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I admit I hardly understand animosity against certain type of questions, like this one: Video tutorials to learn R programming language. The argument was that the answer will be subjective. I find asking for a good manual/tutorial is legitimate and useful. How is closing that question useful to the community?

Do you know what is the most upvoted question ever? List of freely available programming books!

Exactly the same type of question, isn't it? Will we close it?

You can see that the most valuable, most community-appreciated questions/answers here are subjective! Moreover, I'd say, almost every programming question is subjective - there are often many ways how to achieve something and depends on the preference of asker. Also in programming, many times you want a few tips instead of exactly one fitting solution.

I believe we should attenuate our animosity against some types of subjective questions - which is anyway highly inconsistent.

EDIT: all of you responded with this:

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here.

My response: I see - but isn't it ironic, that its the most appreciated and favourited question ever? Then its becoming more and more clear that the FAQ ignores the community value. Then the FAQ is not something which the community profits from, but artificial document made by some theoretically "QA-thinking" people, ignoring what the community really profits from. When it's fighting most valuated questions ever, then something must be wrong here.

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I agree that there should be some place for "list of X" questions. They can be invaluable to give a newbie a "market overview" in a field - what tools do people use? What products exist for this and that task? What books are considered must-reads by experts in the field? I however also agree that they have no place on SO proper, nor programming.SE. I don't know what needs to be done here –  Pëkka Oct 14 '11 at 9:24
    
@Pekka, that's wrong I think. Why we want to push these things OUT of SO? It's our programming website! Don't over-clean it, it will be sterile. The SO users clearly appreciate these questions! I find this type of thinking little theoretic and contra-community. –  Tomas Oct 14 '11 at 9:38
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@Pekka: I think the tag-wikis can be partly used for that. –  Time Traveling Bobby Oct 14 '11 at 9:43
    
@Padded true, but Tag Wikis lack the dynamic and ease that a "list of X" question has - because it has so many contributors, such a question can become a valuable and relevant resource within 30 minutes.... –  Pëkka Oct 14 '11 at 10:19
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This has been asked over and over. Re-asking it doesn't change the fact that the decision was already made. You don't have any new or different arguments. –  agf Oct 14 '11 at 14:23

3 Answers 3

Here we go...

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I see - but isn't it ironic, that its the most appreciated and favourited question ever? Then its becoming more and more clear that the FAQ ignores the community value. Then the FAQ is not something which the community profits from, but artificial document made by some theoretically "QA-thinking" people, ignoring what the community really profits from. When it's fighting most valuated questions ever, then something must be wrong here. –  Tomas Oct 14 '11 at 9:22
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What the community wants != What's best for the community != What's best for Stack Exchange. There's also a pretty big portion of people which would love to be allowed again to post LMGTFY links, or ask Plz give me the codez questions, or abuse the community as cheap search-machine, or or or... I always wonder why people forget that, after all, Stack Exchange is private property, only the content is community property. The people in charge decided to keep it a streamlined Q&A website, you're free to suggest something different, but a big part of the community agrees with that none the less. –  Time Traveling Bobby Oct 14 '11 at 9:39
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I don't think the examples you've sketched are really wanted by majority of the community. But if you look at number of votes on these questions, I think it's clear what the majority of the community appreciates. That is being ignored and that's not correct. –  Tomas Oct 14 '11 at 9:50
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@Tomas Are you sure you're using the correct tense when you use the word appreciates? The question was asked 3 years ago, so isn't it possible that a lot of people voted it up at the time and then might have changed their mind since then? And I'd also disagree with your use of the word majority, it's been viewed almost 300k times, so less than 1% of those viewings ended up with a up vote. Or there's about 190k users that can vote up, so only about 1.2% of them have done so. –  ho1 Oct 14 '11 at 12:17

Aaaaand here we go again. When the proposal "shall we keep the old questions?" was being discussed, many moons ago, this was my opinion:

Delete them, because people will point at them and say "well those aren't closed, why did you close mine?"

Alas, the opinion that prevailed was that adding a disclaimer was sufficient, and why would anyone ever do that, and that we're too emotionally attached to the questions from the Olden Days. Hence, the disclaimer in each such subjective page says:

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here.

As you can see, it's not very effective.


