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My question, How do you pronounce "std", got closed. Okay, fine. Now it got deleted on top of that. Meanwhile, How do you pronounce char is closed and locked but it still exists. More importantly, "How do you pronounce SQL", remains alive and well.

Is it so much to ask that rules get applied evenly? There's another recent discussion about what type of contests should be allowed. Now, the faq states that we should "Avoid asking questions that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion". Stack Overflow is a programming Q&A site, not a programming contest platform, and yet some (though not all) "Code Golf" posts survive.

The faq says one thing, but in practice the real principle rule of Stack Overflow is "off-topic or subjective questions are not allowed, unless this site's upper class likes them. In which case go right on ahead."

It's not coordinated, and I believe NOT intentional, but IMHO there is some widespread hypocrisy going on but I see, in my opinion, plenty enough inconsistencies to raise this issue (wasn't trying to personally offend anyone, sorry). Questions that aren't directly on topic need to be moved to a separate site or stamped out completely. All of them. Completely.

I really can't stand this, and I really don't understand how everyone else can. At any rate, rather than fuming in a corner or just walking away entirely I figured I'd be open and discuss this here. As the footer says, "feedback always welcome". Thank you for your time.

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There's no need to make Meta Questions community wiki. –  George Stocker Apr 15 '10 at 0:11
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Unless you're scared of downvotes.... –  Josh K Apr 15 '10 at 0:18
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@JoshK I'll admit that freely, yes. –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 0:20
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I tend to agree, and I'm sick of seeing "Best (x)" or whatnot. I'm also sick of seeing people get 150 upvotes for these questions/answers. However, because the site is peer moderated I don't know if there's ever going to be a solution to it. –  Mark Henderson Apr 15 '10 at 0:24
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The term "hypocrisy" is truly meaningless when applied to a group. –  Bill the Lizard Apr 15 '10 at 0:45
    
Do those Best (x) still get asked or are they from the old times? They are not allowed now, but the old ones should remain, for the sake of old times @far @bill –  jmfsg Apr 15 '10 at 1:30
    
@Downvoter, no idea to be honest, I think they're mostly old but of course the get bumped to the top of the list every few days (and on SF it can sit on the front page for up to 12 hours) –  Mark Henderson Apr 15 '10 at 2:28
    
Maybe it got closed because people thought it was about "those" STDs. –  Aarobot Apr 15 '10 at 3:23
    
@BilltheLizard Ok fine, but as long as closing off topic questions is the handled of one group of people, and leaving off topic yet "interesting" questions is the responsibility, I shouldn't complain? –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 3:26
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@Matt Blaine: Your feedback is always welcome, but all you're doing is complaining without suggesting a possible solution to the problem. Getting a large group of people to act consistently over a period of time is trickier than it sounds. –  Bill the Lizard Apr 15 '10 at 3:56
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Consistency is for bowel movements and yogurt. Wait, what? scratches head . . . Oh, right. Consistency is for Unicorns and Poptarts. Yeah, that was it... –  Adam Davis Apr 15 '10 at 4:01
    
@Bill You are right, I am complaining. I also agree that there's no simple solution. –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 6:15
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6 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Answer questions, build rep, and join the team of under-appreciated over-users of the close and delete links. The solution to all those blasted 'best' and 'pronounciation' questions is more people with the will and rep to dispose of them.

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I like your answer. That is pretty much it, isn't it. Thank you. –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 3:52
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Your overinflated sense of justice ("If I can't have it, then nobody else can!") is getting in the way here. Stack Overflow is a community, and its mores and standards evolve over time. The other questions you reference were asked long ago (in internet time) before the standards of the community were well established.

Stack Overflow as a community has no constitution, no common law legal process, and no formal appeal. There is no shortage of new questions, unfortunately yours was chosen to be off-topic according to the community standards today.

As mentioned previously, advertising your feelings of injustice in the original question just makes you appear like a whinger.

