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Call me biased:

The comment (reason for closing):
Questions on Stack Overflow are expected to generally relate to programming or software development in some way, within the scope defined in the faq.

IMNSHO, this reason is silliness. As a programmer security and money are both important to me. On the one hand, I want to secure freeware that I intend to distribute;
OTOH, it's been a very tough economy and I wish to get the lowest price that I can.


(a) how does one reopen a closed question?

(b) why is this closing process so much like
~~ convicting the accused without her/his right to a fair trial?

(c) WHY does this closing mechanism even exist?
If the question is spam, then moderators can delete it;
OTOH, it is just is a question that few are interested in,
THEN simply ignore it.

This allowing the inmates to run the Stack Overflow asylum simply creates such an unfriendly environment than community members with skin less thick than mine will likely go away and never return!

[2010 May 5] Here is just one more reason why I still strongly believe that the inmates are still running the asylum:

-- there is such negativity here at Stack Overflow

~~ In case you're wondering why I do not sulk off into the woods and die, it's because I'm fool enough to believe that if Jeff Atwood steps forward and sets a more positive tone, that such a tone will become contagious. That said, I must credit Jeff Atwood with setting the reputation floor at +1 ~~ otherwise I'd likely be in the hole, as would so many others. I wish I knew how many develpers from novice to very senior have be driven away from Stack Overflow by all of this negativity. IMO, the negativity at Stack Overflow can be toxic. Fortunately, it's not infected everyone. There are Stack Overflow members who actually do their best to be helpful; to those members, I offer a very sincere "Thank you".

share|improve this question
This is the appeals process... Users are able to re-open the question as easily as they voted to close it, so make your case. – Shog9 Apr 7 '10 at 21:57
looks like a business question posted to a programming site to me. i can appreciate that engineering (of any kind, software included) needs to take cost/budget into consideration, but you didn't post the question to an engineering site. – quack quixote Apr 7 '10 at 22:01
-1 for using acronyms in place of phrases. – Josh K Apr 7 '10 at 22:17
Check out… – Adam Davis Apr 7 '10 at 23:06
Stackoverflow does not follow the laws of the US. Get over it. – Earlz Apr 7 '10 at 23:14
The inmates are running the asylum for the most part, so your appeal goes to them too. But don't worry, even though I'm normal and only in here by mistake a lot of the rest really are crazy.. – dmckee Apr 8 '10 at 0:53
-1 overformatted, hard to read. Yes, I could have edited it, but ... nah. – John Rudy Apr 8 '10 at 1:07
I AM NAPOLEON!! – DVK Apr 8 '10 at 2:14
There are some Australians using the sites, so that part might be okay. @jus – random Apr 8 '10 at 8:37
@Justin: I don't see anything here about criminals. And The Inmates Are Running the Asylum is a pretty well-known phrase in the software industry. – mmyers Apr 8 '10 at 13:12
The example from 2010-05-05 is a non-programming question closed because it wasn't a programming question, and pointed to you why. Where was the negativity? – random May 6 '10 at 2:40
@ random: the negativity is to look at any excuse whatsoever to not attempt to help your peers; the question is definitely related to programming. I find the negativity endemic to a group of SO members who really do not want to attempt to help others; I'm not talking simply about questions that I ask since many of my questions will appear eclectic to the younger programmers here; I wrote my first computer programs back in 1967. I've seen people here close questions suspected of being someone's homework. cp./ct. where members would help young students by guiding them kindly. g. – gerryLowry May 7 '10 at 2:50
Here's possibly a further example ... in another thread, also closed, I was looking for an e-mail address of someone in Microsoft's Legal Department. One member provided ... either that member was sincere (which I hope is the case) or was playing a joke on me ... steveb is apparently Steve Ballmer's address ... {…} ... ?! ... it's highly unlikely that the e-mail that I sent to the steveb address went anywhere other than /dev/null B-( – gerryLowry May 8 '10 at 9:22
In my previous comment, entered a few minutes ago, I mentioned a thread in SO ... I just went to look at that thread and notice that it apparently has vanished, much as a person might vanish from an oppressive military regime ... at imo a friendlier site than SO, at least I would get an e-mail from the moderator who deleted one of my messages ... it seems like SO and the concept of courtesy have the ability to mix that is common with oil and water. – gerryLowry May 8 '10 at 9:33

I'd call that a righteous close. You're asking about the price of the certificate, not its utility to a programmer. As a rule of thumb, if your question doesn't involve the act of writing code, it's subject to closing. A lot of borderline questions get through, but not all of them make it.

