I posted this question in 2009 when Apple was still short with documentation about iPhone development and there were very few book or blogs related to development. I posed the question so that iPhone developers could share the resources they knew about and found useful.


It was voted up and I was even given a badge for it as a popular question. It has over 9000 views. Then 3 years later in 2012 it was closed as not constructed. Since it was constructive and useful for many people for 3 years and every single response was constructive I do not see how it was suddenly marked as not constructive. This is the kind of question which makes SO useful, yet now certain users are blocking this sort of interaction from being possible on SO.

I read through the guidelines and I do not see why it was closed.


And after 3 years what is the point? Why would someone go back to a very old question to close it? Are they hunting for points? And if so why are users being awarded points for closing out old questions? This seems like a gross abuse by people who are overstepping their bounds. The people who are voting to close good questions with useful responses need to be prevented from closing more questions and the questions they have been closing should be reviewed. SO cannot become like Digg.

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    You keep saying "blocked" like you are dropping packets trying to access the site – random Dec 15 '13 at 3:39
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    Nobody gets any rep for closing questions. They just get a nice feeling of helping clean the site up. And you don't know how many of those views are from people who left disappointed that a search brought them there – random Dec 15 '13 at 3:42
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    Related: broken-windows – user213963 Dec 15 '13 at 3:43
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    If I had stumbled upon this question before this Meta post, I would have deleted it... This is nowhere near an acceptable question by today's standards. – animuson Dec 15 '13 at 3:46
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    Digg went away because users were fed up with non-content and being gamed like pheasants. Pray it's not the evil fake that takes down SO too. – random Dec 15 '13 at 3:52
  • @Doorknob I've read the guidelines for what not to ask and that old question and the new question conform with them. And I listened to the podcast when Jeff Atwood was discussing SO as an idea and I was a user right from the start. I know exactly what SO was meant to be and how it has been useful to me. Not allowing any discussion because a small group of people vote it down is not what SO was meant to be. – Brennan Dec 15 '13 at 4:09
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    @Brennan How exactly is SO failing? Closing low quality questions is a sign of success. We don't want to be like yahoo answers. – Josh Crozier Dec 15 '13 at 4:10
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    Also, hooray for conveniently not noticing every comment that points out a reason why your argument is invalid, so that you can continue to ignorantly rant! – Doorknob Dec 15 '13 at 4:10
  • @Doorknob You have not even read the question I posted in 2009 and the many responses which were very helpful and constructive. And nobody has explained why a 3 year old question was voted down and closed. If you read it all you would see it makes not sense for anyone to down vote it, hence why I feel so strongly about something needing to change on SO. – Brennan Dec 15 '13 at 4:16
  • @JoshC When a good question which was popular and had many constructive responses is around for 3 years and then some people go back to it and mark it as not constructive, that is a problem and is why SO is failing. Perhaps the question should be marked as archived because the question and responses are now rather dated 3 years later, but marking it as not constructive is inaccurate. – Brennan Dec 15 '13 at 4:17
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    I have read it. It is indeed not constructive. You are the one who has not read the close reason, which specifically states why. – Doorknob Dec 15 '13 at 4:18
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    The date asked is irrelevant - why should it matter? Please read the answer below. – Doorknob Dec 15 '13 at 4:19
  • I read and responded to the answer below. Have you read the question that I asked in 2009 and the responses. The question got many great responses which were all helpful. Nobody got angry or was debating anything. Why vote it down as not constructive? Based on the content there you cannot suggest that has not be constructive. – Brennan Dec 15 '13 at 4:23
  • 9000 views is not really that many for a 3 year old question. With more it might have be a candidate for a historical lock. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Dec 15 '13 at 5:39

There's a theory in the real world about neighborhoods, that the first signs of vandalism not being cleaned up by the community lead to more and more problems in time. This is covered in Broken Window Theory on Wikipedia.

However true or disputed that theory is, it plays out time and time again on Stack Exchange. Glance at the MSO broken-window tag for some examples of this.

There are more than enough comments in meta on multiple sites (as a denizen of Programmers.SE, we may have a disproportionate number of these).

It basically goes "Well, why was my question on 'How are you doing Android development?' closed? There's one out there just like it for iPhone and it has 9000 views and +60 score - certainly its a good question!" And now we've got another new user who missed the point of Stack Exchange and a poor experience.

(Aside: It is important to realize that sometimes votes show popularity of a question, not the quality of the question or how well it fits into the Q&A format. There are lots of questions that are popular and aren't that good. Check out https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/73455/popular-deleted-so-su-programmers-questions-list for some examples)

The thing is that Stack Exchange is designed as a Question and Answer site. It strives to maintain the highest quality of questions so that people come here to look for those answers rather than digging through the forums. To keep that happening, it is necessary to make sure that the noise is filtered out to the best of our ability.

