Before stackoverflow (and currently, to a lesser extent) I helped out on several IRC channels. There have always been certain FAQs for each channel. Over the years there have been a variety of resources we use as authoritative references; SO has become a great site for many of them.
More often there are the non-FAQ questions. "Why is this particular site/code/application doing what it is doing, and how do I fix it?" IRC is, IMHO, perfect for this. Immediate, personal, tailored problem analysis and solution. Posting a blog entry about the solution would—most of the time—be of little use to anyone else.
I see SO as the opposite of IRC in this regard. While it's nice to get a community of rabid experts vying for the opportunity to fix your problem, it seems to me that there is little long-term value (either to SO or the 'net as a whole) to hosting questions and answers related to a very specific problem.
- Is anyone but the OP going to benefit from this question, describing a problem with SVG pie-charts in Ruby where the problem was a mistake in degree-to-radian conversion?
- A user with invalid HTML markup that needed a specific CSS hack to fix his layout?
- This user has created a site that looks horrible in IE and wants help fixing it.
I realize that the world isn't black-and-white. It's possible to conjure up some almost-plausible scenarios where a future user might find the question after searching and get an answer. But I submit that by-and-large questions like this are a drain on SO.
If you could categorize and identify such questions (either absolutely or on a scale), do you think that they should be discouraged?
If so—if this is a worthy problem to investigate—do you have any suggestions on how to identify such questions, separating the wheat from the chaff?