What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 134 Stack Exchange communities.

Is there a guidance about that?

In particular can 3 comments discussing a single answer already qualify a debate?

This is useful to know, because some questions are closed as not-constructive when they are likely to be dabated, even if (to my untrained eye) they look fine: very few answers, very few comments, on topic, no more.

So I'm trying to understand the measures (or the logic) used to define (or to forecast) a "debate", in the hope to avoid it at stackoverflow.

share|improve this question
8  
Where did you get "debated" from, i.e. what is the reason that you believe that a definition of "debated" is required? –  ben is uǝq backwards Apr 10 '13 at 8:54
    
@benisuǝqbackwards Here talking about this debate, but I care about the general rule, for future reference. –  Giacomo Tesio Apr 10 '13 at 8:56
    
this question have lots of comments but its not closed as not-constructive!!! –  Sumit Bijvani Apr 10 '13 at 12:03
    
-1 because it's a broken question, shouldn't you be asking why it was closed as NC? –  AAA Apr 10 '13 at 13:14
    
I have absolutely no idea what you're trying to ask. –  Jack Maney Apr 10 '13 at 20:01

4 Answers 4

A "debate" isn't some property that's measured by a certain number of something. A "debate" is simply a discussion of differing and/or opposing views about a certain topic, which on our site typically happens in the comments for some reason.

You have to read the comments in order to determine if the commentators are debating or not. You can't use the number of comments posted to figure out if there's a debate going on.

For what it's worth, the comments under your question or my answer may or may not be an example of a debate. It depends largely on how you interpret it.

share|improve this answer
    
and sometimes in chat.. –  Krishnabhadra Apr 10 '13 at 8:59
    
What makes you think debate typically happens in the comments? ;) –  Frédéric Hamidi Apr 10 '13 at 9:00
    
So if someone gives a wrong answer, nobody should comment it, right? –  Giacomo Tesio Apr 10 '13 at 9:00
2  
@Giacomo Tesio: Wait, what? What does that have to do with anything? –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 10 '13 at 9:00
2  
@Frédéric Hamidi: What is this, meta? :) –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 10 '13 at 9:01
3  
This is now a debated answer. Can we make it a much debated one? –  Pëkka Apr 10 '13 at 9:01
    
@BoltClock'saUnicorn I mean: if I answer to a question wrongly, and somebody complains, it already qualify as a debate? I mean something like this, for example. –  Giacomo Tesio Apr 10 '13 at 9:07
    
@GiacomoTesio Why does it matter? If I were to say "yes, that's a debate", what do you do with that information? –  Bart Apr 10 '13 at 9:08
    
@Bart I will not comment wrong answers, in the future. –  Giacomo Tesio Apr 10 '13 at 9:10
1  
@GiacomoTesio, if an answer is incorrect a comment explaining why and/or a downvote is extremely helpful, it indicates that the answer is wrong. –  ben is uǝq backwards Apr 10 '13 at 9:11
2  
@GiacomoTesio what's so horrible about "debate"? As long as it's relevant to the post, having lots of comments is totally fine. Worst case moderator will step in to clean up at some point but it does NOT mean you shouldn't post the comments in the first place. –  Shadow Wizard Apr 10 '13 at 9:13
3  
@GiacomoTesio Given that update it seems you're not understanding what the "not constructive" closure means. It has nothing to do with "this question has X number of comments". Not commenting does not make a question more constructive. –  Bart Apr 10 '13 at 9:28
1  
@Giacomo you can't use the number of comments to determine the quality of a question or answer. There may be a general correlation, but it's useless as a metric. –  Pëkka Apr 10 '13 at 9:29
2  
I'm not sure what you need the guidance for? The only way to recognize a "non constructive" question is to read it, IMO. –  Pëkka Apr 10 '13 at 10:00
1  
@AndrewBarber 18 (assuming I can count) comments? Definitely debated! –  Anthony Grist Apr 10 '13 at 10:47

There seems to be some confusion about when questions will be closed as "not constructive" and whether debate over certain things (such as the validity of an answer) would qualify a question for closure as not constructive.

