Always popular are questions such as:

To PHP experts: How to master PHP? https://stackoverflow.com/questions/3696199/how-can-i-truly-master-javascript

These generally seem to get closed. What are the criteria for closure here?

4 Answers 4


The questions are subjective and that's why they get closed. FWIW, I just voted to close the second one. What's subjective about them?

  • What's your definition of "mastering"?
    I might consider someone to be a master of something when they know everything about it, whereas others might see someone as a master just because they know a lot.
  • How do you go about master something?
    You can see from the varied answers that some people think you become a master by reading a lot of books, spending a lot of time with the theory, etc. Others think you become a master by getting hands on with the subject, doing a lot of practical work.

Asking these sorts of questions can lead to arguments, extended discussions, etc. The first answer on the second question suggests writing your own JS implementation would make you a master of it. There's upvotes, downvotes and comments of disagreement all over it.

Stack Overflow is about finding definitive answers to questions regarding problems. I wouldn't call any of the answers on those questions definitive, would you?

programmers.stackexchange.com is better suited for these questions (ones that require extended discussion), as long as they don't get out of hand.

  • I'd argue that Programmers.SE is the place for extended, subjective discussions about programming, not chat.
    – user149432
    Sep 13, 2010 at 15:49
  • FWIW I think closing questions as S&A is bad. If the question is not subjective (like the one you just closed), it's fascist. But to each, his own. Sep 13, 2010 at 23:17
  • 1
    @NullUser - "Fascist" may be a tad on the hyperbolic side.... what about "arbitrary".... "authoritarian" or "dictatorial" even.... Fascism has many unpleasant connotations besides authoritarian. Sep 13, 2010 at 23:37
  • @Mark Trapp: Cool, I wasn't aware that had gone to beta.
    – Andy E
    Sep 14, 2010 at 7:55
  • 1
    @Null: It really makes me laugh when people cry about having their subjective questions closed, especially when they come out with words like "fascist" to describe the closers. It is subjective, for the reasons detailed in my answer and it did incite argument on the first answer of the question. Others thought so too, otherwise it wouldn't have reached enough close votes. If a moderator locks a topic that doesn't belong on a forum, is it fascist? Of course it isn't - he's just trying to keep the site the way the administrators want it, by enforcing the rules. Grow up.
    – Andy E
    Sep 14, 2010 at 8:02
  • Uh, I am not calling you fascist, I am calling the act of closing non-subjective questions as such fascist. And no, I don't think it's subjective for the reasons listed in my comment. 3 others thought so, 2 of the close votes were for "exact duplicate" - funny part: the linked "duplicate" is this one. And of course it incites argument. It's human nature. Everybody kept it civil, so I don't see the harm done there. Sep 14, 2010 at 12:10
  • 1
    @NullUserException: I fail to see what was objective about that question. It asked for general education on four different topics. Questions about, say, the concept of event-driven programming, or how to do specific things, would be much more survivable on SO. Sep 14, 2010 at 20:52
  • 1
    @Null: I didn't see any "reasons listed in [your] comment", but it doesn't matter. I don't think we'll see eye to eye on this one. I disagree with the duplicate (it clearly isn't a dupe) but that's also by the by now.
    – Andy E
    Sep 14, 2010 at 23:10

SO is a repository of software engineering knowledge.

Most questions that move too far from this tend to get closed.

But remember that SO is community driven, so there is no foolproof logic for closing questions. Some questions are closed and reopened several times. And some questions get a lot of upvotes before getting closed.

The bottom line is to use common sense.

  • common sense which many people here lacks unfortunately :(. I guess when they reach management positions, they loose it all. Sep 13, 2010 at 23:32

There is no possible way to answer those questions in the space of an SO answer,

They're just too broad.

Though you could answer them all with one word, that the asker already knows,



In the JS question, the asker has expressed their wish to improve their skills in a particular language, and specified four specific issues they are having problems with. How that's subjective is beyond me.

This can be answered, and actually a few of the answers do address each of those issues. IMO "subjective and argumentative" is a stupid reason to close a question that can be applied to a good chunk of SO questions. NaRQ is also another umbrella closing reason that's often abused.

  • That's not four specific issues, it's four general issues. It's inappropriate to ask SO to teach event-driven programming. It's even more inappropriate to ask that in conjunction with three similar questions. Sep 14, 2010 at 20:50

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