Why was my question being closed as subjective and argumentative?

What is your favourite JavaScript reference manual?

Just search Stack Overflow for "what is your favourite", and you will see hundreds of such questions with tens of votes, even added to community wiki.

This is not a flame war question like "HTML5 vs Flash", I am asking this because I am seeking for advice, can't you see the difference?

I think some users were given rights to close questions, and now they blindly follow some guidelines without thinking.

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    The phrase "your favourite" is the key one here. Change that as @Pekka suggests and you'll be better off. – ChrisF Jan 4 '11 at 14:58
  • @ChrisF you are right, my other question without the word "favourite" is ok, although asking for the same - stackoverflow.com/questions/4025444/…. Even "recommended" is ok but "favourite" is banned - stackoverflow.com/questions/4069408/…. – daniel.sedlacek Jan 4 '11 at 15:37
  • I'd say that "recommended" is also subjective, but it's more likely to have reasons attached than "favourite" and therefore be acceptable to more people. – ChrisF Jan 4 '11 at 15:38
  • I voted to close as a dupe, but for some reason I'm not on the close list, not sure what happened. – Lance Roberts Jan 4 '11 at 19:45
  • Guys, honestly, look at this OPEN question stackoverflow.com/questions/266569/… and tell me that my was subjective and argumentative. Thank you. – daniel.sedlacek Jan 7 '11 at 12:45

I think your indignation at your question being closed is somewhat disingenuous, seeing as how you were given a clear warning when you typed in the title to your question:

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Also, the argument that you should be allowed to ask such questions because others have gotten away with it before isn't valid. If you look through many of those other "favo(u)rite" questions, you will notice many probably fall into the following categories:

  • They are closed.
  • They underwent a number of closing/reopening cycles (i.e. they were somewhat contentious and the community argued about them).
  • They are Community Wiki posts, which has generally been the way to deal with opinion polls seeing as how most people don't think they are deserving of Rep. Since CW is not as readily available now, opinion polls seem to be less accepted and are often migrated to Programmers.SE (for better or worse).
  • They are old hold-overs from the early days of SO when the rules of the community were still being worked out and were much more lenient, and they are allowed to linger for the sake of posterity.

There is something of a litmus test now for subjective questions, so if you really want to ask one you'd better make sure it falls in line with those guidelines (although there's still no guarantee the community will accept it).

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  • I didn't know all this about the other "favourite" questions. Thanks for the link, I've already used it in my next question. – daniel.sedlacek Jan 5 '11 at 13:00
  • Guys, honestly, look at this OPEN question stackoverflow.com/questions/266569/… and tell me that my was subjective and argumentative. Thank you. – daniel.sedlacek Jan 7 '11 at 12:45
  • @daniel: Look at the date when that was first asked. That's one of those grand-fathered questions I mention in my last bullet point. I personally think it's pointless to keep many of those around, but the community (and sometimes management) tend to disagree. – gnostradamus Jan 7 '11 at 15:00
  • What you say makes sense. – daniel.sedlacek Jan 7 '11 at 15:16

Fair point: The question shouldn't have been closed as subjective. (Different wording can often help: "What's a good JavaScript reference manual?" would probably not have been closed.)

However, it has multiple duplicates. Had it not been closed as subjective and argumentative, it would have been closed as such.

Some of them:

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    I disagree with this. The 'duplicates' offered different information from this one, and people were obviously interested in the topic - myself included. – xil3 Jan 4 '11 at 15:10
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    @xil3 the fact that the responses available aren't good enough for you doesn't justify starting a duplicate question. That's what the bounty feature is for – Pekka Jan 4 '11 at 15:18
  • @Pekka Why would I spend 50+ points to highlight something that is almost--but not quite--my question? – Jake Jan 4 '11 at 17:43
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    @Jake you mean, "what's your favourite JavaScript reference" is different from "what's a good JavaScript reference"? – Pekka Jan 4 '11 at 17:49
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    @Pekka I'm looking at Daniel's question and it has a list of specific criteria he's looking for in a reference manual; things that aren't mentioned in the other questions. – Jake Jan 4 '11 at 21:57
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    @Jake you have a point, still, that doesn't make it a separate question to me. The market of JavaScript references is very small, and it is a trivial task to walk through the available solutions and see whether they match your criteria. – Pekka Jan 4 '11 at 22:00

