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Author's profile photo Jürgen Lins

Dr. Frankenstein – please stop reanimating the dead

October.  The first frost is giving notice about a new winter period. The leaves turn red and yellow and is falling down through the mist towards a moist ground. Hidden between the trees is an old cemetery. Wisps of autumn fog conceal a dark soul who sneaks between the graves. He is sniffing, unbearable stench crawls in his nose, but is not stopping him to dig for the corpses. His master, Dr. Frankenstein, needs dead old bodies to build the bride of his monster……and instead of the well known flash, in SCN one only needs to click the reply button, and immediately a dead old thread is reanimated and enjoys its miserable existence among the living. And the end of the story, you may know it, the crowd is chasing the monster into a mill and burns it down. But Dr. Frankenstein is still alive and is looking for more dead bodies to reanimate.

The crowd are the SCN users who report it to the moderator, who burns it by rejecting.

Doc Frankenstein is disappointed and defeated this time. He could not get what he aimed. However, the monster cannot be placed where the dead body parts came from, it has to be buried next to the living. Translated into jive:a rejected reply does not bounce the thread back to the place where it was before. The last change date is current and makes this old thread stay among the new questions.

Let us have a closer look on Dr. F, who is a split personality. But no matter who he is when he appears – something resurrected is left on his way.

¨ Type A, the savior,

     Version 1: adding a new solution to a thread which is clearly marked answered

     Version 2: adding an answer which was already given

     Version 3: is actually a different type, see Type B

¨ Type B, the trainee.

     Just learned something new and wants to spread it. Has really great search skills as he finds numerous duplicate questions and adds always what he  just learned, stereotype by copy and paste to let all answers look equal.

¨ Type C, the rubbernecks.

     Version 1: question as reply to a question without answer: “Did you get an answer?”

     Version 2: question as reply to a question with several answers: “Did you ever get an answer?”

     Version 3: question as reply to a question with a correct answer: ” How was this solved?”

¨ Type D, the herald.

     He has done something fantastic, but usually offsite. Has great search skills and finds numerous old discussions where he adds “the solution can be      found behind that link”. Variations are those who wrote a document in SCN today, and add then reproachful to a 6 year old discussion that the OP      could have looked into their document for a solution. Spammers are a subspecies, who turned past successful  into money.

¨ Type E, Yesterday’s man.

     adds a “thank you” as reply – and does not like the answer

¨ Type F: the fellow traveler

     He always has the same problem. And I usually agree to this statement, as this sentence has no more info than many of the questions to which it   is added.

In case I shared this blog with you: Do you know in which category you are in? 😉

One positive thing can be said: all these people who reopened an old discussion had searched……

Only it looks like they stopped at the first hit, instead of looking into others too.

If you expected a picture of Boris Karloff because of the blog title, then I have to disappoint you, but I share a screenshot of MM discussions from October 7th.  Almost every 3rd discussion was a reopened (solved) discussion:


Whats wrong by adding replies to old discussions?

Let me ask some questions and give some comments in sequence to the above mentioned types.

Type A.1: How much is an alternative solution worth if the question has already a correct answer? Even a better solution is degraded in the very moment when it is added, as the readers will focus on the answer with the green bar on the right. 

Type A.2: that is obvious – a redundant answer does not add any value. It just confirms that the poster of this answer had not read the entire chain before the reply was added. Or is he eventually a free rider who hopes to get 5 points when the first answer gets 10?

Type B: Does it add value if you get 10 to 20 equal discussions next to each other in a forum where just the same reply is added? Of course the chance that in future a lucky searcher can stop right here is big, but at the same time many new discussions get buried behind all the resurrected old discussions.

To all who want add answers: Please do it on new questions, where the poster is still interested in an answer.

Look at the date when the question was posted, check if the question is marked as answered.

Don’t misunderstand me – I have nothing against adding an answer to an unanswered old discussion. But it should be an answer, not just a “try this” reply.

Type C: I know certainly how this reply was meant, but it is really funny if you stick to the words in context to the existing discussion.

Type D: This is dedicated to the people who are only here to advertise their business, their own blogs, their websites. They could add some value to SCN if they contribute with their knowledge, but they just focus on getting the people off SCN. Sorry, no mercy. Nothing against a little kicking of an own blog or document. Many of us are doing it as normal contribution to current questions, and that is okay, but reopening several year old discussions to launch an ad for a new blog is not.

Type E: Even it is a nice gesture to say thank you – I usually expect this from the person who asked the question and got an answer – it updates the communication stream, the RSS feeds and sends email notifications to  many many people who are less interested in this part of a thread. It often looks like saying thank you to the the other guy who asked the question instead to the person who gave the good answer. Just click LIKE to the answer which helped you, this is the modern way of saying thank you, and it can be read by a machine and eventually ranks a discussion with many likes higher in the search results. And it makes it easier visible to other readers which answer was helpful among others, especially if the OP forgot to do mark the question as answered.

