There seems to be a concerted effort to close "Hidden Features of X Language" type of questions for the past few days. From what I can see, such questions are dangerously near to being really closed after receiving 4 close votes. Some of the examples are below:

  1. Hidden Features of C#
  2. Hidden features of Django
  3. Hidden Features of R
  4. Hidden Features of VB.NET?

Is there a concerted effort to close this kind of question? IMO these are good questions, and don't deserve to be closed.


5 Answers 5


If there is a conspiracy responsible I'm going to pout because I have not been invited to join.

I believe what happened is

  1. A user posted to meta to complain that his question about some IDE had been closed when the Eclipse question had been well received. (Take note of the reason for the complaint: it is why even those examples we're going to keep should be closed after a fairly short time.)
  2. Several people, myself included, responded that we thought the whole business was a mistake and we went to remedy the discrepancy by voting to close the Eclipse question and several other prominent examples of "Hidden Features".
  3. The discussion on both Stephan's meta question and the SO question that prompted it lead to the posting of Should ‘hidden features of X’ be removed/closed/locked?, which attracted attention back to the controversy and brought in more grumpy fun-haters to attempt to close this class of questions.
  4. Several of them have been closed, though most have been promptly reopened.
  5. The world inexplicably failed to end either when they were closed or when they were reopened.
  • 1
    +1 - Our recent jibba jabba on the topic is a much simpler explanation than a conspiracy. Commented Jul 16, 2010 at 16:17

As far as I know, there has not been any discussion on Meta Stack Overflow to close these questions.

Our previous consensus has been that these questions are acceptable if they are Community Wiki and meet standard question guidelines.

  • 1
    There's many good points on those answers, but it doesn't seem to be consensus.
    – Gnome
    Commented Jul 16, 2010 at 7:32
  • This question you link is part of the recent round of interest. And the situation there is like many of the "consensuses" (consensii??) we reach around here: a little weak and uneasy. Commented Jul 16, 2010 at 14:32
  • 1
    @dmckee "This is what democracy looks like", as we used to chant on protest marches :)
    – MarkJ
    Commented Jul 16, 2010 at 14:46

I don't think they're terribly useful (they're almost impossible to edit - a good "hidden features" article would require someone with the ability to go through and delete all the "features" that are well-documented and therefore well-understood by those who know the language). That said, I don't have a problem with them existing...

...Except that they breed like bunnies. Whatever your thoughts are on "Hidden features of C#", we probably don't need one for every single obscure language/library/framework/concept under the sun. If you want to attract more people from your niche community to SO, you're better off posting real questions and real answers, stuff that'll show up in response to searches... Even if you have to make up questions and answer them yourself.

And so if nothing else, we need at least one or two close events in the revision histories of these questions simply as something to point to when a new user complains that "Hidden features of our internal Java utility class" got closed unfairly. If they end up moderator-locked, that's fine too... C# isn't that big of a language - I suspect anything still "hidden" is gonna take a while to find.

  • 3
    +1. About 90% of these questions are opened explicitly as copy-cats, which I find really offensive all on its own. It's as if people need to hear the sound of their own voice to convince themselves that they have intelligence... except when they post these questions, they remove all doubt!
    – Ether
    Commented Jul 16, 2010 at 15:02

I think they should be closed - while hidden is relative term, most of the obscure/not-so-known features have been already discussed. Newer answers are posted when a new developer discovers some feature so far unknown to him and thinks he has unearthed a hidden feature.

They've unearthed &nbsp; and <sup> from the html mine

If a real hidden feature is discovered by some SO user in the future, I believe it should get its own thread for discussion rather than going unnoticed as the 101th answer in an old thread. May be moderators can add it to the corresponding hidden-feature question for completeness of that thread.

Also I believe popular threads might attract a lot of spam; closing would help in that aspect too.

  • 1
    -1 Using that criteria, nothing would be hidden for that who knows everything about a given language. But there are some aspects of the language that are seldom used and not everybody knows about them. Having them concentrated in a single thread, instead of sparse in the all the SO site ( or the web ) would help readers to learn more about that language. On the other hand, well known features included for someone who knows little about the language could simply be downvoted. As for the spam; SO is very popular and could attract spam, should it be close too? I don't think so.
    – OscarRyz
    Commented Jul 16, 2010 at 16:06

I'm not entirely sure if I started this one, or revived a much older debate, or if this just evolved entirely on its own. But just to set the record straight, I don't think that there's any "concerted effort" going on to close the questions, at least not on my part. I haven't submitted any votes to close.

I don't like the questions, for many of the reasons that have already been discussed, but they're grandfather questions, and they aren't going anywhere.

I'd prefer that the questions simply be locked, if they aren't already. Even if I were really adamant about getting them closed, it would be a waste of time to go through the vote-to-close process because they'll just be reopened within minutes anyway.

There are far worse attrocities being committed on a daily basis. Better to focus on those and make sure that the situation is contained.

  • They're not all grandfather questions. See stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/hidden-features. There's a lot of them. Commented Jul 16, 2010 at 19:32
  • @John: New ones should of course be closed and deleted if possible. This question seemed to be referring to the "originals", though.
    – Aarobot
    Commented Jul 16, 2010 at 21:28
  • the originals should be deleted as well, so as not to attract the new ones. Commented Jul 18, 2010 at 3:34

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