I've been using StackOverflow for about a year.

I've gotten used to the fact that a bunch of my completely good, legitimate and constructive questions, will first get answered, and then I will get marked down and my question will be closed as non-constructive or not a real question.

I've adapted to this. I ask the question anyway just to get the answer I'm looking for and really do not care if I get negative points, or a bunch of people jumping on me saying I'm not constructive. I just care about getting the answer. It always works.

This system, however does not encourage me to be part of the community. I'm not going to conform to some ridiculous rules just to collect points. This is not smart guys. A lot of the best and most constructive questions on StackOverflow are ridiculously being marked as non constructive.

Some of these get thousands of hits, they are obviously extremely constructive to the programming community. I would encourage you to reconsider this system, because as a newcomer this is keeping me from investing time in taking this community seriously.

  • 18
    Can you provide some examples..? You're assuming you're correct, which you may be, but until you provide proof it's not a convincing argument... May 2 '13 at 18:00
  • 1
    Sure, check the posts on hidden features of Java. One of the most useful things I've ever read. May 2 '13 at 18:00
  • 3
    Unless you've been deleting your old questions, you only have two closed questions, and one with a negative score. Even if there are a couple deleted ones, that's not much to go on.
    – user206222
    May 2 '13 at 18:01
  • 30
    You keep using that word, constructive. I do not think it means what you think it means. May 2 '13 at 18:02
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    In the event you don't know, downvotes are different on meta
    – Taryn
    May 2 '13 at 18:03
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    Thousands of hits doesn't equal constructive or a real question. It just means a lot of people have seen it (either because they find it interesting or because it shows up in search results for something they need).
    – yoozer8
    May 2 '13 at 18:03
  • @Kate Gregory to me the word "constructive" means something that increased my programming knowledge, was useful to me. I see a lot of great questions that are really useful to me closed as non-constructive. May 2 '13 at 18:05
  • 9
    @JavaMonkey22 That has nothing to do with the definition of constructive. It sounds like you mean "useful", which is entirely different from "constructive". The question may very well be useful to you, but that doesn't mean it's constructive. See the expanded close reason for a "not constructive" question for what SO considers "not constructive".
    – Servy
    May 2 '13 at 18:06
  • 7
    Based on the badges you have, it doesn't look like you've read the about page or the FAQ. I suggest reading both; you'll have a better understanding of why some questions are closed.
    – yoozer8
    May 2 '13 at 18:07
  • 1
    Oh, and if you continue to knowingly post content inappropriate for SO, thus resulting in downvoted, closed, and/or deleted questions, you'll just end up getting yourself question banned.
    – Servy
    May 2 '13 at 18:07
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    Additionally, closure is not a permanent end state. If you disagree with a closure, you can bring up that particular issue here on meta.
    – yoozer8
    May 2 '13 at 18:08
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    Is this a joke? Your most recent question was utterly ridiculous, and showed absolutely no research whatsoever. What's shocking is that two people have voted to re-open it. May 2 '13 at 18:12
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    @JavaMonkey22 Adam didn't say your question was dumb, he said it didn't show research effort, and that it was ridiculous. There are lots of questions that are really good questions, but they're so good that the answers to them are posted all over the place because they're so frequently asked, and thus asking again is lazy. That doesn't make it a bad question in general, but it makes it a bad question on SO for not doing your homework before asking it.
    – Servy
    May 2 '13 at 18:18
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    I assume you're talking about w3schools -- w3schools is not affiliated with W3C.
    – JJJ
    May 2 '13 at 18:19
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Largely assembling points from comments into a cohesive answer -

  1. You do not seem to have read the about page or the FAQ. These include criteria for what makes a constructive question.
  2. While in common usage "constructive" most closely means "useful," this community has subscribed to a much more restrictive definition, in a nutshell, for the reason that a very narrow definition must be adopted to keep our information valuable and accessible, especially over the long-term. The reasoning for the more restrictive definition is discussed in numerous meta questions and blog posts. See e.g. Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and Gorilla. v. Shark. Also note we are considering revising close vote reasons, in part to reflect the misleadingness of "Not a real question" and "not constructive" - see Help us make "Not Constructive" and "Not a Real Question" closures more effective.
  3. We want you to be a participating member of the community. And it's great that you have vented on meta and asked constructively what we mean by "not constructive" rather than simply become frustrated. However I would like to rather bluntly point out that if a large share of questions you post are closed as NC or downvoted, you will receive a question ban. The onus is on you to participate constructively and, ultimately, we will not want your participation if you do not move to this.
  4. Closed questions can be reopened if they can be improved. See What is a "closed" or "duplicate" question?
  • 2
    This community uses the word constructive very differently to the general population, who generally don't see a multiplicity of opinions as a reason to close off discussion. Be forgiving of people who are using the common meaning of the word (useful, helpful, positive) as opposed to our meaning (clear-cut, definitively right or wrong, opinion-free).
    – AndrewC
    May 2 '13 at 21:05
  • @AndrewC true, I tried to be precise in my point (2) but edited. But you are correct and this is part of why we're trying to redo these writeups in the link at the end of (2).
    – djechlin
    May 2 '13 at 21:24
  • Good edit, yes.
    – AndrewC
    May 2 '13 at 21:35

A question gets closed as not-constructive for the following reasons:

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.

You stated in the comments that the Hidden Features Of Java as an example. First, this question is not closed (but locked) but the Hidden Features of JavaScript is closed for the correct reason.

These questions are not-constructive because there is not an exact answer to them. Not-constructive questions are typically questions that are too broad. These questions were acceptable to Stack Overflow in the beginning, but they are no longer acceptable as stated in the FAQs.

... questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much...

This snippet from the FAQs states exactly the problem with these types of questions. The Hidden Features of Java has 108 Answers and the Hidden Features of JavaScript has 116 answers. Both of these are too open-ended to be allowed on Stack Overflow.

As a side note these questions are still available for viewing (i.e. they were not deleted) because they do provide a good reference point to users of the site.

When it comes to your own questions that you ask, if you have been on the site for a year, then you should know what is and is not an acceptable question to ask. If you have a specific concern about one of your questions, then you should ask Why was this closed? How can I improve my asking of questions so this doesn't happen? If you were to ask that, you would probably get some constructive feedback on how to improve your time on Stack Overflow.

  • 3
    Note that the hidden features of java doesn't need to be closed because it's locked, which is even more restrictive then being closed. Not only can you not add a new answer, but you can't vote, edit, or comment on existing posts.
    – Servy
    May 2 '13 at 18:20
  • @Servy You are right, amended by answer.
    – Taryn
    May 2 '13 at 18:21

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