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Reviving Old Threads - Really?

I've particularly noticed this on the Not About Food and General Topics boards where people have been commenting on threads that are 5 or more years old. Do we really need to rehash if it's OK to bring flowers to grandma? Or if you should run the garbage disposal before the guests leave? or...?

Yes, there are valid opinions, but commenting on a comment that someone made a decade ago seems bizarre to me. I'm not saying get rid of them, but some of these really ought to be locked after maybe 2 years. Or maybe I've just been around 'too long' (not that I'm going anywhere.)

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  1. I generally don't mind, especially if the old thread contains useful information that still might benefit somebody. I think it's preferable to creating a new thread when there are already a number of duplicate threads out there. Sometimes it's even a bit nostalgic and interesting to hear voices that you didn't realize you'd been missing, again.

    1. I like it. The information/thoughts are still useful and it's fun to read through a thread that already has a ton of posts rather than waiting for it to build up.

      1. And if you don't care to read them, they're easy enough to avoid.

        1. We've talked about locking older threads in the regional categories, where the information might be out of date as restaurants open and close and go up or downhill, but in the more topical categories, those discussions tend to be pretty evergreen. If someone has something new to add to an old thread, they're welcome to do that rather than restarting a new discussion on that topic. It's not really likely that the etiquette of bringing flowers to grandma has shifted in the last few years, after all.

          -- Jacquilynne, Community Manager for Chowhound

          9 Replies
          1. re: Jacquilynne

            Since we're on the subject of locking threads, Jacquilynne, why don't you lock threads once they get unwieldy, i.e., 500 threads, particularly ones that have gone on to a new edition (#7 instead of #6)?

            1. re: Jay F

              We don't have an automated way of doing any of that, so it would have to be manual, and it would require a lot of keeping track to figure out what to close.

              There's not a clearcut line there, either, where we could say 'lock all threads over 500 posts long' and have Engineering code it up for us. In situations like "What's For Dinner", people start a new discussion to report new dinners, but someone may want a recipe mentioned in a previous WFD discussion, and the best way to ask for it is to reply in that previous discussion. Starting new threads helps keep the old ones from being wildly unwieldy, but it doesn't render them obsolete.

              1. re: Jacquilynne

                I figure that for every recipe that might be contained in an old thread, two more will come along in a new thread. Overall, I'm kind of the opposite of a hoarder.

                1. re: Jay F

                  But there are MANY others - like myself - who disagree with you.

                  And all you need do is just avoid reading those old threads. Simple enough.

                  1. re: Bacardi1

                    I next to never realize I'm in an old thread until I've clicked it open or, often, responded to it.

                    1. re: Jay F

                      But with this new format, you can see the original date before you even click on it. One improvement that is useful to me.

                      1. re: coll

                        The typeface is so tiny, and so gray, it fails to register.

                        1. re: Jay F

                          Now we are just nitpicking. Either make the conscious effort to look or don't.

                          1. re: melpy

                            Sorry. I'm not going to look at the date of each thread before I open it. If TPTB want to use a gray, teeny-tiny typeface on a white background, things are going to be missed.

          2. People may not even realize or care that they're old. They may be popping up in the "Discussions you might also like..." section on the right. Maybe they didn't see it the first time around and think they have something interesting to add. I personally don't mind it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: AmyH

              I've also noticed the opposite,however: open a new thread, and someone attaches the link to the old one. Can either be helpful, or seemingly a mild rebuke ("didn't you check...").

              1. re: pine time

                I'll frequently link an old thread to a new post if it is sinking down the page without any replies and yet I have no first hand knowledge to add. Often, the first reply to a post seems to "break the ice" and other replies start to come in behind it. I would never link to an old thread in someone's post as a rebuke for not searching.

            2. I check the dates, and then skip them. That's how I scroll........

              4 Replies
              1. re: wyogal

                Okay, I admit, I LOLed, as the kids probably no longer say, at "that's how I scroll".

