I don't mind that my question is closed, there's no need for any more new answers, plus it means I can keep tinkering with it without people accusing me of bumping the question. But despite being nominated by several people to be re-opened, it has remained closed as "Not constructive" -- and I was wondering why.

What are the technical differences between the Thread Safe and Non Thread safe PHP Windows Installation Packages?

What's weirder is that Shog9 ♦ verified that the question was appropriate for Stack Overflow. So why was it closed, and why has it remained closed?

  • At this moment it has one reopen vote (and one delete vote). So it has "remained closed as Not constructive" because only one person has "nominated it to be reopened", not "several people". Commented May 21, 2013 at 11:56
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    It was closed and remains closed because a section of the community disagrees with Shog9.
    – Bart
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 11:58
  • @DanielDaranas You misunderstand. It previously had two different people who nominated it. Those nominations eventually expire, though. This new nomination came after I posted this question here. Commented May 21, 2013 at 11:59
  • @Bart Ever the antagonist! Commented May 21, 2013 at 11:59
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    @DjangoReinhardt Antagonist? Why that? There is no difficult explanation necessary here. A moderator has extended privileges and can reopen or close as he sees fit. That does not mean that the community can not evaluate the question differently and take actions accordingly. If other members disagree with it, they can reopen it again.
    – Bart
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 12:01
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    @DjangoReinhardt So you know that the previous nominations eventually expired. It is clear that the expired reopen nominations won't reopen the question. It is clear also that one single reopen vote is not enough to reopen it, either. What is your question then? Commented May 21, 2013 at 12:01
  • @DanielDaranas My question is simply, "Why is this question “Not constructive”?" (The hint is in the title.) Commented May 21, 2013 at 12:03
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    @DjangoReinhardt Then you're just bumping it. It's not constructive for some users, its constructive for some other users. Not everyone agrees. That's how the site goes. Commented May 21, 2013 at 12:05
  • As for the "not constructive" part, I would assume that those voting to close think that a question which asks for the differences between 4 PHP "flavors" is essentially a list question. But given that I'm not one of the close voters, it's a guess.
    – Bart
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 12:07
  • And still a minor issue is that, with the history the question itself has gone through, some of the answers no longer seem to address the question that is now asked. Which is rather unfortunate.
    – Bart
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 12:20
  • I'd say the question is constructive, but understand why others might not (one could say it belongs on Server Fault, I guess). FWIW, the definition of "constructive" has become more specific as Stack Overflow has become more popular - so things that were permitted a couple of years ago may not make the grade now.
    – halfer
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 12:26
  • Because "not constructive" is misleading. Its actual meaning is more like "inappropriately worded" or "out of scope". Commented May 21, 2013 at 13:01
  • @SteveBennett I think you're referring to "Off Topic". Commented May 21, 2013 at 13:07
  • no, although that covers another kind of "out of scope". meta.stackexchange.com/questions/171732/… Commented May 21, 2013 at 13:18

3 Answers 3


I've reworked the title a little bit, to give it a shot at staying open.

The red flag, in my mind, was the title. It seemed really open ended, even though when you read the question, it's quite specific. I've narrowed the title, but I haven't changed the actual question you've asked.

I've also re-opened the question, and I agree that it's on topic, constructive, and answerable.

Your question also has another problem: A lot of 'shopping'-esque answers. It's as if people take this to mean, "What should I use to install PHP?" Instead of the question that was actually asked. I removed the answers that didn't address the question at all (since they are, by definition, "Not an answer"). This may also be why your question was closed by the community -- it begat bad answers.

As far as Shog9 agreeing that it should remain open, there are two things you should realize:

  • Moderators disagree amongst each other regularly. We try not to fight in front of everyone, but we do have instances where we disagree. You can think of us more like the Greek Gods than The Circle.

  • Shog9 is a member of the Community team (the "Community Manager", as of this writing). While he is 'our boss' (if any such thing exists), he generally tries not to get in the middle of Stack Overflow moderation efforts unless he really needs to (examples include: moderators screwing up big time). In this case, there's no need to have Shog9 get involved, although he could if he really wanted to.

  • Two close votes already -- and no discussion anywhere as to why. Meta Spite? Commented May 21, 2013 at 12:39
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    @DjangoReinhardt Does it matter? The community will do what the community will do. I have faith that the universe will unfold as it should. Commented May 21, 2013 at 12:55
  • That's some faith! Commented May 21, 2013 at 13:08
  • it's quite specific really? "What are all of the differences between these four versions of the language?" is specific? I wouldn't imagine that to be a particularly short list...
    – Servy
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 15:24
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    @Servy VC5, VC9, Thread Safe, and Non Thread Safe all have specific meanings. If you keep in mind they're all the same version of PHP, we're talking about the specific differences in the installation, which is much shorter than, say, "Tell me the difference between PHP 4 and PHP 5". Commented May 21, 2013 at 15:29
  • @Servy Now that I see that some of the answers have been flagged, I can see that people may think it's a "List of X" question (what should I use to install PHP?), and from my reading of the question, it was never meant to be that. I deleted the non-answers. Commented May 21, 2013 at 15:35
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    @GeorgeStocker Yeah, while the old title makes it seem like a list of X question that's not so much the case. Part of the issue is that, regardless of the quality of the question, the end result of it being asked was debate, arguments, polling, and extended discussion, as well as a distinct lack of facts from most answers. Getting rid of all of the non-answers, assuming they don't come back due to the edits to the question, may resolve that aspect.
    – Servy
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 15:38
  • @GeorgeStocker Keep in mind that the answers you've deleted were given because of the original question asked. Over time the question itself moved away from the answers given. (Though perhaps the intention was always to ask what is currently asked).
    – Bart
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 15:49
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    @Bart The intention was always there from the beginning. As you can see, the question hasn't changed. As Shog9 noticed, a lot of people only read the title, and didn't bother with the body of the question. Commented May 21, 2013 at 16:00
  • @DjangoReinhardt I did read the original question. There you are not as clear in your request for technical differences. You seem to ask "what package should I install?", to which the answer "don't install any. Go for option X" would be a valid answer. Which is what some of the deleted answers seemed to say. IMO those were valid answers to the original question asked. A matter of (unfortunate) phrasing perhaps.
    – Bart
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 16:07

