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Should I answer old questions (over a year), even if they have been already answered? I think that this practice is correct, but since in many forums it is discouraged I'm not sure.

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    $\begingroup$ Yep, I once had a related question. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton May 23 '13 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ The primary goal of SE is not to help the OP (though of course we want to). It is to create Q&A pages that others will find useful. Answer away! $\endgroup$ – Manishearth May 24 '13 at 7:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Manishearth I thought Physics SE is for people to help each other learning, doing, and understanding physics, and a useful Q&A page is what comes out of it as a result ...? This is how I see it :-). Cheers $\endgroup$ – Dilaton May 24 '13 at 8:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: It's the other way around: A useful Q&A page helps a lot of people learn and understand -- not just the 10 people who see it when it comes up on the main page, we're talking about the hundreds who come from Google. It doesn't matter if the OP isn't around to benefit, that's just one less person from many who can learn from the post. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth May 24 '13 at 8:48
  • $\begingroup$ Unless you aren't duplicating other answers (with or without knowledge), it's always good to add something useful (what makes your post unique). I'd point Ben Crowell. He's an active member answering both old & new questions. Of course, he adds interesting things to neighbor posts and get votes ;-) $\endgroup$ – Waffle's Crazy Peanut May 24 '13 at 9:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Manishearth I think this is the SE owner/stuff point of view. Nevertheless, it is important to have a nice coherrent physics community (including knowledgeable long term users) who likes to learn and do physics together to establish a nice helpful atmosphere and make people stay. Otherwise, there will be just transient users coming in but disappearing soon. With just transient users it can still work if the site is just meant for laypeople to find answers to very basic and everyday life questions, but not if the site is meant to feature higher level Q&A, for which experts are needed, too. $\endgroup$ – Dilaton May 24 '13 at 11:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Dilaton: Huh? Whatever you just said is irrelevant to this discussion. Yes, SE was created for this purpose, to help a wider audience than just the OP. They noticed that posts on most traditional forums would be quite localized and would help one person -- the OP. So they built a network where the posts are meant to help many, many others. That's why we have a "too localized" close reason. Sure, we focus on helping the OP as well, but while writing an answer you must keep in mind that you want the maximum number of other visitors to benefit from it. That's all. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth May 24 '13 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ The layperson/non-expert issue is irrelevant here. $\endgroup$ – Manishearth May 24 '13 at 13:23
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Stack Exchange sites are not forums, and many of the rules which are conventional among forums don't apply here. The rule against answering old questions is one of them. So yes, you can and should answer old questions when you feel you have something to contribute, just as you would do with new questions. (Even if a question already has an accepted answer, don't let that stop you from posting another answer of your own.)

In fact, one of the guiding principles behind the design of the Stack Exchange software is to allow old questions to receive new answers.

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I think we should answer old questions because most of the time your new answer will definitely add more information to the existing answers and the new answer will give a different way of explaining which also is useful.

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