I ran afoul of the SO closing process here: my question.

The whole process has been incredibly unpleasant and it has been so because of the close process. The process only works in one direction and provides no feedback to the unfortunate newbie who gets caught up in it. If you simply hit a child every time you are displeased, you'll end up with a fearful and timid child (or a psychopath). If you explain to it how to please you and coach the child you will get a different result. The close process does the former.

Let me explain how I came to this point. A year or so ago I was looking for a pattern for using the asynchronous facilities in iOS that was easy to use to create complicated webs of asynchronous tasks. I did not find what I was looking for. My searches were broad and nebulous because by definition I did not know exactly what I was looking for. I did not find it here or the Apple Dev forums or anywhere else I looked.

I now know that people had found such patterns, but had not made them public. The patterns require the creation of a new object class. I came across such a pattern in JavaScript recently called Promises. I realized that this as also the answer to my iOS problem. I implemented Promises in iOS.

Now I had an answer to my question of a year ago and I decided to make it public. I get a lot of information, techniques and code from people who have done the same before me. Occasionally I like to contribute to the process.

Since SO and the Apple Dev Forums are the places where I find the most the information, that is where I posted my work. The actual work is on GitHub, because it obviously does not fit in a forum post. The thread on Apple Dev Forums has been a purely positive experience. Not so here.

I had an answer and I posed my own question so I could answer it. There is a specific UI on SO to do this, so I naively assumed it was a supported idea. The first person to propose closing my question accused me of posing a question just so I could answer it!!! WTF? Of course that's what I did.

He also accused me just trying to publicize my idea! Of course I was. I had created an open source project (my first). Since when are people who create open source projects thought of as selfish and self promoting? If you think the idea is bad or the coding poor, very well, say that.

The only feedback of any kind about why the question was closed, other than above, is that the question was vague. Well my original need was vague in my mind. I was trying to put up a question that I would have found when I was looking for this a year ago. But OK, I read the FAQ about closure and I rewrote the question to be more specific.

Then I heard ... nothing. Is my new question better? Closer to what is wanted? I have no idea.

The most specific question I can think of would be "Has anyone implemented JavaScript Promises for iOS?" Would that be specific enough? I have no idea.

I have read up on how the Close process works and it appears that the real problem is that when a person votes to close a question, they move on and never look at it again. They almost never leave any useful feedback beyond the initial reason. Even then, different close voters may select different reasons.

It appears to me to be useless to rewrite questions because your rewritten question will never be seen.

When I first encountered SO, I was surprised to come across questions where I found the answers really interesting, but the question had been closed. Now I understand why. It's a fundamental flaw in SO.

There also seems to be a bias against questions where there is no definitively correct answer. Answers that are in some way subjective are frowned upon. IMHO, the most difficult and interesting questions are these. I think it an odd choice to prohibit these questions.

Here's more bizzarreness: I convinced one Close voter, Rob, to remove his down vote. He also posted a long answer that would have been very useful to me in the past. It contained nothing new for me now, however, other searchers who came across it would definitely have found it useful. Then all of sudden her reverses himself again, votes for closure AND DELETES HIS ANSWER. He deleted useful information that he spent significant time preparing. I'm just baffled by this waste.


Added: It's sad that most of the responses are simply hostile and not constructive. I had a specific answer that I know has value. I would be happy to put any question in front of it that you all would accept. I thought the point here was to provide useful information to the users of the site. That's all I am trying to do. I as a user am trying to provide information that I as a user would want to find. That's all.

