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My question Is there such a thing as a super programmer? is currently closed as not constructive.

  1. Why? The question invites explanation; has inspired reasonably long answers; is worded in a fair way; and invites sharing experiences. In fact, in my subjective opinion it satisfies all guidelines.

  2. Was the edit containing referring to the answers the part which made the question seem not constructive? In other words, would you accept the original question as open but vote for closure of the edited version because it now seems too wordy, all over the place or inviting opinionating?

  3. Can the same question be opened if worded differently? Is the topic itself not constructive or just the expression of it?

  • Interesting. Why is this downvoted without comments? – Muhammad Alkarouri Dec 13 '11 at 12:44
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    I assume because the question is blatantly a discussion question, dealing with a term that nobody uses or defines (i.e. "super programmer"), that your edits explicitly turn the question into a roundtable discussion wit you as moderator, and that it doesn't fit the SE format at all. Also remember that downvotes on meta sites mean disagreement, not that the question or answer is bad. – jprete Dec 14 '11 at 16:24
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The question asks three things:

  1. Have you come across a super programmer? What identifies him or her as such, compared to "normal" experienced/great programmers?

  2. Also. how do you deal with a person in your team who believes he is a super programmer? Both in case he actually is or if he isn't?

  3. [After everyone responded to your question,] given two competing definitions of what a super programmer is, which do you think is better?

Question 1

Have you come across a super programmer? What identifies him or her as such, compared to "normal" experienced/great programmers?

This is a poll. It's asking people to take a word without context and define it however they want. What's the correct answer to this?

Question 2

How do you deal with a person in your team who believes he is a super programmer?

The first question asks how to define a super programmer, but this one wants to know how to deal with them even without a general agreement of terms. This isn't answerable: the question didn't define who is being managed or what the actual problem is. How can an answerer explain how to manage a class of people when there isn't even a working definition of who counts?

Question 3

[After everyone responded to your question,] given two competing definitions of what a super programmer is, which do you think is better?

Having identified the flaw in asking the first question, people were then polled, after they already answered the question, which definition they like better. Supplementing a question with another one that should be already accounted for by voting isn't helpful and just adds chaos. Answers should respond to the question, not other answers.


While the addendum question didn't help, there isn't very much in this question that's constructive. There are no markers or identifiers for being able to answer the first question, the second question assumes the answer to the first question is already answered (which it isn't), and the third question asks people to ignore the first question in favor of now talking about only two of the answers provided.

The post is not really a question, but a discussion: a jumping off point for talking about a general topic. Once one aspect of the topic was exhausted, the question morphed into something else.

Real questions have answers, not ideas or opinions. They reference specific problems and don't morph and solicit feedback disparate and broad-stroke items about a topic. Questions are a good fit for Stack Exchange, not discussion topics.

The question was asked back in October of last year; back then, these questions were tolerated, even encouraged: over the past year, we've been enforcing and clarifying the quality guidelines that were created as a result of the free-for-all discussion-forum nature of the early site. This question slipped through the cracks: a few days ago, someone flagged it, and it was closed after review.

Moving forward

At this point, there's not much point in trying to save the question:

  • every answer tried to address the first, completely not constructive question, many only addressing the first question.
  • there hasn't been any activity on the question, save for one answer in August, since it was asked last October.

If this is still a pressing problem, a new question should probably be asked. It should specify the exact nature of the problem and provide some parameters for determining a correct answer.

Be warned, though: questions that are just about dealing with other co-workers (even if those co-workers happen to be programmers) aren't on-topic here, either. For questions about dealing with co-workers, the upcoming Professional Matters site proposal is probably the best option.

  • Thanks. At the time I had a specific problem with a co-worker who thinks he is a super programmer, and we needed to identify if that is correct. At this point, the question is not of great use to me so I will let it be rather than reword it. I would make the point though that Professional Matters is unlikely to be the sensible place to ask about the concept of "super programmers"; it looks too generic. – Muhammad Alkarouri Dec 13 '11 at 12:43
  • Given that this question is closed as offtopic in Professional Matters, it seems that my question is simply not acceptable anywhere in SE. – Muhammad Alkarouri Dec 13 '11 at 12:52
  • @MuhammadAlkarouri That's unfortunate, as getting help with dealing with coworkers was supposed to be one of the main purposes of the site. – user8 Dec 13 '11 at 19:12

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