Proposal: Health

Questions on health never change, but the answers to them do.

This would be a good question for Meta once the site is launched, but we should start thinking about it now.

The wonderful thing about health truth is that it's a constantly malleable body of information, supported simply by the (ever-expanding) research that is conducted out there.

Sometimes significant research comes to light (or even something lessor so), which changes the tune of what the previously, hailed, 'consensus' answer in the community was. The leading answer needs to be updated.

There will always be low quality or inaccurate answers in the mix, and those will be naturally downvoted by the community and not be a threat to the integrity of health information's ever-clarifying, updating and improving nature.

But at other times, there will be a well-established, well-upvoted and 'accepted' answer, that one might discover to be out-of-date in light of newly-synthesized information, in which it would seem counter-productive to try to compete with a fresh answer (and in doing so give the impression that there are two conflicting answers or points of view when really it is more that one is just more up-to-date then the other).

Would the best approach be to submit a (quality) edit, with citations and appropriate modifications of the conclusion in the answer (based on the newly-synthesized information), and let it be voted on as per the usual edit approval process?

(This possibility in and of itself gives Health SE the potential to be truly the premier Health Q&A portal on the Internet, where other sites have static, stagnant, and uneditable answers supported by now out-of-date research, which unfortunately are presented and come across as authoritative and 'final answer'. We can do something better here.)

  • 1
    That's a good point. I would say that in many StackExchange websites answers can be made outdated: website update, new version of a library that doesn't ensure backward compatibility, a claim on skeptics that turned to be true/false in light of some new scientific progress, etc. I feel this question can be addressed ( and maybe have already been ) on the meta SE. Oct 21, 2014 at 0:07
  • You haven't discovered America. How does it differ from SO? Feb 12, 2015 at 8:35

1 Answer 1



Oct 23 2014 is the date of your last edit. I therefore conclude that anything I learn from reading your question is out of date by at least 10 days and would not expect it to reflect any new developments since that time.

This issue is the same for every scientific discipline that must overturn dogma with new information. However, being dated doesn't mean worthless. Even if everything previously assumed in the post is later overturned, the post still holds value as a record of history.

That said, a well cited answer or comment pointing to the new ideas would be a welcome addition to any old post.

But the case I think you're driving at is when an answer is so outdated that you become temped to turn it into a community wiki and overhaul it to prevent it spreading misinformation. I'm tempted to say a less extreme solution mark the answer as outdated with a link to an up to date answer. However, that kind of moderation is for questions. Not answers.

I'd say the options to fight an old outdated answer (that won't have much vote activity due to age) are, comments, new answers, or community wiki. Maybe an outdated flag, to summon the moderation hord, would help.

  • 1
    You know, I agree. Currently in SE everywhere, if there is a (in your opinion or knowledge) 'bad' - (or not as good as yours) - answer that happens to be the leader of the pack, I simply give as good an answer as I can with what I know is better information, and I do notice in general it tends to float closer to the top over time - either supplanting the leader (vote-wise anyway) or at least being visible enough next to it for people to notice what's better information. That's probably the best approach for now, as well as commenting on existing out-of-date answers as well. Thanks.
    – user83826
    Dec 4, 2014 at 20:05

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