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What technical details should a programmer of a web application consider before making the site public?

This question, and its answer, are pure gold. It's highly-informative; it speaks to an issue that is of intense interest to web developers; it addresses a topic area that has a shortage of good, actionable information; and it has a comprehensive, incredibly useful answer.

There's really nothing bad I can say about this post, except for one thing.

It is technically off-topic.

Because of its prominence, it is regularly used to justify asking other Big-List questions, like https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/320302 It is also cited when justifying other questions that are clearly Too Broad. I can't cite the exact conversation now because a moderator on Programmers deleted it, but it went something like this:

Your justification for Too Broad reminds me of the "Too Localized" debacle. When you get the "Too Broad" reason as wrong as you did on "What technical details should a programmer of a web application consider before making the site public," I don't put much stock in anything you say about "Too Broad" anymore.

My response was something along the lines of

I've been a moderator on Stack Overflow for several years now, and have seen every possible way that these sites can be abused. Believe me, if I thought there were a way to better support these questions, I would be the first to wave the banner.

And I do believe that.

So I pose the question: how can we better support these kinds of posts?

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    Where was that conversation? I can dig out the exact comments if you want. – ChrisF Jun 4 '16 at 20:35
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    @ChrisF: It is here, but I think I've adequately summarized. – Robert Harvey Jun 4 '16 at 20:39
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    What I said wasn't "I don't put much stock in anything you say about "Too Broad" anymore" so much as "I don't put much stock in the notion of "Too Broad" anymore." IMO the correct response to a too broad question is to help the person asking figure out how to narrow it down, not club it to death with close votes. – Mason Wheeler Jun 4 '16 at 21:06
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    @MasonWheeler: Naturally, I would have preferred to quote the original conversation. As to using close votes, If nobody votes to close a question, there is no incentive for an OP to improve it. See programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/320302/… for an example. – Robert Harvey Jun 4 '16 at 21:08
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    The purpose of closing as "too broad" is to put the question on hold. Nobody can answer until it is improved and reopened. So yes, the right thing to do is to club the question party way to death so we can make it better, faster, stronger... – user255171 Jun 5 '16 at 2:03
  • The system supports questions with multiple answers poorly (and is becoming worse at it) - IOW most questions that have potential to evolve into what you want instead quickly turn into uncontrollable unsalvageable mess... – gnat Jun 21 '16 at 1:56
  • ...and this is probably just the way SE powers that be want them to be. They seem to be dreaming about competing with Reddit's "wildly popular" (and useless) threads even when this happens at the expense of building repository of useful knowledge – gnat Jun 21 '16 at 1:58
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+50

tl;dr: SE can do a lot of things well. It shouldn't try to do everything at a mediocre level.

It's perfectly "ok" if some questions don't fit on Stack Exchange. The goal should not be to fit every question into the SE framework.


There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.

I still tend to think this is an appropriate reason to close these sorts of posts.

Until SE is better at this, there are a few places this sort of question is a good fit:

  • Wikipedia
  • Quora
  • Tutorials
  • Library documentation
  • Coursework / notes

Stack Exchange is NOT a good designed site for arguments and treatises or discussions or tutorials. Questions like the ones you are linking are questions which should be answered in one of the above sources, not a Q/A format.

Notice that the initial "web development list of useful links" is just that - a list of useful links. It's not a Q/A type of thing, it's just a massive list of offsite resources. Every single bullet point could be effectively its own question and even those might be considered too broad.

So I pose the question: how can we better support these kinds of posts?

Vote to close, ask clarification questions to help narrow the scope down, and either edit them in directly and help the OP make those edits or encourage them to do so themselves.

  • "The goal should not be to fit every question into the SE framework". And why is this a goal? – lux Jun 5 '16 at 13:34
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    @lux: "Best snacks to eat while programming?" "What should I name my cat?" "Favorite programmer cartoon?" "Do you fart in the cubicle?" -- All actual questions that were asked on Stack Overflow or Programmers and subsequently removed. – Robert Harvey Jun 5 '16 at 17:40
  • @enderland: One of the stated goals of Stack Exchange is to be a repository for useful information. If this question (and its curated answer) doesn't fit the bill, I don't know what does. – Robert Harvey Jun 5 '16 at 17:44
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I compleetly agree with you that broad and subjective questions are out of StackOverflow scope. I am even participating in initiative to prohibit such kind of questions in my local Russian-language StackOverflow, because as for now, that kind of questions are officially allowed and even protected by Meta.RU community.

But, I still can not see why exactly my question is too broad. I have listed the reasons why it is narrow in our discussion in comments.

If you think that there is too many answers to my question, then I ask you to give some examples of them, because I can not imagine more than 3 or 4. Maybe I just did not articulate clearly, and I understand my question differently.

To answer your question. There was a good proposal on Meta.RU: to provide most important lists in tag info, instead of questions. You can see successful implementation of this in SO.com android tag, for example.

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