How does a moderator identify a non-constructive question?

The FAQs state:

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.

It looks like the constructive-ness of a question relates to the answers that it recieve, but I've found a few of questions with just a couple of answers, closed with this reason.
In some cases, the only debate is that between those who close the question and those who reopen it.

Where I can find the set of guidance that moderators follow to identify such questions (in particular ex-ante, when very few answers has been proposed)?

2 Answers 2


Not Constructive questions are typically:

In addition, the FAQ specifically calls out these types of questions:

  • Every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
  • Your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
  • There is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • We are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
  • It is a rant disguised as a question: “______ sucks, am I right?”

Additional Reading
Good Subjective, Bad Subjective
Real Questions Have Answers


Note that the message you quote does not say that the question has resulted in debate, arguments, polling or extended discussion; it says it will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling or extended discussion.

The community has gotten (fairly) good at identifying these questions before they result in that extended stuff. It's usually fairly easy to identify questions that are asking for opinions, or lists of stuff. Those are the type that generally qualify here.

  • So "not-constructive" means {"asking opinions", "asking list of stuff}? Nothing else? Apr 6, 2013 at 20:29
  • @GiacomoTesio I wouldn't say it means nothing else, no. But those are the most frequent. Apr 6, 2013 at 20:31

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