The full text when voting to close as "not constructive" is this:

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. 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.

Voting for closure as "not constructive" happens, among other reasons, when a question is asking a question that doesn't have a single, verifiable correct answer (usually such questions are asking for opinions). If I was to ask "Is C++ better than Java?" then that's going to solicit debate; people who prefer Java are going to post that Java is better, people who prefer C++ are going to post that C++ is better. Then they're (probably) going to go back and forth in a (vain) attempt to prove to the other people that they're correct.

That debate may never happen. In fact the point of closing the question as "not constructive" is to prevent it from happening.

However, it's possible for debate about a question to happen without the question itself being considered "not constructive"; I've seen questions about certain aspects of web development trigger a debate about whether they'd be considered "front end" or "back end". I also regularly "debate" with other users about the validity of answers to questions. Neither of those debates have any bearing on whether the question itself is "not constructive", though.

To sum up: There isn't a useful metric to determine whether a debate is occurring, and debate doesn't necessarily mean that a question is "not constructive".

share|improve this answer
    
Thanks. So forcasting a debate is a guess, matter of experience? And to close a question becouse it's likely to be debated, you should have enough knowledge about that specific topic to know that it will result in a debate, right? Have I understood correctly? –  Giacomo Tesio Apr 10 '13 at 10:41
    
@GiacomoTesio You have to make a case-by-case judgement about questions. Subject knowledge is useful, but not necessarily required if a question is clearly asking for opinions. There are some key phrases that usually indicate that a question should be closed as "not constructive", such as "which is better?", "what do you guys think?", "should I choose X or Y?", but you still need to read the question and apply some judgement. –  Anthony Grist Apr 10 '13 at 10:43
    
Ok. Thanks. This is a valid answer (can you edit the answer itself, to include this subjectivity) –  Giacomo Tesio Apr 10 '13 at 10:49
    
@GiacomoTesio: He didn't add any subjectivity. "Anti-pattern" is subjective, and therefore likely to cause debate. End of story; the question should be closed. –  Nicol Bolas Apr 10 '13 at 11:44
    
@NicolBolas take a look at here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AntiPatterns –  Giacomo Tesio Apr 10 '13 at 12:30
    
As for "subjectivity" I was asking to add to the answer what he said in the comments: "you still need to read the question and apply some judgement." –  Giacomo Tesio Apr 10 '13 at 12:32

Closing posts as not constructive is not based on an actual count of comments, but on the way the question is phrased.

As is already answered in your question - and as Andrew Barber says in one of the not-accepted answers, the question is not whether it has resulted in a debate. The question is whether it is likely to result in a debate.

share|improve this answer
    
I understood what Andrew means, but he didn't explain how you can know that such question is "likely to result in a debate", if you don't know enough about functional programming to provide a single answer. –  Giacomo Tesio Apr 10 '13 at 10:46
3  
@GiacomoTesio: Sure you do. All programming style questions are "likely to result in a debate". That's because the answers are debatable; they are based on opinion, not facts. No question about "anti-patterns" can be answered objectively (whether for functional programming or any other programming style), because everyone has their own set of those. Furthermore, your question is a list question, which is also not constructive. –  Nicol Bolas Apr 10 '13 at 11:34
1  
+1 for referencing one of the foremost authorities on this site! ;) –  Andrew Barber Apr 10 '13 at 16:13

It's not about whether a debate will happen; it's about whether the subject of the question is debatable. And that's not particularly subjective.

What is an anti-pattern is a matter of debate. People argue these all the time. Some people think X is an anti-pattern, others think Y is one. And even if most programmers agree that Z is one, it's still a matter of debate. It's still subjective.

Also, your question is a list question. So it's double not-constructive.

share|improve this answer
1  
"So it's double not-constructive." Insert obtuse double-negation joke here. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Apr 10 '13 at 11:47

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .