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This question with >12000 views from 2009 reads (in full!)

How to run a C program in DOS prompt

I want to run a C program in DOS prompt. Is it possible?

I'd flag it for "very low quality" in a second since the OP never answered the comments he got about clarifying his question; however I learned something from an answer which interpreted the question in a useful way, so I'm tempted to modify the question to fit that answer. However, that would render all other answers (which contain valid, but extremely basic information) not-an-answer.

What to do? Just leave it be, an example of a really bad question?


I like Adam's argument that all answers are helpful. I propose to leave a comment to the question though, referring to this meta post, along the lines

Note this question is too ambigous for a good question and would usually be deleted; but it has useful answers interpreting it in different ways, so people can still learn something here.

What do you think?

share|improve this question
Flag as Off Topic... – user7116 Feb 21 '12 at 22:23
The point is I'd like to keep that answer about TCC/CINT, because it is on-topic and usefull if someone asks "How can I compile and run a C source file from the command prompt as if it were an executable?" – Jonas Heidelberg Feb 21 '12 at 22:24
Would "how do I run a Perl script from MS-DOS?" be on topic? – user7116 Feb 21 '12 at 22:26
You send me running to the FAQ ;-)... I'd say both questions are rather weak SO questions, but they refer to "software tools commonly used by programmers" and "practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession", so IMHO yes. – Jonas Heidelberg Feb 21 '12 at 22:29
Judging from the votes vs. the view counts, there's a good opportunity there for somebody to reap mega-rep with a great answer. – mmyers Feb 21 '12 at 23:02
My bets are view counts are from non-logged-in users on that one (apart from traffic we are creating right now...) – Jonas Heidelberg Feb 21 '12 at 23:06
up vote 5 down vote accepted

I'm torn. Generally I'd say don't hesitate to close and delete poor questions and answers, but in this case, it's not just one good answer, they are all good answers for a very, basic, simple question.

A question a lot of people who aren't programmers have.

Each answer approaches it differently, and future visitors can learn enough about their problem to find the correct solution for them.

I think it should stay, as-is.

If anything, modify each answer so it becomes better and more canonical for its approach.

share|improve this answer
Agree - it has 12K Views - lots and lots of web traffic are coming to this question - LEAVE IT – Adam Rackis Feb 21 '12 at 22:35

Why do anything? The usual problem with bad questions is the bad answers they attract; since this got a good one, that's no longer a worry.

share|improve this answer
Broken window theory: bad questions (esp. with high viewcounts) can also help attract more bad questions, don't you think? – Jonas Heidelberg Feb 21 '12 at 22:47
@Jonas: I worry more about that when it comes to types of questions. GTKY, shopping, etc. In this case, the question is "bad" because it's very simple, and somewhat ambiguous: that tends to make answering more difficult (and increases the likelihood of poor answers being posted), but it's not so much of a "here's how you do it" example as is, say, "What's your favorite C# snippet?" – Shog9 Feb 21 '12 at 22:53
Okay, point taken. Over and out on this topic ;-) – Jonas Heidelberg Feb 21 '12 at 22:56

If you see a bad question with a good answer,

  edit the question

to make it easier for people who would benefit from the answer to find that answer.

With a recent question, you should not make changes other than presentation (formatting, grammar, clarifications), out of respect for the asker. If the question should be closed if it remains in its present state, you can be more liberal in your edits in order to salvage the question.

If the question is old and abandonned, you have more latitude in changing it so that it can still be useful to future visitors. Your guideline is then to ensure that the answers will remain relevant.

If some of the answers are not really relevant to the site at large, it may be ok to invalidate them, but err on the side of caution. For example, in the specific case you mention, some answerers have interpreted the question as “how do I run a program at a command line prompt”; that would be off-topic on Stack Overflow. “I have a C program intended for DOS, how do I run it under Windows?” is a question about programmer tools, and therefore it is on-topic for Stack Overflow (if marginal). It's ok to edit the question in a way that rules out the first interpretation, and then delete the answers that no longer apply (that would not be ok if the first interpretation had been on-topic).

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