Something is rotten in the state of StackOverflow...

I understand why questions are closed, for not conforming to the FAQ etc. etc.

My question is why do we need to close any question? If people want to flame back and forth or ask questions like 'Does god exist and which color of people does he like best?' why do we suppress those questions? They would have a life of their own and those who don't choose to participate could just ignore them.

So before anyone gets excited the question would probably be more like "Is Java or C# a better OO language?"

My guess is content curation. The idea is that the StackOverflow site will be more useful/successful if it only has high quality content. The moderators and users on the site serve as the content curators.

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    This seems to be a legit question and it is asked in the appropriate forum. If this get's closed there really is something wrong with the culture of StackOverflow. – Guido Anselmi May 24 '11 at 20:43
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    If it gets closed then probably because there is a dupe somewhere and not because someone doesn't like the topic. Meta is here to discuss just that. – Octavian Damiean May 24 '11 at 20:44
  • You asked and answered your own question in the question itself. If the Stack Exchange network of sites was rife with discussion, you wouldn't even be here. – random May 24 '11 at 20:44
  • @random - I am looking for validation that my assumption was correct. – Guido Anselmi May 24 '11 at 20:46
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    That this question was closed indicates that something is really rotten with the open/close system. I am sure we could replace it with an algorithm of some sort to eliminate the human emotional component of open/closing. – Guido Anselmi May 24 '11 at 21:00
  • There are no emotions involved in closing a question as a duplicate or any other valid reason. – Octavian Damiean May 24 '11 at 21:09
  • Really? Then why does the linked question have a rating of -6? meta.stackexchange.com/questions/92565/… – Guido Anselmi May 24 '11 at 21:12
  • On Meta down-voting is a sign of disagreement not of dislike. – Octavian Damiean May 24 '11 at 21:14
  • Ok. Well that's wierd. The linked question is also on a different topic than this question. – Guido Anselmi May 24 '11 at 21:16
  • The topics are the same, "Why are people closing discussions on a Q&A?" Attention runs out far quicker than database space. People who close help the quality of the sites from sinking. – random May 24 '11 at 21:39
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    where is the duplicate? – user165187 Sep 14 '11 at 10:45

It's all about signal to noise ratio.

Although, I wouldn't mind good quality flames. I mean, not mindless insults, but discussions like the famous microkernel vs monolithic (Tanenbaum vs Torvalds). Some very good arguments about languages, operating systems etc. are often raised during such discussions. You wouldn't have found them otherwise.

Maybe there should be advocacy.SE site?

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    You're thinking of "discussions". "Flame" sometimes evolves from a discussion, but rarely brings anything of value, just entrenches the opposing parties further in their preconceived positions. – Piskvor May 24 '11 at 21:47
  • @Michael: on that site moderators are very eager to close questions as "subjective", so no, no that site. – vartec May 25 '11 at 8:40
  • @Piskvor: there is very blurred line between 'discussions' and 'flame'. For example Tanenbaum-Torvalds discussions is considered flame by many. As for rarely bringing anything new -- I have never seen so much details on OS internals as in flame-wars on various comp.os.advocacy groups. – vartec May 25 '11 at 9:03
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    @vartec Then I'm pretty sure you're looking for Reddit or newsgroups. People keep saying "we love SE sites, we want an SE that allows {something that SE specifically tries to avoid}" -- you guys are missing the point – Michael Mrozek May 25 '11 at 12:50
  • @Michael: yeah, you're right. I kind of noticed, that SE is definitively not place for sensible discussion. – vartec May 25 '11 at 14:03

The Help Center is here to define the scope of Stack Overflow and other Stack Exchange sites.

If we go outside the scope of a site, then the applicable site becomes something else. Of course, the questions you mention are interesting, but not to programmers on SO.

More subjective questions like the one on Java and C# may find their community on the Software Engineering Stack Exchange, because Stack Overflow is for focused Q&A and is not designed for discussions.

If you seek additional Q&A sites, you are welcome to check Area51 to support site proposals and make new sites that match these needs.


Stackoverflow is supposed to be a Q&A site, collecting good questions and good answers to those questions.

Most of the questions I see closed are questions that don't have a single good answer, or those that have but that have those answers already present on the site.

Why answer a question that was already answered last week?


If I got you right then you are basically suggesting that discussion based on opinions should be allowed. This is clearly something that should not be allowed.

One of the things I like most about Stack Overflow is that there is no discussion required. People ask a question that can be answered without emotions which simply are a result of discussions.

To answer your question. Certain emotions, especially the ones that come with a heated discussion are just not constructive and don't help to solve an issue but create another issue.

  • I am just asking why, not proposing a policy. – Guido Anselmi May 24 '11 at 20:45
  • Update my answer to answer your question which I apparently didn't get initially. – Octavian Damiean May 24 '11 at 20:53
  • @Damiean: I agree with what you are saying, what seems to be true in addition is that there is a desire for there to be certain kinds of questions on SO, the kind that have the most durable and reusable value. Which is fine. I was just validating that hypothesis with this question. – Guido Anselmi May 24 '11 at 21:05
  • LOL you think that there is no opinion when proposing a solution! ha ha ha ha.... programmers, honestly! – user165187 Sep 14 '11 at 10:42

I have also been wondering this.

If a question is low quality, off topic etc. it should be closed so others cannot answer it. Why? The reason why is that answering is a way aside from upvotes to say that a question is good deserves to be answered.

If a question is low quality, answering it would be like saying that we answer poor quality questions, then people would have an incentive to ask more poor quality questions.

However, if we were to close them means that if you want an answer, you need to make a good quality question for an answer. Good quality questions deserve an answer, bad ones don't.

In other words, by answering bad questions is giving positive feedback to asking a bad question, in which case people would ask more bad questions.

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