I wanted to start a poll wiki question so that people could vote on what they think the most useful Git aliases are. This is something immensely useful for Git newbies, and similar questions on other topics are notoriously popular.

So I started this question on Programmers (I first wanted to post it on SO, but I figured it would get shut down immediately by the subjective police): https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/40153/poll-what-is-your-most-useful-git-alias

And it got shutdown immediately by a mod. Before even 1 vote to close...

So my question is this: Is there really zero room these days for such poll questions on any SE programming site?

How did we get to a situation where questions that are similar to the most popular SO questions of all times don't even get a chance to stand the test of the community?

Shouldn't wiki poll questions that are clearly tagged as such and aren't intended to score rep but just to create a very useful place to learn trick of a certain area be left for the community to decide on by votes?

  • Relevant: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/392/…
    – badp
    Jan 26, 2011 at 10:50
  • 1
    I agree with you, the aliases are really interesting for newbies. This is surely no worse than "Hidden Features of XXX".
    – maaartinus
    Jan 26, 2011 at 10:58
  • @maartinus - If aliases are interesting and useful then the question should be framed as such. I that case it's not a poll and, if asked well enough, will be allowed.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jan 26, 2011 at 11:47
  • 3
    The most popular SO questions are also amongst the oldest SO questions asked at time when the guidelines about what made a good Q&A site were still being worked out.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jan 26, 2011 at 12:21
  • 1
    Just a remark: that particular poll was already done: superuser.com/questions/169695/…
    – VonC
    Jan 26, 2011 at 13:43

3 Answers 3


Poll questions suck, period. In practice they are almost no different from asking

What is your favorite color?

Mine is yellow! What's yours? Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

The "List of X" can be good or bad, but it depends entirely on how it is asked:

Should we have a "List of X" close reason?

If you want to start a "Hidden Features of", I actually have no problem with that, and it's been discussed before:

Should 'hidden features of X' be removed/closed/locked?

  • 2
    Wow. It's amazing to me that people can argue that a certain type of question has no place in a site where those questions are constantly being voted up as the most popular. And why the straw-man arguments about something just because it's not your cup of tea? If you can't really see the difference between "hidden features" and "what's you favorite color" then you should go ahead and revoke your own mod rights.. I just came across a video of Joel talking about SO on Google way back. Man this site has changed from the original intent.. There's absolutely no "wiki" in SO any more. Jan 26, 2011 at 12:21
  • 2
    @Assaf They're voted up because they're fun in a way, not because they're useful. SO aims to be useful, not fun. There is CW - flag the post for moderator attention.
    – moinudin
    Jan 26, 2011 at 12:25
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    This whole thing is such a deja-vu for me from the pre-meta days. So much misguided resistant to what the community actually liked. And then Programmers had to happen because people where soooo annoyed with, I don't know, career questions and ignoring just wasn't conceivable for them. But now even Programmers can't accommodate obviously bloody useful stuff like listing hidden features and such. Can you really not grasp the fact that these sites have more use-cases that just quick exact answers to specific code problems? Again, what happened to wiki concept? Editing typos is not wiki.. Jan 26, 2011 at 12:29
  • 1
    So you really don't see what's useful about "hidden features"? Really? I mean, if it were somebody's blog post it would be a sensation among C# developers, no? So why can't the only community site with proper wiki potential accommodate such stuff? I don't know a single person who read "hidden features" and didn't both enjoy it and learned something new. So.. clearly this is something to combat. As if SO would immediately deteriorate to "how is babby formed" if people were allowed to add knowledge to it that's not in the exact form of a specific objective question. Jan 26, 2011 at 12:34
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    @Assaf - see my comment on your question. If you reframe the question as a "hidden features of" (as also suggested by Jeff) then that's better. But by explicitly making it a poll for favourites you're going against what's know to work.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jan 26, 2011 at 12:37
  • 1
    @Assaf As much as I personally don't agree that hidden features aren't truly useful, you're kinda preaching to the choir - Jeff explicitly stated that he has no problem with Hidden Features.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Jan 26, 2011 at 13:25
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    @Assaf re wiki: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/76251/… Also, welcome back to Stack Overflow. This is not Tumblr, this is not Reddit, this is not Wikipedia, this is not Facebook, this is not one of the terribilions of programming forums out there and this is why it's successful.
    – badp
    Jan 26, 2011 at 14:00
  • @assaf I think you're misreading what I wrote. Read Grace Note's comment carefully. Jan 26, 2011 at 21:03

The success of those question is entirely the problem with them. Can this question be answered? Can you give the accepted checkmark to any answer? What practical problem are you trying to solve ultimately?

Real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions.


Oh, and:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page. To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?” [...]

thine FAQ

Poll question "steal" time and visibility from real questions. They keep getting answers, because there can't possibly be one definitive answer, and they keep getting bumped! That is why they are so successful, if you measure success by how well you fare at attention whoring.

If you know about this whicked git alias that does something completely unexpected and you really really need to post about it on SE, ask about that one. "How do you toast bread with git on a boat?"


I think that eventually, there should/will be a 'fourth place', if only as somewhere to offload all the "what no polls?" angst once and for all.

I would envisage it as having zero rep, obviously.

  • There's already chat for, er, idle chit chat.
    – badp
    Jan 26, 2011 at 12:16
  • @badp, yes, and the poll questions just keep on coming... :)
    – Benjol
    Jan 26, 2011 at 12:35

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