General advice:

1) What you see when you search means nothing (unless you find a duplicate). If the question doesn't fit the FAQs, don't post it (I'm not saying yours didn't fit).

2) You're subject to what the community says. From the FAQs: We don't run Stack Overflow. The community does.

3) Unless your question has a hard fact provable answer, it is likely to be closed as "Subjective and Argumentative". Those questions I would recommend asking here.

Search the word "favorite". The top five questions (each with hundreds of votes) were all last changed 1-2 years ago. I wasn't here then, but it's my understanding they were a bit more tolerant of favorite questions back then. I think they frown on favorite questions now because they are so quickly outdated which can lead to that question being asked very frequently (most people don't like duplicates either).

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  • 5 people != 'the community' – xil3 Jan 4 '11 at 15:07
  • Only 1 of the 5 that voted to close it even participated - it's just poor judgement... – xil3 Jan 4 '11 at 15:07
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    @xil3: 5 people != community True, but these five people are representative of the community aren't they? If the rest of the community wants it open then they will reopen it. Leading me to believe that...they don't want it open. – John Jan 4 '11 at 15:08
  • @xil3: If they think it's a bad question, they not going to spend time answering it. – John Jan 4 '11 at 15:09
  • That's like saying that a dictator is a representative of the community - whilst in his mind, he may be, but the majority probably have different opinions. Giving select people the power to close down topics just because they have the time to spend their days and nights here doesn't make them 'the community.. – xil3 Jan 4 '11 at 15:13
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    @xil3: These people aren't dictators. They earned the privilege to close questions they deem unfit. How did they earn this? By doing what the community wants and likes. – John Jan 4 '11 at 15:14
  • Maybe they (the 5 that chose to close it) thought it wasn't a good question, but perhaps more people thought it was...? You're still arguing that those 5 people ARE the community, but I disagree. – xil3 Jan 4 '11 at 15:15
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    @xil: Like I said, if other people think it's a good question, they will reopen it. – John Jan 4 '11 at 15:16
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    @xil3 what @John says. You are misunderstanding the process. A question can be reopened by five other people (and closed again by five other people, and reopened again and so on and so on). However, one user can vote to close and open only once per question. That's arguably as far from a dictatorship as it can get – Pekka Jan 4 '11 at 15:19
  • @Pekka Thanks for clearing that up - I wasn't aware that 5 others could re-open it, after it was closed by 5 people before. – xil3 Jan 4 '11 at 15:48
  • @xil3: Was I unclear? I thought I said it could be reopened....twice....in bold.... – John Jan 4 '11 at 15:50
  • @John Sorry, was a bit irate - you were correct as well. – xil3 Jan 4 '11 at 15:52
  • @xil3: No problem, everyone gets mad once in a while. Just making sure I wasn't accidentally misleading you. – John Jan 4 '11 at 15:55
  • Guys, honestly, look at this OPEN question stackoverflow.com/questions/266569/… and tell me that my was subjective and argumentative. Thank you. – daniel.sedlacek Jan 7 '11 at 12:46
  • @daniel: That linked question is S&A. Very much so. The revision history indicates that question was asked around 2.5 years ago, back when SO was more tolerant of S&A questions. Like I said, try asking it here: programmers.stackexchange.com (As a side note, you addressed that post to "Guys", but you left out any sort of @[name] annotation so I'm the only person who was notified of your comment because I own the answer you commented on.) – John Jan 7 '11 at 16:06

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