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A few weeks into joining SO and I'm still sometimes not understanding what a "good" question is.

For example, could someone kindly explain why a question like this and its answers have so many upvotes? It's completely subjective, it's not even a programming question, anyone can ask a question like this (e.g. "What's the most useful IDE you've used, and why?"), and yet it has so many votes and views. I'm still confused as to why some questions are good and sometimes not, even after reading the FAQ and whatnot.

Thank you!

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Soooo tempted to migrate that to Programmers.SE... – Shog9 Jan 7 '11 at 21:43
@Shog9 - Sounds like the kind of question they'd hate having migrated over there. – Adam Davis Jan 7 '11 at 21:46
Hahaha nice. But that also makes me wonder, what's the difference between SO and Programmers.SE? It's a little hard to tell. – Mehrdad Jan 7 '11 at 21:47
@Poll: I think you've identified the source of my temptation. – Shog9 Jan 7 '11 at 21:48
@Lambert, in a nutshell: both are Q&A sites for programmers, but SO is for serious, technical questions about programming... P.SE isn't. – Shog9 Jan 7 '11 at 21:48
@Shog9: Haha that's... ironic. So why isn't this question (link), for example, on SO? It seems to fit well there. (I can find lots of other examples too...) – Mehrdad Jan 7 '11 at 21:51
@Lambert: It could be. I would have asked it on SO. But, for whatever reason, its author did not. There's a pretty big gray area where questions kinda work on both sites. – Shog9 Jan 7 '11 at 21:52
@Lambert - Programmers is meant to support "constructive" questions about programming that may be too subjective for SO. But their community is still in the early days, and so the FAQ is the best spot to figure out the differences between the two. – Adam Davis Jan 7 '11 at 21:52
An, okay, that makes sense, thanks! (I have a feeling Programmers.SE might get flooded with subjective questions sometime soon... ;) ) – Mehrdad Jan 7 '11 at 21:53
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You should not be confusing "high upvotes" with "good question".

If you want a great guide on what makes a good question, try out Jon Skeet's Writing the Perfect Question.

Regarding why some obviously subjective questions remain open, the community decides what to keep open, and what to close. Some very popular, but off topic, questions will remain open because more people will vote to open than people will vote to close. There are a number of long-standing questions that have been closed and opened repeatedly. Those that result in lengthy or repeated close/open wars end up getting locked by the moderators, such as

Great programming quotes

But like everything human, there will always be an example of the exception to the rule.

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+1 Ah okay, good point. Thanks. :) – Mehrdad Jan 7 '11 at 21:45
But then again, why would the questions be up-voted if they aren't good? It's not like the example is funny or anything, so why do people upvote it if it isn't a good question? – Mehrdad Jan 7 '11 at 21:46
@Lambert - This is a "getting to know you" question - in other words, it's applies to everyone, there's no "right" answer, and so everyone can contribute. Due to this a lot of people will upvote it as "It's interesting and it applies to me!" That doesn't make it an appropriate question for SO, though, as it's highly subjective, and never-ending. – Adam Davis Jan 7 '11 at 21:49
Huh... okay. It's interesting how it didn't get closed, though. – Mehrdad Jan 7 '11 at 21:52
That's a great response, thank you! It's interesting to look at the link. :) – Mehrdad Jan 7 '11 at 22:01
@Lambert - Isn't it though? Tempting to upvote, isn't it? ;-P (Comment rolled into answer since it does address your original question a bit better) – Adam Davis Jan 7 '11 at 22:04
@Pollyana: Yes, very tempting... I upvoted quite a few answers right now, actually! – Mehrdad Jan 7 '11 at 22:11

That questions was asked over two years ago. Community standards have changed a bit since then. Please stick to the guidelines in the FAQ.

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Huh, interesting... I've been searching this site for longer than that but I haven't really taken the time to notice. +1 – Mehrdad Jan 7 '11 at 21:45

Questions are questions. Good and bad is what we make of it.

Upvotes don't say this question is great. It says a lot of users saw this question and they found it good,so they answered, upvoted. This further led to more users coming around and upvoting and answering the question. It's one of those good vicious cycles.

Sadly, other "normal" questions don't get this kind of love.

You get many detailed answers with lots of related debates and reading material which will last you a week for a popular question, but a normal question gives you a fairly reasonable answer on most occasions. And finding the answer is our primary aim.

The important thing is getting your question answered. The upvotes and the associated karma is superfluous.(Leave that for us ;))

Trying to write the perfect question is overkill. Ask away and let the community edit your question to perfection. Jon Skeet means no harm though.

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