Type F: This is actually the most annoying type from my point of view. Just this little sentence: I have the same problem, how did you solve it.

Whats wrong:  The question is asked to just one person, the original poster (OP) of the question, instead to the entire community. This person was often not online for many years. Clicking the user ID could tell when the OP was last online. If this was many months/years back then a  reply is not like a  kiss wake up sleeping beauty. If the same question(how did you solve it) was asked a year before by someone else without any reply, then the same words are not really more sexy a year after.  Why did the question not have an answer? Maybe it was not good explained. Explaining the problem in other words can make it more understandable. Adding more detailed info, e.g. error message numbers, steps of execution, release infos as well as telling directly if the given answers were tested and why they did not work could give it a valuable push.

However, the person who added the reply is not the owner of the discussion. He is actually celebrating a party in neighbors garden. The OP gets eventually updates by mail years after he had asked the question (like getting telephone calls from other residents in the street).

And in the rare case of an answer it is not even possible that this answer could be marked with correct answer, because only the OP is able to do that, so it stays open and someone else will come along and ask, an eternal loop.

Not to forget that SCN has a reputation system. Helpful and correct answers will assign points. Since only the OP is able to mark a reply as correct or helpful it does no really attract others to answer a question which is added to a question of someone else.

Same is valid for already solved discussions. Honestly, who wants answer a question which is already marked solved?

In most cases of reanimated old discussions the owner is not coming back. However, every rule has an exception as you can see here

: Advance Payment Invoice through MM


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      Author's profile photo Jose Antonio Martinez
      Jose Antonio Martinez

      Dear Jürgen L;

      As usual a great blog for how to be a better member in SCN.

      And the analogy with Frankenstein is so cool 😛

      Regards Jose Antonio

      Author's profile photo Luís Pérez Grau
      Luís Pérez Grau

      Dr. Frankenstein or rather Dr. Rantenstein 😀

      I totally agree, but I would like to add my two cents on this one:

      Type A.1: How much is an alternative solution worth if the question has already a correct answer? Even a better solution is degraded in the very moment when it is added, as the readers will focus on the answer with the green bar on the right. 

      I must raise my hand and say "Guuuiiiiiiiiiiltyyyyyyyy" I've been involved in some discussions which the OP went for the the short n' dirty way and marked the "kamikaze" answer as correct, in that scenario I'd like to give an alternative (if I have) so I can say "Ok he/she went to that path but that doesn't mean is the best one, at least think about this: yadda yadda yadda yadda"  of course is not a "try this type" is more an answer/warning type, of course I'm not talking about old discussions, otherwise I will feel like the geezer of SCN: "No! no! no! no! your doing it wrong!". Anyway the "show me the points" attitude is doing a lot of harm on the SCN content, but this has already been discussed a lot of times.

      The last point is hilarious, even after your comment there's people answering...I started the day with good some good laughs, so thank you 🙂



      Author's profile photo Phillip Morgan
      Phillip Morgan

      Most comprehensive post on the subject! In some circles it is also called necroposting. It would probably just take a few extra lines of code to give a warning to alert the poster that he is awakening an ancient post...

      Keep up the good writing!

      Author's profile photo Lukas Weigelt
      Lukas Weigelt

      Mh.... I'm pretty much a Type A.1. But I have to disagree with your statment "readers will focus on the answer qwith the green bar". At least that's not what I do, so I do hope I add value to those long dead discussions. Still, an option to "not bump" such content would be nice so Frankenstein's Monster doesn't appear on page 1 of the forum.

      Cheers, Lukas

      Author's profile photo Steffi Warnecke
      Steffi Warnecke

      Like you can choose to do when updating a blog. Maybe this could be something for the Idea Place?

      I really had fun while reading this, but that's nothing new when it comes to your content. I like your style of wrapping relevant information in a story. 😉

      My goal is to not fall in any of those categories. ^^ Although I'd love to help close some of those very old threads in "my" spaces. Especially since some of them just wait for the OP to return to give the information if the suggestions helped.

      Author's profile photo Ramashish kumar
      Ramashish kumar

      thought twice befor adding a comment..!! which category it would add to me.. 😆

      great effort to find out the content of 6 yr old MM relevant story for the content..!!

      Author's profile photo Marilyn Pratt
      Marilyn Pratt

      Hope more folks will read this thoughtful and entertaining post......and return to it again...and again....even if it means bringing it back to life 😈

      LikeRamashish kumar I hesitated before commented here (laughing at myself...and with a little fear that I can't even pass my own value test).

      What's the test? Ask yourself this  before posting:

      "If what I have to add to the discussion doesn't merit a yes to these 3 questions, don't post it":

      1) Is it true?

      2) Is it necessary?

      3) Does it improve upon the silence?

      Unfortunately most of us (self included) aren't skilled at judging those criteria when it comes to evaluating our own pearls of wisdom.

      Author's profile photo Steffi Warnecke
      Steffi Warnecke

      I have yet to find a post from you, where one of the answers would be "no" in my eyes. 😉 So comment along please!