I will try to address your points though:

how does one reopen a closed case?

The same way it was closed in the first place, the community votes on it.

why is this closing process so much like
~~ convicting the accused without her/his right to a fair trial?

Well, this is the Internet, not a U.S. court of law, so I'm not sure where you got the idea that have a right to a fair trial. You do have the right to edit your question to make it more on-topic though, and you can leave comments telling why you think it already is. So I guess in a way you can argue your case. (Or, as already pointed out, you can discuss it here on meta.)

WHY does this closing mechanism even exist? if the question is spam, then moderators can delete it; otoh, it is just is a question that few are interested in, THEN simply ignore it.

Moderators tend to stay out of borderline cases, preferring instead to let the community decide what it wants to allow. If it were spam, we would delete it. This question is only closed, which means it has a chance of being reopened by the community. If it's just a question that few are interested in, then it eventually will be deleted. Ignoring questions that are off-topic isn't how we handle things here. That's why Stack Overflow hasn't turned in to Yahoo! Answers. By keeping it on topic, we keep the site useful to the core audience.

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I think the last three sentences are worth reading twice. – Joel Coehoorn Apr 7 '10 at 22:18
I think it takes more than twice to figure out which are the last three ;-) – SamB Apr 7 '10 at 22:37
Ignoring questions that are off-topic isn't how we handle things here. That's why Stack Overflow hasn't turned in to Yahoo! Answers. By keeping it on topic, we keep the site useful to the core audience. (There. Now you've read it twice per @Joel's suggestion, and didn't have to look for it per @SamB's complaint. ;-) – Adam Davis Apr 7 '10 at 23:23

Keep in mind that the "inmates" you refer to have spent at least 30 hours over at least 15 days to vote on closing questions, and that it requires at least 5 of them to do so (assuming it takes about an hour to get 100 rep, which is faster than typical). So for any given question to be closed, you have to have people that together have accrued 150 hours of actively answering questions on Stackoverflow, and 75 days of usage on the site. That's a total of 15,000 reputation that is needed to close a question, spread out among 5 people.

The people who closed your question, however, have together accrued over 40,000 reputation, which together likely required over 500 man-hours of actively answering questions - the equivalent of 12 weeks of full time work. Together they have been active users of stackoverflow for nearly 4 years.

These "inmates" are exactly who we want closing questions.

share|improve this answer

A couple of points before I answer your points:

  1. Just because something is interesting to a programmer does not mean it is relevant to the site. One could make the same argument about the question "What is the best place to get my morning coffee?".
  2. Starting a question critizing most of the high-rep users with "imnsho" is not, perhaps, the most tactful method I could think of.


  1. "How does one reopen a closed question?"
    By getting five people to reopen it. It's the same as closing, but in reverse.

  2. "Why is this closing process so much like convicting the accused without her/his right to a fair trial?"
    Well, for one thing, the appeals process starts as soon as the question is closed, and often without further intervention from the original poster.

  3. "WHY does this closing mechanism even exist?"
    Two words: Yahoo! Answers.

    "If the question is spam, then moderators can delete it; otoh, it is just is a question that few are interested in, THEN simply ignore it."
    Yes, and most of the moderation is delegated to high-rep users (and who said moderators are infallible, anyway?). The process has already started for your question. I do not recall seeing questions closed simply because of lack of interest. If anything, such a question would survive longer, because fewer potential closers would see it.

I was going to address your question in particular next, but I see that Bill the Lizard has covered that aspect already. I was just going to say that it's a borderline case.

share|improve this answer
yes, #1 is the most salient point, I think. If it is true of peanut butter sandwiches as well as programming, it's not really a "programming" question.. – Jeff Atwood Apr 8 '10 at 3:08

why is this closing process so much like ~~ convicting the accused without her/his right to a fair trial?

You had a fair trial. When you posted your question, it included a implied assertion from you that you believed your question was on-topic, well written, objective, not offensive, and not a duplicate of existing questions.

