I had a question I felt legitimate closed on Stack Overflow. I went to peruse the faq, and I still can't see what was wrong with it.

Here's the relevant parts of the faq:

  • We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers (...) software tools commonly used by programmers (in my case documentation, which is a tool commonly used by devs).

  • You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face (it was a yes/no question).

  • Your questions should be reasonably scoped (it was a yes/no question).

  • I had done all the research I could think of (pinging, trying other.android.com sites, which worked.)

So here was the programmer question: "is developer.android.com down?" - I got the answer I wanted in two minutes, and no other place on the web would have provided it that fast, because Stack Overflow is precisely the best possible place to ask it.

Could anyone please explain precisely what was wrong with this question, and best of all, link to a specific faq that explains it?

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    Asking if a site is down is not a programming question even if the site is for programming topics. – Josh Mein Oct 26 '12 at 18:31
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    I had done all the research I could think of Next time try: isitup.org – yannis Oct 26 '12 at 18:32
  • If the site hadn't been down, my next question would of course have been: "where can I alternatively locate my doc" - if it ain't a stackoverflow question, then where can I ask these things? – pouzzler Oct 26 '12 at 18:34
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    @pouzzler If you have sufficient reputation, try a topic-appropriate chat room. – Bart Oct 26 '12 at 18:35
  • Thank you. I don't know if I do, but out of several downvoters on stackoverflow and several answerers here, you are the first one who actually tries to help. I wonder... are there reputation gains, or medals for downvoting people without a real reason? – pouzzler Oct 26 '12 at 18:37
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    @pouzzler Nope, no badges, just a warm fuzzy feeling of knowing that we're making the world a better place. – Servy Oct 26 '12 at 18:39
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    @pouzzler Understand that downvotes are not personal. They are a means of signalling that there is a problem with your question. Here on Meta the situation is slightly different in that it often indicates simple disagreement. Your premise seems to be "my question is fair" and the downvotes might simply mean "no it's not". – Bart Oct 26 '12 at 18:41
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    I believe answering a question (even a negative answer like 'this question needs to be closed') should require as much 'work' as is required when asking a question - and you believe 'wow. just wow...' which doesn't help me understand your thought at all, just like a single click without providing an explanation doesn't help understand the clicker's intent at all. – pouzzler Oct 26 '12 at 19:18

I think this is a classic example of a "too localized" question. Your question, and it's answer would have only been relevant within a certain time frame (while the site was down). As soon as the site was to come back up, the entire post wouldn't have been too useful anymore. "Too localized" is one of the close reasons available when voting to close a question.

The explanation is -

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, see the FAQ.

A better option would have been to ask in one of the android chat rooms. The chances for a quick response there are also pretty good. One more thing to keep in mind when dealing with sites temporarily going down is the services that allow you to test this. http://www.isup.me/ is a great tool for this.

Related - What questions should be closed with reason "too localized"?

  • I didn't seem to find 'loo localized' in the faq - could you please specifically direct me to the relevant section? – pouzzler Oct 26 '12 at 18:35
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    @pouzzler It's an amusing typo. He means "too localized". – Bart Oct 26 '12 at 18:35
  • @pou - "Too localized" is one of the close reasons you can choose when voting to close a question. – Lix Oct 26 '12 at 18:35
  • Alright - I just reread the faq to be sure, but I didn't seem to find it. Shouldn't the faq then be updated to include all reasons available when voting to close? – pouzzler Oct 26 '12 at 18:38
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    @pouzzler, it's in there – ben is uǝq backwards Oct 26 '12 at 18:39
  • @Ben Oh my bad, thank you Ben – pouzzler Oct 26 '12 at 18:39

Even if your question wasn't extremely time dependent, questions that can be answered with "yes/no" are not what Stack Overflow is for. Asking us to check if a site is up or down doesn't really require any programming expertise and it has no place in a high quality programming Q&A (except, of course, chat).

As a rule of thumb, if your question doesn't require a programming solution, or any other programming expertise, it's most probably off topic.

  • No. I made sure to reread the faq ten times - a question about programming tools is legitimate - I must admit, with the clarifications I got here, my question was probably not the best one, yet questions who don't require a line of code are most certainly qualifying for stackoverflow, despite your thinking they are not. For example, 'how do I make this steam factory Eclipse do this or that?' – pouzzler Oct 26 '12 at 18:44
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    @pouzzler Hm, I still don't quite understand why you think your question was about a programming tool. You are asking if a site is up or down, you are not asking about using a programming tool. – yannis Oct 26 '12 at 18:46
  • I wanted to use the android doc. I couldn't, and now I know I will most probably be able to use it tomorrow, which is good enough for me. Question about a programming tool (doc, maybe the most useful one after a compiler and an editor), has been answered, and I am happy. – pouzzler Oct 26 '12 at 18:48
  • @pouzzler btw it seems to be up now. – yannis Oct 26 '12 at 18:49
  • Thank you! Maybe I'll even be able to finish my class before bed. – pouzzler Oct 26 '12 at 18:56

The answer to the question is useless in the long term. How can that answer be useful to somebody else, next week, month or year? You might as well have asked "What is the time?"

  • Unless the site is down forever - or the site isn't down, and the answer is pretty interesting in the long run (for me, though, not for everyone) - or the answerer provides a way to access the doc anyways... – pouzzler Oct 26 '12 at 19:19

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