I recently posted a question regarding the syntax of Python. It wasn't a how question, it was a why question, specifically wanting an explanation of the reason behind what I consider a quirk of Python. I posted it here on P.SE because I have seen similar questions here before. To make sure I wasn't telling myself a lie, I even did a quick search and found questions such as:

None of those questions were considered off topic, but mine was. Why?

I'm perfectly okay with the question being closed because there is a duplicate on SO; I'm not just trying to vent.

2 Answers 2


Personally, I'm fine with "why did X do it this way?"-type questions as long as they meet two criteria:

  1. They're asking about historical language/compiler design decisions and not coding conventions. So, asking why iterators raise an exception in Python is fine, asking why programmers write jokes in comments is not.

  2. They're not rants. This is more of a "it's not what you ask but how you ask it" criterion, but from seeing the questions come in and how they play out over the past year, if a question starts with a rant, people address the rant instead of the content of the question. We don't want back-and-forth discussions about whether or not people are justified in thinking X decision is dumb or silly.

So with those two personal criteria in mind, I'd say your question is okay, with the caveat that if the answers go south, it'd be closed again as not constructive. However, if consensus is that the question is on-topic, I think it's probably better we just get Stack Overflow to migrate the original one instead of reasking something that's already been answered.


Yeah, "off-topic" is perhaps not entirely right. Sorry about that.

The main reason for closing your question honestly is that it was covered well on Stack Overflow and isn't off-topic there to warrant a migration to Programmers. Unfortunately there is no way to close questions as cross-site duplicates, so I went with off-topic.

We also try to not migrate questions just to have them closed, so I opted to not move your question to Stack Overflow either.

I'd forgotten about the other "why does language X do things a certain way" questions we have. The ones you listed as examples seem to be targeting language design rather than just asking about specific syntax choices, but I appreciate that the line is pretty blurry.

I'm not sure if there's a better way to handle this case and I'm open to opinions and ideas from you, other users, and other moderators.

  • Thanks for explaining what happened. I thought it might have been because there's no cross-site duplicate close reason.
    – user35791
    Commented Nov 17, 2011 at 1:03

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