As known by all, we have the not constructive flagging option:

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.

I see lots of questions asking about "best way for android app. with maven", "best way for multi layered web architecture", "best way/library for parsing json" etc.

I usually flag these with the "not constructive" option, especially the ones having no code. But for the new users I find myself in a mixed situation, since it will allow them getting expertise from different developers.

What should be the level of flagging in these situations?

  • 3
    Flag / vote to close with extreme prejudice. Extreme. EXTREME!!!!1
    – Charles
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 15:14
  • 1
    I normally ask them to define "best" accurately... do they mean "quicker", "less RAM usage" etc. Then VTC. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 15:16
  • 6
    Don't let your flags be triggered by a single word. A question asking for the "best" something might well be constructive. Just advise the asker to rephrase the question. Flag or vote to close if it's truly not constructive.
    – Bart
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 15:20
  • @Bart I understand your concern but these keywords are not a triggering mechanism for me; these are a pattern of questions. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 15:21
  • 1
    @SerkanArıkuşu Okay, perfect. Then if it's purely based on the question asked, I make no difference between new or experienced users. Other than perhaps the effort I will put in a comment to explain the situation.
    – Bart
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 15:23
  • @BoPersson Although that question is very close to this one, the answer to this question is not found on that linked question as they are slightly different questions. That one is asking why old questions asking for the "best" way to do something that should be closed are not closed, while this one is just asking about flagging questions containing the word "best". The upvoted and accepted answer to the linked question explains the history of the site and lack of human resources as the reason why some are not closed, while the answers here are to stop flagging based on a mental regex
    – Rachel
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 16:35
  • Not a duplicate (of this at any rate; wouldn't surprise me if there was a dup sitting around). I've added a cross-link though.
    – Shog9
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 17:16

2 Answers 2


Please don't flag solely on simple keyword matches!

Not saying you're doing this, but that's how your question reads right now, and some folks do do this. And it can cause some serious grief. We have a perfectly good regex engine built into the system, we don't need a human-powered one.

Read the question, figure out what the author's actually looking for, and if it's not a terrible question otherwise try to fix it: edit out "best..." and kin and put the focus on just finding a solution to whatever problem they're facing without the implication of it being the Single Best Solution To All Similar Problems. Because that's probably not what they need anyway, even if they think it's what they want.

If you get a question that is explicitly asking for The Single Best Way to Write an Event Loop (etc), with no context or reason given... Then flag it (or vote to close it). In some (sadly rare) cases, even these can be edited into shape: if such a question attracts a small number of high-quality answers you might want to just adapt the question to fit them (you may have to make stuff up in order to do this, so leave it as a last-resort).

  • 4
    This. Some of our worst flagging issues come from users that just decide to conduct an SEDE query and then flag on whatever word they hate. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 15:56
  • 1
    @GeorgeStocker including, ironically, "hate" Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 16:40

I would be a mistake, IMHO, to close/flag/obliterate/ignore any question that includes/starts with the words "What is the best way"? In fact, many of the good questions on StackOverflow are exactly these kinds of questions:

  • What is the best way to sort a very large array of bytes?
  • What is the best way to find an optimal route from one node to another in a graph that may contain cycles but not negative cycles?
  • What is the best way to find a substring ("needle") in another string ("haystack") when the needle is very short and haystack is potentially very big?

I am hoping that it is clear that these are (or at least can be) good questions, with good answers, ignoring the fact that they've already been answered and new ones are just duplicates. So while many "what is the best way" questions are probably not appropriate for SO, having those five words consequtively in the question should not trigger automatic flagging.

  • 1
    For all three of your examples you should remove the "What is the best way" and replace it with something like "How do I", as is indicated in Shog9's answer. That said, none of those examples are "not constructive", even before the edit.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 16:33
  • 1
    @Servy Perhaps. My point is I don't think my example questions should be closed. Sure, there might be a better way of asking, but this is not flag-worthy. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 16:34
  • But they shouldn't stay that way either; they should be fixed.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 16:40
  • Sorry, I was responding to the "flag" suggestions. Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 16:45
  • 1
    I don't see any problem with these example questions, if the measure of "best" is clearly defined. Asking for the optimal algorithm to do X seems OK if the measure of optimality is well-defined and clearly specified, and if it's a real problem. "Best" often causes problems, for example, when the definition of "best" is vague or amorphous or when the author doesn't actually need the best solution and any acceptable solution will do -- but that doesn't mean "best" is always inappropriate.
    – D.W.
    Commented Apr 2, 2013 at 23:53

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