Earlier today I asked a question that's been on my mind for a few weeks, about whether a certain type of project exists:

Are there any efforts underway to port or create an alternate implementation of node.js with other JavaScript engines?

It's objective in that the answer can only be "yes" or "no" and not depend on anybody's opinion or point of view.

I got an acceptable answer, and in reading the link provided in that answer I found another project mentioned, so I added a second answer.

But besides attracting one answer, a couple of comments, and one or two upvotes, it also attracted a couple of downvotes and so far four close votes.

One person who voted to close came back and left some comments about why they voted to close.

Their interpretation seemed to be that any "yes or no" question amounts to a "poll question" in that the number of "yeses" and "nos" might be tallied.

So we all know that poll questions are not acceptable on StackExchange.

What I'd like clarification on is:

  • Are yes/no questions considered not acceptable on StackExchage?
  • Are yes/no questions necessarily "poll questions" in disguise and thus unwelcome?
  • Are questions about whether something (project, API, library, port, tool, algorithm) exists inherently unsuitable for StackExchange, or should I just ask them in a different way?

  • If such questions are unsuitable for StackOverflow, are they at least suitable for Programmers.SE? Or would they be unsuitable on any and all StackExchange sites?

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Found a related question: Policy towards “Is there a way/tool to …” questions –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 3:10
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Who is supposed to answer "No" to such a question? –  Bo Persson Jan 7 '13 at 9:50
    
@BoPersson: I've seen questions of this type get "no" answers before on various Stack Exchange sites, both correctly and incorrectly. One about whether you could use the DOM outside a web browser was one of the incorrect "no" answers that springs to mind. –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 10:48
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

While yes/no answers are okay, there should still be an explanation. The guidelines in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective provide a great explanation about how great answers can help ensure a question doesn't appear too subjective/not constructive.

If a question starts to get nothing but low quality or link-only answers, it erases any doubts in my mind about whether or not the post should be closed (and possibly revised and considered for reopening).

With that said, the best questions on Stack Overflow are about a real, actual problem you're facing, and your question is asking about a theoretical case where a team of developers may have used a JavaScript engine that may or may not be better than the V8 JavaScript engine.

It's not clear why this is important or what problem it solves, and that may likely be why it was downvoted and closed.

It's possible the material may be useful to others, so to avoid the question being closed, you could add in via edits what your specific problem is that you're trying to solve. Convince the naysayers your question is constructive by erasing their doubts with good edits. Hope this helps!

Lastly, I want to add that you did the right thing by asking your meta question here and posting a link in the comments to your Stack Overflow question. Thank you for opening a constructive dialogue.

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It's generally considered important that things like programming languages, compilers, web browsers, etc be available from more than a single source/company for various reasons. There's probably even a term for this but I'm unable to think of it. If I can find the term and lists of reasons why this is a good thing I will add them to my question. But so far I feel I've "made the web better" because Googling for alternative implementations of node.js will now return a useful hit where I couldn't get one before. –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 3:33
    
... I'm guessing a question seeking the term and reasons I just mentioned would belong on Programmers rather than StackOverflow right? (Programmers seems so unfocussed I'm never sure.) –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 3:34
    
Interesting... is NodeJS considered a compiler/interpreter? I think of JavaScript as I do C++, and Borland and Microsoft as the vendors who make compilers for C++. With that logic, wouldn't NodeJS be Google's interpreter for server-side JavaScript, while Mozilla's Rhino is another interpreter for server-side JavaScript? –  jmort253 Jan 7 '13 at 3:36
    
Programmers is more for whiteboarding questions, or process-type questions. I'm not sure this would be on-topic there, but I admit Programmers is still a bit of an enigma sometimes. You could ask in their chat and see if they want your question. But really, I think you might make a case for reopening it here if you use my suggestions. :) Good luck! –  jmort253 Jan 7 '13 at 3:37
    
