the site for 60 days and scored 3 or higher. (source)

For what it's worth, Web Apps has a custom off-topic reason for just this sort of scenario:

Questions on applications that no longer exist are off-topic for Web Applications as no one will ever be able to make use of the answers again. Rest in peace, dear departed app - you will be missed.

(Related discussion)

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