That filtering takes several ways, down voting questions and answers, flagging non-constructive comments (comments aren't where you have jokes and long running discussions). Closing questions is another important tool.

Your question was closed. It's a poll. Polls don't have single answers, but rather things that everyone has their own $0.02 to add and there is no right answer. That's the antithesis of how Stack Exchange is designed to work. And so your question was closed as not constructive.

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.

Closing the question helps serve as a warning to other people asking the same question that, no, it might have been OK in the elder days of SO, but it isn't acceptable now. And to the best of our ability, we strive not to have double standards. What isn't acceptable now and was posted 4 years ago should still get closed.

Specifically, from help/dont-ask:

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”

The second one is a near perfect match for:

I am looking for more iPhone developers who are actively posting to their blog and/or Twitter. I have been learning a lot from books but the online resources beyond Apple's developer site have been hard to find.

Please let me know if you are doing iPhone development.

  • Please read the question at the link above and several of the responses and you will see that there is no reason to say this was a bad question or suffering from fiery debate. It was all positive and professional. Making a snap judgement without reading the content is the problem. Please see that. – Brennan Dec 15 '13 at 4:19
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    No, it wasn't suffering from debate. It was however a poll of experiences. Such a question can't have a definitive answer. People come to SO for such definitive answers, not for "what should I name my cat" (seriously, that was a question that showed up on P.SE at one point - 10k link: programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/46835/… ). – user213963 Dec 15 '13 at 4:23
  • If a question is going to be closed because it is an old question which does not apply well today then it should not be marked as not constructive and instead simply be marked as an archive question, or something along those lines. Putting it in the same category as a flame war is just not right. Do you see that? – Brennan Dec 15 '13 at 4:24
  • The guidelines state that open ended questions are allowed. I specifically asked for experience, not opinions and I kept an impartial tone while offering my experiences. stackoverflow.com/help/dont-ask – Brennan Dec 15 '13 at 4:25
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    Feel free to flag it and argue your case. You are looking for a historical lock - the thing is that takes moderator interaction. Closing questions is done by the community and often doesn't require such moderator review or action. – user213963 Dec 15 '13 at 4:26
  • It looks like it is far too easy to vote down a question and get it closed quickly. Thoughtful questions and useful discussions, despite being specifically allowed in the guidelines, are being prevented regularly. – Brennan Dec 15 '13 at 4:27
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    On the subject of open ended questions, I would suggest reading Good Subjective, Bad Subjective, it came out a year after the question in question so you may not be familiar with it. And no, I would suggest familiarizing yourself with P.SE's scope before following the advice in that blog suggesting it as an outlet for your desired type of questions... that blog post is a bit dated. – user213963 Dec 15 '13 at 4:29
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    @Brennan You may have asked for experiences, but experiences are inherently opinionated. I may have had a good experience with a particular book, tutorial, tool, whatever, and my opinion of it is very high.. But it's just as likely someone else had a terrible experience with that same book, tutorial, or tool and their opinion of it is much lower. It's still opinions, however you look at it. – animuson Dec 15 '13 at 4:36
  • @animuson In the guidelines it specifically states "invite sharing experiences over opinions" in the section on subjective question which is what I have done. I even asked for numbers, not opinions in the question I posted today which was voted as not constructive. stackoverflow.com/help/dont-ask If these guidelines are not current then that part should be taken out. I have done my best to comply with them. – Brennan Dec 15 '13 at 4:45
  • @MichaelT What blog is dated? Keep in mind this question was posted in 2009. Anything in the question was current then. The other link I shared here was a help page on SO explaining which questions are allowed and not allowed. I expect this content is kept up to date as a page, instead of a blog post which would be dated and unchanged. – Brennan Dec 15 '13 at 4:48
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    @Brennan That's an incredibly broad statement. Asking for users to share their experiences on books and tools is essentially the same as asking them to share their opinions. Experience is meant to refer to more code-oriented questions, which can follow the guideline directly below that of being backed up by facts and references. – animuson Dec 15 '13 at 4:49
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    @Brennan Just because the blog was posted in '10 does not mean that everything prior to it is grandfathered in as 'leave it open'. Your question is under the same guidelines as every other question posted today for the reasons described above. There is no prohibition in the close question wizard checking the date of the question if it should be closed or not (there is one for if it can be migrated). Trying to suggest that your question should have remained open sets a bad example for questions asked today. – user213963 Dec 15 '13 at 4:51
  • The closed question still conforms to this reference (blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective) and (stackoverflow.com/help/dont-ask) which I referenced before. There are the 6 guidelines for subjective questions and this question easily conforms to those rules. People are acting on an incomplete understanding of these guidelines and shutting down what are worthwhile questions. – Brennan Dec 15 '13 at 5:21

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