Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

I have noticed a trend to close some P2P questions as off topic, because they are often broad. Contrary to other topics such as Java, C++ etc... some P2P questions are intrinsically broad and we should accept this. They can't be reduced to more precise topics.

By applying Stack Overflow rule to the letter with P2P, we break the spirit. We just reject people looking for support for wrong reasons. People who have closed these questions have visibly no experience with P2P (no badges, no questions or answers tagged with P2P).

They just apply the rules blindly without giving those with experience an opportunity to evaluate these questions and answer them when possible. This is getting pretty annoying and counter-productive.

From a guy who wrote a book on the subject.


For the records to all comments make to this question so far:

1) All set of rules/laws need exceptions to work, because no set of rules apply totally and fairly to all communities. There is always a set of small exceptions which are necessary to handle cases where applying the rules would actually be unfair. In order to understand this, you need to understand those specific cases.

2) About the need to have an implementation specific subject in the question: this is exactly where this does not apply well to P2P. P2P is not only about solving couple of technical issues such a NAT traversal or making this or that framework work, it is much more complex than it looks when you go into details. This is why people ask such global questions. It is the proof that they are getting deeper in the subject in order to implement something, when they have not already implemented a lot of code.

Asking those questions is absolutely unavoidable in the learning curve and during implementation. In fact, most people start to code because they don't have a global vision of the issues they will need to solve. It is only when they hit those real issues and start/need to ask global questions. That's life in the P2P city.

Those arguing that these questions are off-topic are actually demonstrating that they have no real understanding of the subject and they have never tried to implement a P2P system themselves. It works the other way around for P2P.

3) So far the community thinks that software developers can and should directly ask specific and technical questions: this is just not true for P2P. They can't relate their issue to something purely technical, because it is not. It would be completely artificial. This is the exception to the rule the community should learn to accept rather than applying pushing rules blindly and hiding behind them. It is counter-productive.

4) bemace's remark is demonstrating the point I am trying to make: his comment implies/assumes that people are not implementing anything when they ask those questions. I can tell you from my experience that in P2P, this is just plain not true. They ask those questions only after they have started to design and implement P2P systems.

5) I have received unsung hero, revival and necromancer badges because I answered many old P2P questions nobody was able to answer properly. I understand SO rules and that's precisely why I am requesting to stop closing apparently weird P2P questions.

Each time I have answered those questions, the answer was approved within a day or two and people were very happy with theses. Someone understands where they are coming from and why it is legitimate and justified to ask such questions on a technical forum when it comes to P2P.

share|improve this question
You should pick better examples – random Aug 17 '11 at 4:38
That's the whole point. I can't. Although these seem like crap questions for those who have no experience in P2P, these are not. The answers I provide make sense to those asking those questions, because I know the angles they are coming from. I can assure you that many big guns on SO would ask the same questions if they were to dive deep into P2P. – JVerstry Aug 17 '11 at 4:44
The examples look more like whiteboard problems than actual programming problems – random Aug 17 '11 at 4:56
P2P software, like all other software, must ultimately be implemented. Asking specific questions about problems you're having with your implementation is fine, but if people want an intro to P2P they should buy one of your books. – Brad Mace Aug 17 '11 at 6:08
Let's stop assuming that people close questions because they're ignorant about a field. kthxbai – Cody Gray Aug 17 '11 at 9:12
@bemance 'Anything else we can downvote for you?' is just a plain inappropriate remark. It is uncalled for. I have added an edit to my question. I hope you will read it to understand the reality of P2P implementation rather than relying on assumptions. Thanks. – JVerstry Aug 17 '11 at 15:12
I don't really see a huge problem here. Looking through the [p2p] tag, I see very few closed questions: . The couple you point out are bad questions for this site, and rightfully closed. More specific, implementation-oriented questions like this one:… are open and even upvoted. – Brad Larson Aug 17 '11 at 15:35

Questions aren't closed as off-topic because they're "often broad", they're closed as off-topic because they're off-topic. From the FAQ:

Stack Overflow is for professional and enthusiast programmers, people who write code because they love it. We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • matters that are unique to the programming profession

"Teach me how P2P works" is in no way a programming problem, even if they're writing P2P software at the time

share|improve this answer
I have added an edit to my point to clarify the situation. I hope you will read it and understand this angle. If 'matters that are unique to the programming profession' are valid, then I can assure you the 'global' P2P questions people ask are valid matters. – JVerstry Aug 17 '11 at 15:15

There's no problem with asking about a protocol as long as we aren't just discussing the protocol itself. For a question regarding p2p to be on topic, there must be some evidence of an actual implementation within the question. This is not at all specific to p2p.

If a question was posted by someone writing a torrent client asking why files weren't being written correctly, I would suspect that the most awesome answer would point out not only problems with the code, but also flawed understanding of how bittorrent actually works on the part of the OP.

Without that kind of context, however, there's absolutely no difference between the types of questions you are discussing and a question asking about the mechanics of SMTP with no attempted implementation given.

share|improve this answer
there must be some evidence of an actual implementation or it must involve a specific algorithm... – Won't Aug 17 '11 at 12:08
@Tim I have put an edit to my question. With all due respect, your arguments tell me that you have not been deep in P2P matters. Which explains why you make your assumptions. Please read my edit. I hope you can keep an open mind. – JVerstry Aug 17 '11 at 15:09

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .