What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 128 Stack Exchange communities.

Update

The question has now been closed as a duplicate of a higher quality question.


When Googling for how to perform multiple inserts in a single SQL statement I came across this question, which contained a direct answer to my problem.

Inserting multiple rows in a single SQL query?

The question has received 225924 views and 173 upvotes at the time of writing this question.

The question which is a SQL question has been closed as off topic. I find this quite disconcerting, as it is clearly quite a useful question. It gets plenty of views because people are clearly searching for an answer to that problem.

I've had discussions with moderators before about questions being closed, and their potential usefulness. I've been told that a question being closed isn't a big deal. I understand that the question is still there and is still of use to people, but by closing a question we are saying that we'd prefer this question hadn't been asked to begin with. We're saying "please don't ask any more questions like this one".

This is what I am taking issue with, because if that question hadn't been asked I believe the site would be less useful. I would have had to go to somewhere other than Stack overflow to get the answer to the question "How do I perform multiple inserts in a single SQL statement". Stack overflow is a programming Q and A website. That question is by definition a programming question, and certainly worthy of an answer.

I have no problem with moderators closing questions, locking them, etc. Those guys do a fantastic job for no pay. I have however seen plenty of perfectly reasonable questions being closed.

I have cast a re-open vote incase anyone else wants to re-open it.

Should this question have been closed? Is it really off topic?

share|improve this question
8  
Look at the reason it was closed: "Questions asking for code must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved". It was nothing to do with being a bad subject, but being a bad question. –  Dave Aug 22 '13 at 13:15
2  
Yep, that one should stay closed –  musefan Aug 22 '13 at 13:15
1  
Note that "off-topic" is a little misleading: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/192086/… –  apsillers Aug 22 '13 at 13:15
1  
Have to admit I do agree its a valid, and old question. At the time it was asked it was not even a Google-able answer and showing code wasn't easily possible. However I am biased since 80% of my reputation is from the answer to that question. –  Diago Aug 22 '13 at 13:18
3  
Just because the poster was lazy shouldn't mean that the information doesn't belong on StackOverflow. The question and the answer is bigger than the original poster. Would you rather the question not be on the site? If it's a bad question, then please edit and improve it. Should we really indicate that useful questions don't belong on Stack Overflow though, doesn't this send across a confusing and mixed message? –  Doctor Jones Aug 22 '13 at 13:23
8  
@Dave - The question is short and to the point. What extra padding do you want in there? –  Martin Smith Aug 22 '13 at 13:24
1  
@DoctorJones Nobody is deleting anything. At most, the closure signals that we expect more from a question by now. That said, I don't think I would have closed this one. –  Bart Aug 22 '13 at 13:25
1  
@Bart I didn't mention it being deleted. I'm concerned that we're saying that if that question was being asked today that it wouldn't be welcome on the site. This would clearly be an incorrect stance to take because it is useful. How can a useful question not be welcome on the site? –  Doctor Jones Aug 22 '13 at 13:27
2  
@Dave - The OP isn't around any more to tell us what they tried. Should we make it up? Or does that doom the question indefinitely? –  Martin Smith Aug 22 '13 at 13:28
3  
@Dave So what happens if the question was asked 3 years ago, when the answer could not be googled, and giving an example of what was tried for that particular question was not possible? Keep in mind it was a new feature just introduced by Microsoft? –  Diago Aug 22 '13 at 13:31
4  
@Dave I don't think that's the message being conveyed. The closure reason of "off topic" says to me that this question isn't welcome on the site. That's clearly not the case. –  Doctor Jones Aug 22 '13 at 13:32
1  
@Dave - Closing is often regarded as an intermediate step to deletion (e.g. see comments here ) and why block a potentially better answer coming in to this much viewed question? –  Martin Smith Aug 22 '13 at 13:37
1  
@Dave, Further to Martin's comment, if there was a better answer (maybe a new feature comes about in SQL Server 20XX), how do we get it on the site when this question is closed/locked? A new question would rightfully be closed as a duplicate. I've wanted to provide a better answer to questions plenty of times and haven't been able to do anything about it. –  Doctor Jones Aug 22 '13 at 13:38
1  
@Servy - Looks like the 2008 tag was added later. I've removed both the 2005 and 2008 tags from that question otherwise it is not really an interchangeable duplicate. (A 2012/2014 answer would be on topic for the first question but not the second) –  Martin Smith Aug 22 '13 at 14:41
1  
@Null, I can't speak for George, but my understanding is you close the lower quality questions as dupes of the higher quality ones. That is, we want to concentrate activity on the best questions, not the first ones. –  jball Aug 22 '13 at 16:34
show 26 more comments