As per the edit: the FAQ is not something that Jeff Atwood has brought down from Mount Sinai, where he had received it from On High. It is a result of multiple years of community discussion (here on Meta, of all places) - especially the part starting with "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." The matter of subjective questions has been discussed to death and back, and the overall result still is "nope, not useful here". As for popularity - "popular" doesn't automatically equal "good" or "useful"; one of the highest-voted questions (now deleted) was a list of jokes.

This is a site for "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face" - this is in the FAQ because this is SO's de-facto mission statement, not the other way around; if I wanted a list of "what's your favorite X (when programming)" or "jokes about X (programmatically)" or "what's the best boat (for programming)", I'd go to Facebook.

Note also the related questions here on Meta (linked in the right-side bar) and the discussion therein; it seems this exact question has been asked every few months since the site's inception, and the overall response has been the same: this is not a site for lists or subjective questions.

For some historical (and not-so-historical) perspective (as those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it), see also the SO blog; selected in descending chronological order:
http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/01/real-questions-have-answers/
http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/12/introducing-programmers-stackexchange-com/
http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective/
http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/01/stack-overflow-where-we-hate-fun/
http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/04/the-stack-overflow-question-lifecycle/
http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/01/adventures-in-delclusionism/
http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2008/10/a-question-about-questions/

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Many moos ago... you use steaks as time measurement? This is awesome! –  Time Traveling Bobby Oct 14 '11 at 9:21
    
I don't think this is the issue. The OP is questioning the reasons that led to this - he is not saying "why can't we have that kind of question any more"? –  Pëkka Oct 14 '11 at 9:22
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@Padded Cell: I do, but that was not my intention this time around ;) –  Piskvor Oct 14 '11 at 9:22
    
@Pekka: It's a part of the issue. Quote: Exactly the same type of question, isn't it? Will we close it? –  Piskvor Oct 14 '11 at 9:23
    
guys, I updated my question to reflect your answers. I see the problem not in the disclaimer, but in our animosity against this type of questions!!! –  Tomas Oct 14 '11 at 9:27

Do you know what is the most upvoted question ever? List of freely available programming books!

Exactly the same type of question, isn't it? Will we close it?

You bet! The question itself says in the lock reason:

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here.

Emphasis added.

At some point, SO decided that these open-ended poll questions aren't suitable. Yes, requests for resources and attempts to put together lists of resources are varieties of polls. In fact, the following wording can be found in the "Not Constructive" close reason:

We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

Again, emphasis added.

Your question was: do we really want to automatically close every “subjective” question - like asking for resources? Given the loud and clear close reasons and lock reasons supported by both SE employees, the non-employee moderators and the community at large, the answer is a resounding yes.

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Charles, I updated my question and responded to your answer. Thanks. "At some point, SO decided..." - yes - that's the core of the problem! "SO" (i.e. some few people) decided despite what the community clearly appreciated! Then I believe something is really rotten here. –  Tomas Oct 14 '11 at 9:31
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@Tomas: "SO" is more than a couple of people running a server somewhere. I'm SO too, as is everyone here. And i'd vote to close the "list of programming books" question if it weren't locked. The fact that it has lots of upvotes doesn't make it on topic, not subjective, etc -- hell, i've upvoted and voted to close the same question, because something can be a good question and still not be a good fit for the site. –  cHao Oct 14 '11 at 9:39
    
@cHao, then you are highly inconsistent I believe. You want to say that good programming related question is not a good fit for the site? That sounds schizofrenic. –  Tomas Oct 14 '11 at 9:46
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@Tomas: I believe it's quite consistent. I don't upvote because i believe it belongs here. I upvote because i like the question, regardless of whether it belongs. My close/reopen vote (or lack thereof) is my decision about whether the question belongs, regardless of whether i like it. The two votes are not related. –  cHao Oct 14 '11 at 9:55
    
@cHao: so we don't want good questions being asked here? –  Tomas Oct 14 '11 at 9:57
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@Tomas: Not all good questions, no. There are pretty clear guidelines on what does and doesn't belong on SO. Above all, the question should have a clear answer (that is, list/poll questions don't belong). The ones that don't belong, can and should be asked elsewhere, especially if they're good -- but on SO, they will almost certainly be closed. –  cHao Oct 14 '11 at 10:00

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