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How to provide email accounts for hundreds of hosted domains/users without giving admin access?

According to the FAQ, questions are in the right place if they "generally cover":

a specific programming problem
a software algorithm
**software tools commonly used by programmers**
**practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession**

This is an answerable problem relating to a set of software tools (cpanel XMLAPI, PHP) commonly used by programmers. It's also a relevant problem I've seen faced by many widely used platforms (wordpress, shopify etc). Why is a question about it "not constructive"?

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You could write a book trying to answer this, it's broad and nightmarishly complex, that's probably why folks felt it's not constructive. If you can go outside PHP, you could look at Webmin; if you can spend some money, check out Plesk: – Pëkka Feb 19 '13 at 15:40
I agree that it is a broad and complex question. That doesn't make it unanswerable. Pekka answer would point a reader with a similar question in the right direction. – Phil Feb 19 '13 at 15:47
OK. I see how 'best practices' questions would easily turn into discussions. I do see many of those here, some by the very people who closed my question, so I assumed they were OK.… – Phil Feb 19 '13 at 15:50
up vote 3 down vote accepted

Stack Overflow isn't the place for list-like questions as best-practices questions are. It is for specific questions dealing with programming problems or software tools.

practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession*

The word "answerable" here means "has a specific answer".

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ok, then why is this best practices question upvoted (and asked by one of the users who closed my question)… – Phil Feb 19 '13 at 15:51
@Phil, Did you link to the right question, while I think that one is a little broad, he isn't essentially asking for best practices (though he does mention that), he is asking for a specific solution for a specific problem. – Lance Roberts Feb 19 '13 at 15:53
he is asking for best practices in a situation where there could be discussion or multiple opinions, as opposed to one specific answer. as am i. However i agree my scope is more broad. – Phil Feb 19 '13 at 15:57
@Phil, yes, he should do some research and then ask a question on a specific line of thought. – Lance Roberts Feb 19 '13 at 15:58
thanks for your clarification. will try to narrow down to questions that have a specific answer. however, note that people who don't know the answer to a question don't know if there is a specific answer or not :) – Phil Feb 19 '13 at 16:14
@Phil, yep, there is a catch-22. – Lance Roberts Feb 19 '13 at 17:50

The key point that makes it not constructive is this:

What would be best (hopefully PHP) hands-free practices for providing individual domain email accounts to hundreds of users, and giving them the ability to add/delete/manage their own accounts?

It's asking for a list of things (also called "polling"), as opposed to a single answer. On top of that, any time you're asking for "best practices" you're inviting "debate, arguments, and extended discussion".

Between those two points it has now covered all of the aspects mentioned in the "Not Constructive" description:

this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion

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The "Not Constructive" close reason is reserved for things like:

  1. List questions
  2. Product comparisons
  3. No definitive answer, and
  4. Extended discussion

which pretty much describes your question.

The phrase "Practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession" is not a catchall; it is a reminder that questions must be answerable, programming related, and pertain directly to a specific problem you are facing.

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So are you saying that if he had phrased his question as “What is a way to do this?”, it would have been OK? That seems like splitting hairs. This SU question re Using grep to display the second character in a string got a list of answers, and nobody complained. While that’s an extreme example, many Super User questions ask “How do I do this text-manipulation task in Unix” and get answers for awk, sed, perl, and others (with subsequent debates among the answerers as to their relative merits). I don’t see the line that Phil crossed. – Scott Feb 25 '13 at 23:15
@Scott: No, the issue wasn't "Give me multiple ways to do this," because that wasn't asked. The issue was that there are multiple ways to do this, and the scope of the question is too large. – Robert Harvey Feb 25 '13 at 23:19

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