7

Example: What are the most useful Intellij IDEA keyboard shortcuts?

This question was asked on 2008-11-16. It was closed as "not constructive" on 2011-09-09. To state the obvious: This question was open for more than 1000 days, then closed as not constructive.

What changed at Stack Overflow that caused a huge increase in the number of closed questions?

27
  • 12
    The community developed and moved on. Such list questions are by now considered "not constructive" and usually closed when brought to the attention of some users. It helps to signal that such questions are no longer appropriate for the site.
    – Bart
    May 30, 2013 at 7:47
  • 2
    What changed is that there are now 1000s of new questions every day. That makes finding the old NC questions harder, and some of them stay open longer. Don't assume we are all omnipotent and that we knew of the existence of that question all along. May 30, 2013 at 7:51
  • 7
    What changed was an influx of absolutely pointless questions. Which lead to stricter standards. And then some.
    – yannis
    May 30, 2013 at 7:51
  • 4
    See: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September.
    – kevinarpe
    May 30, 2013 at 8:08
  • 4
    The site develops. What was considered a good question in the beginning of the site, might no longer be.
    – Bart
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:33
  • 2
    The question you link to is closed as not constructive, not as off topic.
    – JJJ
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:33
  • 1
    @Juhana: what is difference the question closed! not constructive? but the question has 342+ve, and thanks I updated my question also
    – user210003
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:35
  • 4
    @Akam Why do votes matter? It's not constructive, therefore it has been closed as such.
    – Doorknob
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:37
  • 1
    @Doorknob: I don't know why people votes?!!
    – user210003
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:39
  • 4
    Votes are more of an indication of popularity in some cases, rather than an indication of fit for the site. There are tons of questions users seem to like, but which are not (or no longer) appropriate.
    – Bart
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:39
  • 5
    Nope, the topicality decides. Whether it's popular or not does not matter… we don't want to draw traffic for the wrong reasons anyway.
    – slhck
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:41
  • 2
    Keep in that a lot (if not the majority) of users don't even know what Stack Overflow is all about. They see a question they like, and upvote it accordingly. That it's not within some set of (to them) arbitrary guidelines is perhaps not something they care about. The angry responses to the closure of such questions are often fun to watch...
    – Bart
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:44
  • 1
    1) The site develops (as I've said) 2) we can't see all the questions. In this case, the first reason is the likely culprit.
    – Bart
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:46
  • 2
    Can't answer that one any better than @Bart already did in a comment... If these old questions weren't closed, people would complain the reverse: "why are old questions exempt from the new guidelines?"
    – Cody Gray
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:52
  • 2
    There is a clear rule: it's covered in the site FAQ. Polls and "big list" questions are off-topic.
    – Cody Gray
    Jul 21, 2013 at 13:05

3 Answers 3

8

What is the policy to close these questions?

If a question is off topic according to the current scope of the site, it should be closed, regardless of its age.

This also applies to any of the other rules that are set in place, e.g. about questions being too subjective, opinion-based, too broad, etc.

An old question might have just slipped through the cracks before, and acquired a huge number of views and votes, but that doesn't protect it against scope changes. There is no benefit from keeping old questions open just because of their age or popularity, since their presence alone encourages people to ask similar questions under the assumption that they are allowed.

Simply put, if we didn't close the old questions—or somehow told users, "hey, this is a bad question, don't even try to ask anything like this"—how would they know not to ask a similarly bad one? We just gave them a good example of how popular such a question could become, and minutes later they might find their own question being closed.

