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For instance, I would like to list all the scenarios in which the JavaScript interpreter produces an undefined value. I already have a bunch of items in this list. For example:

  • a variable that has not been initialized evaluates to undefined

    var x;
    x // => undefined
  • a function invocation evaluates to undefined if the invocation doesn't explicitly return a value

    var fn = function () {
        // no return statement here
    var retval = fn();
    retval // => undefined

... and a couple more.

However, I am only one person, and while I consider myself an advanced JavaScript programmer, I still don't doubt that the list would be quite more accurate and complete if it were collectively compiled on SO. I also don't doubt that the resident JavaScript programmers on SO (well, at least some of them) would gladly provide information to such a thread.

So, I was thinking about opening a new thread, and placing the list (in its current state) in the question. Then, others could provide new items via answers, and I would update the list in my question appropriately. Others could also edit the list in my question directly - I wouldn't mind. Also, reputation would not be relevant in this thread - I would just like to have the complete list on SO, as a end-result.

How about it? May I do this?

share|improve this question
So the aim is for this to be near unending? – random Sep 9 '12 at 14:02
This was actually already played with a few times:…… In this case the motivator for creating those two questions was that symbols were hard to search for. There's been a lot of controversy around them, though, given that they're essentially inexhaustible list questions with no single correct answer. You can see this in the JS question, being newer, having gained far less traction and more controversy than the PHP one. – BoltClock's a Unicorn Sep 9 '12 at 14:03
If you don't mind your question being closed, then probably OK. You can self-answer your question, give a good starting point and ask everyone to edit. – nhahtdh Sep 9 '12 at 14:03
@random The aim is to collectively produce a list. Such a list might not be 100% complete, but would still be a better result than what each of us are able to create on our owns. So, even though it would be unending, it would be a great resource. – Šime Vidas Sep 9 '12 at 14:06
@BoltClock'saUnicorn Well, not really. JavaScript (and PHP, too, I presume) provide a finite number of punctuators. So, while the "no single correct answer" point holds, those lists (and also, the list in my case) can be completed. – Šime Vidas Sep 9 '12 at 14:15
I can not imagine not voting to close and then delete such a question. – Andrew Barber Sep 9 '12 at 14:30

I would like to list all the scenarios in which the JavaScript interpreter produces an undefined value.

No. This is a poll question, which is expressly forbidden. Each answer will not be an answer; it will be part of the answer. And that's not what we do here.

Also, SO is a Q&A site. We don't have "threads"; we have questions, which get answers. We're not a forum.

share|improve this answer
I can say from experience that the SO JavaScript experts form an exceptional community, here on SO. The way I see it, it's a great pity that such a group is not able to collectively produce great content in a manner described in my question. – Šime Vidas Sep 9 '12 at 15:17
@ŠimeVidas: And the reason we have such an "exceptional community" is precisely because we don't allow these kinds of questions. The minute you start opening the door to this stuff is when SO loses what makes it special: the fact that we focus on real questions with actual answers. – Nicol Bolas Sep 9 '12 at 15:26
Again, it's a pity. If SE provided the platform for it, the SO top-users could collaboratively create exceptional content that doesn't exist anywhere else on the web. Also, I think that this content could exist on the current platform, if the SE management recognized its status. – Šime Vidas Sep 9 '12 at 18:26
@ŠimeVidas - It's been tried before, and it didn't work out very well. I'm also not sure how valuable such a question would be because it doesn't solve a specific problem. The last thing I want to do as a person searching for a solution is search a really long list to try to find my answer. 95% of the time when I click an SO link, the answer to my problem is right at the top of the page. Take a look at my suggestion below, I still think you can solve this problem and get input from top users in the JavaScript tag. – jmort253 Sep 9 '12 at 18:28
@jmort253 Unfortunately, not all top-users do chat. However, the JS room still is pretty lively, so it's doable. – Šime Vidas Sep 9 '12 at 18:45

While it's true that such a list would not fit the goals of the Stack Overflow engine, as list and polls are not constructive, there's nothing stopping you from putting up such a list on your own server or a third-party wiki and then using the SE Chat to get more input from the community.

Chat on Stack Overflow is a very powerful tool, and the rules for what one can do are highly relaxed in chat.

Once you have put such a list together, that link could be used as a reference link in answers to questions where the problem is an undefined variable. Just be sure the link isn't the only part of the answer, as there should be a summary as well or an example of how to fix the problem in the actual body of the answer, just in case the link were to ever break.

You could also add that linked resource in the JavaScript Tag Wiki, which would be a great place to keep the link.

With that said, Nicol is absolutely right. These types of questions were overlooked in the early days, and they resulted in too much noise to actually be valuable on this platform. That's not to say such a list wouldn't be valuable, it's just that Stack Overflow was not built to handle this type of material. Hope this helps solve your dilemma! I'm looking forward to seeing if this works for you.

share|improve this answer
That would work, but it wouldn't be nearly as effective as creating a real SO question (which is why I'm attracted to SO, in the first place). What I'd like to see is, that the SE platform be a bit more flexible in regard to this kind of content. For instance, I'm a high-rep user, and I also have a JavaScript gold badge. Those two things should ensure that the JS-related list-question I would create, would not be noise. One could even further restrict it to one such list-type question per month, for instance. – Šime Vidas Sep 9 '12 at 18:43
It's not that it would be noise because we don't trust you or because you don't have enough rep, but because lists tend to get long, which means that if I'm looking for a specific solution to a problem I'm facing, I have a lot of stuff to look through that's just irrelevant noise to me. It doesn't solve my problem. In fact, what you're proposing isn't a problem at all, but a list. There is more information on the blog post Real Questions Have Answers. If you try the chat route, good luck! It's your best bet at this time. :) – jmort253 Sep 9 '12 at 19:18
@ŠimeVidas The way I would do it: Create a github repo, seed it with the initial content and then ask the JS chat room to review it and help. When it reached a point that it'd be presentable, I'd link to the repository (or a prettified version of) from the JS tag wiki. See for example this lovely reference: codeguy/php-the-right-way - prettified version – Yannis Sep 10 '12 at 1:53

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