A jury of five of your peers read your question and decided that they disagreed with your implied assertion and voted to close.

share|improve this answer
I wouldn't exactly call them this guy's peers :) – DVK Apr 8 '10 at 2:17

Having read the question, it really doesn't pass the "peanut butter sandwich" test.

The little quip I have for this situation is, "Yes what you are saying is true of [programming] but it's also true of peanut butter sandwiches."

Stated another way, "where do I get the cheapest X" is awfully generic. I can think of a few ways this question could perhaps be restated that would (perhaps) be more palatable to the community, such as

Is it really worth $99 to get my code signed? Does signing the code I have written confer any benefits to my users?

Of course such questions have been asked in various forms as well...

share|improve this answer
Jeff, I know that SO is your football and you make the rules of the game. Nevertheless, your above answer is silly. Let me explain: (a) if I've asked the question poorly, that's no excuse to CLOSE it ... at when someone asks a question poorly, caring community members help that person rephrase her/his question and/or get her/him to provide additional information ... at community members want to help each other ... here at SO you have many MEAN SPIRITED members whose main goal appears to be to prove that programmers have mastered the art of being uncouth. – gerryLowry Apr 8 '10 at 7:43
(b) many programmers are POOR ... and yet still want to be PROFESSIONAL and sign their code whether it be for freeware or commercial software or both. Ergo, asking where one can get the best price on a programmer's tool is pertinent. imo is the best deal for a dedicated server which is why I use them. Microsoft's Website Spark program is the best deal for web developers who need Web Server 2008 R2 and SQL Server 2008 Web edition and Visual Studio, et cetera. I'm guessing that there are more poor programmers than there are rich ones. – gerryLowry Apr 8 '10 at 7:49
(c) the only CURRENT question relating to price at is mine. Questions about price need to be re-asked because price is volatile. So to questons about c#: a new version is about to ship. SO members who like to point to questions previously answered need to look at those previous answers first and see whether they are still 100% relevant. – gerryLowry Apr 8 '10 at 7:52
(d) you have many MEAN members here. I'm not the only one to point that out ... if you really want be proud of your SO creation, you need to get them to behave respectfully. has an "Alert moderators" link on every post ... you need to do that here too. Your MEAN members are driving away persons whose skin is less thick than mine. I am sure that is NOT something that you want. Regards, Gerry (Lowry) – gerryLowry Apr 8 '10 at 7:56
P.S.: even though point (c) has an edit link, I could not save my edit. "So to questons about c#" should be "So do questons about c#"; i.e., "to" should be "do". – gerryLowry Apr 8 '10 at 8:00
@gerry, there is a button to flag a post for moderator attention. There is a flag for all questions, answers, and comments. Use them if you feel they are necessary. The moderators do a great job of making sure the content on the site stays up to par. – jjnguy Apr 8 '10 at 8:02
@gerry, you are given a 5 min window to edit comments. You must have started editing it before the window, and tried to save it after the window had closed. – jjnguy Apr 8 '10 at 8:04
@gerry: The constant comparisons to show that you know very well how your home site works, and that is good. However, it is apparent that you're not yet familiar with how the SO family works, nor its core missions. Questions about anything as volatile as price are frowned upon on MOST of the sites, because price is (a) too localized (one of the close reasons), (b) too prone to fluctuation and (c) as a result of b, not good for a repository of programming knowledge. Certificate prices may be interesting, but so are the latest cigars from Paul Garmirian -- neither is apropos here. – John Rudy Apr 8 '10 at 12:03
@user0x36E0 there is an old saying that goes something like "statistics is 99% lies"; where do you get "Questions on anything as volatile as price are frowned upon on MOST of the sites"? if today's concensus is that the price for "xUnit Test Patterns" is best at then there is a good chance that six months from now the price may have fluctuated but is still likely, although not guaranteed, to have the best current price. Artifacts are useful; "The Little LISPer" is still fantastic reading today. We can agree on tobacco products ~~ definitely not relative to ANY website! – gerryLowry Apr 8 '10 at 14:57
Price is best is not equivalent to price is under x amount. Also, it's still a localized issue -- something you didn't address. (And trust me, the SO family of sites are not as US-centric as one might think.) As for tobacco products, I beg to differ, as a programmer I prefer Paul Garmirian Symphony 20s when I can get them; when I'm relaxing I'll settle for his 15th Anniversaries. – John Rudy Apr 9 '10 at 1:35

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