When a question is closed as being off-topic or not a real question, the question is automatically down-voted. This was instituted network-wide after some discussion a couple of months ago.

It seems like this behavior should extend to not constructive, which is arguably worse than an off-topic question, at least on Programmers.SE.

Are there any reasons why it wouldn't or shouldn't?

2 Answers 2


There is a difference of intent.

If a question is off-topic, that is akin to asking about tea on coffee.stackexchange.com. It's a blatant, obvious violation of the parameters of the site. Now, you could argue that users simply don't read, and I will agree with you, but ignorance of the law is not an excuse. But in this case, it is egregiously off topic. That is, even the most casual browsing of the front page would immediately let you know what is and is not on topic without thinking too hard about it.

When a question is not constructive the distinction is much subtler. It can take a bit of trial and error to "get it". I also believe that many unconstructive questions do NOT indicate the same level of obliviousness bordering on irresponsible failure to just look at the questions on the homepage and ask something similar. I believe it is possible for some people to honestly try to read the faq and still get it slightly wrong.

Therefore I don't support this.

(However I do think that egregious examples of unconstructive questions should regularly be downvoted and remember, downvotes on questions are now free... Should downvotes on questions be "free"? )


I've never understood the difference between 'off-topic' and 'not constructive' - they're synonymous to me (i.e. a question that is deemed on-topic is constructive by nature of the requirements stated by the FAQ).

So, no, I don't think there's any reason not to follow suit - 'not constructive' votes should incur down-votes.

  • 3
    The way I see the difference between them is that on-topic covers the subject of the question and constructive covers how the question is asked/its goal. For example, "What's your favourite algorithm?" is perfectly on topic, but not constructive. The "Don't Ask" section of the FAQ covers things that on other sites would be likely closed as "subjective & argumentative". We have "not constructive".
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    May 20, 2011 at 13:37
  • if the two close votes are synonymous, wouldn't that be even more reason that the behavior of them should function the same way?
    – user8
    May 20, 2011 at 19:33
  • @Mark: Sorry, I royally stuffed up that sentence - see edit.
    – J.K.
    May 21, 2011 at 1:53

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