Of course I know the problems that could cause open question (infinite debate...).

But the words "Best Practices" exist.

I think it's ridiculous to blame people for asking what is the best way to do something. There is not one Best Way but several.

People on Stack Overflow don't have the same programming/designing level.

If someone is asking what is the best way to organize/design such code for a special purpose, why not just help him proposing many solutions instead of closing his question? Or just give him some links or a book to read to understand the basic concept.

I just want your point of view about this kind of question discrimination.


The problem is that "Best" is highly subjective and dependent on all sorts of implicit assumptions that probably aren't included in the question. This make the question not constructive as there's no one correct answer. Several of the answers could be equally right.

Questions of this type might be better off asked on Programmers but they still have to be well researched and solving a real problem.

  • 1
    Yeah. Most of these questions are of the type "What is the best way to build a house?" and that simply can't be answered in the context of a Q&A site. – Pekka Dec 1 '11 at 10:19
  • @Pekka to play with the game of Andrew Barber from the comment below, do you a have any stats? – Christophe Debove Dec 1 '11 at 11:37
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    @Christope why are stats necessary? There are a few good "good practice" questions that have a very well defined and limited scope - they deserve to exist and may be a good fit on programmers.SE. And then there are bad ones - they need to be burninated. In my experience, the latter category is the majority – Pekka Dec 1 '11 at 11:38

Asking for a "best way" is also highly redundant. Presumably nobody wants a "worst way" recommended to them, so why not just ask how to do whatever it is that they want to do?

Best questions are the ones that describe the context/motivation and ask for solutions. Best practices and recommendations then emerge naturally through answers because that's how Stack Exchange is built - encouraging self-contained complete answers and the voting system are designed to bring the best ideas to the top.

Asking for "the best way" or "the best books" or anything else tends to short circuit this mechanic for relatively little payoff.


Often, a "what is the best..." question can be made appropriate for the site by narrowing the scope to something specific, and removing the word "best"... that is, instead of:

"What is the best way to connect my widget to a web service?"


"How do I connect my widget to a web service?"

There needs to be supporting info to give enough context for a meaningful answer; what language and framework and what external requirements, but the second question does not invite the "various opinions" as obviously as the first.

Without that supporting info, though, the question would still not be of good quality. I think the problem really is that many "what is the best..." questions are just generally of low quality.

  • I'm agree for your "generally" but unfortunately, many people stigmatize, this idea – Christophe Debove Dec 1 '11 at 11:26
  • @ChristopheDebove Are you sure? Do you have any stats that show how many good-quality questions that ask for the "best" something get closed? – Andrew Barber Dec 1 '11 at 11:29
  • no I don't have, but I guess. I want to feed the debat. I think The pb is more in 1, 2+ years, from too strict rules will birth some bad reflex for "SO Evangelist kids". – Christophe Debove Dec 1 '11 at 11:35
  • @ChristopheDebove I believe you might just have a different opinion of how SO is supposed to be used than the official one. I don't see this changing, and I personally very much prefer it as it is. It's one of the things that keeps this from being Yahoo Answers. – Andrew Barber Dec 1 '11 at 11:38
  • could you develop about my opinion – Christophe Debove Dec 1 '11 at 13:19

I don't agree with you on your experience with 'Best Practices' questions. Take a quick search on SO and you'll notice that a lot of the questions has many upvotes and many answers.

Although, 'Best Practices' questions can also be to generic, wide or even not target something specific which can lead to downvotes or negative comments.


When you're asking "What is the best way to ... ?", you must specify the criteria of ranking the solutions. But if you do that, in many cases you don't need to ask anymore (if you have compiled a list of possible solutions, of course). Questions without such criteria just don't make sense to me.

  • The pb with suggesting a list of solution is the person who post this question can forget some item in his list. – Christophe Debove Dec 1 '11 at 11:29
  • @Christophe Debove: Of course, I realize that. He may not know there are other, even better solutions. I never said such questions don't make sense at SO. – Violet Giraffe Dec 1 '11 at 11:35

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