I see a lot of questions on StackOverflow that will never help anyone in the future, JanDvorak's quote explains what question's I'm talking about.

"Haven't you heard? Crowdsourcing to stackOverflow is the new trend in basic debugging."

-- Jan Dvorak

Here is one very recent example.

Deleted post as of [ 14/09/2013 ]

What should happen to these and what (if anything) should we be doing about it?

How is anyone going to benefit from a question like this, because to benefit you must have made the same mistake, you must have made that mistake in a directive and you must be using angular, and you must think that the problem is, it's not being added to the DOM.


The question mentioned in this post has been deleted for reasons of moderation, so I am including a image of the question & the answer so newcomers will know what type of question were talking about.


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Also If you asked that question, I'm not just picking on that question, because I have definitely seen worse, but it was at that point in which i decided to ask my first question on Meta

  • 2
    Pretty much nothing, just ignore them. They won't appear high in search results here or on google because of the low score and they don't really cost much money or time to have. CVing them might also be a fair suggestion. Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 15:55
  • It is not that simple. The value in a question like this is that somebody may find it back some day and realize that it might be a good idea to look for a typo as the reason that he's got the exact same problem. That isn't likely to be the exact same kind of typo. But enough to help him find his typo. Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 15:58
  • @UphillLuge Really? You'd think people would look for syntax errors in their code before asking the question on a Q&A site in general, or think they'd run it through one of the variety of tools that do so (a css or HTML validator in the example OP used) Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 16:02
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    Generally, for extremely bad syntax errors like this, I just flat-out delete them. No sense in letting them sit around the site.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 16:06
  • Related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/167342/…
    – Mat
    Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 16:14
  • 1
    related: Responding to your “too localized” concerns
    – gnat
    Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 16:38
  • 1
    @animuson It's ok for you to say that, but from what I know, it's only moderators or Trusted Users that can delete questions, and as it stands, that would mean we would have to flag the question, and doing so you would be risking it every time and hoping that a moderator with the same views as you will receive it at the other end. By risking it I mean every likes to keep a clean slate and it's not going to be nice if your flag gets declined
    – iConnor
    Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 20:20
  • 1
    @Pinocchio I have declined flags. Everyone gets them. Don't worry about a few declined flags. If you keep getting declined flags, then start worrying. Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 23:53
  • Without knowing the rep of the user who posted the question above, I'd hesitate a guess that they were relatively new. By forcing revisions of such overly localized questions aggressively, I think it will help to educate new users who didn't/couldn't RTFM. We don't want to alienate future contributing users by brashly deleting their posts without some feedback on rephrasing, searching or self-debugging. Having a dialog with checklist requiring manual confirmation like "Ran code through debugging tool: YES, Searched for similar answer: YES" until a user has 50+ rep may reduce incidents.
    – ljs.dev
    Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 2:52
  • @LeonStafford no, Reputation of user was over 6,000
    – iConnor
    Commented Sep 15, 2013 at 2:53

2 Answers 2


Prior to the question close reason redesign we had a close reason called too localized which was just for questions of that kind.

Generally speaking, even if there is no proper close reason to pick from anymore, just close those questions with the reason off-topic > other stating the actual reason.

Maybe we should think about revising that redesign a bit but that's another topic.

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    I agree with this, but the incentives are just all wrong for this to happen in any meaningful way. People with programming problems of any sort are getting their questions answered and those answering the questions are getting the satisfaction of solving a problem, frequently a thank you for the person asking the question and they're getting reputation. The incentives for closing pale in comparison and involve a relatively long and unreliable process. Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 20:14
  • @PeterAlfvin Agreed it is a long process and perhaps not the best solution, but there doesn't seem to be any better solutions arising.
    – iConnor
    Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 20:18
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    Unfortunately, the incentives for generating innovative solutions on MSO are all screwed up as well. Instead of encouraging new ideas, including impractical, off-the-wall ideas that can be built on or that will trigger other ideas, we have a downvoting system and culture that discourages any ideas not in keeping with the status quo. Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 20:23
  • @peteralfvin people getting their questions answered and people getting the satisfaction of solving a problem both seem like good things to me. I can't tell if you are saying this is a bad thing or not Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 20:39
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    @MichaelPryor I think those are good things, the exceptions noted in this thread notwithstanding (e.g. Jon Skeet opportunity cost problem). However, I'm not sure leaving questions and answers around that don't have any reasonable chance of future value is necessarily a good thing or in keeping with the mission of the site, which as I understand it is primarily about building up a useful knowledge repository. So I wish we would have some discussion that would allow us to "have our cake and eat it too". Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 20:46

I both disagree and agree... I know, annoying right?
I see what you're saying and I understand that some posts do take the cake (if it indeed exists).

There are lots of examples of users helping out with syntax errors (on the part of the poster) but discussing some fairly interesting topics.

I don't believe that you can rule a syntax error, or other minor error as of no use to anybody.

Also, it's conceivable (albeit being fairly rare) that if a poster is to make that mistake, then it could happen to another user in future.

In some cases, I'm not sure that anybody really has the moral authority to look at someones question and say "It's not useful, and should be removed". It's a fairly big judgement to make.

Solutions toward 'fixing' the issue would be difficult to implement, for this reason.

  • 10
    -1 while I agree with some stuff you said, when I have to read a post about a syntax error I get annoyed. My time was wasted, as well as the time of the community in general. We're trying to make common programming problems easy to solve here. If Jon Skeet saw that question about a syntax error and that was part of his 15 minutes break for solving stuff on SO, this means someone with a real problem (which is not solved by opening the console) was robbed of a real answer. Syntax errors are very unlikely to help other users in the future. Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 15:54
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    You've got that moral authority part wrong. The SE network is a peer reviewed and peer maintained network, if enough people think that it's useless, then it's just useless. Commented Sep 14, 2013 at 16:14

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