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Hello Community,

Since long time, I was a "random visitor" of a "random website" called StackOverflow, stumbling upon interesting and helpful posts when googling for technical solutions. A week ago I decided to jump in to share some of my own experience back, and, I must admit, was quickly hooked by its philosophy and its challenging reputation system (by the way, does SO Users Anonymous exist?).


Let's get to the point. Several days ago, I posted a question asking people which mixtures of ASP.NET technologies and components they usually use at their jobs and in which context (say, Jquery + MVC + NHibernate for high traffic sites, or Asp.Net Ajax + WebForms + LinqToSql for intranets). Let me say parenthetically, I still believe in the interest of this question: people often discuss differences between separate components ( NHibernate vs iBatis, etc.) and why they use them, but rarely talk about the whole picture.

Several minutes later, my question was downvoted twice, without any explanation. Given my youthful freshness on this site, I thought it was in natural order of things here. A few days later, it was “voted to close” by someone (again, without explanation). At this point, I started to really wonder if my question was in conformity with the local policy, so I reread the FAQ page thoroughly. And yes, objectively speaking, it was not conform to at least 2 rules:

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

  1. every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite __?

  2. your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use _ for _, what do you use?”

Convinced, I voted to close my own question too (it was too late to delete it).


However (and now we really get to the point), sometimes I see this kind of questions:

  • What is the most [...] you've encountered?
  • What are the most useful [...]?
  • Etc. etc.

Incidentally, many of these questions enjoy a great public interest and originate from, or get participation of highly reputed users. Also, most of them are wikified.

So, what’s the real policy here? Can I still repost my original question, formulating it differently, eventually wikifying it? Or should I post it elsewhere? [troll-mode] Or are there some hidden privileges for some users allowing them to get some immunities? [/troll-mode]

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Consider providing some links (to your question, to other examples)... –  ChristopheD Jan 19 '11 at 23:25
2  
You mean what rep do you need to ask discussion questions instead of programming questions on SO? –  random Jan 19 '11 at 23:30
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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I asked similar question two weeks ago. Check the response and provided links. Policies changed over time.

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On Stack Overflow you should steer clear of subjective questions that have no definitive right answer.

The FAQ does say:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

Your question was pretty open ended:

asking people which mixtures of ASP.NET technologies and components they usually use at their jobs and in which context

Now if you were kicking off a project and needed practical advice:

I am starting a project using ASP.NET MVC3, Entity Framework 4.0 and the new Code First components. I am thinking of using MySQL 5 as my database, has anyone used this combination, if so what problems or pitfalls have they encountered?

That's way better than your open ended question which will often result in a glorified list with no real practical information.

There's world of difference between "please tell me all your different setups" and "I am trying to solve X, can I have some suggestions on what tooling I should look at?".

If on doubt read this:

Good Subjective, Bad Subjective by Robert Cartaino

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Can you elaborate on why a testimonial cannot be a practical information? What if someone does not know where to start, is lost with all hyped new components and don't even know that it is even possible to use component X with component Y? –  Xoum Jan 21 '11 at 12:30
    
@Maxim - there's world of difference between "please tell me all your different setups" and "I am trying to solve X, can I have some suggestions on what tooling I should look at?". –  Kev Jan 21 '11 at 12:58
    
@Kev: in essence, the difference is not so important on the answer level: for your 2d example, people will talk about their own experiences, and ultimately about their preferences; there are often different solutions proposed and the answer just can't be completely objective. If I ask, "I'm setting up a new web project [explicit personal problem], which architecture and components would you recommend [question]?" is substantially not so different from "what do you prefer to use [question] to create web projects [implicit impersonal problem]?". –  Xoum Jan 21 '11 at 13:58
    
@maxim - Your further two examples (above) are still a bit vague. SO is in your parlance "2d": one dimension is the problem, the other is the solution, there's no need for the third dimension of subjectivity. At the end of the day use your best judgement. Aim to ask questions that don't end up with subjective opinions for answers. Aim to get answers that are objective and factually correct, oh and of course on-topic. –  Kev Jan 21 '11 at 14:30
    
@maxim - for example "Why don't Microsoft just use webkit in IE?" vs "What technical reasons are there for Microsoft not using webkit in IE?". The first question leaves you wide open to a raft full of fanboi/hater rants and flames, the other would attract measured responses such as "that it's perhaps hard to integrate the various security zones that corporations enjoy having". –  Kev Jan 21 '11 at 14:34
    
@Kev: OK, so, SO is not for subjective questions. Is it more suitable to post such questions on Programmers.SE in such case? (The "Good Subjective / Bad Subjective" article seems to apply to that site specifically.) My question: 1) tries to determine "why" (in which context you use it) 4) invites to share experience 6) is not "mindless social fun". –  Xoum Jan 21 '11 at 15:17
    
@Maxim - [moved to retain chronological order] I'll be honest, I don't really use PSE so I couldn't really comment. But they have their own meta so you could ask and perhaps refer to this thread. –  Kev Jan 21 '11 at 15:20
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