We all have "duh" moments as programmers. I'm asking what to do when a question turns out to be off-topic in hindsight, but it wasn't obviously so up front.
Consider the following scenario: I am beating my brow over a particular issue that appears related to my CSS code. After troubleshooting for over an hour, I come to Stack Overflow and ask my question. As usual, the community here is incredibly helpful and my question is answered in < 30 minutes. Turns out the issue was related to a weird software quirk and therefore - in hindsight - was not a question directly related to code.
The nature of question / answer sites makes hindsight a very important consideration. Some of the best answers are the simplest, which can make a question seem "stupid" or unresearched, even if that's not the case. I spent over an hour in this case googling and tweaking, etc.
I believe in hindsight, this question was seen as a poor one and it continued to receive downvotes until I flagged it for deletion and it was deleted.
I'm not sure that it was a terrible question. Specifically referencing this section of the FAQ:
We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers …
- a specific programming problem
- a software algorithm
- software tools commonly used by programmers
- matters that are unique to the programming profession …
then you’re in the right place to ask your question!
As a programmer, finding out my problem was NOT code-related, but software-related, was incredibly helpful and led directly to the solution. Hindsight in this case was 20/20.
I just wonder if there is something users should do when a question turns out this way. Is there a standard accepted way of admitting - in hindsight - that a question was overly simple or not related to programming and avoiding some of the community scorn?
I flagged the question I'm referencing and it was deleted, or I would link to it. I'd love some helpful advice from more experienced members of the community - was that the right course of action? I think other programmers may have benefited from it, but it continued to receive downvotes, I believe because of hindsight bias.