15
  • ok show me one example that you closed one question that previously was not in the scope, but when the scope updated the question closed!
    – user210003
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:43
  • 1
  • But how the scope changed against them? before---after
    – user210003
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:46
  • 1
    Before, we would have had lots of questions asking for software recommendations. Those get (understandably so) immensely popular, since everybody can participate in such a poll. That change came over time though – people started closing these more aggressively than in the early days, also with moderator intervention. We've later changed our FAQ to explicitly disallow product recommendation questions to make the scope clearer.
    – slhck
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:48
  • I hope to see old FAQ and Rules and compare them with new ones to show the truth
    – user210003
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:52
  • 1
    Since you're asking for facts to show the truth, are you implying I'm lying? Anyway, here's the Meta Super User post that made us change the FAQ to explicitly disallow product recommendation questions. I can't speak for Stack Overflow though, sorry. (The idea is the same nonetheless.) Don't forget that not every scope change has to be hardwired in the FAQ of the site. It's all about how the community behaves.
    – slhck
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:54
  • sorry, I didn't meant that but where are old FAQ's or rules that allowed these questions at that time and now these rules changed
    – user210003
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:56
  • 1
    We don't keep an archive of old FAQ revisions, but you'll get the idea. This happens with every site—their rules grow organically and change over time. Not every rule has to be written down like the law.
    – slhck
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:59
  • another question: comments considered as answer?
    – user210003
    Jul 21, 2013 at 12:59
  • ...what? What are you asking?
    – Bart
    Jul 21, 2013 at 13:00
  • @Bart: what did you meant? I asked if comments are considered as answers? any ambiguity here?
    – user210003
    Jul 21, 2013 at 13:05
  • 3
    No, comments are comments. Not answers....why?
    – Bart
    Jul 21, 2013 at 13:06
  • @Bart: but the question that referenced in my question has just comments, is this true or each question should has one answer as answer at least?
    – user210003
    Jul 21, 2013 at 20:06
  • @Akam you're right in a way. Questions closed as duplicates should always point to an answer. That's not the case here, so sorry for the confusion.
    – slhck
    Jul 21, 2013 at 20:19
  • 1
    @Akam There is no such requirement on Meta. This requirement (as far as I know) for a question to need an answer to be eligible as a dupe, is only so on the main site. As for your last comment, I have no clue what you're going for there....
    – Bart
    Jul 21, 2013 at 20:27
4

Questions like "MySQLi vs. PDO" are not considered good questions for Stack Overflow because, as the close reason says, they tend to solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. You can see that in some of the deleted answers that say things like "I use PDO because I don't want to learn another interface", "I decided to stick with MySQLi", or, my personal favorite, "♥ PDO". These are just people's responses to an opinion poll.

After cleaning up a few of the most uninformative answers, I placed a lock on the question for several reasons:

  1. There is some good content in the answers that shouldn't be deleted.
  2. It's 4 years old and has nearly 50,000 views.
  3. The links in the "Related" sidebar show that it's a question that's asked frequently, and linked to heavily. Deleting the question would break a lot of links.
1
  • The question that referenced in my question (I mean duplicate reference) has no answer but just comments?
    – user210003
    Jul 21, 2013 at 20:11
2

If the community wants to close them, they will. As a moderator, I try to encourage action on newer questions that are being posed everyday that need attention, instead of these 5 year old questions that haven't had much, (if any) attention in recent times.

Focus on the questions that need help right now, not the ones that aren't actively hurting the site. When I see moderator flags on these old questions, I tend to decline them if someone is just asking us to close them. There are close queues that can handle that sort of work.

5
  • Note that with the recent changes you wouldn't see any closure flags anymore anyway unless they used a custom text.
    – slhck
    Jul 21, 2013 at 13:14
  • What is the harm in closing them? They will still be around, but clearly signal that such questions are no longer a good fit. I assume there is no problem there? Involving a moderator is of course another thing.
    – Bart
    Jul 21, 2013 at 13:14
  • @slhck That's correct, but some people like to give us custom flags that ask for closure. We tend to decline these because they're trying to circumvent the normal process. If it's something exceptional, let us know, but for everyday closing, there's no need to involve moderators. Jul 21, 2013 at 18:00
  • @Bart If people want to vote to close; that's their business. I'm not going to tell others how to spend their time -- however, what Stack Overflow needs is engaged users to help fix today's questions, not yesterday's relics. Jul 21, 2013 at 18:01
  • 1
    Sure @GeorgeStocker. But if I stumble upon them, I'll vote according to the current standards. I don't seek them out.
    – Bart
    Jul 21, 2013 at 18:02

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .