I recently asked a history question. The question was regarding popularity and was data-backed. There is a tag for and there is a tag for . But the question was closed as non-constructive. In one sense of the word constructive, no history question will ever be constructive. Why do we even have these two tags?

  • 2
    Perhaps because history as a concept can apply to programming problems? "How do I add a URL to my browser history from JavaScript"? – Martijn Pieters Nov 30 '12 at 15:31
  • 1
    History tag - Use this tag for questions about the history of a programming concept or feature. – Ren Nov 30 '12 at 15:32
  • 9
    Using the existence of a tag as justification for the validity of questions using it is not particularly correct. – AakashM Nov 30 '12 at 15:32
  • 1
    @MartijnPieters That's not what the tag wiki says it is. stackoverflow.com/tags/history/info – 101 Nov 30 '12 at 15:33
  • 2
    Your question may have been data-backed but you were asking why something happened? What would you consider the "correct" answer to this question to be? My guess is that it would require a random sample of users all explaining exactly why they started using the site. That makes this nothing to do with programming but instead statistics. – ben is uǝq backwards Nov 30 '12 at 15:33
  • 1
    @101: That was a suggested edit by someone that should not have been accepted. I've rolled it back to the previous revision, and will update it some more to include the information that was correct. – Martijn Pieters Nov 30 '12 at 15:35
  • @Ben Or there might have been a specific event that happened and we could trace things back. It is a very very sudden increase. Something specific MUST have happened. – 101 Nov 30 '12 at 15:35
  • 2
    @Ren: That was a tag wiki edit that should not have been applied. The previous revision clearly stated the tag is not to be used. Updated. – Martijn Pieters Nov 30 '12 at 15:36
  • @101, critical mass? There doesn't have to have been anything that happened. It can simply be that enough users use the site to pass on knowledge of it. – ben is uǝq backwards Nov 30 '12 at 15:36
  • @MartijnPieters - ok, never looked at the revision history. D'oh! – Ren Nov 30 '12 at 15:37
  • @MartijnPieters Mercurial looks to have more mass behind it though. I was thinking someone famous or some big corporation famously advocated it at a conference or something. – 101 Nov 30 '12 at 15:42
  • @101: Sorry, I am not following you; are you talking about git vs. mercurial now? I certainly am not aware of talking on that subject in the comments here. – Martijn Pieters Nov 30 '12 at 15:46
  • @MartijnPieters Sorry! That was supposed to be for Ben. – 101 Nov 30 '12 at 15:47
  • @Ben Sorry, miss-tagged the reply. – 101 Nov 30 '12 at 15:47
  • update question found a new home at Programmers (details in related discussion in Prog.SE chat) – gnat Nov 30 '12 at 16:15

Please don't use the existence of tags to justify asking questions that are clearly subjective or off-topic. Look at how the tags are actually used. Just glancing through the questions with those tags, it looks like one legitimate use of is for questions that have to do with browser (or other application) history. The tag doesn't have a tag wiki, but you can look and see that questions of the form "What's the most popular X" are frequently closed. Questions about popularity algorithms fare a little better.


The tag wiki for 'history' says, 'Do not use.' That seems pretty clear to me.

Other than that, this isn't a 'practical programming problem'.

  • 3
    I was just changed after this discussion. (See comments.) That was the whole point of this question. If it is not supposed to be used we should get rid of it and looks like we just did. ;) – 101 Nov 30 '12 at 15:37
  • 4
    Very interesting how you get three up votes with no one even reading what happened. Herds I tell you! – 101 Nov 30 '12 at 15:38
  • @101 - how do you know they came from people who didn't read what happened? :S – Ren Nov 30 '12 at 15:39
  • 1
    @Ren Because the answer says "Hey it is not supposed to be used" and that's exactly what the outcome of this discussion was, so it can't be an answer to it. – 101 Nov 30 '12 at 15:41
  • 1
    @101 - but it is the correct answer now as a result of the changes brought about by the discussion ;) – Ren Nov 30 '12 at 15:42
  • @Ren: Dafaq! :D – 101 Nov 30 '12 at 15:43
  • QUestions and answers on stack overflow are supposed to have last. Some future reader of the question and answer will end up informed about how to use the sites, which is the goal here. – Rosinante Nov 30 '12 at 15:45
  • 3
    You deserve a fat -1 for giving a totally wrong and even somewhat insulting answer. This answer is totally not applicable at the moment the question was asked and even then, you should have taken the new tag wiki change into account in the answer. E.g. "The history tag shouldn't have been used in first place. This was initially also mentioned in the tag wiki, but someone has removed it. It's now fixed, you are not supposed to actually use this tag" or something more realistic. – BalusC Nov 30 '12 at 16:08
  • 2
    @Chichiray Vote as you will. This is not a real-time system. I read the question when I saw it, I did the obvious research, and I posted based on what I read. I'm not interested in doing archeology. – Rosinante Nov 30 '12 at 16:12
  • 4
    The "DO NOT USE" verbiage was on the original Tag Wiki description until Gilles made his suggested edit. Look at the revision history – Robert Harvey Nov 30 '12 at 18:19

The question did find a home on Programmers, however it still feels like a not constructive question. Although programming history questions are on topic on Programmers1, your question is based on a flawed assumption, which Thomas describes in detail in his comment:

Are you curious about the overall popularity of Git or the installation of Git on Debian? Your data only provides information about one Linux distribution, ignoring every other Linux distribution, along with BSD, Mac, and Windows operating systems, yet you're asking a generic question about the rise in use of a tool. Based on some of the answers, there is a Debian-specific explanation, but there's insufficient data to speak to the popularity of Git versus the popularity of Mercurial across all potential users. It seems like the question as presented is based on faulty assumptions. – Thomas Owens ♦

There's no question that git is popular, however the data you present only speak about git installations on Debian. I'd strongly suggest you follow Thomas' advice and update your question accordingly. Even though it is on topic, it's already in trouble:

  • 3 close votes,
  • 4 deleted answers (all of them completely missed the point of the question),
  • Lots and lots of discussion.

We've protected the question and added a post notice for long answers that provide some explanation and context on it, but you got to help us out a bit by making it a bit more concrete. There are two discussions in The Whiteboard (our main chat room) you might want to check out:

If the question gets closed, it will be automatically locked as a rejected migration, which means that you won't be able to edit it, so... if you are going to update it please do it now.

1 We even had a history week during our contest.

  • for the sake of completeness, besides a new home, the question has recently gotten a new title: "Why is the sudden increase in number of Git submitters on Debian popcorn graph in 2010-01?" (revision 6) – gnat Nov 30 '12 at 18:09
  • 1
    @gnat Great edit, thanks ;) – yannis Nov 30 '12 at 18:10
  • 2
    When it comes to cult followers like Git-roids, they simply can't help themselves but to proclaim their faith based beliefs loudly and as simply as possible, through any medium possible, rules, FAQ's and terms of service be damned. Certain topics can't help but attract terrible answers. – maple_shaft Nov 30 '12 at 18:13
  • ...oh and the winner is (drums!) "...it was a good product that came along at the right time..." high voted, at +17 (seventeeen) sure this is a great answer to "Why is the sudden increase in number of Git submitters on Debian popcorn graph in 2010-01?"... well from droids perspective anyway – gnat Nov 30 '12 at 18:31
  • @Yannis wrt rev 10, given question popularity (15K views as of now), "popcorn" looks like a better fit don't you think? :) – gnat Dec 2 '12 at 7:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .