I have noticed there are 3 questions tagged , and the tag has been added in those questions from a single user.

What does that tag would mean? Do we need it?

3 Answers 3


How many questions on meta have asked, "Why can't I ask this question when that question is open"?

Above question made me feel that topic of broken windows may be worth tagging:

...I was wondering just how many meta threads there were asking "why can't I ask X when Y exists"...

In this question, broken windows problem appear to be described as "old, fun posts... create broken windows, which serve as an advertisement for the types of questions which are acceptable".

I also studied some other questions to find out what would it mean to people referring this phenomenon (as in what would one put into tag wiki excerpt).

Below are some descriptions I found:

  • "a category of inappropriate questions reliably garner tons of votes. And every day, it became ever-more-obsolete subjective crap. The sooner all these broken windows go away, the better." (source)
  • "broken windows: people would see these posts, and think similar ones could be written today" (source)
  • "highly-voted questions on the first "Most Votes" page that, if asked today, would quickly be closed as Not Constructive" (source)
  • (historical significance banner) "is extremely important: it's tasked with preventing the content in question from becoming a broken window" (source)
  • "try to make these questions stand out and look different, so it's clear to visitors that the post in question doesn't represent Stack Overflow, but is more of an historical relic" (source)

For the sake of completeness, other questions I studied are listed below:
Add the alternative of "delisting" questions; deletion is usually harmful overkill
Are the "greatest hits" in the Stack Overflow newsletter appropriate?
How did "Is the C# Thread class (unofficially) obsolete?" make it past the "Not Constructive" gauntlet?

update: tag wiki are set


inappropriate questions used to justify posting of new similar questions "why can't I ask X when Y exists"


Existing inappropriate questions used to justify posting of new inappropriate questions "why can't I ask X when Y exists".

Term "broken windows" refers to theory explained in Wikipedia as follows:

...theory of the norm setting and signaling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior. The theory states that monitoring and maintaining urban environments in a well-ordered condition may stop further vandalism and escalation into more serious crime.


One of the edit summaries points to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broken_windows_theory which provides background.

What these questions have in common is that they refer to situations where we have visible evidence of undesired behaviour, which the above theory suggests is likely to result in further undesired behaviour.

  • 1
    What is the need of that tag? If there is an undesired behavior, it could be a bug, or a feature-request.
    – apaderno
    Commented Apr 4, 2012 at 10:55
  • 2
    @kiamlaluno - It's undesired user behaviour, not site behaviour - the theory states that if you have a street with one or two run down houses with broken windows, etc. it encourages other people to break into the remaining houses, let their unused properties run down, etc. Commented Apr 5, 2012 at 9:58

It certainly sounds like the give me the codez tag. It is unlikely that any user will put it in the question's initial tags.

broken window is more like a canned answer, not a valid question category. Instead of using the tag, a quick answer should be provided with a reference to the broken window effect.

While I agree that those are bad questions, I don't see any use of this tag. Otherwise we should have other tags like lazy reader or non english writer tags. broken window tag is in itself a case of broken window.

  • 2
    No, the tag is here, on Meta. It's for discussion about questions which are broken windows, not for the questions on the main site which are themselves broken windows. Commented Apr 18, 2012 at 19:42

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