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I recently noticed a lot of old unanswered questions getting bumped to the top of the question stack, usually by some new answers.

Often however, these questions are too old, might not even be topical anymore or are probably solved by the OP on his own and he has long forgotten about it.

So, when I see a question I can answer, I just click on it. Not looking at the date, I eagerly begin to write an answer. That is, until I look take another look at the question and notice it's terribly old. Yet again, I have wasted some precious time..

Perhaps these questions could get some sort of extra style or label to set them apart?

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No, I would not recommend this. You have even summarized why that would be a bad idea.

I eagerly begin to write an answer. That is, until I look take another look at the question and notice it's terribly old. Yet again, I have wasted some precious time..

By this logic you are depriving the site of a valuable answer purely because of the age of the question.

The site isn't here only to help the question asker - we're here to provide a detailed, useful repository for useful questions and answers that will be beneficial to a wide variety of people now and into the future.

It doesn't really matter if the OP doesn't see your answer. Heck, we get people who post a question and never return even on that same day, let alone weeks down the line. That doesn't really matter. If the answer is good then people will vote it up which will help future visitors know that the answer is good, regardless of whether the asker themselves are around to vote.

Also, from a logistical perspective it would be hard to accentuate bumped posts. All posts that get answered / edited are bumped, regardless of whether they were asked 5 minutes ago or 5 years ago. What criteria would you recommend for those that get accentuated and those that don't? The whole point of bumping them is to give them exposure to the wider community. It is a good thing that older posts get bumped because it may bring them into visibility for people who also have answers and didn't know the question had been asked. We don't want to put these people off answering.

The only issue comes with old, crappy forgotten questions getting bumped to the top. Each Stack Exchange site grows and evolves over time so posts that may have been suitable ages ago are no longer appropriate. But if that's the case then people shouldn't be answering them anyway, and a bump will bring their visibility up so people can flag them to close.

Bumping is a good thing for many, many reasons. We don't want to play favourites and potentially put people off answering old questions. That's not in the benefit of the site and community as a whole.

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    Ah, that's a very good reason indeed. So, I should answer the question no matter how old it is. Unless when it's not suitable anymore, in that case I should just flag it, correct? – Vince Caregnato Feb 25 '15 at 11:59
  • @VinceCgto Yes, exactly. Good answers are good regardless of their age. Bad questions will always be bad. – JonW Feb 25 '15 at 12:04
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The bumped questions only appear at the top of the "active" tab, which is correct as it's supposed to show recent activity. If you prefer looking at questions based on newest (which is what I do most of the time), then simply use the "newest" tab instead.

I don't think any other marker will add to the UX, as it would either need explaining (and hence add clutter), or be unclear to most users.

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    Maybe I should start browsing new questions from now on. Right now, I just open the the website and just take a quick glance at the list the first list I see, which is the "Active" list of course. – Vince Caregnato Feb 25 '15 at 12:04
  • Truth be told I never interact with the tabs, I generally just view whatever is going on under the default tab. Perhaps this question is highlighting a need to encourage users to interact with the tabs more? – Charles Wesley Feb 25 '15 at 17:53

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