I asked this question on SO. It was put on hold for being "opinion-based", which it was really not since it reopened later as it was deemed "historical and not opinion-based". Now 5 mods have decided to put it on hold again for being opinion-based, again.

I think that this situation is unfair for two reasons : 1. Why is it that the 5 mods quorum doesn't grow each time? Am I going to have to petition to reopen it everyday? 2. I can't vote to reopen it again, since i voted last time. So I can't signal my intention to have it reopened.

  • Any user with >3k rep can vote to close/reopen, not just mods. It sounds like your question is right on the border of off topic; I suggest editing it to resolve any issues people have highlighted – Richard Tingle Nov 23 '13 at 23:58
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    Although reading the question it kindof is primarily opinion based; why a small group of people use a particular example name is unknowable unless you actually ask the people in question, and each wikk probably have a different reason – Richard Tingle Nov 24 '13 at 0:00
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    That question should have never been reopened. It is the quintessential example of a "what color should I paint the bikeshed" question. – Robert Harvey Nov 24 '13 at 0:03
  • @RobertHarvey. No, it is the quintessential example of "why is it that a majority of people paint the bikeshed green?" which has an answer which is that it blends better with the rest of the garden. – Gurg Hackpof Nov 24 '13 at 0:07
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    Ask yourself this: will the answer to the question (whatever it is) make you a better programmer? – Robert Harvey Nov 24 '13 at 0:08
  • @RobertHarvey Certainly it would make me a more knowledgable one. The venerable IETF released a whole RFC on the etymology of foo [ietf.org/rfc/rfc3092.txt]. I think they did it because some people wonder and that makes it a legitimate question. – Gurg Hackpof Nov 24 '13 at 0:19
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    Also, ignoring the whole opinion based thing: I'm not sure the history of programming is on topic either unless it impacts actual programming – Richard Tingle Nov 24 '13 at 0:19
  • Frankly, programers from my generation use Foo as the first meta-syntactic name. "Fred" is some new fangled silliness. – dmckee Nov 24 '13 at 0:19
  • Foo is already covered here. – Robert Harvey Nov 24 '13 at 0:20
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    @RobertHarvey Holy hell I did not know that. So origin of foo is fair and origin of fred is not. Yeah, right. – Gurg Hackpof Nov 24 '13 at 0:22
  • Well, how deep does this well go? If I asked "Why Fred and not Sally" would that be on-topic? If I asked why it was an Anglo-Saxon name, and not a German name, would that be on-topic? Foo has some precedence in the annals of programming history; Fred does not. – Robert Harvey Nov 24 '13 at 0:23
  • @gurg note that the scope of the site has changed; historic content should not be used to justify new content – Richard Tingle Nov 24 '13 at 0:23
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    This might be a more substantial and weighty issue if ten people hadn't agreed that it was off-topic. Good, on-topic questions never get a single close vote. – Robert Harvey Nov 24 '13 at 0:30
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    Maybe so. But that's how we work here, by community consensus. – Robert Harvey Nov 24 '13 at 0:48
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    None of the users who voted to close your question were mods. – Doorknob Nov 24 '13 at 1:19

You can rage against the machine (pointless, and overrated imho), or you can understand the reasoning behind this.

I'll point you to a couple specifics behind the ethos of StackOverflow that can be gleaned from the help center:

This site is all about getting answers. It's not a discussion forum. There's no chit-chat.

Trivia questions, while fun (I love trivia, play a lot of Buzztime when I get the opportunity), are definitely chit-chatty. Why someone would use fred as a variable name is pretty much useless information that won't help you become a better programmer or solve any issue you are currently facing. Speaking of which...

Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do.

Where's the actual problem you are facing here? Is not knowing the reasoning behind a throwaway variable name a problem? No, performant thread synchronization in collection access is a software problem. This, again, is trivia.

I agree with you that the foo question is a similar example. It should be closed (voted for that) or given a historical lock. It isn't an example of how you are right, but of how "StackOverflow is not a perfect example of itself". You will always find counterexamples for pretty much every rule here, just because SO isn't perfect due to the number of human beings administrating and participating within it.


First of all, don't editorialize in the question itself to explain why it should be opened or not. Improve the question in the body of the question, argue your case in comments and on Meta.

Second, ten people have now voted to close that question and five have voted to reopen. It seems pretty fair to me that the question should be closed.

  • With your reasonning, when 105 persons have voted to close and 100 to reopen, then it is fair to close which i do not agree with. – Gurg Hackpof Nov 24 '13 at 0:06
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    Not exactly. Ten over five is a two to one ratio. – Robert Harvey Nov 24 '13 at 0:07
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    @GurgHackpof Why not? Why should reopen votes count more than close votes? (More than they already do. It always takes more close votes than reopen votes to keep a question closed.) – Bill the Lizard Nov 24 '13 at 0:07
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    @Gurg A question would never get to that point, though. It would have been brought up on Meta and heavily discussed. Most questions would never make it past a third close/reopen cycle without moderator intervention. – animuson Nov 24 '13 at 0:09
  • @BilltheLizard Well, one reason for not being one-to-one is that you cannot reopen a question that was not closed beforehand. So maybe the 5 guys that actively voted for the question would have reopened it too, had they had the chance to do so... (or maybe they are the same 5 guys) Another reason is that the fact that it was reopened shows that it is in fact a close call so raising the quorum makes sense to me. – Gurg Hackpof Nov 24 '13 at 0:14
  • @Gurg assuming that there is no edit in between; if people would just vote either way to flip the questions state then something is seriously wrong. – Richard Tingle Nov 24 '13 at 0:17
  • @RichardTingle There were no other edits than arguing the case which I have since learned I should not do. – Gurg Hackpof Nov 24 '13 at 0:30
  • @Gurg In which case no one in their right mind would vote both ways – Richard Tingle Nov 24 '13 at 20:54

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