                I may blatantly steal that for future use.

                1. re: wyogal

                  "That's how I scroll"

                  You are often very clever wyogal, but that one is the best!

                  1. re: Fowler

                    Yes, truly, and when I adopt it as my own, I will definitely not be giving you any credit. ;-)

                2. It may be a rehash to you but might not be to a newbie.

                  Plus, how many times do you see an old timer not even answer a question but just reply with a link(s) to similar threads. Basically saying "FU, you lazy sh*t, can't you even search first?"

                  Often those links are to really old threads so you can see how those get revived.

                  In the other cases there maybe posters who have seen this reaction by old timers so they don't even dare start a new thread without doing a serious multi year search first and will choose to revive an old one to avoid being called out for not doing their homework.

                  9 Replies
                    1. re: foodieX2

                      I don't think people are being disrespectful by providing links to similar threads. At least, not on the Home Cooking board. A recent new post asked what, other than lemon curd, to do with Meyer lemons. Someone provided a link to four previous discussions on exactly that topic and I went back and took a look at all of them just to make sure I hadn't missed anything. And the providing of those links didn't stop anyone from offering their own suggestions.

                      Some of us who have been around for a while know about, and may have even bookmarked, threads that are particularly informative. Providing links is not necessarily an editorial comment.

                      1. re: JoanN

                        I find it so when made without comment.

                        I have no issue with "There was recently a great thread with some wonderful recipes, you should check it out".

                        I saw one recently without comment and the thread linked was over 3 years old yet was in reference to a subject that could quickly be dated. Why not say "hey this thread had some good ideas but its a couple years old".

                        edited to add- here is wonderful example of a linked thread

                        < <HillJ 3 minutes ago

                        There are some nice ideas in this older CH thread.

                        On pizza is by far one of my favorite ways to use goat cheese.>>

                      2. re: foodieX2

                        I am one (of those newbies) who has wanted to start a few new discussions, but I haven't dared to for fear that it was already discussed in 2004. I've done a few searches but I don't know, maybe I am just using the wrong search terms.

                        1. re: ohmyyum

                          Please don't hold back, even if there was another thread 4 months ago that was just like the one you wanted to start. Someone may link to that other thread, but if you say you saw it and maybe link to it first yourself (if you already found it), you can put a different spin on your thread or just go for it no matter what.

                          1. re: ohmyyum

                            Don't let that stop you, really. There will be some who are annoyed that you started a duplicate thread, and some who are annoyed that you resurrected an ancient thread. You can't win either way. Luckily, the majority don't mind.

                            Often if an old timer links you to an older thread, it's only in the spirit of helpfulness. I know of a few who do and they are good people - so it's not always intended to be snarky.

                            I find the search function on this site a bit hit and miss. I much prefer google's advanced search.


                            Put your search terms in, then scroll down a little.

                            Where it says: "site or domain", put http://chowhound.chow.com in the search box.

                            1. re: ursy_ten

                              yeah if I link to an earlier thread, I read it again and do it only if the info is at all relevant and never as a rebuke. just a tip to a compendium.

                          2. re: foodieX2

                            I think this is a prime example of how people read different implications to the same action. I see link replies as helpful regardless of whether or not they add a comment. Sometimes the search just doesn't kick out what you're looking for.

                            Personally I'm boggled at what people take offense to what is often a helpful attempt.

                            1. re: foodieX2


                              *Standing and applauding*

                              Thank-you. From a newbie.

                            2. I don't mind the threads from the last couple years, but there's been some that have popped up from 9-10 years ago. I find those a bit odd, especially when the original post was "where can I find the best pastrami in XXX?" and people are offering suggestions 10 years later. I've seen a couple threads where people start pointing out that XYZ restaurant is closed now, or don't offer pastrami anymore. It gets confusing, especially to newbies who may not notice the thread dates,

                              1. Hmmm...well, KaimukiMan you are reviving an old subject that has been discussed to death. What next? Maybe we should somehow lock old subjects so people cannot keep reviving them?

