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Should the following questions (and similar ones) be flagged as "not constructive"?

Actually I flagged these two today and the first flag was declined with a message "a moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it", and the second one has been disputed. Do these questions really fit current SO format?


Based on answers received I'd like also to ask you, maybe it would be better to migrate those two questions to programmers.SE, rather than closing them?

As I can see people tends to find such kind of questions constructive most of the time, but I still have doubts they should be posted exactly on the SO. Can someone of the regular programmers.SE users (or even better moderators) suggest me about that? (and yes, I read Choosing between Stack Overflow and Programmers Stack Exchange).

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

(UPDATE: It appears that the question has been amended from merely whether something should be flagged as non-constructive to include whether it should be eligible for migration. The answer below addressed the original question only.)

Much depends on how the question is framed rather than what is really be asked at its heart.

For example, ignoring the "does this question show research" issue, this is probably OK for Stack Overflow:

I don't understand why I would use a Boolean variable instead of just assigning an integer value of 0 or 1 and just using that. When and how should I use a Boolean variable instead?

In contrast, this is not:

Boolean variables are just stupid. They are pointless. Is it OK for me to punch people in the face when they tell me I should use a Boolean variable?

Now, forget Boolean and integer variables, and instead insert something like ThreadLocal variables, and you kind of have the situation you're describing.

It's important to note that it may be better to edit that last type of question to make it more like the first rather than closing it.

Then again, it's probably better to close it than to leave it alone.

So, to answer your question: Yes, questions like those are sometimes eligible for the not constructive flag. But not always. Like a lot of things in life, it depends on context etc. and not everyone will agree all the time on it. And that's OK.

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Shouldn't the question like I don't understand why I would use a Boolean variable instead of just assigning an integer... be posted/migrated to Programmers instead? – Idolon Nov 24 '11 at 10:07
@Idolon: Yes, but that wasn't the question that was being asked when this answer was posted. The questions has been amended significantly since then. Anyway, I think the sample questions could have just as well been about baking or skiing as programming, as I think the issues apply to pretty much most or all Stack Exchange sites and not just Stack Overflow. – Trott Nov 24 '11 at 13:18
Sure, it wasn't :) Maybe I should post a new question rather than updating this one. Anyway, you provided a nice answer to the original question, thanks. – Idolon Nov 24 '11 at 13:40
Oops, didn't even notice that you were the original poster. Sorry about that. Anyway, yes, in those cases, migrating to Programmers is probably totally the right thing (in my opinion, anyway). – Trott Nov 24 '11 at 13:42

I believe that posting slightly subjective questions is fine as long as it's clearly defined in scope and not ambiguous. In order to learn best practices you need to consult people who know not just what is the correct way to do things but also why. It's a very hard thing to find this answer by googling around, and SO provides a place where you have a heap of experience and knowledge to dive into. I think it would be a great shame if questions had to be based entirely on code-based questions and not allow general development questions.

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Answering your updated question:

If something is not constructive on Stack Overflow because (as the close reason states) it is:

... not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

(my bold)

then it's likely to be not constructive on Programmers either for exactly the same reasons. It's a rare question that asks what you identify that's not going to do this.

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Thanks for the answer, I see your point. What about those 2 SO questions I linked to? Would you migrate them or leave as is? – Idolon Nov 24 '11 at 11:53
@Idolon I'd leave them where they are because they are old questions that have accepted answers. – ChrisF Nov 24 '11 at 11:56
Got it. Thanks. – Idolon Nov 24 '11 at 12:02

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