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There are some really terrible questions on SO, e.g. questions with titles that aren't questions, questions with titles that provide almost no info, etc., but yet the SO moderators continue to shutdown what are the most popular questions. The site itself clearly indicates which questions people find most valuable and yet those questions are invariably not ones that we 'should' be asking. Why? When will this insanity stop?

UPDATE – I appreciate the hard work that the moderators do, and I'm aware of the recent 'good subjective' exception that might be made for certain types of questions, but I have been frustrated by the sheer number of badly titled, badly written questions that I regularly have to sift thru to find useful info. And to compound my frustration, I'll occasionally stumble across a truly useful question containing lots of wonderful info that has been closed. Maybe I'm complaining about problems that have been fixed or mitigated but it certainly feels like some questions are being dismissed out of hand despite, or maybe even because of, their popularity.

An example of what I think is a good question that was closed is Hidden Features of C#? [closed] – this question isn't listed as one of the highest voted c# questions; I think this question is one of the "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face" where the 'problem' is along the lines of 'what else can I do with c#?'.

An examples of a bad question that I think was appropriately closed is What's your favorite "programmer" cartoon?.

[I did not intend to troll.]

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Link, or it didn't happen. –  Robert Harvey Jul 18 '12 at 16:31
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On another note, what are you asking, exactly? Why we close some popular questions? Because they are off-topic. If you want popularity, go to Yahoo Answers. You'll find out very quickly where popularity gets you. –  Robert Harvey Jul 18 '12 at 16:34
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Also: when you search for the link, don't forget that rules and norms change over time. So just because something was acceptable doesn't mean it is acceptable now. –  Joachim Sauer Jul 18 '12 at 16:36
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Related: blog.stackoverflow.com/2012/01/the-trouble-with-popularity. Note that moderators close a LOT of questions daily. A vast majority of them are the terrible ones you mention. –  Anna Lear Jul 18 '12 at 16:38
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Popular != valuable. –  Servy Jul 18 '12 at 17:08
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'Popular', according to the means by which the users can so indicate, does indicate 'valuable', at least to them! –  Kenny Evitt Jul 18 '12 at 18:13
    
It would really, really, really help to show all these questions you are seeing Kenny. –  phwd Jul 18 '12 at 18:21
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@phwd – I agree; I'll add more examples as I come across them. –  Kenny Evitt Jul 18 '12 at 18:50
    
@JoachimSauer – conversely, just because something was unacceptable doesn't mean that it's not acceptable now; some questions I was sure had been closed when I tried to find examples just now are not (currently) closed. –  Kenny Evitt Jul 18 '12 at 18:52
    
The Hidden Features questions were closed because they're...just...not questions. At all. Tutorials are great, but losing focus on what we're trying to be (Q&A) is extremely dangerous –  Ben Brocka Jul 18 '12 at 18:55
    
"but I have been frustrated by the sheer number of badly titled, badly written questions that I regularly have to sift thru" - You have no clue how many we sift through. You'd be overwhelmed. –  casperOne Jul 18 '12 at 21:07
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@casperOne – I think I can imagine how many you and others do sift thru. I've been reading other questions on this meta site today and I can see the internal debate regarding changes to the site intended to improve content quality and relieve moderator workload versus discouraging users both old and new from asking and answering questions with minimum friction. I'm still reeling from the downvotes [damn human psychology], but I appreciate the feedback from everyone. –  Kenny Evitt Jul 18 '12 at 21:11
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2 Answers

There are some really terrible questions on SO, e.g. questions with titles that aren't questions, questions with titles that provide almost no info, etc., but yet the SO moderators continue to shutdown what are the most popular questions.

I'm not sure what kind of dichotomy you were going for, but the SO mods don't have to choose one or the other -- they can happily close both, and they do. If you see an open question that should be closed, flag it as "it doesn't belong here", and choose the reason why. Saying "these terrible posts are still open, so we should leave those other posts open too" is backwards -- they should both be closed

The site itself clearly indicates which questions people find most valuable

That would be wonderful, but that's not what votes do -- they indicate which questions people find the most entertaining, or the most popular, which isn't even close to the same

When will this insanity stop?

Hopefully never. There are hundreds if not thousands of sites that let you post whatever you want, and it can be voted on at will, and that's fine for them. SO makes an attempt to actually keep things focused on solving user problems, no matter how much that might annoy some people who are used to those other sites

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A lot of the terrible questions, particularly the ones I was thinking-of, shouldn't be closed – they should be improved. And if votes don't indicate valuable, or if the moderators or site authorities feel the need to flout votes, why are they there? It's almost as if questions shouldn't be too popular. You're right that there are other sites that don't similarly restrict content, but that's not a satisfying argument in favor of the restrictions. –  Kenny Evitt Jul 18 '12 at 18:23
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@KennyEvitt Then improve them? Anyone can edit posts, you don't even need an account. Votes are there because they're supposed to indicate value, and in most cases they do, but the really highly voted posts (especially ones from 2008) tend to be voted that way because they were popular, funny, or got linked on Reddit, not because they're actually useful in solving specific problems –  Michael Mrozek Jul 18 '12 at 18:29
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– you're right, and maybe it just feels like traipsing thru a minefield because of the remaining 'ruins' of the early questions (and the sheer number of low-quality questions that are asked still). –  Kenny Evitt Jul 18 '12 at 18:48
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Yes, of course it indicates something.

Namely that it took a couple of years for the community to understand exactly how Stack Overflow is better than a social forum and how those "popular" questions actually detracted from that goodness.

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A+++++++++++++ Would read again XXXXXxxXXXXBenBrockaXXXXXxxxXXXX –  Ben Brocka Jul 18 '12 at 18:06
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