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I have been using SO for many years and had an account for over 2 years now and found it very useful... until the last 6 months or so. On a very regular basis now, Google points me to SO for the answer to a query and upon arriving I find the question was closed as not constructive.

Yes yes.. I get it.. the community has very tight rules on what can and can't be asked here. What bothers me is this very useful tool is starting to become less and less useful to me.

More to the point, now before I click on an SO link in Google results I hesitate.

So, why aren't these questions removed so Google doesn't index them? Frankly it makes SO look bad because Google says "We found your answer... these guys have it!" and then SO says "Sorry... we don't like that question."

Before I get a flood of "we closed them because..." responses, I don't care why the question was closed. I just want to know why closed questions are kept around creating dead ends for people who are asking those questions. Just because SO doesn't want to answer the question, doesn't mean people aren't asking it.

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There are some closed questions that still have very good answers, so a sweeping closed questions are no longer spidered is probably not the best solution. – KDiTraglia Jul 15 '13 at 20:51
Show me the last question you encountered that was closed as Not Constructive. Does it have answers posted to it? – Robert Harvey Jul 15 '13 at 20:54
@RobertHarvey I just tried to google "best php tutorial" and the second-ranking result was this one:… It is closed as Not Constructive. – Monolo Jul 15 '13 at 20:59
@Monolo. Now deleted. See how easy that was? Note that you don't need a meta post for this; just flag the question, explain that it is a broken window with no useful content, and ask for deletion. – Robert Harvey Jul 15 '13 at 21:00
@KDiTraglia I certainly agree with this point: there are plenty of "unconstructive" questions that have very well-written answers. In other words, the answers themselves may be very well-written, even though the questions themselves may not be well-written. In order to preserve these helpful answers, the questions must be preserved. – Anderson Green Jul 15 '13 at 21:01
@RobertHarvey This SO thing is one mean machine! – Monolo Jul 15 '13 at 21:02
@Monolo, I wish your comment makes into this list someday. – brasofilo Jul 16 '13 at 4:37
up vote 7 down vote accepted

The purpose of closing is to suspend a question while the OP improves it.

If a question gets closed as Not Constructive, there are two options:

  1. If it has no answers, and enough time has passed (3 days) where it has become apparent that the OP is not going to improve it, flag for deletion.

  2. If it has upvoted answers, it's not a dead end. Leave it, so that others may benefit from the information.

That questions stay open is not a requirement for them to be useful to the larger Internet community. Some questions get closed and stay on the site permanently, because the answers that were posted before the question got closed are of sufficient value to merit preservation.

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Thanks for the explanation. I actually have noticed that some of the closed questions have really good answers. I guess what I don't understand about this whole closing thing is ostensibly it's about "making SO more useful" and yet... arguably useful questions are actively discouraged. That said, if what you outlined here was actually what was happening, SO would be more useful. Unfortunately it is not. – Matt S Jul 25 '13 at 16:41
Some categories of questions are not allowed on Stack Overflow because they distract from Stack Overflow's mission of providing quality answers to programming questions. Those categories are codified in the close reasons: "Too broad," "Primarily Opinion-Based," "Not Programming Related," etc. – Robert Harvey Jul 25 '13 at 16:45

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