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+1 for "The other questions you reference were asked long ago" - Totally agree, leave the past alone! –  jmfsg Apr 15 '10 at 1:32
    
+1 Well said Greg. –  David HAust Apr 15 '10 at 2:07
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The "Hidden Features of C#" one that were asked "long ago" keep getting answers. And the fresh Code Golf posts continue to pop up. –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 3:26
    
@Matt, That is because they're directly related to the technical art of programming. –  Jonathan Sampson Apr 15 '10 at 3:29
    
@JonathanSampson To quote they faq, they're not "detailed and specific" and they do "require extended discussion". –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 3:31
    
@Matt Any Code Golf question that is not "detailed and specific" will be closed quickly. And Code Golf answers don't require "extended discussion," they largely end with a couple comments like "Wow, I had no idea you could do that with perl!" –  Jonathan Sampson Apr 15 '10 at 3:34
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@GregHewgill "Your overinflated sense of justice" - You're right, it is overinflated. If the upper-echelon can skirt the rules where they feel like it (stackoverflow.com/questions/370073 stackoverflow.com/questions/385816) while strictly applying the rules to everyone else, good for them. Yes, those questions are old "in internet time". Then why not go back at some point and normalize everything? Why not take all the non-specific-programming questions and move them someplace else, where ponies may roam free, et al. –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 3:46
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The thing is, SO is a democracy so nobody's responsible. Somebody needs to get a group together, find all the old (but if asked now, unacceptable) questions, and whatever you do with them, do it to all of them. That's the crux of my malcontent :) –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 3:50
    
@Matt: Why? What harm are those questions doing you? –  David Thornley Apr 15 '10 at 21:03
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IMO SO does have a formal appeal process. This is it. –  Phoshi Apr 16 '10 at 11:52
    
@Matt Blaine: Technically, such efforts exist. Note that they are woefully underpowered - tens of thousands such questions exist in the db; and every now and then, this happens: "close question #9996, close question #9995, close question #9994, close question #9993, respond to the complaints of poster of #9995 who claims that his question was unfairly closed while #9984 and #9854 are left alone". See? Simple statistics say that there will always be questions that are not closed, although they should be: there isn't enough people here to close all the not-real-questions. –  Piskvor May 18 '11 at 7:50
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I would have closed it just because of the argumentative tone you took at the end of the question right when you wrote it.

You didn't give the community a chance to accept your question:

Please don't take this as being rude, but if you'd like to close this question, there are many others like it that were allowed to survive. So, if you decide to close any of them, would you kindly close all of them? Thanks.

You may have fared better without that line at the end of your initial post.

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My question should have been closed. But so should all the others just like it, and every other question that isn't a specific programming problem. So the subjective and off-topic "Code Golf" and "Hidden Features of x" posts are okay because they're polite? –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 0:19
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"Code Golf" deals with programming, and solving problems with code. "Hidden Features" sounds ambiguous, but I've seen some questions that also invite a deeper understanding of syntax, compiling, and logic with regards to specific languages. Both of these, in my sincere opinion, are perfectly acceptable programming questions. –  Jonathan Sampson Apr 15 '10 at 0:59
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@Matt: so vote to close them. If enough people feel the same way, they'll get closed. –  Michael Petrotta Apr 15 '10 at 3:16
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@JonathanSampson You, and the others, are trying to rationalize using Stack Overflow, against the stated FAQ, as your own personal "teacher's lounge". Do it someplace else, don't do it at all, or allow every similar question to continue as well. You all, the 10k+ first class citizens, close down subjective questions and contests as off topic, but allow the one's you personally enjoy. It'd be like a traffic cop speeding and then just flashing their badge when they get pulled over. –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 3:19
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@Matt Which Code Golf question specifically do you think is equivalent to asking how to pronounce a word? –  Jonathan Sampson Apr 15 '10 at 3:23
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@JonathanSampson None of them. My question, and all the others that still exist just like it, aren't appropriate for Stack Overflow. Yet they're handled inconstantly. They're similar to other contest-like questions that get shot down because they're off topic AND the higher ups weren't personally amused by them. I don't mean to get so personal, I am sorry, but I'm also pissed. –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 3:30
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@Matt You have the right to be pissed if you feel you were wronged. I'm merely inviting you to provide some data. Code Golf questions generally consist of specific programming tasks, which is why they largely remain opened. Not simply because they're amusing, but because they are technical questions about solving problems programmatically. Again, which Code Golf question specifically do you think should be closed? –  Jonathan Sampson Apr 15 '10 at 3:32
    