                                I do not have an issue with people responding to older posts. There is a date stamp on each post, after all, so we can ascertain what is new versus stale dated.

                                1. Well, the OP and ursy's initial response thereto, pretty much framed the entire issue and articulated the best elements of each position. At bottom, I like it sometimes for the reasons ursy noted and hate it for the reasons KaimukiMan explained. So, please, can we settle this one without any need for adjudication?

                                  1. + folks sometimes come to the threads thru google or CH searches. Who are we to turn away new blood?

                                    1. I like the old threads, if only to see the old friends pop up. Some long gone but not forgotten. Guess I may be around too long though. But the old ones just seem more informative to me somehow, it was such a small group back then. So happy Chow didn't erase us all when they took over.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: coll

                                        Maybe just paying respect to the CH's that have been here from day one is reason enough to keep older threads. Lot of heart & soul in those posts. The Chowhound Team and others in the position to make the decision to keep or purge have already answered this question time and time again. So you have revived an old question.

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          I enjoy old threads where some of those no longer with us have contributed - Sam, Moh, food fuser. It's a modest form of how their spirit endures and refreshes pleasant memories.

                                          1. re: Veggo

                                            I feel the same way, Veggo. Lately I've been reading threads in which Sam and Moh, especially, have surfaced and it's wonderful to read their reactions and explanations again.

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              So true. That's exactly what I thought of.

                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                "I'm not saying get rid of them, but some of these really ought to be locked after maybe 2 years."

                                                The idea isn't to purge the system of these posts or of the contributions of those no longer with us. You could search and read and reminisce any time you wanted.

                                          2. I have also noted that a large number of threads in non turnover areas still have relevant info years later. And are updated by locals and tourists as things change.

                                            Caribbean, Africa, Peru, etc.

                                            1. It would be easier to ignore old threads that get revived if there was a way to opt out of receiving notification of new posts even if you once posted on said thread, five years ago.

                                              4 Replies
                                              1. re: John E.

                                                But exactly how many notifications do you actually get from 5-year-old threads? Enough where it's a serious nuisance to just delete them without reading them?

                                                1. re: Bacardi1

                                                  I don't know why you're making such a fuss, Bacardi. Obviously, you won.

                                                  1. re: Bacardi1

                                                    Not often. I really don't wish to have the delete feature for this purpose, but for threads that become annoying no matter their age.

                                                2. If it's a topic I've been part of in the past it pops up because there's a new comment. I find that I sometimes just respond without thinking. Going back later I realize the new post is to a topic that is years old, Sometimes that's fine, sometimes it's a case of the unlikelihood (?) that anyone from the original thread cares any more. Not worth getting riled up about.

                                                  1. I've enjoyed reading the replies. Seeing the same subjects come up again and again every year I've never been able to decide if its more like weeds in the spring or crocus blooming again. Reading your various comments has made me realize that the same subjects are indeed perennial whether they are new threads or the old thread revived. And I would not want to see some of the old replies deleted, it was a question of locking them.

                                                    I think that they will be left unlocked in most cases, and now that Chow has finally seen fit to show the OP date along with the OP's name I can more easily choose to ignore those threads I decide I don't want to revisit.

                                                    1. <Yes, there are valid opinions, but commenting on a comment that someone made a decade ago seems bizarre to me>

                                                      Damn if you do, and damn if you don't. Let me explain. Sometime it does seem very odd that a >3 years old thread get revived for no reason. Occasionally, the original threads were very controversy, and I just wish them to stay dead -- if you know what I mean. On the other hand, I know plenty other people here (yes, I am talking about you, and you know who you are) who have problems with people starting a new thread every now and then. They believe that when you have a pre-existing question, you should continue from a previous thread instead of making a new one. As you can see, these are opposite views.

                                                      Like I said: Damn if you do, and damn if you don't.

