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I asked a question on StackOverflow which I admit is quite subjective. I'm asking why a particular property was never implemented in Delphi's VCL. I was just wondering how proper of a question this is for StackOverflow?

To add to my reasoning, I wouldn't normally ask such a question, for example "Why doesn't Delphi come with all possible Windows API calls?" is certainly not going to end well. However, in this question I'm addressing a peculiar hole in the development. I mean, who would want their Windows Service Application to not have a Description? I personally consider this a bug, but others would argue otherwise. But this question I asked is aiming more at technical reasons why it was never introduced - which in the accepted answer, it was pointed out a rather perfect reasoning, which is exactly what I was suspecting.

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Well, probably 95% of users on SO couldn't understand it so .. it's pretty good. But really, that type of question seems to fit on Programmers.SE better, although SO is good too since its a bit specific –  Adel Mar 19 '13 at 4:44
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It's the kind of question that could go either way. It's a bit NC because it invites speculation, but at the same time it can be definitively answered. On Programmers, when I happen upon similar questions (that haven't been flagged) I usually pretend I didn't see them and move on, hoping people will refrain from posting speculation heavy answers. Sometimes it works (language/platform/component designers do hang around SO and ProgSE), sometimes it doesn't (and the whole thread turns into crap quickly). –  Yannis Mar 19 '13 at 8:15
    
This should really be required reading for anyone who thinks of asking such a question: Eric Gunnerson's Minus 100 points –  Shog9 May 16 '13 at 20:05

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

It depends on the language. For example, there are many well educated and well connected members with inside information who are active on the site. For example in the tag we have Eric Lippert and Jon Skeet. For we have Martin Woodward. For we have Sayed Ibrahim Hashimi. For WinAPI we have Raymond Chen.

These are just some that I know of and have cherry-picked as examples, and of course you also shouldn't forget the other outstanding experts on those tags who may also know the answer, or have a hotline to someone who does.

If I was you I would go ahead and ask the questions, you might be surprised at the answers you get. The community is pretty good at spotting questions that are not constructive and unanswerable, so make sure you phrase your question well. If it's a good question then you'll also be surprised at the level of interest it will attract - especially if it gets answered.

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Pretty sure Jon Skeet has every topic covered, ever. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Mar 19 '13 at 8:41

I was just wondering how proper of a question this is for StackOverflow?

I get questions like that a lot, and I discourage you from asking them. Most people ask this question in a form that is not answerable.

Every question of the form "why does product X not implement feature Y?" has the same answer: features are not magically implemented by default and then the implementations have to get removed by the development team for a good reason. Rather, all features are unimplemented by default and have to be thought of, designed, specified, implemented, tested, approved and shipped to customers. All that costs time and effort.

So the first answer to the question is: product X does not implement feature Y because one of the items on that list did not happen. Pretty frequently the item that did not happen was "thought of"; the number of times I've been asked "why does C# not implement [some crazy thing]?" and the answer is "because you're the only person in the history of the world to have thought of it" is large.

The second answer to your question is to deny the premise of the question entirely. A development team is never required to provide a good reason for not doing work and not spending money; rather, you are required to make the case to them why the feature should be implemented. Moreover, in a world with finite budgets, all features that make the list push other features off the list; your feature must not only justify its own costs, but justify the cost of not doing a valuable feature.

A "why?" question is inherently not answerable; instead, try to ask the question as a "what" question. If your question is really "Here's a proposed feature Y for product X. What are the pros and cons of my proposed feature?" then ask that question.

That question it is clearly subjective, soliciting debate, encouraging speculation, and requiring specialized knowledge of the product design, which makes it a poor fit for StackOverflow. But at least the question is answerable in that form.

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A "why?" question isn't "inherently not answerable". It just isn't inherently answerable. For example, a "why?" question about C++ might be objectively answerable by referring to The Design and Evolution of C++. Another "why?" question about C++ might not. –  snailplane May 16 '13 at 20:06
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@snailplane: I take your point. However, frequently I see questions that make me feel like I'm talking to a curious four-year-old. Why does the compiler give this error for this program? Because that's an illegal program. Why is it illegal? Because specification section x makes it illegal. Why does the spec say that? Because that's what the design team thought was a good idea. Why did they think that? Because this follows the Liskov Substitution Principle. Why shouldn't you violate the LSP? AAARGH! –  Eric Lippert May 16 '13 at 20:11
    
And if you want to hear the same thing from Richard Feynman's mouth: youtube.com/watch?v=wMFPe-DwULM –  SolutionYogi May 16 '13 at 20:43

I'm not sure about subjective, but it's likely to be not constructive. Unless there is a reference of the language creators definitively stating why or why not that particular feature was or wasn't implemented, or the language creators themselves are on Stack Overflow to answer, then the answers will be speculative, and likely will lead to discussion over the merits of people's different speculations.

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If you are looking for guesses at technical limitations that would have prevented the implementation of this feature, your question is reasonably objective. Nevertheless, it is still not very constructive, since a correct answer doesn't really solve a problem that you or anyone else is encountering.

Note that at best the answers will be informed guesses, since only the devs can tell you the exact reason.

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In general, it isn't necessarily true that "at best the answers will be informed guesses". People write languages. Languages have standards committees. Those people could certainly answer such questions with authority. –  jamesdlin Mar 19 '13 at 5:18

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