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It was closed because the moderator (Andrew Barber) agreed with the flag, this flag states (paraphrased to keep the text of the flag confidential):

The answers are starting to not make sense. It's nice that we already have a valid answer to this question, but there are multiple invalid answers that will end up confusing people (particularly because they're upvoted). This question is also attracting duplicate answers.

This is a valid reason to close a question. Think about what closing does -- it does, (in effect) say: "No more answers to this question."

The question has an answer, and does it really need more answers in order to be useful? There is a negative connotation with closing, but in this case, it's the happiest compromise we can make. It's either this, or we lock the question (bad), or we constantly prune answers (also bad -- why should we have multiple people spend time on this question when we can take care of it in one fell swoop).

There are currently 8 deleted answers on this question -- deleted for various reasons (duplicate answers, invalid answers, etc). That's a lot for a question to have, and part of the reason why closing it makes sense -- it keeps moderators from having to deal with one post having an inordinate amount of flags (8, plus the countless reviews going on).

Edit: As Servy points out in the comments, This question turns out to be a duplicate of another question that shows some research effort. I've closed this question as a duplicate of the other.

share|improve this answer
1  
Further to the comments in the question thread, what if there was a better answer? (maybe a new feature comes about in SQL Server 20XX) How do we get it on the site when this question is closed/locked? A new question would rightfully be closed as a duplicate. I've wanted to provide a better answer to questions plenty of times and haven't been able to do anything about it –  Doctor Jones Aug 22 '13 at 13:41
1  
It could have been historically locked or protected to prevent further drive by answers. –  Diago Aug 22 '13 at 13:42
    
@DoctorJones When that time comes, you can always flag the question for re-opening based on that. Instead of worrying about hypotheticals, let's worry about stuff that's actually happened. –  George Stocker Aug 22 '13 at 13:42
2  
@Diago No. That's a bad thing to do generally, as Anna Lear and Shog9 have pointed out: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/112910/… –  George Stocker Aug 22 '13 at 13:45
1  
I've tried that before and not been able to re-open a question. You're putting a barrier in place to helpful information that to be quite frank most people would be too lazy to overcome. I'm only willing to go to reasonable effort to put information online. It's hard enough to write a high quality answer. I don't need to fight to get questions re-opened just so I can post a response. –  Doctor Jones Aug 22 '13 at 13:46
    
Sounds like an argument for protecting not closing. –  Martin Smith Aug 22 '13 at 13:46
1  
@MartinSmith In this case, protection wouldn't have helped, multiple deleted answers passed the threshold. –  George Stocker Aug 22 '13 at 13:47
1  
@GeorgeStocker Of the deleted answers, only the very first answer and one more would have passed protection (all the other posters gained their current rep after that answer), or did I miss one? Besides, that's a hint that the question may be bad but not a killer. The question and its surviving answers also need to be taken into account. It's natural that a question with a lot of views will attract some duds. –  Gilles Aug 22 '13 at 14:04
1  
Hold on... you closed a older question as a duplicate of a newer one? Isnt that the wrong way round? –  Jamiec Aug 22 '13 at 15:05
2  
@Jamiec No. It's uncommon, but not that uncommon, and certainly no improper. See this comment for an explanation. –  Servy Aug 22 '13 at 15:09
add comment

It's open again and it should be.

