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This is an edit of the initial question, since I found the actual "question" (here).

I understand the "Best of" questions are not very welcome here on SO. And I didn't commit any of these recently.

Actually, where I'm surprised is that

  1. the question long lived before being removed
  2. it was pretty popular
  3. it was actually a "constructive" question, providing info about most of popular PHP IDEs, and offering answers / discussions about them.
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There appears to be no PHP + IDE question of yours on StackOverflow, so there's a possibility it was deleted. Could it have been on another site? How long ago did you post it? – Yannis Jan 14 '12 at 7:14
"The Best PHP Smart IDE" sounds very subjective, so my guess is it was closed as not constructive and inevitably deleted. – animuson Jan 14 '12 at 7:22
Ok I found it via a google search, that says the question was deleted. Why? It was alive for a long time, and was popular. – ringø Jan 14 '12 at 7:25
ring0 Only 10K+ users and moderators can see the question and comment on why it might have been deleted. Please update your meta question appropriately now that you found your question. My guess is the same as @animuson, "what is the best of anything" doesn't really fit the QA format. Most of these types of questions tend to be extremely popular just because everyone puts their favourite as an answer, but that's not really constructive. – Yannis Jan 14 '12 at 7:28
I would not call 280 views and 5 answers "popular." Regardless, the question is very subjective. "Best" is dictionary-level subjective. "Discussion" isn't what SO is for. While I disagree with the deletion, it most certainly should have been closed as "not constructive." – Charles Jan 14 '12 at 7:33
Edited. I hope someone with a (10^4)+ user can have a look. – ringø Jan 14 '12 at 7:33
Have a look at what? What exactly is your question? @Charles pretty much summed it up, and you said yourself that you know these kinds of questions aren't a good fit for our Q&A system. – balpha Jan 14 '12 at 7:39
@balpha Actually when I rewrote the Q and comment, I didn't see Charles' answer. Ok, so... can I expect any upvote here, or should I better delete this question as well :-) – ringø Jan 14 '12 at 7:39
@ring0 If you're in it for the up votes, you're doing it wrong... – Yannis Jan 14 '12 at 7:41
@Zaphod This is why there is a smiley... No I'm not here for the upvotes. But you're here for the down votes seemingly :-) – ringø Jan 14 '12 at 7:44
@Jeremy thanks - I wanted to have a look at my previous comments on the PHP IDEs. – ringø Jan 14 '12 at 7:45
@ring0 Ah, then here's something better: Two hidden comments missing, but the rest is there. – Jeremy Banks Jan 14 '12 at 7:48
@Jeremy you're a magician :-) Wow, the Q had 4+ up votes! (+ because if I remember correctly, some ZendStudio haters down voted - this is why I wanted to edit the Q, ZS is not the best anymore IMO!). Jeff Atwood himself deleted the question! What's that site btw? – ringø Jan 14 '12 at 7:53
In regards to the deletion of popular questions, this, this, and this seem relevant. – Jason Plank Jan 14 '12 at 11:39
@ring0 is a site used to share/edit JavaScript and HTML snippets. I entered the content of that page as an HTML snippet; it seemed like the easiest way to share it. – Jeremy Banks Jan 14 '12 at 21:23

There might be a good question in there after all. You evaluated some of the suggestions and updated the question accordingly.

The trick is: You should have done all that before asking.

All the popular PHP IDEs are easily found with a simple web search. The commercial ones have freely available scaled down and / or trial versions. The effort required to evaluate them is not something you cared to skip, either way, as I'm guessing you wouldn't blindly follow what some random dude wrote on the internet.

Let's say for example that you evaluated Zend Studio, Eclipse PDT, PHPStorm, Aptana, Emacs and NetBeans and you settled on PHPStorm, whose commercial license currently costs $199. It's understandable that you might want to ask before paying that, so such a question would probably be fine, because:

  1. You have done a fair amount of effort,
  2. By presenting the reasons why each solution doesn't fit, you've given us a very good idea of the specific parameters of the question,
  3. Your question is actually practical and answerable, based on an actual problem that you face.
  4. You are not asking for a generic list of bests, but for the best for you, having clearly outlined what that means.
  5. A good answer to this question requires expertise, whereas the answers you got may or may not be the result of a simple web search for PHP IDE...

Simple, isn't it? I know that would lead to a different question, but the point is that it would be a question that would help you solve the same problem, choosing a PHP IDE.

As for your specific points:

the question long lived before being removed

System failure. It might have survived long, but that doesn't mean by default that it was a good one, it might also mean that the community didn't do a very good work cleaning up...

it was pretty popular

Although I agree with Charles that it really wasn't, even if it was, so what? Popularity alone not a good question makes. I've just had a popular answer deleted, for good reason. It was a joke answer, people up voted it just because it was funny (and on a Friday), should I nag the mod that deleted it?

it was actually a "constructive" question, providing info about most of popular PHP IDEs, and offering answers / discussions about them.

Not constructive is Stack Exchange lingo, questions that lead to discussions are not constructive, plain and simple. Your question, albeit bad in Stack Exchange terms, is possibly constructive and interesting in real life.

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Oh, and Eclipse PDT is the best PHP IDE... – Yannis Jan 14 '12 at 8:04
Try PhpStorm!!! – ringø Jan 19 '13 at 11:15
@ring0 Ha! PhpStorm 5.0 was my Christmas gift to myself ;) – Yannis Jan 19 '13 at 11:44

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