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I have been using Subversion for a while, but am seeing all my colleagues switch to (or advocate) GIT. So I googled to find some info on the differences.

In the top ten results was this SO thread...

Why is Git better than Subversion?

It was closed as off topic. But, of all the Google results I received, that SO post was the most objective and informative. This because it was written by multiple authors and allowed point/counterpoint. Additionally it had the collective brain power of several dozen of SO's resident geniuses behind it.

I wanted to know more about why it was off topic. I looked at the FAQ. In the FAQ one of the criteria was "software tools commonly used by programmers". Well, is this not a question about exactly that? Software tools commonly used by programmers?

I agree that if a software tool comparison question is asked more than once, it should be closed as a duplicate. But software tool comparison questions are not off topic according to the FAQ and should not be closed. More than that, we will lose access to useful/valuable/above-average information if we do.

EDIT: Sorry I mis-spoke. It was locked not closed. But only because it was historically significant. However, had it been a new question, I assume the moderator would have closed it as off topic.

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It's not closed, it's locked. –  Anish Gupta Aug 24 '12 at 9:11
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@AnishGupta It has a historical lock. Which is a pretty good indication that such questions are no longer considered appropriate for SO. –  Bart Aug 24 '12 at 9:13
    
@Bart Yes, but it is not technically closed. –  Anish Gupta Aug 24 '12 at 9:13
    
@AnishGupta Then let me phrase it like this: Should it be unlocked then it would be pretty much closed as "not constructive". So given that no new answers are possible at the moment, for all intents and purposes it's closed. –  Bart Aug 24 '12 at 9:14
    
@AnishGupta: In the notes in the lock it says it is off topic. That is what I disagree with. –  John Fitzpatrick Aug 24 '12 at 9:15
    
@Bart True I didn't mean my comment to be like that. –  Anish Gupta Aug 24 '12 at 9:16
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@JohnFitzpatrick A question like this is off-topic most likely in the sense that it's not-constructive. Most "better than" questions fall under that header: "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. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, see the FAQ for guidance." –  Bart Aug 24 '12 at 9:17
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@Bart, then what does the FAQ criteria "software tools commonly used by programmers" mean? The post in question was heavily laden with facts, references and specific expertise. It is quite clearly on topic by the criteria as I read it. Yes, there may be debate, but that can happen in questions on ways to solve programming issues too. If one simply means to disallow debate in SO, then you would probably close 75% of the posts on SO. –  John Fitzpatrick Aug 24 '12 at 9:20
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"software tools commonly used by programmers" could easily be "how do I enable X in Visual Studio". That does not necessarily allow "What is better; Qt Creator or Visual Studio?" Sure, any question could end up in debate. X vs. Y almost certainly ends up in debate. –  Bart Aug 24 '12 at 9:23
    
@Bart: Yes, agreed. But again, is debate not allowed on SO? Debate happens in many legitimate posts as well. Chatty and open ended, sure, I understand wanting to limit that. But the moderators could for example allow one (and only one) X vs Y post to live and close all others. It really wouldn't diminish SO's quality at all, and would not really be flagrantly violating the FAQ. –  John Fitzpatrick Aug 24 '12 at 9:28
    
There are other sites in the network where you could ask that question, programmers for example. There is already a related question: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/111633/… –  Polygnome Aug 24 '12 at 9:37
    
@Polygnome: OK, I can live with that. As long as somewhere in the StackExchange universe there is a place for these questions. Thanks. I suggest you post that as an answer and I will accept it. –  John Fitzpatrick Aug 24 '12 at 9:50
    
@JohnFitzpatrick Debate happens. But explicitly asking for debate is generally now allowed, no. Allowing one such post per topic sounds good in theory. But which one is it? The first one? The first one which does not creep into off-topic-ness? How do we determine it's still constructive. Keeping up the quality of any of those is difficult if not impossible. The whole reason for the historical lock is there to say "Hey, we realize the value in this content. We won't take it away from you. But please don't have discussions like this anymore". –  Bart Aug 24 '12 at 10:08
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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

The answer does not really fit the Q&A format as used on SO, as the previous answers have pointed out.

There are other sites on the SE network where such question might be asked. A similar (but not equal) question has already been asked on Programmers (see What does SVN do better than git?).

However, even programmers does not accept "Why is technology X better then Y" kind of questions. But questions in the sense of "What are the differences between technology X and Y". or "What advantage has X over Y and vice-versa" are perfectly valid. So asking "What are the differences of SVN and GIT" and asking about advantages / disadvantages of both should be perfectly valid.

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I agree. Further, the words "better" and "worse", and maybe even "good" and "bad", should be removed from all SO posts. Facts only, please. –  John Fitzpatrick Aug 24 '12 at 10:44
    
I'm afraid you have the wrong idea about what's acceptable on Programmers, broad technology comparisons are explicitly off topic. –  Yannis Sep 30 '13 at 22:44
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Excerpt from the FAQ:

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ___”, then you should not be asking here. However, if your motivation is “I would like others to explain _ to me”, then you are probably OK. (Discussions are of course welcome in our real time web chat.)

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
it is a rant disguised as a question: “______ sucks, am I right?”

Emphases are mine and I want them back once you're done.

Additionally, shopping questions ("What tools should I use?") are off-topic, too. Comparisons are off-topic, too...because they're not constructive. "What's the difference between X and Y?" is a pretty mix out of all these reasons.

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Well, ok, a tool comparison question will be chatty and open ended. But I don't think they match the other two bold sections in your excerpt. OK, fine. But to be honest, that post was a treasure trove of detailed and specific information that helps me proceed with my decision for GIT or SVN. It would have been a crime to have killed it in its infancy. –  John Fitzpatrick Aug 24 '12 at 9:25
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I think where we differ is that I don't consider a comparison of Tool A vs Tool B as subjective. As a matter of fact, the post I sited is full of concrete information on both products. Yes, which is "better" is a subjective decision. But a comparison of the two is not. If I were the moderator I would edit the title to be "Technical comparison of X and Y", replace the word "better" with "different" anywhere it appears in the post, and then close every other post that comes along with the same topic. –  John Fitzpatrick Aug 24 '12 at 9:49
    
Wait, I just picked up on something else, the "constructive" vs "non-constructive" thing. Constructive is "constructing or tending to construct" (among other things but that's the first definition offered). In this case the post helped me construct an informed decision on which source control tool I should be using. Ok, maybe that's stretching it a bit. Anyway I saw in another comment that "programmers" is where to ask such things without them being closed. I will use that. From now on I will only ask questions that start with "How do I..." in SO. :) –  John Fitzpatrick Aug 24 '12 at 10:07
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@JohnFitzpatrick Perhaps look or ask in the Programmers SE Meta first to see if such a question is on-topic there. Maybe it's already listed in their FAQ. –  Bart Aug 24 '12 at 10:11
    
@Bart: That's exactly what I'll do! Thanks. Just waiting for someone to post that as an answer so I can accept it... –  John Fitzpatrick Aug 24 '12 at 10:13
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