My question got closed because it was claimed that it was not constructive.

I think the reason for the close-votes were simply that there are no code examples in the question, thus I want to remind voting members of this passage in the FAQ:

We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

While my question does not have code in it, it has a valid description of how my system is set up, and it hits a home run on the first, third and fourth entry in the bullet list.

Luckily I still got enough answers to accept one, but if there are alternative ways to do it, I would of course love to know of them.

3 Answers 3


I agree with you here, this isn't even a borderline "best way to do X" question that only needs to be edited into the correct "how do I do X" form, so I reopened your question. I think you described the problem well enough that a code sample isn't strictly necessary.

Even if the question should be closed for not including what you've tried so far, the correct close reason would be "not a real question" (for being incomplete), not "not constructive."

Not much else to say, except always try to post any code that you can. Even if it doesn't work, it will give people a starting point or it will save people the time of not going down the same wrong path.

  • 1
    <bitterness>Here is a question: What's up with that? IMHO the "not a real question" policy needs to be renamed to something that actually makes sense. Yes, I'm yet again complaining, because I grew up hearing that there were no stupid questions, and yet here I am being served that my question is not a real question. Well, here's a question for yah: Then WTH is it? </bitterness>
    – Kebman
    Commented Feb 4, 2013 at 20:20

Your Question Isn't Currently Closed

At the time of posting this answer, your question is not currently closed. It was re-opened by a diamond moderator, but already has two more close votes against it. As a result, you may want to consider why people think it should be closed, and edit accordingly, rather than focus on the technicalities.

Reasons Your Question Might Attract Close Votes

Regardless of whether the question should technically be closed, or whether the question is being close-voted with the "correct" by-the-FAQ reason, you might want to improve your question so that it stops attracting negative attention. Here are some reasons why your question might be attracting close votes. Ponder them at your leisure.

  1. You haven't posted schema data; you've described your data, but not in a very concrete or visual way. Using DESCRIBE might help with that.
  2. You asked for a solution ("Basically I want a report with every stable match...") without posting so much as a SQL statement that you've tried. Plz give m3 d4 cod3z questions often get closed for one reason or another. Showing a sample query and perhaps some sample data would help a lot in avoiding that.
  3. "[H]ow would you even put together the first iteration? Much less the rest of the loop?" sounds a lot like a question that will require extended discussion or is vague/incomplete. Explaining what you've tried and you think it didn't work would go a long way towards improving the question.
  4. Your question is rather specific to your schema and data. While I don't think it's inherently Too Localized, it might certainly look that way unless you take some effort to make the problem more interesting to others.

In other words, whether or not you get an valid answer to your question, the question exhibits smells of a problematic question. When you post, not everyone will spend 10 minutes trying to figure out what you're asking, or why it's a good question. It's up to you to make your question stand out.

Why You Might Improve Your Question Even After Getting Your Answer

Since you've already accepted an answer to your question, you may or may not care if the question gets closed at this point. However, a great question helps future visitors---and of course, attracts more up-votes over time---so you may want to consider improving it for posterity. In addition, thinking about why your post seemed closeable to at least seven people so far will serve you in good stead when asking future questions on the site.


I wanted to expand upon CodeGnome's answer a bit by providing a bit of detail on what SO is not. SO is not the first place to use to learn a technology.

The question, although quite clear, shows a distinct lack of initiative on the OPs part. He has a couple of tables with a very simple relationship, that's fine. However, the question is essentially "please code this for me". There is zero indication that the OP knows what a select statement is and, worse, zero indication that the OP has bothered to figure out how select statements work.

I see you are a teacher. Consider the following situation. Student shows up to your class and says they need help with an assignment. They show you the question and you ask what they've done to determine the answer. Their response: "Nothing." What should you do? A great teacher will point the kid to the library to start looking things up for themselves; a bad one will simply rattle off an answer which the ill-prepared child obviously has no capabilities to determine suitability of.

This isn't to say that some SO users won't go ahead and happily give you the answer; as some have apparently done. Rather, that a good question involves making statements about what you've actually tried, what problems you have run into,

Which gets back to the comment you left on Bill's answer above. There are stupid questions. Examples include:

  • "How many fingers are on my hand" - (not constructive) easily answered if you bother to look yourself;
  • "Am I cold?" - (too localized) perception based, no one knows but you;
  • "How do I get a list of names? I haven't even tried anything myself." - (not a real question) At this point, the problem here should be readily apparent.
  • "Is Buddha a god?" - (off topic) No idea, ask your personal religious authority.

Note that those correspond to curent SO close reasons.

  • personnel > personal
    – TRiG
    Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 18:43
  • I didn't know "initiative" was a prerequisite for asking a question. Maybe a warning should pop up before you post one? If SO is not the place to learn new technology, then why are you so hung up on teaching? How is my motivation for asking a question any of your business? And why do you make so many silly assumptions about my knowledge of the SELECT statement? On the contrary, I do consider SO a great place to learn, as long as straight answers are given, and as long as people are given the chance to give straight answers. Anyway, thank you for trying to teach me how to teach...
    – Kebman
    Commented Mar 15, 2013 at 15:37
  • @Kebman: It might help to review the following. Specifically the "Do your homework" part. stackoverflow.com/questions/how-to-ask Also, my statement was that "SO is not the first place to use to learn a technology". That word is kind of important to my statement.
    – NotMe
    Commented Mar 19, 2013 at 15:47
  • Thank you, I did. If you read the OP, you'll notice that it is all this discussion is about... Anyway, how is anyone supposed to know which is the first place to use to learn a technology? You can either complain about it, or deal with it. I suggest dealing with it. That was, after all, what this place was made for. Sure, having a standard as to how to ask a question is well and good, as long as it makes sense. Assumptions are made here, and rules are laid down that are impossible, and illogical, to follow, and if nothing is done about it then prepare for more grief.
    – Kebman
    Commented Mar 22, 2013 at 8:47

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