tl;dr version: A lot of questions which would normally be closed as "Not Constructive" or NARQ have recently been getting a free pass because they say things at the end such as "please explain your answers" or "please answer with facts or experiences". I think that this has become a loophole for poor-quality questions and needs to be addressed somehow.
I happened upon this question today:
This question was originally closed as "not constructive". It was recently edited and reopened.
Now, not to pick on Anna, but I really don't think that the substance of the question has changed in any significant way. It's just written in a different style, with this big disclaimer of sorts:
Please be sure to include in your answers how the things you do affect your productivity.
Although I can't call up all of the specific instances to memory, this seems to be becoming a trend. Questions which are fundamentally not constructive are having phrases such as "Please explain your answers" or "Please back up your answers with facts or experiences" tacked onto the end, and this, apparently, is enough to make them constructive.
To me, this isn't any different from adding "...for programmers" to the end of a title and claiming that it validates the question as being on topic. It sounds like a cop-out; standard boilerplate copied-and-pasted to the end of a question in place of any real effort.
My take is that "good subjective" questions inherently do not need this kind of disclaimer. Take, for example, the question titled How do you write tests for code that depends on concrete external implementations that can't be mocked? You really cannot answer that with pure fluff.
Okay, maybe that's a bit of a technical example; here's one that's a little more open-ended: Under what conditions does it make sense to break code into many files, or merge them? That's a fairly soft question, but it's written in such a way that the "explanation" is the answer; you can't have an answer without an explanation, it would make no sense.
Perhaps I am in the minority here. Perhaps I am even wrong. But I am worried about the aforementioned trend; I think that people are starting to exploit a loophole.
Programmers.SE has a policy about questions that contain the phrase for programmers or variants:
- If you can remove the phrase "for programmers" and the question and answers would still make sense, then the question is off-topic.
So my question here is, should we be applying a similar test to open-ended questions with the potential to be closed as "Not Constructive?" Specifically:
- If removal of the phrase "explain your answers" would make thoughtless one-liners acceptable answers, then the question should be closed as Not Constructive.
Would this be a useful rule of thumb? If not, then why not - where have I gone wrong?