                                                      15 Replies
                                                      1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                        I always like your input, chemicalkinetics. One thing that comes to mind is if you are like me and English is not our first language?

                                                        1. re: Fowler

                                                          < English is not our first language?>

                                                          Yep, but I actually have been in this country forever. So really, I am just horrible at spelling/grammar check.

                                                          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            hey hey, that's another thread. stop it you two! LOL

                                                            Seriously though you both communicate far more effectively than many who were born in English speaking countries.

                                                          2. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                            A big part of this can be the history each user has on other discussion sites. A lot of sites enforce one behaviour or the other -- either people are expected to search out and continue old discussion threads rather than start new ones, or people are discouraged from bumping threads that are more than a few weeks old (they may even be locked). People who started out participating in a small number of forums which all used the same rule can develop a pretty strong preference for one of the two.

                                                            On Chowhound, we've never sought to enforce either of those ways of looking at things. If someone wants to update an older thread with new information, great, we're happy to have the update. If someone wants to start a new thread to re-explore the same area, great, we're happy to have the updates. We'll very occasionally lock/remove a thread on a current event if it duplicates another current thread -- two people posting the same NY Times article for people to discuss within a couple of days of each other, or two people starting a 'Did you hear we're getting a Trader Joe's?' thread on the same regional board, as examples -- but for the most part, we prefer to let everyone post how they prefer.

                                                            1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                              <A big part of this can be the history each user has on other discussion sites.>

                                                              Yes. On another forum, they close threads at 500 posts. You can always access them to read. You just can't respond to an archived thread.

                                                              On a third forum, I can de-click the kind of threads that on chowhound are part of my profile, and the thread goes away. I don't have to look at it when I do the equivalent of clicking on my profile here.

                                                              I like this feature a lot, and wish we had it here. I find myself not answering questions people have because I don't want a thread I'm not really interested in following me around forever. I didn't answer two questions yesterday because of this (un)feature.

                                                              And before anyone says "but you can just IGNORRRRRRRRRRRE something you don't want to read," well, I already know that. I just hate leaving threads unread. It doesn't look nice. One of my OC symptoms, I guess.

                                                              1. re: Jay F

                                                                We actually are looking at allowing people to ignore threads they've participated on, so that should come down the pipe at some point, but it's tied in with some other changes around subscribing to threads that make the whole thing a fairly big project.

                                                                1. re: Jay F

                                                                  How about if the P-t-B give you the ignore feature but leave old threads unlocked? I just don't want to see one of the avenues that bring new blood to Chowhound shut off, that of folks "Googling" in to an old thread and then ending up staying around to become highly valuble contributors to our community.

                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                    On the forum I'm talking about, Servorg, which ends threads at 500 posts and archives them, every archived thread is available, either to google or other search engines, or within the forum itself.

                                                                    No avenue is shut down. Information is every bit as available to new blood as it is now. It's just better organized.

                                                                    1. re: Jay F

                                                                      What I mean is allowing people who Google some term and they end up at an old thread and join Chowhound just so that they are able to reply to what they find.

                                                                      At that point some hound will then reply to them letting them know about the greater community available and linking them to "All Boards" and they end up staying around...all because they could "reply" to that old thread they stumbled upon via Google.

                                                                      If that thread had been locked they never would have joined to reply and we may well have lost them forever. It really costs you and I nothing to leave old threads unlocked. Just a little time once in a while when we just sucked into the vortex. But in the scheme of things, how much time have we really "lost" to those? Not much.

                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                        On the forum I'm talking about, once you hit an archived thread, you have the whole rest of the forum right in front of your face. There is no failure to include people who google their way to an archived thread.

                                                                        1. re: Jay F

                                                                          Sometimes, especially if the "Google" in responder comes here because of a specific interest, a seasoned "hound" can point them to other specific threads that they may find of interest. Or, in my own case, it was finding a reply by an existing LA board member that was kind enough to reply to me when I Googled into a thread on a restaurant I was looking for information on. That got me going in a way that just seeing a plethora of "site" information displayed to me would probably have not spurred my own long, strange trip here...

