As far as I understand things, the founders disagreed as to whether or not some questions are too simple. Joel asked a simple question to prove his point that was highly upvoted but has apparently been deleted.

Should I interpret the deletion as an indication that a consensus has been reached and some questions are, indeed, too basic to ask? If yes, this would be news to me and should probably be clarified, because it looks to me like they are still experimenting and no consensus has been reached. If no, then the question should probably be un-deleted.

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    Jeff himself deleted it - so there's little to no chance it will get undeleted. – ChrisF Sep 30 '11 at 20:40
  • So does that mean he persuaded Joel to change his mind? – Michael McGowan Sep 30 '11 at 20:41
  • I've no idea. You'll have to hope that Jeff answers this question. – ChrisF Sep 30 '11 at 20:43
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    I have to say -- make the "Locked" moderator message that "don't ask questions like this it's for historical reasons" more prominent and we can keep things like this. I'm sure it was deleted because of the answers rather than the question. – agf Sep 30 '11 at 20:56
  • @ChrisF, according to the error message the post was deleted for reasons of moderation. – Hendrik Brummermann Sep 30 '11 at 21:33
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    @HendrikBrummermann - I think that's just the message you get when a moderator deletes a question. – ChrisF Sep 30 '11 at 21:34
  • @ChrisF so it is a bug? – Hendrik Brummermann Sep 30 '11 at 21:35
  • @HendrikBrummermann - I don't think so. If you have more than 10K you see the deleted question which just states that it was deleted and by who. In this case just Jeff. – ChrisF Sep 30 '11 at 21:37
  • @ChrisF, ahh, sorry, I confused Jeff and Joel. – Hendrik Brummermann Sep 30 '11 at 21:39
  • Nooooooooooooo..... I want the turtle back! – xanatos Sep 30 '11 at 22:10
  • Should have tagged this [turtles]. A golden opportunity for it to show up highlighted as one of my favorite tags. Now I'll have to wait, like, another month for another gray-highlighted question to show up in my questions list. :( – Rob Hruska Sep 30 '11 at 22:34
  • @RobHruska When posting I did not see a "turtles" tag, and I did not realize until just now that I had tag-creation super powers. Given that "Eeeek" has been removed from the title, I find it unlikely "turtles" will last long as a tag... – Michael McGowan Sep 30 '11 at 23:07
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    Joel's question only stayed on the site as long as it did because it was Joel who asked it. – user102937 Sep 30 '11 at 23:25
  • Yeah, the [turtles] tag doesn't exist. But I'm waiting for the day... – Rob Hruska Oct 3 '11 at 12:57

Stealing Shog's comment-as-answer.

If the community has a consensus on anything, it's that simple questions are OK if:

  1. The answers can be interesting.

  2. It looks like there's a real problem being solved.

  3. The person asking has shown an honest effort and at least a modicum of understanding.

Folks going through a book asking for dictionary definitions or stuff that they could have trivially found in literally the #1 search result for anything remotely close to what they are asking are going to get some pushback.


And of course duplicates should always be closed as duplicates, but this vastly understates the amount of effort it takes to find and close the duplicates. It's a hell of a lot easier and more scalable if we enforce the idea that the asker has to HELP US, that is, put some work into your question and share the results of your research in your question. Because you did research before asking.. right.. right?


I thought that was a fine basic question, and a great example of the kind of basic questions we should allow.
I hope they'll bring it back.

As Joel stated in the last podcast, basic questions are ok, it's just duplicates that aren't good (paraphrase).

EDIT: Based on the new edited title, I want to make sure and state that there has never been complete consensus on this issue. Some don't like basic questions, but I'm with Joel in that I think basic questions are just fine and healthy for the site, they just don't need to be duplicated.

Since I'm learning new technologies constantly, I always have basic questions in some areas.

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    Joel's philosophy on this differs greatly from Jeff's. And the community more or less agrees with Jeff on this one. – user102937 Sep 30 '11 at 22:47
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    I'm in the community and I happen to agree with Joel. But the point of my question was really to find out whether or not Jeff and Joel have reached an agreement (because the missing question is evidence that they might have). – Michael McGowan Sep 30 '11 at 23:02
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    @Robert, I don't really think there is community concensus on this issue. I certainly haven't seen it here on Meta, when it comes to good, basic questions. – Lance Roberts Oct 1 '11 at 2:14
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    If the community has a consensus on anything (debatable), it's that simple questions are ok if 1) the answers are interesting, or 2) it looks like there's a real problem being solved. IOW, folks going through a book asking for dictionary definitions are gonna feel some push-back, while folks showing honest effort and at least a modicum of understanding will tend to get by. – Shog9 Oct 1 '11 at 3:34

The question in question wasn't a 'real question' -- the OP wasn't looking for an answer, he was making a point about simple questions. The team has a consistent track record of deleting things like that, so it tells you absolutely nothing about a policy.

Meanwhile, are you feeling a turtle deficiency?

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    Are those turtles, or is my old Mac not turtle-compliant? – Arjan Sep 30 '11 at 21:27
  • @Arjan They are a sort of turtle, yes – Grace Note Sep 30 '11 at 21:28
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    Ah, @Grace, indeed! google.com/search?tbm=isch&q=%E9%BE%9C – Arjan Sep 30 '11 at 21:31
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    They are the original, traditional chinese, accept no substitute, turtles. The ones that go all the way down. – Rosinante Sep 30 '11 at 21:33
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    "The [turtles] that go all the way down." You sick, turtle-porn-watching bastard! :P – user164207 Sep 30 '11 at 21:37
  • @NullUserExceptionஇ_இ I know, I know...just making a joke (hence the emoticon). :) – user164207 Sep 30 '11 at 21:41
  • i.imgur.com/E6yeW.jpg LOL – Confluence Sep 30 '11 at 21:42
  • I am waiting for someone to link this to the brainf*ck discussion, since from a certain Chinese cultural standpoint turtles can be quite rude. – Rosinante Sep 30 '11 at 21:53
  • 🌅 🐢 ⛄ 🐸 🐷 🐳 🐬 🌃 – Jeremy Sep 30 '11 at 22:04
  • @Rosinante it depends... 龜 is fine, but 王八 is bad. – Jin Sep 30 '11 at 22:16
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    @Rosinante: That's what the turtle is, and it's surrounded by emoji characters, which most browsers don't render. I just used the OS X Special Characters panel. – Jeremy Sep 30 '11 at 22:45
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    Is this an answer? Really? – user102937 Sep 30 '11 at 22:47
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    @Rosinante It certainly was a real question. Yes I had a little fun with the title, but if you actually read the body of the question, there is a deeper issue at hand. More concisely, has a consensus been reached as to whether or not some questions are too simple? – Michael McGowan Sep 30 '11 at 23:04
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    Chrome offered to translate this page from Chinese to English. I clicked yes and was met with turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle turtle ... – John Oct 1 '11 at 2:46
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    I like 龜s. – Rick Sladkey Oct 1 '11 at 5:25

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