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As new versions or specifications of new technologies come up, especially Web technologies, questions start arising about the amount of general support for those technologies. Sometimes these questions can come up long before the technologies are finalized or released, and often these questions can come up repeatedly.

I'm doubting the usefulness of these questions, considering they're about the general support for pre-release technologies and they may very well become obsolete as the technologies get closer to release.

Case in point

The FPWD (first public working draft) of Selectors level 4 appeared about a year ago as of this question, being the first CSS level 4 draft to do so. As it's a FPWD, there are almost no implementations. Any existing implementations are likely either features that were first proposed by vendors then implemented prefix-less before being added to the spec, or features that were going to be in previous specs and partially implemented — before being deferred to a future spec.

Anyway, since the Selectors 4 FPWD showed up, it has been updated twice (it was just updated over a week ago). But also, the following questions about browser support started popping up:

(Some of these were deleted, you may need 10k rep to see them all.)

(Oh and this question, apparently about an upcoming CSS feature that was added to the editor's draft very early in writing, was asked on Aug 28 '11 before the first working draft was even published)

Are these questions ever constructive at all? I remember flagging the first one as too localized and Bill the Lizard came over to help close it. Now as to which close reason is more fitting for questions like these is up for debate, and I do know that deleting them will only cause them to pop up again and again as evident above, but is there any usefulness to letting them stay open at all? There is nothing subjective or argumentative about these questions, but they're incredibly time-sensitive.

Of course, I'm not really a deletionist myself; I'm all for finding a way to write such a question that would be useful for the community and for readers, while at the same time being appropriate for the Stack Exchange format. However, I'm pretty sure a question that basically asks "Does X support Y yet?" and follow-up questions that are basically "How about now?" aren't very good for the Stack Exchange format.

What do you think?

OK, this question has just come up again:

So, I've closed this question, but without deleting it, as I think having a question visibly closed serves as an indicator to users that such a question has already been asked, and decided to be unsuitable for our format, and so shouldn't be asked again. Immediately deleting this question every time it comes up is only going to send future askers — the ones who bother to search first, anyway — the message that it somehow hasn't been asked before, since they won't be able to see deleted questions. Those who proceed to ask anyway can simply be redirected to this via exact-duplicate close votes.


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The only problem's that they need to be kept up to date... somehow. That probably isn't enough to close them. That said I'm not sure they belong to Stack Overflow's topic in the first place... –  badp Sep 2 '12 at 9:46
The titles you gave as an example ring the "Too localized" bell loud and clear. "Yet" and "Today" demand constant updates and a question should not be allowed to exist if it solely depends on constant updates... –  Lix Sep 2 '12 at 10:23
Seems akin to asking questions about pre-alpha video games on Gaming, no? If you are honestly using this (game|specification) at this point in time you should/have to actually ask the people actively developing it in most cases, otherwise it's not constructive guesswork and speculation. Hell, even the spec writers can only speculate as to the final version. That's the definition of Draft, and unlike late HTML5 drafts there aren't implementations to speak of. –  Ben Brocka Sep 2 '12 at 17:59
Plot twist: CSS4 never existed. As to whether a css4 tag should be allowed to exist will probably be up for another meta question. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Sep 7 '12 at 8:13

1 Answer 1

It depends on what exactly is being asked. In all of the questions you've referenced, they basically ask about what will happen in the future. Given that you'd have to be a member of the draft committee to answer (which most of us on Stack Overflow are not), it's pure speculation that is not constructive, and therefore should be closed as that.

If it's about something that's currently implemented, but a bug in the implementation, then it would be closed as too localized, as it's about a specific point in time. The same would go for pre-release support for drafts of the specification (before it was baked). All of these things are specific to a very specific window of time, and won't be of any use when those things are addressed (there might be a handful that are useful because of the way a spec might evolve or support might change, but generally, no).

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