                                                                2. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                  <People who started out participating in a small number of forums which all used the same rule can develop a pretty strong preference for one of the two. >

                                                                  I never thought of that being the cause, but it makes sense. We are used to how we were "raised", so we assume the other version is unacceptable.

                                                                  It is good to know there is a historical reason for this. I never knew.

                                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                    Because that's just how you scroll?

                                                                3. Of course it's OK. The history of a thread doesn't matter, only its content, which may be old to you but is new to anyone reading it for the first time. If people feel the need to find out if it's OK to bring flowers to grandma, why should they be unable to read comments on the subject, whenever posted, or to add their own? It's a non-issue, or it should be.

                                                                  1. Contemporary writers are still commenting on Chaucer, Plato, et al, to the edification of contemporary readers. Information is timeless, no? Why lock an old thread if it's still here to be read and if its topics are deemed by some to be worthy of reconsideration?

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Riccardo

                                                                      Unfortunately, Plato's rec for the best gyro in Athens is a little out of date though.

                                                                    2. I hope this thread will soon go dormant. I also hope that I remember to revive it in three or four years. (Fat chance of that happening. I can't go into a mall and remember where I parked the car.)

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: John E.

                                                                        We old farts love the electronic car keys that let the car tell us where it is - we only have to remember where it is within about hand grenade range.

                                                                      2. I gotta say, as a new visitor here I recently spent 2 days reading the humorous, touching and honest replies on a thread started 5 years ago about "poor people food that you had growing up and still crave." There were hundreds of them and I am so grateful the thread wasn't locked or deleted.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. re: ItalianNana

                                                                          I love that thread and am always happy to see it revived (says this not newbie, yet not old timer).

                                                                        2. I think this thread is cursed. Since my commenting and being in agreement with Kai muki Man there has been a significant increase of old threads revived.

                                                                          Today there was a thread responded to where the OP was asking for recommendations for a good steak house in their area of the state. The OP date? October 1999 and someone just responded with a recommendation!!! Really? lol

                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                          1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                            Obviously, that teply has a decent chance of not being of any assistance to the OP of that thread. However, if someone else on Chowhound is now looking for that information, there is a good chance it could be useful. The age of a thread does not automatically mean the thread is useless.

                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                              Again nobody is saying to delete any content. However if you see a 15 year old thread on a topic and it makes you think to yourself "hey I know some good steakhouses in the area" start a new thread! That's all keep relevant information current and old or dated information available but not accessible to further posts.

                                                                              Now that thread is a complete mis-mosh of relevant and completely irrelevant information. Just makes sense to me.

                                                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                  I had a typo in my first reply to you, sorry about that. I was not aware of any 15 year old threads being revived, but I will say that the age of a thread does not mean the information being added is useless. I don't see how that can be disputed. am not saying reviving such threads should be encouraged, just that if there are several replies, somebody must be interested.

                                                                                  1. re: John E.


                                                                                    14 years old to be exact. lol

                                                                                    If you take a look at this thread a couple of the original suggestions are out of business. There is now updated information mixed in however it's just that, mixed in. If I were a newbie doing a google search and found this thread I wouldn't know what to make of it. Even as an experienced user and contributor here (in my opinion) the new/updated info isn't clear or easy to find.

                                                                                    So my point is just this(for regional boards only not home cooking or boards where information is truly timeless)......DO NOT delete any content. Just simply if a thread is about specific locations/reviews etc. after 3-5 years they lock. You can search any topic and when a 5 + year old thread comes up you get a message saying the thread is locked due to age and if you have any updated information or contribution since this thread was started please start a new discussion. Keep it updated.....keep it relevant......keep it fresh...keep the old stuff there for whoever wants to research, review, reminisce etc.

