The recent disclosure that floppy discs are still in widespread has already prompted one question How long will floppy disks maintain data integrity?. That question, being about the integrity of the format rather than about their usage.

To most users of this site, the current use of floppies in many situations would not come as a surprise. I still help maintain safety-critical systems that receive database updates by burning 27128 EPROMs for example. Every airport I have ever passed through prints its passenger lists at the gate on a dot matrix printer, technology obsolete in offices for a generation.

So my question here is, are questions about using technology that qualifies on this site as retro in a modern setting on-topic?

I mean questions like "Are any industries still using punched cards?". Or are these to be considered off-topic as unhelpful list questions?

2 Answers 2


I would argue that even questions about modern use of retro hardware techniques could be in scope, so long as they are good questions (with specific answers). Like maybe "a dot matrix printer looks like it would be a good approach for this problem, will it actually work?", So long as the scope is restricted to avoid modern alternative solutions.


The question isn't really about a modern setting, that's only peripheral to the actual question about how long floppy disks maintain data integrity (and the modern examples could probably be removed entirely from the original question). I think we can safely say that answers to this question are of relevant interest to retro users and on topic.

Questions that are specifically about modern usage, such as your theoretical "Are any industries still using punched cards?" are probably off-topic though.

  • 1
    A company I used to work for still uses punched tape for some operations; would asking about replacing the 1970s-vintage tape-punch reader with a serial connection to a modern computer be on topic?
    – Mark
    May 26, 2016 at 20:19
  • Good question. Since it involves actually using retro hardware (whatever the reader you're replacing is feeding data to), I'd say yes.
    – mnem
    May 26, 2016 at 21:10
  • 1
    I'm not challenging the on-topicness of the floppy data integrity question, just quesitons about modern usage. I agree that @Mark's example should be on-topic and that my example probably not.
    – Chenmunka Mod
    May 27, 2016 at 6:49

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