We have a number of unanswered questions. Not too many, but enough.

What's the policy for how long we leave them open? Indefinitely?

4 Answers 4


There's no close reason for "Too Old". If there's another reason they should be closed, then it should be put up for review, but otherwise questions stay open indefinitely. This is pretty standard in SE.


On some sites, especially those with a large number of unanswered questions communities try to:

  • have annual (or more frequently) community attempts to go through the Unanswered questions tab and answer them
  • put a bounty on ones you find interesting - that can attract attention
  • vote to close ones that are actually off topic, poorly written etc

Stack Exchange aims for expert answers, and sometimes it takes a while for the expert who can provide those answers to come across the site and the question. There is nothing wrong with questions remaining open and unanswered for a long time. These are sometimes called "long-tail" questions.

As others mentioned, it's a good idea to review these unanswered questions from time to time. Is the question fine but we don't know the answer, or is there some improvement that could be made (maybe the question isn't asked clearly)? If you can improve an old unanswered question, do it. If, on the other hand, the question really should be put on hold but people didn't notice at the time, then do it now -- better late than never.

If community effort is needed to address a particular question, you can bring it up on meta.

Finally, as Ian noted, old unanswered questions that aren't upvoted will eventually be auto-deleted. The SE system treats them as abandoned. Remember to vote on older questions (in whichever direction you consider appropriate) when you come across them.


There is a script that deletes unanswered questions that have no up-votes after a few months. (I assume it run on all sites not just SO)

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