See http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/40147/why-was-my-question-closed-after-being-forced-into-community-wiki-mode and http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/19260/split-subjective-and-argumentative-close-reason, among others.


There have been many questions on SO that are subjective, yet not argumentative. Questions which were clearly stated (and thus, should not have been closed as "not a real question"), and yet questions which could only have been answered by an indefinite amount of discussion.

I propose adding a new close reason that would permit such questions to be closed, simply because they are "discussion" questions and thus not appropriate for a Q&A site.

The verbiage for the "Subjective and Argumentative" close reason used to include "or would require extensive discussion". I agree with removing that part of the close reason, but thi nk it should be moved separately into this new close reason.

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Most technical questions of any complexity require some discussion. –  nb69307 Feb 22 '10 at 11:38
    
@Neil: I'm not talking about "discussion" to determine what someone's actual problem is. I'm talking about discussion for discussion's sake. –  John Saunders Feb 22 '10 at 13:28
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If we're going to get another close reason, I'd like "give me teh codez". I desperately want to close some of those sometimes, and there's no reason. –  David Thornley Feb 22 '10 at 14:54
    
see my updated answer, below –  Jeff Atwood Jun 16 '11 at 7:49
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4 Answers

With the recent changes Jeff tried to drastically reduce the amount of reasons.

I think few is good.

We can't have enough to cover all possible cases; I think not a real question is more than ok for discussions.

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@Koper: it appears there are people who object to using "not a real question" when it clearly is a real question. I think some of the impetus for making such questions CW comes from the fact that there is no proper category for such questions. They are real questions, but they are not what CW was meant for, so where do they stand? I say make it clear that they are discussion questions, which should therefore be closed. –  John Saunders Feb 21 '10 at 23:57
    
If it is a question that can be objectively answered (ie, not retorical, etc) and it's not subjective then I would say it's allowed, wouldn't you? Otherwise not a real question and subjective and argumentative should cover it. –  Andreas Bonini Feb 22 '10 at 0:40
    
@Koper: I'm talking about real questions which require discussion. Some of these may be subjective. The questions I'm referring to are not argumentative. –  John Saunders Feb 22 '10 at 0:46
    
@John: quoting Jeff (meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/5018/describing-close-reasons): subjective is actually OK in some situations. It's the combination of subjective+argumenetative specifically that I find obnoxious and anti-community. –  Andreas Bonini Feb 22 '10 at 3:30
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@Koper: why do you feel I disagree with that? I'm referring in this request to posts which may or not be subjective, but which require, or at least, encourage, discussions. These are not appropriate for a Q&A (Question and Answer) site. –  John Saunders Feb 22 '10 at 4:08
    
The interpretation of "Not a Real Question" as used is "not a questions or not appropriate for $SITE", which is why people use it on discussion. And yes, that causes confusion among new users. –  dmckee Feb 22 '10 at 4:11
    
My criterion for "not a real question" is "Would I clearly recognize an answer to the question?" Therefore, I don't read it as excluding subjective questions. –  David Thornley Feb 22 '10 at 14:53
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I think the "let's make a glorified list of X!" problem is much more dangerous and pernicious than discussion.

Some subjective discussion is OK, as long as it's a reasonably low level relative to the core Q&A on the site.

update: we changed "subjective and argumentative" to this, network-wide, which covers discussion, lists, and a number of other common scenarios:

not constructive

This question is not a good fit to our Q&A format. We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

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Jeff, I don't see any way for the discussions to not get out of hand. Once you allow the same kind of disucssion permitted on any other forum, people will no longer be able to see what's different between SO and any other forum. –  John Saunders Feb 22 '10 at 9:58
    
@John: while there might be no way to ensure a discussion gets out of hand, that's not in-and-of-itself a guarantee any given discussion will get out of hand. –  quack quixote Feb 22 '10 at 11:30
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@quack: by "out of hand", I pretty much mean "existing". I think that the very existence of discussions dilutes the Q&A nature of SO and makes it "just another discussion forum". This is because people not accustomed to SO (and some who are) will then begin treating it just like any other discussion forum. That must be avoided in order to retain the unique value that SO provides. –  John Saunders Feb 22 '10 at 13:26
    
@Jeff: I find it strange that you would refer to list questions as "dangerous and pernicious", and yet you gave the green light to this: stackoverflow.com/questions/1995113/strangest-language-feature Curious... –  gnostradamus Feb 22 '10 at 22:32
    
@gnovice every rule has exceptions; I believe the 'fun' part was covered in a blog post on blog.stackoverflow.com recently –  Jeff Atwood Feb 23 '10 at 8:10
    
@john our system makes discussion awkward, and that is by design. It will continue to be by design as long as I'm alive and able to control it. –  Jeff Atwood Feb 23 '10 at 8:11
    
@jeff: I'm agreeing with you, and going further: I'd like to see a close reason to close such awkward questions. There are those who will use "awkward" discussions unless you explicitly tell them, "no, closed as being a discussion question". –  John Saunders Feb 23 '10 at 12:03
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I think there should be a close reason "Not a Q&A question", which would include discussions.

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That would work for me, though I might use different verbiage. –  John Saunders Feb 22 '10 at 20:58
    
Yeah, I'm also not really happy with the phrasing, but couldn't think of anything good. –  sth Feb 22 '10 at 21:30
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I would also be for this. I think that sometimes, discussing things to cover the overall range of subjective opinions, to create a kind of composite answer, is the correct way to handle certain questions.

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Except that, with this close reason, such a question would be closed. –  John Saunders Feb 22 '10 at 0:10
    
I think I misread the question. I thought that subjective questions should be allowed to stay open, rather than closing. –  Laykes Feb 22 '10 at 0:40
    
subjective questions do not necessarily require extensive discussion. I'm talking about a new close reason for questions (subjective or not) which require discussion. –  John Saunders Feb 22 '10 at 0:47
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