I recently asked this question and promptly received down-votes and close-votes.

I feel that my intentions behind that question were made clear in the question and I even cited a similar question that had been asked in the past. So, I feel that this is a valid question.

So I'm wondering why people feel badly about that question. I'm asking so that I can identify characteristics of that question that make it bad so that I can refrain from posting such questions in the future.

  • 2
    You have exactly one downvote on that question. – jscs Sep 9 '12 at 18:27
  • 1
    And it's closed, and it is soon to be deleted, I think. – Rosinante Sep 9 '12 at 18:28
  • 1
    I'd write 'if you want more downvotes it could be arranged' except that deletion is nigh. – Rosinante Sep 9 '12 at 18:28
  • 1
    see also: What is the definition of a "list question"? – jscs Sep 9 '12 at 18:49

Since the beginning, Jeff and Joel's vision for Stack Overflow was to have a place for people to ask questions about real, actual programming problems and then get real, correct answers. They looked at existing forums out there on the Internet and saw how oftentimes we would have to cover pages and pages of forum posts in a thread in hopes of finding something valuable.

This was a huge waste of time, and sometimes led us nowhere. Stack Overflow aims to be better than this.

Instead of asking such a broad, open-ended question that will only end up with tens or hundreds of comments as answers, why not use the platform as its visionaries intended. I'm sure that you have some specific questions that you can ask about OCaml. In fact, if you target specific problems you're facing, you'll be able to ask more great questions instead of a single not constructive question that will only mimic the problems of the forums.

The goal of Stack Overflow is to be a resource of programming knowledge for years to come, and targeting specific problems makes it much easier for other people facing those same problems to find your post and then quickly find the answer at the top.


These types of questions have long been inappropriate for the site simply because they solicit discussion and allow anyone to post anything they want.

Take this example from the question you linked from your question:

I wished I didn't know Java.

Completely unrelated to the programming language, very random, yet still a perfectly valid answer on its own. Even if this wasn't supplemented by an additional wish, it probably would have received the same number of upvotes. Because once you've changed a question into a discussion, the factors of voting change. You add the agreement factor in, because technically there aren't any answers that can be wrong, so it's kind of hard to vote on it's accuracy and usefulness.

I even cited a similar question that had been asked in the past.

Rules change over time, and just because something was acceptable a long time ago doesn't always mean that it's acceptable now. We no longer allow questions like these.


This kind of questions where allowed in the early days of Stack Overflow. But now the site is more mature the focus is on the "real" question and answer content. So questions that normally have one right answer.

Poll questions and questions that are likely to trigger a dicussion are not welcome anymore.

This is also the reason that some of these old questions are closed/deleted and the most memorable are put on historcial lock.

  • Okay, I see that. But if I wanted to ask that question, where should I go? – inspectorG4dget Sep 9 '12 at 18:28
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    @inspectorG4dget: not on Stack Exchange. This is the type of question that is better asked on forums and discussion boards. – Mat Sep 9 '12 at 18:29

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