Banner to warn viewers of an old topic

We warn when users try to revive an old topic — is it possible to add a banner for folks who stumble upon (and simply view) an old topic? It’d be nice to just add a banner warning at the top of the page (kinda like how some news sites are now doing), maybe something like:

“This topic was last updated over two years ago and may contain outdated information. Consider opening a [new post](link) if it doesn’t resolve your question.”

Is this an existing feature or plugin? Or is it something that’d be possible to add as either?

This came up organically on our discourse site: Can we mark some discussions on Julia Discourse as outdated in v. 1.x? - Meta Discussion - JuliaLang

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This isn’t an existing feature… I think it’s come up before but it hasn’t been asked for enough to be a priority. I guess I’d expect someone to reply to a topic if they found it was outdated (not that an extra push would hurt).

Should definitely be possible in a plugin.

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Yeah, the thought is that on many sites — including ours — the views-to-user count ratio is very high. We have a lot of lurkers and folks without an account that wouldn’t try to reply in the first place, so I don’t think of this as an additional warning so much as the only warning that most will see.

We find aggressive closing and mass deletion to be quite user-hostile. YMMV.

There’s lots of good information in our old threads, but, in our case, the syntaxes may have changed slightly which may cause frustration or be a good reason to open a new thread. So, no, I don’t want to mass delete them. I just want to provide a simple nudge that says “hey, this is old, so if it doesn’t solve your problem that might be why.”

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If it is really old and obsolete, why provide the opportunity for people to blow themselves up by stepping on land mines in the first place? :thinking:

Odd that the presence of land mines is considered “user friendly” :grimacing:

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That’s a terrible appeal to the extreme. No, our old posts aren’t land mines — not largely, anyways. Yes, some of them may have tarnished a bit, but there’s still lots of good information to be had — even in ones where the syntax needs a slight update.

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Perhaps the better strategy is to update them, then?

I feel like a giant disclaimer that is mindlessly applied to all old posts will (correctly) be ignored by users. Same reason this stuff is ineffective…

You could even have a theme component display a banner on a topic tagged stale or something of the sort.

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This doesn’t seem all that strange a request. The two options you’re offering are:

  1. Delete old threads entirely. This is not acceptable because there is still a lot of useful information in old threads. As long as someone is aware that they may need to update the syntax or otherwise take care, then they can be quite useful.

  2. Edit old threads. This is not acceptable because it requires mass-editing other people’s posts, which is generally not acceptable on our forums, not to mention that it’s a huge amount of manual work that we do not have the capacity to do.

Those options may work for you, they do not work for us.

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You can do whatever you like; as the founder of Stack Overflow I’m letting you know that a generic one size fits all disclaimer blindly applied to old posts may be far less effective than you hope it will be.

That’s not a bad idea — we could bulk append a v0.x tag to all posts that predate our 1.0 release and then theme that differently. Is it possible to bulk select more than 50 topics at a time?

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I believe so – just have to load the next set of the topic list. You could also do this from the console, too.

You’d have to adapt the script to find all topics prior to a date to add that tag automatically.

To be fair, this is a #feature request. Jeff’s the product manager and I can see his point about adding banners like this to core being noisy. But there are other ways to accomplish it if you find it necessary for your community.

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Thanks for the reinterpretation of the Jeff-speak. I totally get the need for an opinionated vision for software in general.

We’re still just brainstorming this ourselves; I was simply asking if it’d be possible. Whether it’s a good idea is certainly debatable and worth thinking through. In our case, I think we can narrow in on timeframes precisely enough that we can actually make the banner useful — it can, for example, point to transition guides between versions and such. We could even encourage folks to suggest updates to the post so as to crowd-source the update.

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Especially if you’re talking documentation for something technical (which you are), it’s reasonable to want to label something as stale. EmberJS, which we use for Discourse, does this if you somehow stumble on docs for an older version and even links to a newer version of the doc.

If the first post in the topic is in question, you could also switch the topics over to a wiki and restrict access to a certain trust level. This would empower your trusted community participants to make edits themselves if you so desire it.

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There are some kind “nudges” that could serve this role, e.g.:

(Forgive my poor punctuation!)

It largely depends on the type of content a community has.

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