Every time I am starting to work in a new programming field, I have a lot of questions, obviously. I am usually able to find answers on various forums or to figure them by my own.

Once in a while there is a question that I would definitely prefer to ask here, in SE, to know and learn from all this vast accumulated experience.

However each time when I am trying to ask a question like "what are the possible tools/ libraries/ frameworks / ways to do so and so", I am downvoted very quickly and the question is closed.

I think the whole purpose of SE is to share not our knowledge but first and foremost our experiences. Knowledge I can find anywhere: in books, in tutorials, in manuals. But to hear from somebody who already have tried, had got his hands "dirty" and can save others a lot of time by sharing it - why not?

EDIT: I know the rules, and I try not to ask such questions here, but I just don't understand why.

If somebody can tell others "I worked with this tool, it's good for so and so", or "this tool is very unstable and lack such and such options" - why not??

Really, folks, look on the most upvoted questions: for example, what is the difference between decimal float and double

So if I am lazy (as obviously most of us are) and instead of reading the book, I am going to SO to ask, it's OK.

However if I want to ask something much less trivial, though still of public interest like who have the experience with these or other tools and what his/her experience was, it is not OK?

Pity that 's SE attitude. There is a huge difference between opinion and experience

  • 4
    Are you trying to ask "Why aren't 'best choice' or 'possible options' questions permitted on SO?" The reason they're downvoted and closed is because they're not supposed to be asked in the first place...
    – nnnnnn
    Dec 30, 2013 at 10:50
  • 1
    They shouldn't be downvoted, really. They should be closed ASAP, with "Primarily opinion based" close reason and then deleted. On the other hand, they are often not useful and thus they may meet the downvote description pretty well.
    – Mołot
    Dec 30, 2013 at 10:51
  • @nnnnnn: I think the OP just has not realized it in the help center. Dec 30, 2013 at 10:51
  • 1
    I'll downvote anything that is flagrantly off-topic, particularly from an OP with enough rep to indicate that he or she should know better.
    – Rosinante
    Dec 30, 2013 at 11:38
  • why asking about somebody's experience (NOT OPINION, EXPERIENCE) is flagrantly off-topic???
    – Flot2011
    Dec 30, 2013 at 11:53
  • 3
    @Flot2011 Because that's not what Stack Overflow is for. Plenty of other sites on the internet to exchange experiences. On Stack Overflow, you'll find solutions to specific programming problems and... nothing more. Simple as that.
    – yannis
    Dec 30, 2013 at 11:57
  • @Yannis: I respectfully disagree. Unfortunately, it seems i am a minority on this topic.
    – Flot2011
    Dec 30, 2013 at 12:00
  • 1
    Disagree with what exactly @Flot2011? For the past five years, Stack Overflow has been a Q&A site for specific programming problems. You may not like it (and that's ok), but you can't really disagree with what the site is about (and always has been).
    – yannis
    Dec 30, 2013 at 12:04
  • @Yannis: disagree with thinking that a very specific experience of some specific people with a very specific field/product is asking for an opinion that will necessarily lead to hot arguments. Almost any question can and frequently does. So what?
    – Flot2011
    Dec 30, 2013 at 12:36
  • Well expain.Yes I also agree with, SE is for share knowlege not experience. Dec 31, 2013 at 15:18

3 Answers 3


I think the whole purpose of SE is to share not our knowledge but first and foremost our experiences

It is both to share knowledge and experience, but it is not for discussions. Knowledge and experience can be shared without having discussions.

Lists of tools or other list questions have multiple problems: they get outdated and the posts turn into popularity contests. The questions tend to be broad and subjective as well.

So these are off topic.

Of course, you can try asking in the relevant chat room. Discussion is encouraged in chat.

  • Chat rooms never help me, no one reply in chat. Its waste. Dec 31, 2013 at 15:20

I think it is because many people combine the closure vote with the downvoting, depending on how bad the question is. Naturally, there are also people who are simply downvoting due to the lack of interesting for closure or the privileges for that.

In general, it is not so much productive, and people, including me, prefer to concentrate on objective issues rather than opiniated since there cannot be that much disagreement in there.

See the help center for details:

Questions asking us to recommend or find a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.


Questions which are too broad, unclear, or primarily opinion-based may be put on hold by the community until they are improved.


I share your sense of perplexion. Here's is what I have arrived at, after grappling with it for some time.

Some questions beg for single correct answers. The SE or SO culture has evolved to be especially adept at obtaining and presenting answers to these kinds of questions. There are other questions that inherently admit multiple satsifactory answers. Some of those answers may be better than others, but it's a subjective judgement.

Many questions have the form, "I tried X in order to achieve Y but I got Z instead. What should I be doing?" There is usually one answer that's good enough for the questioner and probably pretty good for the next person who finds the question and the answer based on a search. SO and SE excel at this kind of question.

Questions about design or methodology often allow for multiple answers. Design and methodology questions are often anything but trivial. And many good projects have gone down the toilet because of poor design or methodology choices. These questions often call for mentoring rather than simple answers. And that's where the problem comes in.

Mentoring, in a medium such as this, can often degenerate into discussions. And avoiding open ended discussions has been a goal of the keepers of the flame in here as long as I've been participating.

I think this explains the why of the downvotes and the closings. It doesn't address the question of how we meet the need for good mentoring. My suggestion is that there needs to be a whole different website that's devoted to those kinds of issues (notice that I called them "issues" rather than "questions"). SO and SE needs to be kept for Q&A that's short, clear, crisp, and conclusive.

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