On the latest podcast there was some discussion about rephrasing 'Not Constructive', I think 'Open Ended' is a suitable replacement that accurately flags why the question has been closed, without being too hard on new users.


7 Answers 7


How about this alternative:

"No definitive answer"

It would fit the whole debate side of things, but it would also take care of the list questions where one could argue "But there's no discussion for those. That's not a debate." And at the same time it doesn't sound as harsh (to me) as "Not constructive".

  • 1
    This is a great one, and avoids the poor aesthetic pointed out by @Benjol
    – jsj
    Feb 1, 2013 at 16:08
  • I wonder whether that doesn't need qualifying, because any unanswered question has 'no definitive answer' (yet).
    – Benjol
    Feb 1, 2013 at 17:56
  • You could clarify in the message that the question will not ever have a definitive answer or is at least unlikely to have one.
    – Bart
    Feb 1, 2013 at 18:02
  • Interesting... This actually strikes me as a sort of post-mortem evaluation of a question that did collect answers, but for which no clear consensus could be arrived at as to which was correct. Which can be a reason to close some of the more subjective questions.
    – Shog9
    Feb 1, 2013 at 18:16
  • @Shog9 I think the point is that we feel at SE that we can tell in advance that certain questions are likely to not have a definitive answer, and that's when we should be closing with the current Not Constructive (likely to solicit extended debate or....). We shut the question down before the flame war or list answers turn up because we can see them coming, and we're not going to let SE dissipate into a forum-style free-for-all opininionfest. We're already claiming with the current close reason that there isn't a definitive answer. If we thought there was one, we'd close with another reason.
    – AndrewC
    Feb 2, 2013 at 0:41

Someone else said it, and I think it's a great candidate:

Not a Good Fit

With text:

This question is not a good fit for Stack Overflow. It's open-ended, asks for a list of things, or is impossible to answer definitively and objectively. If the answer to your question starts with "It depends", that's a good indication your question is not a good fit for Stack Overflow.

It's important that no matter what verbiage is picked, we don't invent new reasons to close questions. The text should reflect that the question objectively meets the site's criteria (it's about a programming problem, it hasn't been asked before, it applies to more than just the asker); but doesn't meet the style of the site: (Q & A rather than discussion forum).

  • 4
    "Not a Good Fit" could be the text for any (or even every) close reason. It's even less descriptive. The entire reason for closing a question is that it doesn't fit into the guidelines of the site.
    – Servy
    Feb 1, 2013 at 18:10
  • 1
    @Servy The close reason has always been a dumping ground for the questions that meet the site on the other criteria, but still don't belong. That's why the text below the reason matters just as much (if not more so) than the close reason itself. I'd rather we be more honest about the close reason, that's why I like "Not a good fit." It says, "Hey, this meets all the standard criteria, except it doesn't fit into our Q&A style." Feb 1, 2013 at 18:13
  • 1
    Maybe call it, "Doesn't fit into Q&A Style" or something similar? Feb 1, 2013 at 18:13
  • 2
    You could change NARQ to either of those and it would apply equally well. For "not a good fit" you could use that text for literally *any close reason". We could get rid of close reasons entirely and just say "not a good fit" for all of them. I realize the 5 close reasons need to be fairly general and that the comments or long description go into more detail; I'm not opposed that idea, my point is that your suggestion goes too far in making it vague.
    – Servy
    Feb 1, 2013 at 18:17

How about going straight to the crux of the matter with simply closing as

Discussion / list answers likely

(followed by the description as usual).

This is what we're really objecting to with this close reason.


We're keen to use that close reason for questions that are likely to cause unresolvable debate/argument or lists of alternatives, so I suggest

Too open to debate

Too often I find people using Not Constructive inappropriately for questions that should be closed for other reasons, so I think the current phrase is misleading some and needs to be changed.

Originally, Not Constructive was originally Subjective and Argumentative. Not Constructive is more widely applicable, but is still a little pejorative. We recently changed "[closed]" to "marked as [duplicate]", which maintains our principles and high standards, but is less likely to upset. Be strict, but be nice while you do so; this way people argue less. I think "Too open to debate" fulfils those criteria.

  • At first glance I parsed that as "can't debate because it's too open" (like "too crazy to work" or "too tired to go out".) The sentence structure might be too hard to understand (eh? eh?) for non-native speakers.
    – JJJ
    Feb 1, 2013 at 9:29
  • "Too subjective?"
    – Benjol
    Feb 1, 2013 at 12:24
  • @Benjol You could add your own answer as that if you like.
    – AndrewC
    Feb 1, 2013 at 15:10

As it used to be 'Subjective', (until subjective became subjective...), how about Too subjective?


Yes; good idea, call it

Open ended



The text given for non-constructive gives suitable information as to why the question was closed. It doesn't fit all situations, but you can add a comment to explain this.

If you change the text to Open Ended, this will also be incorrect in some situations, so you'd still have to add a comment.

I don't see the point in changing it.

  • The devs want to change it because it hurts peoples feelings :) I am suggesting an alternative.
    – jsj
    Feb 1, 2013 at 7:55
  • 1
    I'll need to listen to that podcast...hurts people's feelings? Really? :-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Feb 1, 2013 at 7:56
  • 2
    Pretty much - The idea is that it can put new users off to be told that their first question is "not constructive", because that sounds a bit negative. blog.stackoverflow.com/2013/01/…
    – jsj
    Feb 1, 2013 at 7:58
  • The OP was suggesting renaming it, not removing the explanation, which is fine in my view.
    – AndrewC
    Feb 1, 2013 at 8:01
  • 4
    The intention is both, making them friendlier and also clearer. The friendlier part applies more to NaRQ I think, telling people that their question is not a real one does come across a bit harsh. Feb 1, 2013 at 8:33

You must log in to answer this question.

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