I just leapt in to edit this question before it got closed under the

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.

close reason. It had already attracted 4 close votes.

This is madness. I can understand that when the problem is poorly specified, there may be nothing to be done about a library recommendation question besides closing it. In this case, though, the problem the question asker was trying to solve was very well-specified. Closing a question with a well-specified problem because it happens to suggest that a library might exist that solves the problem makes no sense.

Please can people not close such questions and instead just edit them questions so that they directly ask how to solve the problem, instead of asking for a library that solves it?

  • 14
    The edit you made to the post has changed the question from reading as: "does anyone know of a library that does this? If not - I'll write it myself" to "I'm trying to write... here's a spec... How do I do it?" - which in my opinion has actually made it more a "can i haz codez" which is worse... Jan 6 '14 at 17:29
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    Note that closing is not the end of the road. It's great that someone is willing to edit that post into something less 'I want a library'-ish question, but a good edit pushes the post into the reopen queue again. Jan 6 '14 at 17:29
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    @JonClements I disagree; I actually don't mind such questions at all as long as they're well-specified and the task that the question-asker wants solved is something that future visitors plausibly might want to do themselves, rather than some totally arbitrary puzzle only relevant to the question asker. Many highly-viewed and useful StackOverflow questions that I've benefited from were pretty much just requests for code.
    – Mark Amery
    Jan 6 '14 at 17:31
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    There is also a specific close reason for questions that are well scoped but show no attempt at a first go, or just saying they tried, but not showing proof of what answerers should not be repeating back to them.
    – random
    Jan 6 '14 at 17:33
  • @JonClements: if this saves the question from being closed in the blink of an eye, like it was about to, I think you just proved the OP's point (or I don't understand your definition of "worse" or "better").
    – tripleee
    Jan 6 '14 at 17:33
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    @MarkAmery We’re not here to write code for users though. We are here to assist them in solving their problems themselves.
    – poke
    Jan 6 '14 at 17:33
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    @MarkAmery Indeed... but then that makes SO a code writing service... If one wanted to do that, I'd write a parser library and publish it on pypi so people wouldn't have to look on SO for library suggestions... That'd be fair more useful than an answer on SO... Jan 6 '14 at 17:34
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    @JonClements I think we disagree on what StackOverflow should be, then. I agree with Shog9 that I just don't care about how much effort the question asker has put in; I only care about whether the question is useful to future visitors. Take this question, where I've previously upvoted your answer which helped me. Would the question have been any less useful to me if it hadn't included the OP's (ugly) first attempt? No - there'd just be less noise.
    – Mark Amery
    Jan 6 '14 at 17:40
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    @random This question needs reopening for now because Shog9 has locked the original question being discussed with a link to this Meta thread. Feel free to edit it to limit its scope to that particular SO question if you see fit.
    – Mark Amery
    Jan 6 '14 at 17:53
  • @MarkAmery I agree in principle - but I can't see how it's salvagable via edits. Going by I come here asking to see if anybody has already written this code (or knows where I can find it). If not, I will go ahead and write it myself. and It shouldn't be too difficult to implement, but am curious to see if it's already out there. is one close reason, to an edit that makes it looking like a spec and asking for code and then another that reads as "How do I do X... I did look (some name here)" are other reasons... Jan 6 '14 at 17:55
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    We've also lost the fact that the OP is quite happy to be cracking on and working on it by themselves - so if someone does come across the post and decides to be nice and supply code... it might be a waste of that persons effort on top - ironically in the mean time the OP could have done it, put it somewhere, and then someone suggest to the OP a library the OP wrote :) Jan 6 '14 at 17:56

I believe this question is borderline.

  • There is no code given.
  • A recommendation of a library is a valid answer.
  • Providing code that solves the problem is also valid.


  • This is a problem that other could also have.
  • The specification is clear. And quickly implementable if you know python.
  • We all know that "Not invented here" is bad, so pointing the OP to a library is (almost) always better than writing your own.
  • The OP already stated that he would volunteer to write it.
  • Writing code and then discovering that there is already something isn't really fun.

If we need code and full rfc compliance, then we could edit the question and include the code that implements the current requirements.

I'm not sure where this will lead, but I vote for leave open.

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