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When I see popular, well received questions like this, or this, on Stack Overflow, I get confused as to why my question, asking favorite design patterns, gets closed as argumentative, and unanswerable.

Can anyone give me some clarity on why some survey questions are allowed to stay, and others are not?

EDIT: Also, shouldn't the presence of a survey tag, on Stack Overflow, indicate that there has to be some kind of acceptable survey questions?

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Re your edit. The same logic applies. If a bad tag isn't seen by enough people it will stay in the system. Once brought to light it can be removed. However, there may well be legitimate reasons for having a [survey] tag so you should take each tag on it's own merits. –  ChrisF Feb 7 '11 at 16:42
    
[survey] is a meta tag, see here: blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/08/the-death-of-meta-tags. If you see such tags, flag the post for moderator attention and we will remove them, on a case-by-case basis. @Polyanna correctly notes that some of those tags may refer to survey software. –  Robert Harvey Feb 7 '11 at 16:42
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3 Answers

Those two questions are shining examples of what we consider off-topic on StackOverflow, because they are highly subjective poll questions with no single correct answer. However, occasionally someone will post a gem of an off-topic question, and it manages to survive on the site due to its popularity.

Nowadays, the proper home for such questions is http://programmers.stackexchange.com, although I would carefully read their FAQ first before posting such a question there.

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why [does] my question, asking favorite design patterns, get closed as argumentative, and unanswerable?

It doesn't follow the guidelines in the FAQ:

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

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. To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite __?”
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use _ for _, what do you use?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if __ happened?”
  • it is a rant disguised as a question: “__ sucks, am I right?”

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about _”, then you should not be asking here. If your motivation is “I would like others to explain _ to me”, then you are probably OK.

The FAQ is pretty clear as to what is allowed, and what is likely to be closed.

Can anyone give me some clarity on why some survey questions are allowed to stay, and others are not?

The two examples you provided were started in November, 2008 - just one month after the open beta of Stack Overflow started. At that time Stack Overflow was still in the throes of defining itself, and there are a lot of popular questions that were allowed at that time, and have been grandfathered in.

Despite the grandfathering, many of these questions are being closed and migrated in order to avoid the confusion you are feeling.

EDIT: Also, shouldn't the presence of a survey tag, on Stack Overflow, indicate that there has to be some kind of acceptable survey questions?

No. The survey tag is ok for programming questions concerning survey software, code, etc (although I don't think it's relevant) and you'll notice that most survey questions which are surveys are closed. Please flag those that are not.

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The reason they are "allowed" to stay is that being old questions they are not seen by many people any more. If a bad question can survive a few days then it's highly likely that it will stay hidden amongst the far greater mass of good questions, never to gain enough votes at any one time to be closed.

These questions are really old and were asked when the guidelines were looser. They would be closed quite quickly if they were asked today.

If someone (like yourself) highlights these questions then it's highly likely that they will be closed very quickly. The two examples you link to have already gained 2 close votes.

As @Robert said - don't assume that you can post such questions on Programmers' either. They are often just poor questions and poor questions are "off topic" on any Stack Exchange site.

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