Why is this question “Not constructive”?

Because Wooble, LittleBobbyTables, Jocelyn, ldav1s, and Servy thought it was. If five users each with over three thousand reputation think something is not constructive, then it probably is, which is why it was closed.

But despite being nominated by several people to be re-opened,

The question only has 2 reopen votes (at the time of the writing of this answer).

What's weirder is that Shog9 ♦ verified that the question was appropriate for Stack Overflow. So why was it closed, and why has it remained closed?

Because people can disagree with each other. Also, that was a long time ago. Things can change in two years.

  • @DjangoReinhardt Do you think that your answer covers every single difference between each of those various versions? If not, then it's incomplete. Can you imagine how large an answer would need to be in order to contain every single difference between those versions? I'm not a PHP guy, so I can't be sure, but I'd imagine it's not a tiny list. Such an answer would be beyond the scope of what can be expected of an SO answer; it shouldn't need to be more than a few paragraphs.
    – Servy
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 15:22
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    @DjangoReinhardt That means that you're not listing all of the differences, you're just listing the ones that you think are most important. That means the question really is, "What do you think the most important differences are between these versions?" That's now become a subjective question.
    – Servy
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 15:48
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    @DjangoReinhardt You specifically asked why the question was marked as not constructive. If you aren't interested in hearing anyone's explanation for why it's not constructive then you shouldn't have asked in the first place. And I have just explained to you one way in which it is subjective, just saying "it's not subjective" doesn't make that not true. I gave you a metric by which it was subjective. If you feel that it's not subjective and that there is an objective reason for choosing some information and not others then incorporate those objective metrics into the question.
    – Servy
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 15:54
  • @DjangoReinhardt Actually, on Stack Overflow, "Constructive" == "Subjective". Perhaps that's part of the issue that you're having; SO has a somewhat unique definition of what Constructive is. You should read the more detailed explanation instead of stopping at just the title of the close reason. "Not constructive" is the reason used on SO for closing questions that are subjective and not supported by facts, references, or specific expertise. Questions that will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion are NC. Your question generated all of that.
    – Servy
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 15:59
  • @DjangoReinhardt The extended discussion has been deleted, so it's no longer there. Before it was deleted, there was extended discussion. The fact that several moderators have had to spend quite a bit of time going to that post (over an extended period of time) deleting lots of very low quality content is what happens with non-constructive questions, and it's [one of] the reason(s) they're closed. Why you're insisting on not engaging in this discussion, when you've demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of why your question is being closed, is something you should be asking yourself.
    – Servy
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 16:14
  • @DjangoReinhardt Oh really, "Post Closed as "not constructive" by Wooble, LittleBobbyTables, Jocelyn, ldav1s, Servy occurred Apr 30 at 15:43" It was closed for being "not constructive", just as this meta question is asking, "Why is this not constructive?" The issue of it's on-topic-ness was addressed previously, not here. That one or more moderators considers it constructive doesn't absolutely make it so, and it most certainly doesn't mean it cannot be discussed. If you didn't want to discuss the issue why did you ask this question to begin with? Perhaps you should actually discuss it.
    – Servy
    Commented May 21, 2013 at 16:41
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    @Servy I recommend putting your answers into an answer. To be fair, you're just commenting. Stick it in an answer if you want to keep it around. Once you have to enter multiple comments to say what you want to say, that's a good indication you ought to write an answer instead. Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:46
  • @Servy I've cleaned out the meta discussion; if you want something to stay around, put it into an answer. Commented May 21, 2013 at 17:49

I'm going to chime in an answer not to say that it is on the line, but to say why it's on the line.

Current title stands at: "What are the technical differences between the Thread Safe and Non Thread safe PHP Windows Installation Packages?" This is definitely the kind of title that gives a question a good chance.

If there is one or a few differences, then it's a constructive question. If there are many, many differences, then it's not a constructive question. Here's the beauty: The OP (or title editor) doesn't know which it is at the time of asking. The community experts do. It is a posteriori not constructive. Therefore it is a good question with good research effort, but might be honorably closed as not constructive anyway. (Note the good research effort may be the editors', not the OP's. Doesn't matter.)

My answer here explains dealing with questions in which it's not apparent whether it will be a good question or not.

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