I saw that a new answer popped up to this old question:

I'm pretty sure that this question would be closed as off-topic if it were asked today, since it asks about real-world science, a topic that's repeatedly been accepted as off-topic. But it's a four year-old question, with many highly-voted answers.

However, there's no reason for it to draw new answers at this point, even good ones. My first instinct was to protect it, so at least we won't get new answers from random bypassers. Is this a good solution? Is this what we want to use question protection for?

Additionally, should we close this question so even higher-rep users won't contribute new answers to a question that is, at most, tolerated as legacy?

2 Answers 2


The correct approach for dealing with this type of question is a Historical Lock.

From the Meta.SE post:

A historical lock is a mechanism by which moderators can mark posts as historical artifacts.

A historical lock preserves older content that was very popular when it was originally posted, but is now off-topic or otherwise out of scope for the site it is posted on. Historically locking a post ends the debate over whether a question should be kept on the site or deleted, and is often the final state of a question that has been deleted and undeleted more than once.

Going further into the criteria for applying a Historical Lock, this specific question meets all of them:

  1. The post is Off-Topic or Not Constructive.
    I don't think we need to argue about that; most of us would VTC this question if we saw it in the review queue today.

  2. The post is stellar, in spite of its off-topic nature.
    The number of highly voted answers is evidence of this.

  3. There are a large number of views, upvotes and inbound links on the post.
    Over 6000 views and still active today.

  4. The post is contentious; i.e. it has been closed and reopened at least once, or deleted and undeleted at least once.
    The comments provide evidence that the question had attracted close votes, but yet there are none registered for it now. Therefore it must have gone through the close/reopen cycle at least once.

I've flagged it accordingly.

  • 3
    And now it's locked.
    – AncientSwordRage Mod
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 7:06

While protecting the question didn't do anything adverse, it does seem largely unnecessary.

Protecting a question sets a minimum reputation requirement of 10 points to be able to answer the question. None of the answers posted to the question were posted by low-rep users. The newest answer is by a user with over 1,000 rep.

The purpose of protecting a question is to stem an influx of poor answers, which hasn't been an issue on this question yet.

Show we close the question? I'd vote to close if it came through the queue. It's not currently on-topic, as it requests an explanation of real-world science. Just because it was once on-topic, it doesn't mean it currently is. Similarly, there have been a few instances when we've re-opened questions that were closed for now-outdated reasons.

  • We've got plenty of 'is this possible?' questions that combine sci-fi and real world science, which aren't closed.
    – user1027
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 18:44
  • I read the question as more asking "what would happen?" and just mentioning the movies as examples of how it's been handled in movies. A fine line, for sure, but one I'd come down on the "VTC" side of.
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 18:50
  • @Keen - This one seems pretty damn science-y to me. Not science fiction-y.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 30, 2015 at 19:06

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