@Jon The ones that are problems the author is actually facing and not arbitrary contests are fine in my personal opinion. This is a good one: stackoverflow.com/questions/10118/… –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 3:37
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@Matt With all due respect, identifying your browser programmatically is a programming question. Try writing a web-based application with heavy javascript-dependencies that works cross-browser, and you'll see the legitimacy of this question. Do you have a better example of a bad code-golf question? –  Jonathan Sampson Apr 15 '10 at 3:39
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@Jon Sorry, I meant that one was okay from my view. All the other ones aren't. :) –  Matt Blaine Apr 15 '10 at 3:47
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@Matt Which other ones, specifically, aren't acceptable? –  Jonathan Sampson Apr 15 '10 at 4:06
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@Matt: I suggest you lighten up. This is a community-moderated site, working according to some general rules, and one thing that isn't an emergent property of those is consistency. As a rule, questions that should definitely be left open are left open, questions that should definitely be closed are closed, and I see no reason to quibble about the borderline ones. –  David Thornley Apr 15 '10 at 20:49
    
@DavidThornley I guess my problem is not having the right view of Stack Overflow. Stack Overflow is a company, one way or another not a non-profit. The software as it's designed is brilliant, and I really do mean brilliant. That plus how quickly questions get answered, it really is, in my view, the perfect programming Q&A site. However, I see, not one or two, but a great many instances very different fates for nearly identical questions. That bothers me. I'm allowed to be bothered by that, and of course you're allowed to not be. –  Matt Blaine Apr 17 '10 at 14:27
    
@DavidThornley That said, I feel the issue is non-insignificant enough that it should be worked on. And so I started this thread; though I could have been more diplomatic in my original post. I think I'll update it. –  Matt Blaine Apr 17 '10 at 14:27
    
This isn't regarding the answer above, or even this question, but in addition to this comment thread. Stack Overflow is a company, which affects my POV a lot. For instance, this question on meta got downvoted and closed, which is just fine meta.stackexchange.com/questions/46740/… But then half the comments are mocking the asker, and the highest voted answer is a joke. For better or worse, if they're seriously asking a question, they at least deserve to not be the but of others' jokes. >> cont. –  Matt Blaine Apr 17 '10 at 14:40
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pronunciation is hardly a programming question, unless your computer talks ;-)

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does anyone remember Dr Sbaitso?? –  Antony Apr 15 '10 at 6:23
    
@Antony I do! Wasn't that a speech synthesis program that came with Sound Blaster cards or something? –  Pëkka Apr 15 '10 at 7:02
    
@Pekka: "My name is Doctor Sbaitso. I am here to help you. Say whatever is in your mind freely, our conversation will be kept in strict confidence. Memory contents will be wiped off after you leave, So, tell me about your problems." –  Teddy Apr 15 '10 at 7:11
    
@Teddy awww. I remember. That program was great! –  Pëkka Apr 15 '10 at 7:23
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Is it so much to ask that rules get applied evenly?

Yes, actually it is. Everyone will have a slightly different interpretation of the rules, and everyone has a slightly different interpretation of how those rules apply to any particular question. It is absurd to ask that everyone interpret and apply all rules to all questions in a way that is totally consistent with your own expectations.

On a related note, if you want to try to coax people into accepting your point of view as correct, this is not an effective way to go about that.

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I would disagree with those who say that how you pronounce things has nothing to do with programming.

As programmers, much of our jobs are to do with communication. We communicate with clients to determine requirements, with the computer to translate those requirements into code and most importantly we communicate with our colleagues on issues of design, implementation and testing.

When communicating with co-workers, lack of common ground can be a barrier to communication and these questions do seem to be related to the social aspect of programming. Pronouncing SQL as it's initials might single you out as a newbie, saying car instead of char could completely change the meaning of a comment, while saying /ˈlaɪnʊks/ rather than /ˈlɪnʊks/ could indicate that you couldn't be bothered to learn how to say Linux, or it could mean that you got used to the former pronunciation long before Linus told people how he pronounced it.

All of these things can impact on how you are perceived by other programmers and thus how easily you can work with your colleagues.

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