When reviewing whether or not to reopen a question, I came across creating wizards for windows forms in C#. What surprised me is that, IMO, if someone asked that today, they would be all but crucified (endless downvotes, and most likely closed within minutes).

It's not like the post has a few upvotes and downvotes; it has 21 upvotes and 0 downvotes. So, are all questions equal, but some are more equal than others? Or were the rules just different in 2010?

I don't really think that it just slipped through the cracks, because there are 0 downvotes...

  • 5
    All Stack Exchange sites grow over time as they find their feet and discover what questions fit well with the site format and what doesn't. StackOverflow is no different. I'm sure some questions that are considered suitable today won't be in 3 years time too.
    – JonW
    Jul 31, 2013 at 15:03
  • 6
    Yes, things have changed drastically. Recommendations used to be a thing - "what's the best... (book, site, library)" was OK, but we found out they aren't really that great.
    – Oded
    Jul 31, 2013 at 15:04
  • 3
    That first edit was a doozy.
    – mmyers
    Jul 31, 2013 at 15:11
  • No, according to Ministry of Truth officials, there has never been another standard. That's why there's zero divergence between how discussions go on meta versus how questions and answers on SO are treated...
    – jball
    Jul 31, 2013 at 16:25
  • @jball I'm detecting some sarcasm here. I made the post because this seemed fundamentally different and I wanted to get some insight.
    – Steve P.
    Jul 31, 2013 at 16:27
  • @SteveP., just a little. I've encountered a lot of denial from a number of meta users about the way questions and answers are treated and what the standards used to be. Seems to be mostly good intentioned, but some people read selectively and sometimes seemingly just to win arguments. So yeah, I've encountered a few negative responses on meta that seem dogmatically opposed to considering the past and the implications of historical differences, and I felt like venting...
    – jball
    Jul 31, 2013 at 16:32
  • @jball Fair enough, that's okay with me.
    – Steve P.
    Jul 31, 2013 at 16:33
  • @jball Can you point me to some examples of Meta users claiming that the standards have not diverged over time? Because I'm pretty active on here, and I've never seen that. I think everyone agrees that the standards have changed. The only thing that remains constant is that we don't allow complete crap. Experience has caused us to tighten up our standards for things in between. Aug 1, 2013 at 8:03
  • @CodyGray read the comments under this answer to see my most recent observation of this behavior. Note the immeadiate denial, then the semantic quibbling, followed by a complete inability to address my comment by restating part of it, admitting there's history, and then just straight out dodging the problem of confusion.
    – jball
    Aug 1, 2013 at 21:49
  • @CodyGray side note that I'm not arguing that the standards need to be reverted, or why they are what they are (or even that everyone believes that the standards have never changed, that's just hyperbole while I was venting). I'm just arguing that there seems to be a pervasive blindspot on meta to how disruptive the changes have been for some users.
    – jball
    Aug 1, 2013 at 21:52

2 Answers 2


Yes, it is true, the standards of the site have evolved over time. Many questions that used to be on-topic are no longer on-topic. And in fact in some technologies the rules change at different rates (or not at all): see the C++ book question example.

Unfortunately, there's no way to pin the version of the FAQ that was in effect at the time so that it is easy to explain why a question was allowed then but not today. However it does come up here on Meta in individual cases quite often (I will try to find a few examples).


That's an example of a good answer saving a poor question. As far as I can tell, it did indeed slip through the cracks initially; I think no one bothered to vote on the question until after the answer was posted five hours later, and Google searchers often upvote question and answer alike if the answer helped.

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