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Okay, now, this was slightly difficult to title, but let me explain.

Sometimes, if you see a question, it may not actually be a problem, but more so asking about features etc. Now, 90% of the time people are asking for teh codez or a third party library to do their bidding.

However, some questions that aren't about a problem, can become some of the most popular questions on the site.

Case in point: Hidden Features of C#?

The above question is incredibly useful. In fact, it's probably my favourite one on StackOverflow. Now, it's been closed as not constructive, but my question is, why isn't it?

Not constructive states:

We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, see the FAQ for guidance.

These are facts, they're features of the language that are not widely known. They're supported by references, there's no debates/arguments in that question. So why close it?

I think questions like these (and you can see by the views and votes) will bring a lot of traffic into StackOverflow, why should we Close them?

share|improve this question
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So why close it? Because it inspired a flood of incredible low quality "hidden features of foo" questions. Completely agree that the Hidden Features of C# is an awesome question, but in the grand scheme of things it's more trouble than it's worth (if kept open). –  Yannis Mar 20 '13 at 12:20
    
@Yannis But surely they're equally as useful to users of other languages? –  mattytommo Mar 20 '13 at 12:20
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It is not about usefulness - it is about suitability to the Stack Overflow format. –  Oded Mar 20 '13 at 12:23
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No, they are not, because the copycats were never as awesome, they were mostly low effort rep whoring attempts. Lots of effort went into the C# question, but the effort wasn't really there in the copycats. Which is kinda the main reason we close all these NC questions. Sure, there are one or two out there that turned excellent, but most don't. –  Yannis Mar 20 '13 at 12:23
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So how would you pick the correct answer? –  Carl Veazey Mar 20 '13 at 12:23
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Collecting 300+ answers seems to prove that the question did solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. –  Bo Persson Mar 20 '13 at 12:34
    
Who said that question was useful on SO? Useful blog entry? Yes. –  user7116 Mar 20 '13 at 16:39

1 Answer 1

up vote 13 down vote accepted

I think you missed this phrase in your question:

polling, or extended discussion

Look at each answer, and now look at the comments. Look back at the Answer again. I'm on a horse.

The question is literally asking "List a hidden feature of C#". That's a poll, as you are polling people for answers.

Now, look at the comments again. Bam. Extended discussion. I could spend hours cleaning up the comments just from that one question alone -- and that's not a productive use of my time.

Beyond all that, in our "How to Ask" we want questions to have answers, the sort of answer that will solve a problem someone has.

Our FAQ even states:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page (emphasis original).

Is the question Chatty? Undoubtedly; the comments alone have borne that out. Is it open-ended? Yes -- 10,000 people a day learn something new, which means for every well known feature out there, there's somebody who doesn't know it yet -- meaning every single feature could be 'hidden' to somebody.

That brings us to the final issue:

Stack Overflow just does not handle List questions well. We've tried to solve this problem before, but you'll always have people go and mess it up. Until there's a way to adequately handle list questions on Stack Overflow, the only sane way to handle them is to say, "No."

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I'll accept you for the Old Spice reference George. Just kidding :). You're probably right, I'm just blinded by my love for that question! –  mattytommo Mar 20 '13 at 13:04
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@mattytommo Don't feel bad, I too really like my List of Programming books answer, and I've spent hours trying to make sure it stayed curated and up to date. The problem is, not everyone puts that much care into it -- If you look at the C++ definitive book guide list, it's a trainwreck, and really hard to follow. The 'right' course would be to take a huge chunk of the 'answer' in the question, move it to an answer, and simply close the question (so people could only update existing answers), and then accept that answer. But that takes community effort, something that is hard to coordinate. –  George Stocker Mar 20 '13 at 13:06
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@mattytommo I think we all love those NC questions that happened to turn excellent. In fact, they are so awesome that we created a dedicated site for them, Programmers. Unfortunately it didn't take long to realize that even with a dedicated community, one that's a lot smaller than SO and thus quite more versatile and easy to coordinate, the vast majority of those questions simply don't work. The failed experiment with Programmers' original scope was the final nail in the coffin for NC questions, imho. –  Yannis Mar 20 '13 at 13:31

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