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I recently asked this question about best practices, which was quickly downvoted and closed. I want to understand why--not because I'm upset, but because I'm curious. I also think that, unless I'm missing something, these kinds of questions can be helpful.

Now, I understand that subjective questions like "what's the best ORM tool?" might spur overly-subjective debates. But asking "what are some valid ways of approaching a problem?" or perhaps "what are a few of the most commonly used ORM tools?" is less a call for a debate and more of a request to point a user in the right direction. So why are those kind of questions verboten? Some of the best feedback I get from more experienced programmers isn't along the lines of "this is your bug," but "you could greatly simplify this problem by doing X" or "people have traditionally done Y."

Again, not upset, but curious.

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Your intent may be good, but experience has shown us that any such shopping recommendation (and any question that asks for a few of the most commonly used or what are some valid ways is a shopping recommendation) can easily devolve into an opinion-fest. –  Martijn Pieters Feb 26 '13 at 14:56
what typically happens to best-whatever questions, is pretty well described here: "The first 6 to 10 answers start out mostly ok... And on and on and on it goes... until eventually after about two years the question is finally closed, locked and then thankfully dispatched, and you know what? Nobody cared or noticed. What a huge waste of time. These questions appear to be popular because they're easy to answer, everyone has an opinion and a favourite they want to show off. As the months and years pass they degrade..." –  gnat Feb 26 '13 at 15:00
possible duplicate of Exceptional cases for list questions –  gnat Mar 1 '13 at 6:25

4 Answers 4

To quote Aarobot

[...] real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions.


I read your question on stackoverflow to be "I'm looking for consulting regarding a Java app I'm developing". That is a perfectly valid thing to want; it is not a good fit for SO's question and answer format.

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In my experience, many SE questions get closed as not-constructive for asking the "best" of anything, where "best" is not quantified by the user.

If you'd like to try and get your question reopened, try to editing your question so it's in the format of:

  • Here my goal (most efficient way of performing saves to the database with a specific data structure)

  • Here are the details of my situation (details of class, how class is used, other factors such as slow database, etc)

  • Here are the two options I am considering (save entire structure at once, or save as you iterate through it)

  • Which of these two options should I use given my above-stated goal, and why? Or is there a 3rd option I haven't considered?

I would also remove the separate question about if you should put your data access on your class, and ask it as a separate question. (Or perhaps leave it in as a statement instead of a question, as users will often "correct" you in comments if you're doing something you shouldn't be)

This way, the post ends with a single specific question instead of a request for discussion, or multiple questions.

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Good advice for narrowing down a 'best' question. –  Andrew Barber Feb 26 '13 at 21:09

Meta sites welcome lengthy (constructive) debates. Stack Overflow does not. As noted by @Martijn Pieters, questions like the one you asked usually turn out to spur lengthy and unproductive debates.

Only Meta sites support debate/discussion on topics appropriate for the specific Meta site. On Stack Overflow you should ask straight questions.

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Well I wouldn't say meta welcomed debates, we're just a contrary lot. –  Grant Thomas Feb 26 '13 at 17:54
@Mr.Disappointment, I disagree. –  slothario Feb 26 '13 at 20:29

I will point out what you can do, and even stay with the experts on the SE networks. You can take a question like that to the chat rooms!

This will quickly get you an answer (most of the time even faster then asking the question on SO would) without wasting the time of everyone who sees your question constantly bumped to the top on SO because it's so easy to answer.

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That's a good idea. –  slothario Feb 26 '13 at 20:28

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