      Author's profile photo Jürgen Lins
      Jürgen Lins
      Blog Post Author

      Thanks for the comments, I am glad you enjoyed reading it.

      Thanks as well for different opinions on a statement. I have no statistics and hard facts, but any of listed points had happened, some more evidence could have been linked  if I hadn't rejected it.

      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan

      Hi Jürgen,

      This is a great blog about how dead content can contaminate our lives.  I know I am not the first one to go on a search, and drill into countless threads, only to find that they are dead.  And thank goodness, I have not resurrected the monster by applying any electricity, or adding my own 'I have the same problem, did you ever solve it' because five or six years on, it's doubtful anyone would even answer.

      If I could write a wishlist about these discussions, the first wish would be that if they are not marked as answered, they go off to some deep dark place where nobody can find them again - or at least give us the ability to say 'search for questions on blah blah blah, only answered threads'.

      (please note, the 'search for answered questions' is a separate wish, since I am getting greedy/tired)

      The second wish might be that 'assumed answered' is not really good enough - that too leads you down a rat hole.  So I might wish for 'assumed dead' and again, it goes into that deep dark place.

      The third wish might be a virtual tap on the shoulder to someone who does resurrect the monster, saying 'Are you sure you want to do that?  It really ticks off the villagers...'

      At any rate, I am bookmarking this blog, so I can re-read it and in 10 years I will add some comment that will bring it to the forefront again.

      Author's profile photo Leslaw Piwowarski
      Leslaw Piwowarski


      I agree.

      I must say I was dr. Frankenstein once or twice.

      Sometimes more than one SCN users answer the question at the same time. Shortly after answering the question you see that somebody answered in the same way.


      Who likes cancelling his voice ?



      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Guilty too.... by not checking dates 🙂

      Author's profile photo Jürgen Lins
      Jürgen Lins
      Blog Post Author

      How did you feel before? It must be an ultimately uplifting feel good vibe to breathe life into something that has past away for a long time. 😛   i totally missed this the point of view in the blog.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      😉 putting life in to dead.......

      Author's profile photo Matt Fraser
      Matt Fraser

      I know that I've been tricked into it, when an old thread appears in my activity feed because it's in a space I follow, so I think it's a current question and jump in, only to realize later that it was a reanimated zombie.

      It's tricky. I actually still have one (I think just one!) old question that I posted some time ago that never got an answer, and which I never actually resolved. It's certainly not "assumed answered;" I just moved on to other things and stopped worrying about it. I've looked back at it once or twice, thought "hmmm," then realized I really do someday want to figure it out. It isn't so much technical, but rather about best practices, so it doesn't really go out of date. After reading this thread, though, no one will dare answer it!

      Ok, I had to go back and look, and I actually have three old unanswered questions out there. Two of them are still valid, but obviously I need to clean up the third. 🙂

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham

      Irrelevant point of order,. but surely that should be Herbert West, not Dr Frankenstein?

      Author's profile photo Dibyendu Patra
      Dibyendu Patra

      The same happened again in MM forum yesterday


      Author's profile photo Jürgen Lins
      Jürgen Lins
      Blog Post Author

      sunday drivers

      Author's profile photo Dibyendu Patra
      Dibyendu Patra

      Yes. I notice that on every Monday morning. Sometimes MM forum got green discussions more than blue.

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Somehow I missed this blog when it was posted, so I'm making sure months later everyone who commented here gets an update by email or in their Activity stream. 🙂

      Personally I'm fed up with this phenomenon and feel it should be added to ROE (see related discussion).

      By the way, occasionally I find another variety that answers to years-old threads with a solution that was not available at that time. It wouldn't be a big deal if such answers weren't phrased as if OP was ignorant not to search for something that came out years later after the question was posted.

      Author's profile photo Matthew Billingham
      Matthew Billingham

      I did see it, but completely forgot about it... 😕 ... which means I get to enjoy it twice.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      excellent analogy, well written, very much helpful. Thanks.

      Author's profile photo Raphael Pacheco
      Raphael Pacheco

      I missed this publication also perhaps for not having used both the SCN as use today, but an excellent analogy.

      I recently wrote something (more like rant) within Coffe Corner (seen here) which addresses on the same subject (not wanting to advertise, but already doing kkkkkkkk). Many discussions in the SCN are virtually dropped in limbo, I believe there should be a lock these discussions by time (eg 30 days), whether completed or not, because you think about it, that company will expect from your employee or consultant a solution to the problem for so long? (Of course this can find the solution and not disclose)

      As for what was exemplified in this excellent blog, is it possible to leave more an idea for improvement in the SCN, is it possible to block a new user to open discussions, blogs or documents without reading the Rules of engagement?

      Author's profile photo Sagar Tajanpure
      Sagar Tajanpure

      That 5 year example was hilarious !! 😆

      I wonder how the guy survived for 5 years without using SCN space ! a big failure on his part for not sharing the answer before.

      Great analogy Mr. Jurgen, hats off !