I read somewhere that StackExchange sites aim at creating a knowledge base that will last for years, maybe decades. Asking "intemporal" questions at Stack Overflow is really easy because the answer to a programming question is unlikely to change significantly during the next 5 years. However, other topics do not always fit this model quite right. I believe that Bitcoin is an example of a topic that is constantly changing over time, at least for the time being.

A lot of the questions asked here will have a different answer next year. Here are a few examples from the highest voted questions:

How can I accept bitcoins on my website?

Can I send bitcoins with my mobile phone?

Is there some way to merge two wallets or to import/export addresses?

I decided to ask this now because I stumbled upon this closed question:

How do you obtain bitcoins?

This question has 10 upvotes, no downvotes and no close votes. I understand that this subject is likely to change, but so are the questions I posted above and a lot of other questions asked here.

So how do we deal with this? Is bitcoin simply wrong for StackExchange? Or should we keep updating answers, like D.H. did here and here?

  • This is a very good question. It would be great to get some input from StackExchange representatives here since I think that this question is relevant also for other new SE sites. If anwers change every 5 years I think it's pretty clear that it should be allowed. If it changes every week I'm pretty sure it shouldn't. But where do we draw the line?
    – D.H.
    Oct 6, 2011 at 19:34

1 Answer 1


Our earliest sites were based on very rapidly-changing technologies, so your concerns are a bit unfounded.

The PURPOSE of this site is to build a lasting canon of knowledge. The "timeless" aspect refers to questions being relevant long beyond the author and contributors getting their specific issues resolved.

Have you ever wondered why questions are closed as "too localized?" Asking questions that have little relevance beyond "a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation …" sort of misses the point.

We are building a site for those who come after — a lasting canon of knowledge.

When you ask a question, very quickly, the best answers rise to the top. Users who come after should have a reasonable expectation that the answers they see are the best possible answers to that question. That does NOT mean only asking questions which cannot change. That does mean is that, if the community becomes inactive and fails in their upkeep, the site risks becoming irrelevant.

  • 1
    So if the question is essentially timeless, it's okay even if it's not possible to give a timeless answer? (Because the answers can be maintained.) Oct 8, 2011 at 9:05
  • @RobertCartaino: The problem that I see is that when the answer of an old question gets an new answer much later, it is hard to get that new answer to rise to the top, even if it is the correct one. For example, look at this question on StackOverflow where the accepted and highest voted answer is obviously out of date. What is the proper action there? Should I downvote the accepted answer? Or should I edit it? That would mean totally rewriting it, which seems like a weird thing to do to someone's answer
    – D.H.
    Oct 8, 2011 at 9:39
  • @D.H.: This has come up a lot of times on meta. I see a lot of good suggestions, but no real consensus. Possibilities include: edit the question to warn that some answers are obsolete, edit the answer to say it's obsolete and so people can down vote it, and flag the answer for mods. Oct 8, 2011 at 10:55
  • @DavidSchwartz: Thanks for the links.
    – D.H.
    Oct 8, 2011 at 14:22
  • 5
    @David: you can also just edit the answer to bring it up-to-date. There's some controversy about editing an incorrect answer to be correct, but considerably less about editing a once-correct answer to be again-correct.
    – Shog9
    Oct 9, 2011 at 21:20
  • Robert Cartaino, thank you for the answer and @David Schwartz thanks for the links. I am voting to reopen this because I think it is important.
    – nmat
    Oct 9, 2011 at 23:15

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