This really is not a "whine". :-) I think SO is a great site and I look forward to contributing to and benefitting from it. That said, I'm trying to get my head around what is and is not acceptable in the domain of "help me with this code" questions. I'm hoping that by asking about a specific case I ran into, I can improve my general understanding of the policy.

The question I'm referring to was asked, answered, voted up, closed and deleted within 72 hours. It's no longer visible to most users, of course, but it's described on Is the title considered part of the question?

As you'll see on that MSO thread, I argued against it being too broad, not objective, belongs on Code Review, etc. On the other hand, I have a better time seeing that it as too limited/narrow (ironically) or that the OP didn't demonstrate that they'd made enough effort to solve on their own. Given the apparently wide range of opinions about what is "acceptable" on SO in terms of programming questions, I figured I'd ask for the actual data in this case.

I'm hoping, in particular, that specific questions about coding style and achieving DRY are not forbidden on SO, but if they are, I'd like that to be made clear, given how common these kinds of questions are. Personally, I see a big difference between someone asking how to eliminate some obvious duplication in a short code fragment and submitting code for a general code review.

Finally, if possible, I'd like to find out why it was deleted as well. That seems even more extraordinary to me relative to the delete criteria than the close was relative to the close criteria.

Update: The question on SO was since undeleted on 2013-Jun-26.

  • I don't understand much of Ruby. But my feeling when reading the (deleted) question, the comments and the main answer is that it seems to ask "how can you avoid code duplication when you do the same thing to four consecutive elements", and the answer is "use a loop". If this perception is correct, then your question was trivial, in the sense that the answer was obvious. If this assessment is correct, my assumption would be that the question was deleted because it did not seem to have any value for future users.
    – jogojapan
    Jun 26, 2013 at 5:07
  • Actually, the answer involved use of map/collect and a lambda function, neither of which are trivial for many programmers and neither of which I consider an old-fashioned "loop" (i.e. a for loop with an iteration variable). While this particular example was pretty simple and arguably too simple for SO, writing concise Ruby is considered an art form, so I'm hoping we don't rule out all such questions. In any event, there are lots of opinions about why this might have been closed/deleted, but I was hoping to find out why this actually was closed/deleted. Is that possible? Jun 26, 2013 at 5:13
  • @jogojapan - Just to clarify, it wasn't my question. I was the one who answered it. Jun 26, 2013 at 5:15
  • Oh right, I did indeed mistake you for the questioner. Sorry for that.
    – jogojapan
    Jun 26, 2013 at 5:17
  • The Ruby crowd seems tougher than most tags - I've seen far worse questions than that do far better elsewhere. Jul 26, 2013 at 16:51

1 Answer 1


The question (How can I DRY up this ruby array of hashes?) has been undeleted, but remains on-hold and has some re-open votes. Based on the original question, these are the reasons why:

  • The question is too broad. There are many ways to fix up the code, each with its own pros and cons.
  • The question is a better fit for Code Review.

This question would probably be better if the OP talked about they had tried so far, and provided more context about what their goals in refactoring the code were. The question has a lot of clarifying edits, but it really is up to the OP to add context / value.

It's not uncommon for a not-good question to have a good answer. There's even a badge for that. This may happen if the eye of Sauron (the high visibility from MSO) keeps looking at this question.

FYI, if at all possible, it's always helpful to include the link to the question. Users with very high rep and mods can see questions which have been deleted.

  • Thanks for responding. I noticed that you weren't one of the closers or deleters. Have you communicated with them or can you see their reasons in their close/delete votes? Or are you giving your personal opinion? Just trying to clarify before I respond any further. :-) Jun 26, 2013 at 16:30
  • @PeterAlfvin - I've just analyzed and summarized the various responses. The technical topic is outside of my expertise, but FWIW I would have voted down the original question as too vague and not enough effort put in.
    – KatieK
    Jun 26, 2013 at 16:35
  • By "responses" do you mean the visible-to-me comments on SO and MSO? I ask because I didn't see any comments from the closers or deleters and was wondering if perhaps you were referring to information in the down or delete votes. Jun 26, 2013 at 16:40
  • Just the visible stuff on SO and MSO. There's no additional detail provided by the CVs.
    – KatieK
    Jun 26, 2013 at 16:42
  • When you say "no additional detail provided by the CVs", do you mean "visible at your rep level"? I would have expected the CV category information to be present at some reasonable level of rep. Without that, answering questions like this MSO one seems speculative, at least based on the broad range of perspectives in the comments. Jun 26, 2013 at 16:47
  • Any visitor can see "put on hold as not a real question" and the folks who voted. But individual close voters may have selected a different reason; the system only displays the most commonly selected reason for all voters. Maybe more detail exists for mods.
    – KatieK
    Jun 26, 2013 at 16:53
  • So the voters need to agree on a category? How about deleters? And "not a real question" is no longer a close category and hasn't been for at least a few days, right? Why would that be shown? Jun 26, 2013 at 16:56

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