I am not sure the reason of showing lack of effort is correct. The OP knows one way to do the task and asking if there is a better way. What kind of effort you can expect from the OP.

EDIT: Now it's locked.

share|improve this answer
5  
It's locked to prevent the question yo-yoing and attracting more attention while it's being discussed on meta. I purposefully left the lock at 24 hours so that we can discuss the question without escalating the situation. –  George Stocker Aug 22 '13 at 13:46
1  
@GeorgeStocker that sounds sensible –  Doctor Jones Aug 22 '13 at 13:46
    
@GeorgeStocker any particular reason why higer-voted older question is marked as a duplicate of lower-voted, one year younger question? Just curious. –  Mołot Aug 22 '13 at 14:36
1  
@Mołot Neither age or votes really matters when deciding which question should be closed as a dup of the other. The considerations are 1) Which is the better question. 2) Which has the better answers. Here #2 seems about the same, and for #1 the open question is better, thus that's the better question to have open. –  Servy Aug 22 '13 at 14:45
    
@Servy isn't it the case of "it's open because it's open", then? That's usually not so good approach. Content-wise both question seems to be of similar quality and both marking as duplicate and closing happened at virtually the same time (comparing to questions' ages). –  Mołot Aug 22 '13 at 14:50
    
@Mołot Quite a few people here are inclined to close the question referenced in the OP due to it's lack of effort. The proposed dup doesn't have that problem; it's not at risk of being closed. Even if you think they're comparable, the current state of things ensures that exactly one of the duplicates stays open. If they were reversed, the probability of having two questions closed is reasonably high, much higher than the alternative. In any case, if you assert that they're of similar quality, why do you have a problem with the current state of things? Note, merging is also an option here. –  Servy Aug 22 '13 at 14:54
add comment

Short Answer

The standards for closing a question that we have in place now are there for a reason, and Today's standard are what should be applied regardless of the age of the question. Your example question would be closed if asking Today (and not because it's a duplicate) therefor the same question from 4 years ago should also be judged the same.

In fact, I raised this question only the other day: Should I vote to close old questions?


Less-short Answer

I think the main reason is that back in the day, people who asked these questions (with no attempt at solving them) were not actually having a problem. In fact they probably already knew how to do it. The reason why they would add the question is to help build Stack Overflow to what it is Today. Even those that genuinely had an issue, well the community was happy to answer anyway as this built up the site too.

But that was back in the day when everyone was here for the benefit of the community. Now days (back in the future), there are so many users that don't care about the community. They come here for a quick "fix my problem" type question, and this is something we want to discourage - hence the fact it is now best practice to close questions that don't show any attempt to solve the problem themselves first.

Of course, we can't just apply the new rules on the new questions. So occasional the old questions will accumulate enough close votes over time while users stumble across them. But as you have said, it doesn't effect anything in terms of rep or usefulness for future visitors, so it's not a problem.

Maybe in the future, the rules will again change, and all these old closed questions will become re-opened.

But for now, don't worry about it. It is correct that they are closed, and you shouldn't vote to re-open them (certainly not the one you used for example). But at the same time, if you come across one that isn't yet closed, you don't have to vote to close it if you don't want to.

share|improve this answer
1  
I disagree. At the time the question was asked, the answer could not be googled, was not documented, and was a new feature introduced into SQL. However I am biased since I got most of my rep from the answer. –  Diago Aug 22 '13 at 13:35
    
@Diago: I am not arguing any of those things. My point is that by Todays standards it would be closed. We can't judge a question based on the time it was asked, we have to judged it by the rules that are in place Today –  musefan Aug 22 '13 at 13:37
1  
Then we have a major problem, it means we will have to go back and close at least 25% of question asked at the time. Retroactively applying policies to old questions does not work, and at the time I was still an active mod, was never done except there was severe reasons for doing so. It's like trying to compare a 2009 Porsche to a 2013 Porche and complaining the 2009 Porche is too slow and does not have a speed limiter or iPod support. –  Diago Aug 22 '13 at 13:41
    
