While posting a question on Stack Overflow, it is instructed,

How to Ask
Is your question about programming? We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

I'm still learning to properly use Stack Overflow, however my observation is that non-programming questions like 'Linux vs Windows', 'What screen resolution do you use?' or other similar questions are flood filled with answers and/or upvotes, while the trend is opposite for the programming related questions IMHO.

My Question:
Is it me having difficulty searching the properly answered questions related to actual programming issues, or such questions are really not popular on Stack Overflow?

  • 6
    The two sample questions you've mentioned sound very much off-topic. They would practically be opinion polls. And that might also explain why answering them is trivial.
    – Bart
    Aug 11, 2013 at 11:53
  • 5
    If you encounter the questions like you mention and they're still open, flag or vote to close. Aug 11, 2013 at 11:56
  • 3
    Can you link to these questions? Aug 11, 2013 at 11:57
  • 1
    Its worth noting that the definition of on topic was very much different in the past. How old are the questions you're refering to Aug 11, 2013 at 12:01
  • 5
    Keep in mind that real programming questions have a single correct answer. Generally, once that's posted, there is no need for additional answers. The other questions you cited breed endless answers, and have no correct answer. See the problem? Aug 11, 2013 at 12:20
  • 2
    It would help more when you post samples of "real programming questions" without answers. Then we can tell what's wrong with the question or whether there really is a problem with the site like you seem to suggest. Aug 11, 2013 at 13:53
  • 2
    Related: The bike shed problem and SO Aug 11, 2013 at 15:08

1 Answer 1


Without seeing the questions to which you refer I'm unable to say when they were posted, but it's worth remembering that, in the early/earlier days of Stack Overflow, the definition of what was acceptable/on-topic were rather more lax. As things tightened up, and we began to be more rigorous about avoiding polls/discussions, we unfortunately missed cleaning up the historical detritus in many cases. Although when they're flagged, now, they're quickly cleaned up (unless they retain some form of 'historical significance').

So, please: flag the questions that seem off-topic and they'll be peer, or moderator, reviewed and removed if they are indeed off-topic under today's guidelines/policies.

  • 1
    I've found a possible for the Linux vs Windows and that was indeed asked over 4 years ago and is now closed. Aug 11, 2013 at 12:07
  • @Martin: ...sigh, my eyes... =/ you're right. Voted to delete it just now. Aug 11, 2013 at 12:10
  • 2
    My main issue is not that offtopic questions have hundreds of upvotes. My concern is that I can find questions related to the programming (coding, not concepts), but most of those are not satisfactorily answered. Still have to use the manuals. Aug 11, 2013 at 12:13
  • @Abdullah: think of the relative length of time the questions have been around, and of the ease-of-participation with the 'easier'/less-challenging questions. Votes are a matter of opinion and regard, the more that can understand, appreciate and interact with a question the more votes it's likely to get over time. Aug 11, 2013 at 12:16
  • 1
    David, don't you know you're not allowed to say "my eyes" now? (+1)
    – Mr.Wizard
    Aug 11, 2013 at 13:35
  • @MartinSmith Who the hell tried to reopen that??? Aug 11, 2013 at 19:04
  • @JanDvorak - I dunno. Not me. The only way to find out would be to get another 4 reopen votes :-) Aug 11, 2013 at 19:06
  • 1
    @MartinSmith I'd rather not. Then we'd have to find five close votes, and also to clean up the mess that would accumulate while the question would be open. Aug 11, 2013 at 19:07
  • @Martin Let's just assume that they mis-clicked when trying to delete it. Aug 12, 2013 at 7:41

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