I think node.js is considered a framework, but in fact I keep wondering myself how best to classify it. It's really a platform I think. –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 3:37
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The platform vs interpreter question might be what threw people off. Honestly, I would have never thought to ask if there were other implementations of NodeJS. Anyway, I'm voting to reopen, as I think you've made a good case here, but still, the edits might help convince others, which may help prevent it from being closed a second time. :) –  jmort253 Jan 7 '13 at 3:39
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node.js is not made by Google, it's made by Joyent. It adds a set of asynchronous libraries to a JavaScript engine to make it a server programming language. I believe they chose Google V8 as their JavaScript implementation because it's open source and most of the time the fastest JavaScript implmenentation (though other engines have briefly overtaken it in some benchmarks I believe). –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 3:40
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They say you learn something new everyday. :) Thanks for the explanation. Good luck! –  jmort253 Jan 7 '13 at 3:43
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I think yes/no questions are in general perfectly acceptable, and not poll questions in disguise, since it has a definite answer (though you may end up with multiple explanations of that answer). The question you asked though kind of looks like a shopping question. Those aren't allowed, though I've never really understood why.

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Hmm any advice in how to make it not look like a shopping question? All I'm really interested in is whether there are parties out there who are going to independently implement node.js because I think that would be an obvious and worthwhile development, but at the time of asking I had been unable to locate any such projects. I'm not shopping for one, I want to watch the whole node.js ecosystem. –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 3:13
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Personally, since it was about a specific programming problem I'd think Programmers is the right site, but then again I've never been able to figure out their focus (which is why I had myself removed from there). –  Lance Roberts Jan 7 '13 at 3:16
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Rachel's answer on the related question I linked to specifically addresses the "shopping" aspect by the way ... –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 3:17
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I agree with Lance that it's definitely not a poll in disguise. However it does point to a very specific moment in time (the time the question was asked). I'm not saying that too localized, or any unilateral close reason would or should apply though. Going to have a think about a 'good' way to ask such a question. –  Tim Post Jan 7 '13 at 3:25
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I was the one person that came back to explain, basically my issue with the question is that no answer is ever truly right or wrong. With any "yes" or "no" answer being equally valid.

I would agree with Lance that it is basically a "shopping question" - but I would disagree with his interpretation in that to me - "shopping questions" are always just polls in disguise.

Further more, it is likely to generate a list of "yes" - link only answers with each being as valid as any other...

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Hi Fraser, as a close voter, do you have any tips or suggestions that might make this question be something you'd be okay seeing reopened? I suggested that hippietrail add in what problem needed solving, as that tends to help make questions more constructive. If there's anything else you can think of, you should post it. :) –  jmort253 Jan 7 '13 at 3:41
    
I think if there were "lots of" yes links that would be a great thing for people using or wanting to use node.js in places that V8 doesn't currently exist. I honestly though from my searches that there were no other implementations but felt that there should be. I'm not shopping but I'd have more confidence in node.js if it became an open standard with many implementations. –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 3:44
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Thanks for actually offering your criticism by the way, unlike the other negative voters. Hopefully I can improve the question whether it reopens or not. Sorry if I got a bit grumpy in the comments. –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 3:49
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No worries ... I would say though - the fact that you think a list of link only answers would be good just makes me even more sure that it should be closed. You aren't looking for an answer to a question - you are shopping for a list possible projects. If you had some reason to want an implementation, some problem to solve, then I wouldn't have voted to close - but you do seem to want a list of links... –  Fraser Jan 7 '13 at 3:50
    
Well a list of good answers would be better than a list of links but a list of links is better than a list of "yeses" and "nos". If a more thorough answer comes in I have been known to change my accepted answers in the past. I'm not shopping for a project, I'm keeping an eye on node.js to see if it's about to become a new open standard server-side JavaScript or general-purpose scripting language, or just settle down as another single vendor solution. –  hippietrail Jan 7 '13 at 4:11
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