There was a recent question that asked about how an expression like a -= b -= a -= b += b -= a; should be evaluated in C# and C++. Obviously, you should never write code like this, so I can understand why some people may criticize it. However, while questions about sequence points are common on SO, I feel that the OP is probably just trying to get a better understanding and that nothing is wrong with the question itself. I was wondering how the SO community felt about downvoting a question because the code itself is not practical?

My question above is a specific example, but as a broader question, how important is being practical when it comes to SO questions?

  • 3
    I agree it isn't such a horrible question it should be downvoted, but it definitely isn't that great of a question that it should be upvoted either...
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 7:00
  • @animuson: I agree with your comment. Can you make that an answer?
    – Jesse Good
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 7:07
  • 1
    I'd say it should be closed as too localized, it's highly unlikely it will help any future visitors. And by help, I mean help solve an actual practical problem, not just satisfy their curiosity.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 7:07
  • 1
    Jesse, maybe you can broaded the question a bit so it focuses on all theoretical questions that would have value? I'd hate to see this closed as I think it's a valid topic.
    – jmort253
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 7:13

2 Answers 2


I'm both a downvoter and a close-voter (as "Too Localized") on that question, and here's my rationale:

For me, the question is not useful in that C# and C++ and different languages with their own differing specifications. To consider this question useful implies that it's also useful to ask the same sort of question for every case where the specifications vary in some subtle way. What use is there is diffing the specifications of two languages in this way, question by question?

To my mind the question would have been more useful if it'd been split into two questions: one asking why the C# code behaves as it does for the C# case, and one for the C++ case. But to compare the two languages in this way seems unhelpful to me.

  • Sorry, I edited my question for a broader scope as per requested in the comments. However, thanks for answering.
    – Jesse Good
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 7:39
  • 2
    I've rolled back your edit as it invalidated my answer. If you remove the specifics from your question then it will be very hard for people to answer. You can still broaden the question without removing that specific example.
    – razlebe
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 7:41
  • I thought that all the downvotes were for writing silly code, but I see that is not the case. Perhaps, other people downvoted for other reasons I am not aware of.
    – Jesse Good
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 8:01
  • 1
    @Jesse If you hover your mouse over the downvote button, you'll see a tooltip describing likely reasons to downvote. In this case, my reason was that I thought the question to be "not useful". In reality however, users can (and do) downvote for any reason - there is no way to truly audit why a specific downvote may have been cast, unless the downvoter cares to leave a comment explaining.
    – razlebe
    Commented Jun 6, 2012 at 8:13

I disagree with razlebe's response.

C++ has been around for a while and I am familiar with the right-to-left evaluation. However, were I to start learning C# and present the same question to the community, I would want to know the points that differ (and perhaps some similarities) rather than content specifically related to C#.

Asking for the differences between the two languages puts the question in context, allowing for a more concise response that is more relevant to the needs of the requestor. This also facilitates direction for further questions and answers if necessary.

In other words, I believe that there is value in both assimilative, as well as associative memory processes, and that criticising someone for wishing to exercise higher-order memory functions is counterproductive to people who learn through such a process.

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