I was looking at some old questions on Stack Overflow, and I found a question looking for "the best way to do something" that wasn't closed or locked. Here's the question. However, there are some highly upvoted questions closed for the reason Not Constructive:

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, see the FAQ for guidance.

Why are some old questions left open (and not locked with the historical message) that should be closed for this reason?

If you need more proof of this problem, just search for best closed:no locked:no on one of the Stack Exchange sites.

See also: In which cases questions having "best way" should not be flagged?

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    I have wondered the exact same thing. I've been down-voted for being "subjective" and couldn't understand why others were up-voted for the same thing. – nunzabar Mar 29 '13 at 21:55
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    Too many questions; not enough hours in the day. Feel free to help out! – Cody Gray Mar 29 '13 at 22:14
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    Aaaaaaaand it's closed. There's your answer :) – Adam Rackis Mar 30 '13 at 3:32
  • These questions were great when SO was smaller and had a more professional user-base. Simply look at the answers to that question and the date they were posted for evidence. They go downhill fast. Dangit.. keep posting comments to bumped posts - sorry – Mike B Apr 2 '13 at 17:20

In the early days of the site, this kind of questions were allowed. But now they are not. We try to clean up these youthful mistakes as much as possible, but there are a lot of them, so it will take time.

If you spot such a question, either cast a close vote, or flag it, and it will be handled eventually.

  • A lot of these questions can be found by searching for best closed:no – Piccolo Mar 29 '13 at 22:12
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    It should be noted that not every question that asks for the "best" way to do something should be closed. There are plenty of perfectly fine questions which ask the best way to do something, and that include specific details about the exact problem is and what "best" means, so that the answers can be evaluated based on specific criteria and the best one voted up. These should not be closed. – Rachel Apr 2 '13 at 16:31

Thank you for bringing it to our attention. The question will be closed soon is now closed and deleted.

We often miss those (we are humans, not robots). When you see one, feel free to vote to close (when you get 3k reputation), discuss it in chat, or flag it for moderator attention.


Wording matters. Consider, to use a non-SO example:

What is the best hotel in downtown Toronto?

This will be closed. It attracts answers that name a single hotel, and possibly the answerer's reasons for considering it the best

Compare to:

How can I evaluate hotels in Toronto using only the Internet?

This will attract answers that explain what is common to most Toronto hotels, and what aspects vary, that cover a little local geography, and possibly that link to review sites. This might stay open.

Or compare:

Is there a hotel in Toronto within walking distance of [address] that is 3 stars or better but costs less than [budget] per night?

This might be too localized, but it's not a "best of" question and might stay open depending on the quality of answers it attracts.

In some important ways these questions are synonyms. They could all be asked by a person who wants to stay near [address] while spending [budget] or less per night. The first one is flat-out lazy, hard to answer (since we have no idea what criteria are important) and hard to answer well but easy to answer badly. The second is of the teach-a-man-to-fish variety, and if it gets good answers, the asker will be able to select a hotel, confident that it is the best - at least for the asker. The third is easy to answer and possibly useful to others.

You see, it's easy to ask a "what is the best" question that stays open. But few people bother to try. For those who do, well those are the very few surviving "best of" questions that you've been able to find. Those survivors are not evidence that questions of type 1 are welcome on SE.

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    But... that's not what he asked... – Madara Uchiha Mar 29 '13 at 21:55
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    He asked why... – ɥʇǝS Mar 29 '13 at 21:56

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