I've recently had two questions closed because they are not constructive or subjective. In both cases I was asking for specific information and while perhaps more than one answer would be valid, they would not be subjective in nature.

For question one Something like libgdx for C++ / cross-platform (with mobile) SDK I'm asking about a very specific comparable technology to an existing library. I'm not asking for opinions about which is best, I'm just looking for them. In this case I find such questions valid because there is no straight forward manner by which they can be found via web searching.

The other question Any common mobile device which doesn't support C++ Exceptions is a targeted question about one particular language and devices on which it may not work. Again, it is not an open ended question and it is not subjective. It is also very difficult to obtain this information via general searching.

Both questions have value to people browsing the site (provided they have answers) which would be difficult to locate elsewhere. Neither of them invite open-ended or chatty discussion, nor are they requests for opinions about technology. The answers in both cases are expected to be limited -- if there were an abundance of answers searching would have revealed it.

Does it make sense to close such issues just because they may appear, at a glance, as subjective questions?

  • 6
    Both of those questions are open-ended, "shopping" questions. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:14
  • So is "Which function do I use to create a GL Window on Linux?" also an open-ended "shopping" question? I mean, there are multiple answers. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:20
  • 3
    You're attacking a straw man. "Which function do I use to..." is not a product recommendation. See blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping
    – user102937
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:21
  • How is "Which function" any different from "Which library"? Inded, the choice of function often dictates the library. And, I need to repeat in neither case was I asking for a recommendation. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:23
  • What @Robert said. But such a question is probably not specific enough. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:23
  • If the questions were indeed "open-ended" one would assume a plentitude of correct answers. In neither question is this the case. Does not the quantity of correct answers determine how "specific" the question was? Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:26
  • No. Shopping questions are still not appropriate here, even if you word it so specifically that only a single product is a correct answer. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:31
  • Then tell me how "Which function do I use to..." is not a shopping question? Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:32
  • 4
    A function is not a product, as Robert already alluded to. Please read the blog post Robert linked to. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:37
  • Programming language products are intimately defined by the functions they expose. I can't see how you can argue that a choice of function is not implicitly tied to the choice of product. In particular, you are suggesting that for the C++ tag nobody may ever imply you use a Boost function since that would be a product recommendation. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:42
  • The second question isn't so much a shopping question as it is a List of Things question. Not only will no single answer be right, but it is also likely to not stay correct for long. New devices will need to be added, and existing ones removed. SO is simply not designed to keep such questions up to date, which they would need to be in order to be useful.
    – Servy
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:42
  • 1
    If not being relevant in a few years time is a reason alone to close a question then virtually all programming questions at StackOverflow should be closed. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:44
  • 9
    I'm getting the distinct impression you did not read the blog post linked to. Are you hoping to change our minds on this, or actually trying to understand? Because it's simple, in almost all cases: Don't ask for an enumeration of products. Yes, there are sometimes blurry lines, but your questions were clearly over it. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:45
  • The implication here is that any questin of the form "How can I..." must be closed because it could be answered with a product recommendation or not be valid. Similar could any request for "Best Practices" or "common Practices" also be closed because they are open-ended, and perhaps not relevant in year's time. Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 18:56
  • 4
    @edA: We do close "best practices" and other such questions. Not because they aren't timely but because what constitutes "best" is either too localized (your definition of best is just yours, not anyone else's) or not constructive (people don't agree on what is "best", so it's just a debate). Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 20:29

3 Answers 3


I ran through a few of the highest ranked c++ questions, and I believe the following should all be closed by similar logic:

  1. How can I profile C++ code running in Linux?
  2. How do you set, clear, and toggle a single bit?
  3. The Definitive C++ Book Guide and List
  4. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/174830/learning-game-programming
  5. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/2963019/how-to-learn-proper-c
  6. What open source C++ static analysis tools are available?
  7. Need for predictable random generator
  8. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1226206/is-there-a-reason-to-not-use-boost
  9. https://stackoverflow.com/questions/696321/best-logging-framework-for-native-c
  10. Protecting executable from reverse engineering?

I didn't have to go through many pages to get this list. Now, I'm not arguing my question are the same calibre as these, but they definitely feel like the same type of question. The list of questions by votes however does reveal that such questions become very popular, and may prove very useful to many individuals.

  • 12
    thanks, we'll get those closed for you
    – Brad Mace
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 19:12
  • 6
    Also, some of them have this notice: This question has historical significance, but is not a good example of an appropriate question. Read and learn from this post, but please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions. See the [FAQ](http://stackoverflow.com/faq) for more info.
    – Brad Mace
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 19:14
  • 4
    Almost all of those questions were created back in 2008, before the current guidelines on what makes a constructive, answerable question. You're right, most those should be closed. They should also be marked with the "this question exists because it has historical significance, don't think you can post the same thing yadda yadda yadda" marker. Some of them already have been.
    – Charles
    Commented Aug 15, 2012 at 19:16
  • 1
    I am voting to close all but #2 Commented Aug 16, 2012 at 0:46

The list of questions by votes however does reveal that such questions become very popular, and may prove very useful to many individuals.

Popularity and what "may prove very useful" is not the standard that Stack Exchange goes by. Many things are popular. Many things may be useful. That is irrelevant; what matters is what the rules of the site are.

Stack Exchange is not and should not attempt to be everything for everyone. This is not the clearing house for all information. We are instead trying to use real, answerable questions and factual, reasonably objective answers to create a useful knowledge-base.

Your "find me tech" question is not constructive. It isn't constructive for the following reasons:

  1. There is no one answer that is even mildly objectively correct. The answer you accept would be accepted by you for your own reasons and judgments. Or, to put it another way, anyone who answers the question would basically be guessing as to whether or not their answer would meet with your approval.
  2. Because of the above, your question would generally only help you. Certainly, the accepted answer would not be considered widely accepted; many people have many different ideas of what constitutes good tech. And that shows that the question is subjective.

So even if someone came across it and found it useful, even if a lot of people came across it and found it useful, it doesn't need to be on this site.

On GDSE, "find me tech that does X" questions are explicitly prohibited in the FAQ. The only thing wrong about that closure is that it took three days to close what would have been killed off in 10 minutes on Stack Overflow.


Although the policies per Stack Exchange site may vary, on most of them, I think you would find questions of the type you describe are considered requests for software recommendations, and are often closed for being too broad.

However, there is now a Software Recommendations Stack Exchange where such questions, when written according to its question quality guidelines, may be on-topic.

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