@Dialog: Your analogy is way off. And it's not a problem because we do not need to close these questions, they will just get cleaned up over time, nobody gets hurt from them being closed. Also, see this discussion –  musefan Aug 22 '13 at 13:46
    
@Diago heh, by your analogy I would say that "closing" is like not making the car any more. So it makes perfect sense that the 2013 car is still made ("open") while the 2009 car is discontinued ("closed", although it doesn't need to be). People can still get it second-hand (reading the answers) if they want to. This analogy is getting stretched! –  Dave Aug 22 '13 at 13:46
1  
@Dave Actually your both correct. I suck at analogies. However. I still disagree with the premise of this answer. New policies cannot be applied to 5 year old questions when they were valid at the time they were asked. –  Diago Aug 22 '13 at 13:50
2  
I disagree with the 13 votes that indicate a question should be rated by today's standard. However, I am an SO old timer, and therefore do still hold on to the original goal of the site, and believe in evaluating a question based on it's strengths and weaknesses, and not following the flow. –  Diago Aug 22 '13 at 13:55
1  
Well if we can't all agree on the same rules, then surely the only true answer is "Do what you feel is right, and stop asking for clarification on meta" –  musefan Aug 22 '13 at 13:58
2  
I agree with the opinion expressed here and +1'd, but I think the opening sentence could have been a bit more gentle. –  Andrew's a Unitato Aug 22 '13 at 14:00
1  
@AndrewBarber: Well to cater for the easily insulted, I have made amends-ments –  musefan Aug 22 '13 at 14:03
1  
Thanks! Given the nature of this post and the 'interest' in it, I think it's best to try to avoid escalating emotions :) –  Andrew's a Unitato Aug 22 '13 at 14:04
add comment

Disclaimer. I am biased since I made all my rep from answering this question in 2009.

Interesting fact. I received most of my reputation for this answer in the last 2 years. I noticed earlier today that it had been closed and was wondering about it myself, however decided not to raise it because I have a vested interest in this question being open.

I can recall that during my tenure as SU moderator, the policy was that policy changes where never retroactively applied to old questions unless there was a 100% valid reason to do so. Questions where rated on merit, and closing a question which by today's standard doesn't meet a certain policy is unfair to the the OP as well as anyone that has answered that question at that point in time.

Considering however the reaction on meta, it seems that bringing this up has indeed opened up a can of worms, and it is extremely sad to see a real question actually being treated as a second class citizen compared to some of the other truly off topic questions from the same era that have either been historical locked or protected, but never closed.

I honestly expected better from the moderators, even if a question was custom flagged.

share|improve this answer
1  
So what is the exact cut off date that I should use when deciding if a question should be closed? I certainly don't remember when the new rules came into place. And I don't know what the rules were back in 2009 so I can't use them to judge my votes for old questions. –  musefan Aug 22 '13 at 13:53
    
It has always been policy that the current standards be applied to all questions, regardless of when they were asked. Note that questions that are historically locked are (by definition) closed. The lock prevents deletion, but also prevents new answers, edits, comments, votes, etc. You're actually better off with just having it closed, than having a historical lock, as it means new votes can come in. This question clearly shouldn't be deleted, so unless that happens you don't have much cause for concern. –  Servy Aug 22 '13 at 13:58
1  
@musefan Honestly, I look at each question on it's own merits. If it's 5 years old, is a reasonably acceptable programming question not violating every guideline for valid questions, moving along and leaving it alone is a valid action, isn't it? –  Diago Aug 22 '13 at 13:58
    
@Diago: Of course, you either vote if you don't like it, or leave it if you do. That's why actions are taken on group decisions and not just one persons (unless you are mod) –  musefan Aug 22 '13 at 14:00
add comment

You must log in to answer this question.

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