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Why archiving old threads is a bigger problem than we've realized : TheoryOfReddit
I was doing some research on Reddit into a murky tax topic, and found some very valuable threads, but which also had some incorrect comments. The information later got legally clarified after the thread started, and now there are reputable sources, but there wasn't enough time for redditors to come back to the thread and point out the current state of affairs. After a couple months, the threads were archived.

Now, anyone who reads the threads will be misinformed. In this case, this misinformation may have serious consequences (inadvertent tax evasion/fraud, penalties etc.). Of course, nobody should rely *solely* on Reddit as the source of truth for tax matters, but the problem still stands, and I've landed from Google onto many other threads with unchallenged outdated comments:

**Why do we make threads read-only, making it impossible for users to correct outdated or inaccurate information?**

I happened to have reliable sources on that topic, and would've been more than happy to drop some links in some comments. But I couldn't. I couldn't even downvote the incorrect comments. This was frustrating.

I went on to look for the rationale as to why threads are archived. Here are the top arguments I've found:

# Arguments for archiving (debunked below)

## Technical limitations ([storage space](https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/3nf974/eli5_why_do_reddit_posts_get_archived/cvnp9ts))

Perhaps this was a technical reason back in the day, but I find it hard to believe it's a serious concern in this day and age of elastic computing and cloud storage. Reddit threads are *plain text*, not videos or even images.

Furthermore, [apparently](https://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit/comments/5t7ub5/posts_are_automatically_archived_after_6_months/dduky7d)

> the admins have said [archiving is] fairly arbitrary and doesn't affect server load that much.

## Necroposting

> Think about it, wouldn't it be annoying if people started re-commenting on a thread you made six years ago?

No, I would be happy to learn of a change or new perspective to something I wrote. If someone bothers to comment on an old thread, they probably have something useful to say. If it's not useful, we already have [that problem with open threads, and it has targeted solutions](https://www.reddit.com/r/help/comments/8m3av7/turn_off_notifications_for_replies_to_a_single/).

## Surfacing old content

> Furthermore, with the current system of reddit how is a new person going to find these threads,

From search engines, links, IMs etc. The same way other content is found on the Internet.

> how would new posters be noticed on these threads

The same way they get noticed one month before the thread gets archived.

> and why would anyone even want to comment on them?

Because the information has become outdated or inaccurate. Because a new perspective can be shared. Because something new and related came to light. And so on. Why do we still discuss the works of ancient Greek philosophers?

> Not sure about why you can't vote, but I'm sure it's for similar reasons - who's going to benefit on you up-voting a six year old thread?

* Myself - I use upvoting to "bookmark" threads I've found useful, which I can later find under `reddit.com/user/<username>/upvoted`;
* or others who are curious about the user and want to see what they've been upvoting. I get a lot of interesting content from the upvotes of several friends I follow.

## 99% of conversations [have died anyway](https://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit/comments/5t7ub5/posts_are_automatically_archived_after_6_months/ddktpzn)

> 99.999% of all conversations have died already

Then let them die, and the storage space problem is moot if conversations die anyway.

> and the tiny percentage that haven't can be accomplished through a pm

This solution is rather myopic - only the recipient of the PM will learn of the new comment/PM; nobody else. In the tax example above, the point is to help new users who are researching the topic *now*, rather than someone who's already spread outdated information and moved on.

## [Irrelevance](https://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit/comments/5t7ub5/posts_are_automatically_archived_after_6_months/djk9mgb)

> I think the purpose is for relevance. Comments being made to posts over 6 months old would likely not be relevant.

Really? Who is to judge that? Why doesn't YouTube ban comments on videos older than 6 months?

## [Prevent SEO spam](https://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit/comments/5t7ub5/posts_are_automatically_archived_after_6_months/ddlbv5o)

> It also helps prevent SEO link spam

Maybe I haven't hung out in the dark corners of Reddit, but the amount of link spam I've seen in 10+ years has been very, very minimal. Anyway, spam is a different problem, and again, has targeted solutions (the "Report" link). Banning comments altogether is a weak blanket solution with the unintended consequences I've highlighted above. Let's recap them.

# Arguments against archiving

* [Let the dialogue continue](https://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit/comments/5t7ub5/posts_are_automatically_archived_after_6_months/)!
* Let users correct outdated information! Super useful in any subreddits about rapidly-changing topics, such as any type of software. Often a new version comes out with a settings that solves the problem, but there's no way to inform users that the thread in question got solved.
* Archiving causes the same topic to be rehashed over and over, because new users can't revive old threads. Case in point, many links in this post are to other threads asking the very same question, "Why do we archive?". I did my research, I didn't want to rehash the topic, but responding inline to the arguments I've found was impossible.
* *Seeing a page archived is as sad to me as [seeing something die](https://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit/comments/1d1ojz/why_do_we_archive_old_posts/). I know that nothing new or important can ever come to this page again.*
* *Real life seems to be a dynamic and ongoing discussion of old and new events. The voting mechanism of reddit is effective for finding the best content throughout the history of the site. However, neither of these things can continue after a post has reached an artificial date of expiration.*
* *I've never seen another site that blocks interaction with old content merely because it's old. If a page fills up with spam, that's understandable, but why should I consider last year's reddit as totally dead and irrelevant?*
* *The aggregate of reddit over time should be as important as the reddit of today.*

1. Have I missed anything? Are there *good* arguments for intentionally killing conversations?
2. What can be done to change the thread archival policy?
Dascalescu  advocacy  Reddit  against  archiving  threads 
6 days ago by dandv
Keybase: "Our browser extension subverts our encryption, but why should we care?" | Wladimir Palant's notes
Incompetence and ignorance: "Yeah there was some reason we couldn't do things right, but I forgot"
against  Keybase  WTF 
6 days ago by dandv
Asking Friends for Opinions on Your Pics/Profiles? Why You Should Stop
Friends know you, so they're biased when rating your photos. Friends have more context => worse feedback. Your photos should appeal to people who don't know you yet, and who will see them without context.
against  friends  opinion  photos  rate 
9 days ago by dandv

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