To be clear: I'm not here to whine about my SO questions being closed; I'm here to learn, and to suggest clarification for a potential source of confusion for relatively new users like myself.

Should a new closure reason "Cruft" be introduced? Or if this is common usage of the "Not a real Question" code, should the definition be modified to include it?

Background information:

My SO Question "Funny or bad/unusual results of asset naming conventions [closed]" was closed as "Not a real Question", which is defined here on Meta as "It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous and vague, and cannot be answered in its current form."

But that isn't why it was closed. It did (after editing, before it was closed) have a clear, unambiguous question that could be answered. The actual reason it was closed is because it was considered cruft. (why I thought otherwise is noted in the comments, but that is not the point here.)

  • 4
    what is cruft?. – juan Dec 18 '09 at 1:49
  • something like "extranious stuff that isn't part of the purpose of the site", I suppose. – whybird Dec 18 '09 at 1:52
  • Cruft is computing jargon for "code, data, or software of poor quality". The term may also refer to debris that accumulates on computer equipment - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cruft – Jared Harley Dec 18 '09 at 1:54
  • 4
    I have never heard this term before until I read this question. – Troggy Dec 18 '09 at 2:37
  • 7
    Really? Cruft is a perfectly cromulent word! It embiggens us to include it in our vocabulary. – Pollyanna Dec 18 '09 at 2:59
  • @Pollyanna And we're back to cromulent again. I'll have to upvote you for it. – alex Dec 18 '09 at 7:19
  • What? People asking about cruft an nobody linking to Verity Stob? wtf? ddj.com/architect/184405140 – innaM Dec 18 '09 at 9:27

The real issue here is that this is a grey area - this kind of question is right on the line of the community's acceptance.

Sometimes they are left open, sometimes they are closed, often there's a bit or an open/cose war going on.

The close reasons are intentionally minimal and somewhat open to interpretation so the community can decide what is a 'real question' and what is not.

That definition will change over time, but the written definitions of the close reasons won't - this is by-design. The community gets to decide what is real now, and what is real next year, and there's no need to further clarify, restrict, or open these reasons.

So no, the reasons need not change to include cruft, nor do we need to add a cruft closing reason.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    -2, but clicking twice got you +0 – juan Dec 18 '09 at 2:30
  • 1
    LOL - glad I didn't have eggnog in my mouth when I read that... Mmmmmmm, eggnog.... – Pollyanna Dec 18 '09 at 2:32
  • Thanks for the straight answer - much appreciated :-) – whybird Dec 18 '09 at 2:37
  • Your weren't kidding when you said you don't downvote... you are unbalancing the system, you are like smith – juan Dec 18 '09 at 2:39
  • It's my small act of rebellion against SO. They took away my sig, but they can't force me to downvote! – Pollyanna Dec 18 '09 at 2:58

Lots of cruft out there and it needs closing, but...making "Cruft" a reason is confrontational and inflammatory. I generally find that Not a Real Questions, Not Programming Related, Subjective and Argumentative, or Too Localized is close enough.

That said, I think that at least some of the cruft posters could benefit from some more precise feedback about why their content doesn't belong. At least, if it can be delivered in a way that they will take to heart. Just getting them defensive and ticked off won't help.

| improve this answer | |
  • I think you have identified the root of the problem in your second paragraph. As someone who's question is closed with a reason who's definition says nothing about cruft, it is not possible for me to learn from the closure, and I could easily get all defensive by saying "Yes it does!" to all the parts of the 'Not a real question' definition, and be absolutely technically correct. – whybird Dec 18 '09 at 2:13

I believe the existing "not a real question" close reason is being changed anyway. Your question would fit quite nicely under "primarily opinion based".

| improve this answer | |

How about modifying the given definition for one of the existing closure reasons (e.g. "Not a real question") with words like this:

The StackOverflow community also makes great efforts to keep questions on the site strictly relevant to the actual practice of programming, and specifically to the technical aspects thereof (certain historical examples notwithstanding). This closure code is also sometimes used in this case.

Please edit to improve :-)

Alternatively, words like this could be used as the definition of the new closure code, be it called 'cruft' or something else.

| improve this answer | |

I'm sorry, but seeing your low participation, I can't help but wonder if you need to try the system before debating about how it works and how to improve it.

You have asked the same question twice on SO, and (although you have 15 answers, albeit with little to none upvotes) have not grown such a good reputation.

Try the system a bit, see how it works, interact with the community.

Good luck!

| improve this answer | |
  • Thanks for the vote of luck :-) As for interacting with the community, that's what I'm doing! – whybird Dec 18 '09 at 2:28
  • -1 (but since I never downvote, you're getting off easy this time... ;-) – Pollyanna Dec 18 '09 at 2:28
  • 3
    Why don't you downvote? downvoting is good! – juan Dec 18 '09 at 2:29
  • I suppose I should explain - SO has a very, very, very low barrier for entry, and that is intentional. We don't really want to be like newsgroups where old-timers would rag on the newbies and insist they hang out for a bit and search for awhile before participating. – Pollyanna Dec 18 '09 at 2:30
  • I'm Pollyanna! Every answer has some bit of good in it! – Pollyanna Dec 18 '09 at 2:30
  • 2
    @Pollyana, SO is not a forum, all I'm saying is: Don't try to improve something you have just used a little – juan Dec 18 '09 at 2:32
  • Ah, I see. My comments are geared towards using the forum, but you are talking about making suggestions on how to change/improve the forum. Gotcha. – Pollyanna Dec 18 '09 at 2:33
  • p.s. Please note that I asked in the comments of my first Q about posting the 2nd Q, and waited more than a day for replies. And referenced the 1st Q closure in the 2nd Q comments immediately on posting. I'm really trying to interact with the community here! Hopefully, I have now come to the right place to actually get the community to interact with me. So for so good :-) – whybird Dec 18 '09 at 2:33
  • @Pollyanna, yes, but replace "forum" with "QA Engine" – juan Dec 18 '09 at 2:35
  • @AdamDavis -1, but since that's a comment, :c – user200500 Jun 19 '13 at 3:10

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .