Someone says that it should be closed, but I don't agree. I thought SO was a site to ask specific questions about programming. Why should it be closed?

It's not like asked a typical 'give meh teh codez', right?

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    Yes!! (fifteen) – Nifle Oct 19 '10 at 13:50

Um ..look at the question again.

In the code block there is a comment:

#Note: abs(num) computes the #absolute value of a number.

And what is the question? "What does abs do in Python?"

I think that warrants a close vote. There has been no thought what so ever to this question.

  • Perhaps the OP didn't understand the difference between "absolute" and "#absolute"? – Pops Oct 19 '10 at 15:17
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    I fail to see how it warrants a close vote simply for being a lousy question. Could you please explain which of the NARQ criteria (vague, ambiguous, rhetorical, incomplete, unanswerable) apply here? – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 17:47
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    @Aarobot: surely a question that begins with its own answer qualifies as "rhetorical"? – Shog9 Oct 19 '10 at 17:55
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    @Shog: It qualifies as "bag of hammers" but not "rhetorical". Take that line out and the question appears fine. A rhetorical question is going to be rhetorical no matter how you slice it. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 18:09
  • @Aarobot: but why was that line even there, if not to answer the question being asked? Yes, you could re-write the question and make it appear honest... But given the lack of effort / persistent rollbacks that have already appeared, I have my doubts as to the effectiveness of this technique for this question. – Shog9 Oct 19 '10 at 18:23
  • @Shog: As obvious as it is to the rest of us, maybe that line didn't actually mean anything to him. Let's say you saw a function, vin, and a line that said it applied the Vincenty Formula; assuming you knew absolutely nothing about geography or GIS and were too lazy to use Google (which does not seem to be a hindrance on Stack Overflow), isn't it possible that you might ask the question anyway? (and expect answers more helpful than "Duh, it's the Vincenty formula, read the comment!") – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 20:30
  • In other words @Shog, he only answered his own question if you assume that he isn't a math dunce - something that many programmers surprisingly are. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 20:33
  • @Aarobot: again, "How does this formula work?" or "What does 'absolute value' mean?" probably wouldn't have raised an eyebrow (though the latter might have been closed as off-topic). Everyone has blind spots, and there's no shame in asking a question that might be trivial to others. But seeing your question misunderstood and putting no effort into clarifying, that's not ignorance... that's something else. 5 hours passed without any edits from the OP beyond those seemingly designed to frustrate the one other person who was willing to edit. I'm sorry, but I don't see good faith here. – Shog9 Oct 19 '10 at 21:38
  • @Shog: I suppose I'm partly playing devil's advocate here, but let's point this out anyway: Did anyone ever give him the opportunity to make this clarification, by asking (a) if he had noticed the comment, and (b) which part of it he didn't understand? Seems to me that people attacked him and started voting to close the question before any of that. After 8 hours, yes, it's now starting to get a little on the silly side, but we don't always have the benefit of hindsight, and leaping on the close button without knowing all the facts sets a dangerous precedent. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 21:54
  • @Aarobot: well, that's what this whole thread is about, right? Sergio asked for additional reasoning behind the close, and several people have responded. Donno 'bout you, but by the time I started reading all this it seemed to have all been hashed out pretty well - and yet, the question still read like a joke, with more and more noise in comments and answers, and no real response from the author. – Shog9 Oct 19 '10 at 23:42

I don't think it should be closed. It's a real question, albeit a terrible RTFM one. It's like asking what foreach does in C#. Really? Seriously?

I voted to reopen but I also downvoted it. Questions like these should be downvoted, not closed. Yes, it costs you rep to do that, but there's no excuse for being a cheapskate.

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    but that's not about rtfm, it's about posting a piece of code, containing a comment which answers the question most laconically. – SilentGhost Oct 19 '10 at 13:52
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    @SilentGhost: As I said, it's a god-awful question, but it's still a real question. It does not seem to meet any of the criteria for NARQ. I think this is simply a case of people using the close hammer to avoid the trifling cost of a downvote. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 14:00
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    I'm with Aarobot on this one, but would add tat this user appears be a classic example of a question-pump. A particularly difficult species that adds little (often nothing) of value to the site. Still "be nice" and "no question to basic" apply. – dmckee Oct 19 '10 at 14:43
  • @dmckee: Judging by his meta questions, he's also trying to get badges. Most notably the Taxonomist badge (as noted by his refusal to remove the [abs] tag) and apparently the Booster badge as well. He also seems to have two identical accounts, both with a fairly significant amount of rep, although in fairness the first one seems to be totally abandoned, and he also does occasionally answer questions. I think there's a chance his questions are genuine, just... not very well-researched. And of course, that's what downvotes are for, but nobody likes to use 'em on questions. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 15:39
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    What does foreach do in C#? foreach iterates over a sequence I searched MSDN but could only find for not foreach. – Shog9 Oct 19 '10 at 16:44
  • @Shog: Please tell me that's not an actual question somewhere. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 17:43
  • It's funny that people are downvoting this. So you don't care about sacrificing a few rep points on meta, but heaven forbid you should give up any precious rep on Stack Overflow in order to help identify bad questions. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 17:46
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    @Aarobot: I down-voted both. While I respect your point regarding voting as the first and best way to deal with lazy questions, I feel this goes beyond lazy into "there's no way this is a serious question" territory. I'd love to think Sergio meant it as a joke, but if so it's gone over my head. – Shog9 Oct 19 '10 at 17:53
  • @Shog: I think the fact that he complained about it here on meta proves that it was intended as a serious question. The fact that Mark Byers answered it and 13 people upvoted his answer also proves that several other people thought it was a serious question. Unless there's reason to genuinely believe that the question was posted in bad faith, it shouldn't be closed on that basis. Downvotes are far more effective anyway because the "question pumps" - as dmckee refers to them above - will get caught by the auto-sh*tcan script. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 18:01
  • It's not that I want the question to stick around. It's just that abuse leads to mistrust and we already have enough problems with hostility toward closers. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 18:04
  • @Aarobot: again, he begins the question with its answer. When this is pointed out as more than a bit ridiculous, he has no response. Instead, he argues about tagging. I'll allow it's possible that he doesn't/didn't know the meaning of "absolute value", and somehow is so incredibly bad at searching that he was unable to find documentation readily available to those of us who don't even use Python... But posting a question here purporting to misunderstand the reasoning behind the close votes an hour after SilentGhost stated his reasoning in comments on the question itself... Yeah. – Shog9 Oct 19 '10 at 18:07
  • Ultimately, the best reason I can think of for closing a question is to help cut down on noise. Assume someone does have a legitimate question on abs() someday: this question probably won't help. If someone merely wants help finding documentation for built-in Python functions, this likely won't even show up! Again, I have no problem with legit beginner questions: to play off your example, here's a foreach question with some great information (and a horrible accepted answer... but no matter). – Shog9 Oct 19 '10 at 18:13
  • @Shog - what do you want him to say? "Yeah, sorry guys, I can't f$cking read?" I guess he should, but most people wouldn't. And like I said, he can't delete the question anymore because it has an upvoted answer. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 18:15
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    @Shog, about the foreach example - that question has 9 upvotes, what's wrong with this picture? It's the same thing, people just won't downvote. When faced with a lousy question, they either vote to close or ignore it. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 18:19
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    As for the foreach example... I'd say it demonstrates that most SO users aren't too quick to damn a question merely for being trivial, easily-researched, or poorly-asked. It requires a persistent bone-headedness that strains belief to bring on this sort of drama. – Shog9 Oct 19 '10 at 18:36

Yes, it's not a "give meh teh codez" question. But it demonstrates exactly the same amount of thought given to the question:

  1. you didn't even read the comments that are right there answer your "question"
  2. your claim about not being able to find abs in python docs is a lie, as I've demonstrated in my comment.

So, yes, it does need to be closed.

Moreover, I would think you'd deleted the question yourself just to spare all the embarrassment.

  • I didn't find anything regards abs, only fabs. And embarrassment to what? Asking as question? Please. – Sergio Tapia Oct 19 '10 at 13:24
  • @sergio: I posted a link to search!!!!!!!OMG!1 – SilentGhost Oct 19 '10 at 13:27
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    You don't even need to know about docs.python.org. Searching for python abs gives you the answer at the top of the second result. But of course that's pointless, because the answer was already in the question... – Shog9 Oct 19 '10 at 17:04
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    Same comment as I gave to Barry. Last time I checked, "no thought put into the question" is not on the list of close reasons. I do agree that he should delete the question himself (which he would probably have done had people downvoted) but that is impossible now due to the rep-whoring answer. – Aarobot Oct 19 '10 at 17:49

Yes. These types of questions should be closed IMMEDIATELY. they should be reported to jon skeet and martelli

  • that's pretty funny coming from you. (Yes, I know questions and answers aren't the same thing. Still funny.) – Pops Oct 19 '10 at 17:51
  • @popular why do u say its funny coming from me? – l--''''''---------'''''''''''' Oct 25 '10 at 15:49
  • because you want questions closed ruthlessly even though you're happy to upvote any answer (based on your username). – Pops Oct 25 '10 at 16:13
  • @popular we will close you ruthlessly if you speak like that! – l--''''''---------'''''''''''' Nov 5 '10 at 23:09
  • in stackoverflow JVN closes u – l--''''''---------'''''''''''' Nov 24 '10 at 23:47