I had come up with what I thought was an interesting Python question ( Which line is chosen to be reported in exception ). Several people commented on the question (but it hadn't yet been answered), someone has answered a "consensus of the comments" (although I don't think this is actually their consensus).

The answerer then commented saying "the question should be closed as "non-constructive - As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion."

I am upset by this response. My question is well-formed and I don't think it leads itself to any of these things in answers. However, this particular answer is lacking (references, facts, etc.).

Surely a question should not be closed because it hasn't yet been answered well?

Note: I still have hope that I can answer it myself, and am in the process of detailing an example.

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The commenter quoted the standard message given when a question is closed as "Not Constructive". –  S.L. Barth Aug 17 '12 at 10:10
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In my opinion your question is a valid question that shouldn't be closed. However, the one answer you have so far is 'Not an answer' and should be flagged as such. –  vascowhite Aug 17 '12 at 10:33
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4 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

No, people should not vote to close questions because they don't know the answer. That is actively harmful.

Regardless the particular example cited, I don't see anything wrong with that question. It's certainly not subjective, so I don't see how it can be not constructive.

The fact that the answer isn't "it's line X" (pretending for a moment that it isn't; I don't really know if it is) doesn't make it any less of a valid question, and doesn't make an answer on that vein any less of a valid answer. But I do agree that an answer that uses the comment discussion as a reference is quite poor.

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+1 There must be a definite answer to the question. Even if the answer is "this behaviour is not defined in the language specification, so it is implementation dependent.". That would still be very useful information for people developing in that language –  MarkJ Aug 17 '12 at 11:08
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For what it's worth, the comment you've got is simply a straight copy and paste of the closure message for questions deemed "not constructive".

The problem with your question seems to be (as indicated by the "consensus" answer as well) that there is no authoritative answer to give and that it's all rather "implementation dependent".

Now you can have two views. Either you say "just because we don't have the authoritative answer yet, that doesn't mean this can't come along at some point". Or you can say "this answer is unlikely to come along any time soon and any answers you'll get in the mean time are guesses, discussions and not facts".

If you think the latter is the case, closing it as "not constructive" would be appropriate. But keep in mind that you'll need at least 5 users to think the same. (And as of this moment, nobody seems to have voted to close this question).

Also of note: in your title you said "Can an question be removed as not-constructive". The "Not-constructive" state is a closure reason. This does not imply that your question will be deleted. And closed questions are not dead. They can potentially be reopened after editing and with sufficient support.

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It should be easy enough to prove that this is implementation dependent, if you have two different Python systems that give different results. –  S.L. Barth Aug 17 '12 at 10:17
    
That at most proves that two implementations behave similarly. But anyway, that's besides the point of my answer. I'm not making a judgement, I'm only stating why I feel "not constructive" might be a valid closure reason given the situation presented. –  Bart Aug 17 '12 at 10:18
    
@S.L.Barth definitely, I don't think that "solicits debate", but is easily demonstrateable that two implementation differ. It's good to know that 5 users need to think the same, rather than one person. –  hayd Aug 17 '12 at 10:21
    
Also, you say "Can a question be removed as not constructive"... "Not-constructive" is a closure reason. That does not necessarily imply that the question will be removed. Nor that it can't be reopened. –  Bart Aug 17 '12 at 10:22
    
Corrected, thanks. I am just about to answer the question myself. :) –  hayd Aug 17 '12 at 10:34
    
@haydoni Wonderful, well done. :) –  Bart Aug 17 '12 at 11:16
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Can a question be closed because it hasn't been answered yet?

No, not having an answer is not a reason for closing a question. I believe that after a certain period questions without upvotes and no upvoted answers are automatically removed (maybe somebody can confirm this), but it doesn't look like that will be a problem for you.

Your question isn't 24 hours old yet, there is plenty of time for more answers to roll in, be patient. The comment that prompted you to post this question in meta should be taken with a pinch of salt, there are no close votes on your question. There may be a flag, but I'm sure that in this case it would be dismissed as invalid.

You have asked a good, clear question that is hard to answer, I wish there were more like it on SO.

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I believe it should be kept open. It is possible that we may have an answer after some time, for example, when a new update to a language or software becomes available.

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One of the reasons to close such questions is that the answers easily change over time, and by individual circumstances. –  Martijn Pieters Aug 17 '12 at 10:15
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@MartijnPieters isn't that a reason to keep the question open but edit the answers when they change? I thought that was one of the great things about StackExchange vs. yahoo questions etc. :) –  hayd Aug 17 '12 at 10:17
    
@MartijnPieters Exactly which questions on StackOverflow have answers that do not change easily over time? With a major new version of a programming language, runtime, framework, operating system, HTML spec...? Software development changes constantly. –  MarkJ Aug 17 '12 at 11:06
    
@haydoni: I'm speaking in relative terms here; subjective vs. constructive isn't separated by a nice black line in the sand either. –  Martijn Pieters Aug 17 '12 at 11:53
    
@MarkJ: See my comment above. –  Martijn Pieters Aug 17 '12 at 11:53
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