I have found today a question from 2014 in the VTC queue. What's our stance on those? It was on topic back then, it isn't now - we've changed what we call "on topic".

We don't want questions like this asked now, so we don't want someone going "hey, a question like this was asked before and it was OK". But we don't want questions that were good at the time to get auto-deleted either - they contain useful information.

  • I have noticed that too. I'll say though that sometimes I don't notice a date on a post when I make a decision to edit or VTC etc. But when I do notice, I don't VTC anything old and I don't remove tags (I might add some) unless it's part of a re-tagging project. I think people had their chance to close posts and it's not fair to close them 2 or 5 years later because they're now off topic.
    – Cyn
    Mar 17, 2019 at 0:09

2 Answers 2


If a question is off topic, then vote to close with an appropriate close reason. It doesn't really matter if it's old or new. Site standards do change over time, and whether a question is open or closed should reflect its current status relative to the subject scope of the site. For a long-term, well established user on the site to have a few closed questions on their profile isn't really a big deal at all; and for someone who hasn't been around in a few years, it's not likely to make one iota of difference. There's little reason to actively look for old, close-worthy questions, but if you come across them while browsing the site, you shouldn't feel bad about voting in the same way as if the question had been posted that same day.

Questions only get auto-deleted if they have a set of properties that indicate that they are not useful to the community. There is a number of situations when posts are deleted by the system, but the main one that applies here is the RemoveAbandonedClosed automatic delete reason:

  1. The system will automatically delete closed, unlocked questions with zero or negative score having no positively scored or accepted answers or pending reopen votes, that were closed for any reason other than duplicate nine or more days ago and haven't been edited in the past nine days. (RemoveAbandonedClosed)

Note that there is a number of criteria here which must all be met for the question to be a candidate for automatic deletion as "RemoveAbandonedClosed".

In general, questions are protected from deletion (not just automatic deletion) when they have been net upvoted, or when they have net upvoted answers. The linked Meta Stack Exchange answer has the full details on when posts can be deleted and when they cannot.

I don't think we need to apply historical locks, except possibly if a question is now so off topic that we don't even want people to vote on it and its answers, or be able to leave comments; certainly not wholesale. Closing the question as off topic while leaving a comment along the lines of "this type of question was within scope when it was posted, but it is now off topic because..." should be sufficient.


This seems like a good use case for historical locks. From the linked FAQ:

A historical lock preserves content that was very popular when it was originally posted, but is now off-topic or otherwise out of scope for the site it is posted on. Historically locking a post ends the debate over whether a question should be kept on the site or deleted...

When Movies.SE made identification questions off-topic last year, they closed and locked every existing ID question on the site. The low-quality ones got auto-deleted, but (correct me if I'm wrong here) questions with a positive score are immune from auto-deletion. Certainly, the ID question I asked there two years ago is still there, albeit with a dead YouTube link in the answer.

Admittedly, the linked FAQ also lists a set of very strict criteria for deciding whether a question should receive a historical lock. But considering the blanket locks applied by the Movies.SE mods, it looks like there's some leeway in that regard.

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