Before starting, take into account that my English is going to be awful XD.

I think you are appliying a very restrictive policy when considering if a question is too subjective or not. You must also notice that some stackoverflow moderators redirect some users here when the question is not concrete enough there. So this is the place where questions that are subjective to a certain degree should go, otherwise we would have a clone of stackoverflow.

There are a lot of people scrambling to be the first to denounce a question as subjective, substracting points, and when that happens it influences other users to do the same. On the contrary, if the first votes are positive, the tendency is to add more positive points or let the score as it was.

I've read a lot of questions here that are more subjective than the one I asked (and was closed), and these have, however, a high score since they are considered useful by many people.

Please, don't close a question so quickly if it has been aswered, wait a minimun time (2-3 hours) to see what happens. Because the first 3-5 answers may be really helpful and then you can close the thread if you want.

If someone is interested, my question was this: https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/101451/best-programming-language-for-native-application-development

Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "best".


  • 4
    I suspect that it's not the Stack Overflow moderators (those with diamonds after their name) that are misdirecting people here, but just high reputation users who haven't checked our FAQ recently. Can you link to your question on Stack Overflow?
    – ChrisF Mod
    Aug 17, 2011 at 14:08
  • 1
    Related: Frequently closing popular questions.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Aug 17, 2011 at 14:35
  • 1
    "Recommended" is a far better term then "Best" as it makes the question sound like you're asking for advice instead of an opinion
    – Rachel
    Aug 17, 2011 at 14:38
  • @ChrisF Most SO moderators won't do this, but some do. That is how I ended up here. My question there was closed, and I myself removed it. Aug 18, 2011 at 6:45
  • 1
    @MisterSmith I checked and you were pointed here by a regular user, not a moderator. Moderators have a diamond after their name.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Aug 18, 2011 at 13:30

3 Answers 3


To answer your question no you shouldn't have used the word "best".

What you should have done is explained your problem in neutral terms, outlining what you needed the programming language to do:

  • produce small binaries
  • produce patchable executables
  • ...

as examples.

Then this could actually be answered either with the programming language that met your criteria or with a "no nothing exists that can do all that, but have you looked at X".

You need to provide context to your problem

  • 1
    Same meaning, other words... One question can be closed or not depending on the words used, not by the actual content. Well, this seems a bit flawed reasoning to me. Some people doesn't read beyond the title (which BTW, I admit it was not the most adequate). Aug 18, 2011 at 6:50

A question with a long list of short answers mentioning people's favourite language isn't very useful and is not what Stack Exchange is trying to do. We want to help people solve problems, not create lists of things.

We don't want vague "what language should I use" kind of questions to the point where "what language should I learn next" is explicitly mentioned as off-topic in the FAQ.

The exception to that rule is finding a language that fits a specific set of criteria. The goal is to encourage answers that explain why a language fits a given set of requirements. ChrisF pretty much summed up what I was going to say on that before I got to it. I think the question can be edited with his suggestions and reopened.

  • I don't agree with the "isn't very useful" part. Good top rated questions are (or should be) at the top of the search, and this ranking is not affected in my opinion by the existence or not of a lot of low-ranked questions. It's a problem of tweaking the site internal search engine, not applying censorship. Aug 18, 2011 at 6:42
  • And the very policy of when a question survives or not is also flawed, since its enforcement is also subjective. When a question sinks beyond the 15-30 position in the newest tab, it is in practice closed naturally. This can happen in a few hours. No need for the inquisitorial trial. Aug 18, 2011 at 7:09
  • @MisterSmith There is no inquisitorial trial. There is the FAQ and years of experience of what works and what doesn't work in a Q&A format. There are things in place (such as reopen votes) that help make sure questions are only closed for the right reasons.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Aug 18, 2011 at 13:28

I agree, in at least one sense. There is a category of questions that may seem subjective, and can perhaps even be worded in a subjective manner, but are still answerable in an objective way and in a way that contributes to the community.

Often, these questions are particularly difficult ones. For example, I saw a question that was something like "what's the best way to decompose this hard mathematical problem into multiple, parallel threads?".

This was closed as subjective, but, had it been phrased more carefully (e.g. "is there a known way to decompose this hard mathematical problem into multiple threads?") I thought it would have made a good addition to the site.

The moderator who closed the question clearly was focused on that "what's the best" part of the question. But that's really just a red herring. It's not as if there were multiple, competing, viable, well-known solutions to the problem being asked about. It's not like the poster asked "what's the best text editor" (similar phraseology aside).

I suppose it takes a certain amount of familiarity with basic computer science to differentiate between "what's the best word processor" and more legitimate questions like "what's the best way to convert infix notation to postfix". The latter question is not subjective. There is a single, good answer that most people with a computer science background know (or at least knew). That would make it a legitimate question for this site, in my opinion, had it not almost certainly been answered here already.

While it may not be realistic to expect moderators to have a background in computer science, it is reasonable to expect that those who are weak in certain areas will defer to others in dealing with questions that touch on these areas. Ultimately, that's the expectation that's not being met here, in my opinion. Scanning for words like "best" is a poor substitute for the knowledge and judgment I'm calling for.

  • 2
    Please don't drudge up three-and-a-half year old posts just to ramble on. If you read the now-deleted post (available to 10k+ users), you'd see that the OP didn't provide anything to evaluate against and was simply looking for a discussion. It was off-topic then, and is ridiculously off-topic now as the site's focus has shifted from when that question was asked. If you have a specific concern regarding current community moderation on the site, please ask a new meta question so your question can be addressed.
    – user53019
    Feb 24, 2015 at 19:04
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    I do have a concern. It's described in my "ramblings" above. I have little doubt that, were I to open a new question about this on "Meta.Programmers", it'd be closed and directed to this question. So that wouldn't accomplish much. If your point is basically, "this is a closed issue so be quiet about it", well, I'm sorry, but that's not my style. This would be a better site if the moderators would be less reflexive about closing questions simply because of one buzzword (e.g. "best") in a question that's otherwise good (albeit over many moderators' heads). Feb 24, 2015 at 19:39
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    If you have a concern, then please open a new meta question and ask. Adding to questions this old will not get your concern the attention that you want.
    – user53019
    Feb 24, 2015 at 19:46

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