2

The answers dated back to 2012 and I did not notice any editing or other action to make them look active.

Some new "feature" of Stack Exchange? Was it a dead link check?

see

https://gardening.stackexchange.com/a/3693/499

https://gardening.stackexchange.com/a/13526/499
(now deleted so you will need some rep to see it

4

Because of this Q&A on Meta Stack Exchange:

Can we raise the bar for reputation for late answers to enter the review queue?

In summary, Late Answers used to be "answers from users with less than 10 rep to questions that are over 30 days old". The reputation requirement is now "less than 50 rep" (and it may be raised again to 100 rep), so a lot of previously ineligible posts suddenly became eligible.

1

And the comments from that thread are relevant to the "solution"

It is getting tiresome that the standard solution to quality problems on the site(s) is always "more reviews". Instead of demanding quality from new users before their post is even uploaded to the site, people keep insisting on reviewing existing posts and look for crap.... – Lundin 5 hours ago

People are posting comments as answers, because they are not allowed to comment. Instead of allowing them to comment, we're now creating extra review work and still the users are not able to comment, although some of the example comments were helpful...– Chris 4 hours ago

@Lighness To me as a layman the current rules appear as a privilege inversion. The more serious and consequential action -- answering -- requires less reputation than the rather inconsequential and easy-to-delete or -ignore comment. ... Peter Schneider 2 hours ago

@LightnessRacesinOrbit ... I believe the only reason behind the 50 rep rule was to dodge outright spammers

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