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There's a certain class of problematic questions which appears regularly in Stack Overflow: live website help questions. They generally go like this:

  • The asker has a problem with their website. The CSS isn't working, their JavaScript isn't broken, or their HTML isn't cooperating.
  • They link their website directly, and provide no code samples in the question - often because the code concerned would be most of the webpage and its enormous quantity of HTML, CSS and JS, and there's no way to provide some simple code extracts.

This is the latest example: Firefox 23.0.1 changing my css, breaking website

The problem is these questions are useless to all future visitors

Code questions generally need code examples. That way, future visitors can look at the problem, understand it, and recognise whether it's their issue or not.

In the case of questions where the only example is a live website, the problematic code will probably be fixed within days, and the webpage may be entirely replaced or cease to exist within months.

Essentially: within a few days, nobody will be able to understand and recognise the problem, or learn from the questions. I would go as far as to say these questions only help the asker.

How do we respond to these questions?

Do we downvote them? Do we close them with the close reason of "Questions concerning problems with code you've written must describe the specific problem — and include valid code to reproduce it — in the question itself"? Do we need a specific close reason, or do we need to specifically mention somewhere that a live website is not a sufficient code example?

marked as duplicate by random Sep 5 '13 at 2:24

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  • 8
    Shut it down. Shut it all down. – random Sep 5 '13 at 2:21
  • 2
    With torches and pitch forks – apaul Sep 5 '13 at 2:35
  • Explicitly ignore tags where this is prevalent? But yeah, close as must demonstrate the code. Perhaps the wording for that close reason should include that an entire web site is not "demonstrating the code." – Aaron Bertrand Sep 5 '13 at 3:01
  • @Aaron Considering it's prevalent in html, javascript and css... that would be ignoring a lot of questions I'm actually interested in. :) – doppelgreener Sep 5 '13 at 4:19
  • Yeah, I was kidding... – Aaron Bertrand Sep 5 '13 at 4:38

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