  • 9
    What is the specific problem in your Stack Overflow question that needs to be solved? From the faq: You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.
    – user102937
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 17:20
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    This question could use some work, too. "The closing process is flawed" doesn't say anything or ask anything, and the question body (which I haven't fully read yet) appears to be merely a rant. We're not a forum environment; if you're looking for a place to engage in conversation, speculation or pontification, you need to find one of those.
    – user102937
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 17:23
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    Is there a Cliffs Notes version of this question? Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 17:26
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    "The process only works in one direction" Is simply not true. Questions can be re-opened by exactly the same process that closed them. It's just that except a borderline situation that won't happen until the underlying problem with the question is fixed. Scanning the rest of the post suggests that that is not going to be easy with your question because it is not well suited to the Q&A format we use here. Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 17:36
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    I'll preemptively respond to the "why downvote the meta question?" by saying that I'm confidant it's in large part because it's not asked constructively. You are insulting the system that the community finds highly effective, make assertions that simply aren't true (i.e. The process only works in one direction - questions can actually be reopened), and aren't providing constructive opinions as to what you would like to see differently; it reads like a rant in which you're just taking the opportunity to insult this community. Negativity is responded to with more negativity.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 17:38
  • @Servy - In practice it does not seem to work that way. I tried to explain that. Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:36
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    @LostInTheTrees Plenty of questions get re-opened. I see it happening all of the time.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:37
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  • "If you simply hit a child every time you are displeased, you'll end up with a fearful and timid child" - very true. I myself feel a chilling effect whenever I'm about to ask a question that might potentially cause some heavy-handed moderator to close it down. Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 4:04
  • "The process only works in one direction" - I take that to mean that the mods do what they want and the asker has very little recourse. Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 4:05

2 Answers 2


I did not find what I was looking for. My searches were broad and nebulous because by definition I did not know exactly what I was looking for.

Therein lies your problem.

The last thing we want to do on Stack Overflow is to provide a repository for broad and nebulous things that nobody will ever find. There are plenty of places on the Internet that provide that service already.

It's hard to imagine how we can make things better for people who don't know what they are looking for. Your experience is a clear testament to that. The value that we provide here is specific answers to specific questions. We don't provide the broad strokes; we're not good at that. We leave that to the book and blog writers.

  • I think the question is about how to abstract a sequence of actions into some sort of a transaction in iOS. Don't think it is easy to describe it to search for on the Internet.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 17:40
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    That's the question that should have been asked.
    – user102937
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 17:41
  • I'd say it is an iOS version of this question stackoverflow.com/questions/8612894/…, though it doesn't just apply to AJAX call, but any series of background tasks that depend on the previous task.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:12
  • Questions that are non-specific can have can have specific answers. That is where my question and answer fell. Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:28
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    @LostInTheTrees Quesetions that are non-specific can have basically anything as an answer, specific or not. This is a magnet for poor quality answers. Questions that result in lots of poor quality answers are, by definition, poor quality questions (from SO's perspective). Because of that, they are discouraged or disallowed whenever possible.
    – Servy
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:39
  • @Servy: Would you mind take a look at the question after editing? I think the question is addressing a valid problem, and it does have solution in other languages.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:43

I agree that the close process hurts feelings, especially those of new users. But it's also true that a site needs close votes to stay on topic.

For Stack Overflow, the word "practical" is important. A Stack Overflow question is there to get you from A to B. Your question is too generic-- there is no code, and you've already reached B. And "write your own library" is not really a practical answer.

Consider a post to other communities like Reddit or Hacker News. If the IOS community likes your approach, eventually practical questions about using your library will pop up on Stack Overflow. At that point they'll be on-topic :)

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    He has code. He has spent his effort. Then he asks a question of whether there are any better idea of implementation to provide the abstraction that he wanted.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 17:43
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    @nhahtdh: You could rewrite the question to work, with a title like "How can I bundle multiple background requests", and an explanation (including code bits) of how he solved it. I think the community would see that as practical enough.
    – Andomar
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 17:46
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    I edited the question. Not sure if it is good enough, though.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:07
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    @nhahtdh: Your edit is a big improvement. But probably not enough. There are no code snippets and little of practical value. My mind summarizes it as "try this library I built"
    – Andomar
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:13
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    He wrote a complete solution, so I doubt copy and paste the whole thing would make the question looks good. Copy and paste a usage example is not appropriate either, since it doesn't show how the approaches the problem (it is good to add to his answer, though). Probably need some way to summarize how he solves the problem (the approach).
    – nhahtdh
    Commented Apr 30, 2013 at 18:19

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