                                                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                But the original thread had only 5 responses. In the past day 16 more replies were added (including, curiously, one by jrvedivici ;) So perhaps the locals were ready to revisit the topic?

                                                                                1. re: gaffk

                                                                                  Hey Now!!! I gave full disclosure on my post I thought it was rediculous to revive a 14 year old thread!

                                                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                                                    Sorry, I couldn't help myself . . .slow day in the gaffk household.

                                                                                    ETA: And yes, to your credit, you did point out the age of the thread.

                                                                              2. What if the webpage gave you a warning when you start to reply to an old post? Now when I start a post like this I get a 'Reply to KaimukiMan' on the posting window. That could easily include a 'This post is more than 4 years old. Do you really want to reply?'

                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                  " That could easily include a 'This post is more than 4 years old. Do you really want to reply?' message."

                                                                                  How about one that pops up each time someone is about to post to the NAF board that says "Do you really want to reply to this absurd discussion?" ;-D>

                                                                                  1. re: Servorg

                                                                                    A few of the apps that I run on my computer do that. If a file has been inactive for more than (who knows how long) I will get a prompt asking if I want to overwrite the old file or create a new file. Of course that begs the question how long? A year since the last posting? Two years since the last 3 postings?

                                                                                    Which brings back the original question of how pertinent old postings may be. In Home Cooking they may well never lock. In geographic boards it may be after two years, cookware . . . depends I guess, are we talking appliances that change faster than the latest model of the Edsel or a thread on cast iron or LeCruset which will never be obsolete. For chains, maybe 20 minutes.

                                                                                    Of course the real answer is that once I have addressed a thread it should be locked immediately and forever as I insist on having the last word on every subject (ok, I am now extracting my tongue from my cheek, conversation may proceed.)

                                                                                    1. re: Servorg

                                                                                      "How about one that pops up each time someone is about to post to the NAF board that says "Do you really want to reply to this absurd discussion?"

                                                                                      Absurd discussions are not limited to old topics, but it's a worthwhile suggestion.

                                                                                      1. re: Servorg

                                                                                        Why not just rename the NAF board, Guilty Pleasures.

                                                                                        The board demonstrates what we hate to admit: we lurk, we post, we giggle, we relate. Because if the NAF wasn't popular, we'd see Site Talk threads discussing the merit of keeping or letting the board go. NAF is popular for all the reasons people love to tattle, love to bitch, nitpick and gossip.

                                                                                        Absurd is incredibly popular and drama excites the "room."

                                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                                          "NAF is popular for all the reasons people love to tattle, love to bitch, nitpick and gossip."

                                                                                          You've made the case for its demise much better than I could ever dream of doing. Should we be pandering to people's worst instincts? My suggestion was tongue in cheek, but even Jim Leff has written many times that NAF is used as the outlet so that the other boards might be kept "disease free" (my words, not Jim's). So it will stay and I shall stay away. ;-D>

                                                                                          1. re: Servorg

                                                                                            It's a glass half full or half empty dilemma. You & Jim aren't the first or the last to make tongue & cheek remarks regarding boards.

                                                                                            Haven't I read where you wax poetic about the benefits to leaving this site generally approachable for all. Where we each draw the line may vary but this is a welcoming food site.
                                                                                            So, whatever the guilty pleasure the site does aim to serve all tastes. Thank god for that.

                                                                                    2. Everything in the world makes people upset. That's dumb.

                                                                                      1. Often the old threads have been revived by someone who is a new Chowhound poster. Finding CH, maybe through a google search, is an exciting discovery for the first time reader. The old post obviously is relevant to the poster (unless it's a shill post), and he/she wishes to share information they have with the community. In any event it is pretty easy for a reader to check the date and poster name on a post before opening. It is impossible for a new poster to understand the unwritten rules that must be adhered to for admittance to the club, and it is rather unwelcoming to castigate them for reviving an old post.