In connection to this, and the closing of Why are so many programmers arrogant?. The question was closed (unjustifiably, IMHO), then reopened by those of us who disagreed. The question has now been locked, preventing others from participating. I have a feeling this is going to happen to the Do programmers have higher tendency to be atheists than non programmers? as well (EDIT: this has happened, as predicted), which has been closed and reopened as well.

IMHO, even though both questions could potentially lead to flamewars, I think it is a credit to this community that there was not a single answer (apart from one joke answer that was subsequently deleted) that was potentially inflammatory. I fail to see why such questions should be locked, as long as the community wants it open. If the question turns into a close-reopen war, and is closed and reopened more than x times (say thrice), then perhaps it might be worth locking. Even then, it should be done on a case-by-case basis.

But as far as the "Why are so many programmers" arrogant question goes, it has only been closed and reopened once, and at least one of the high-rep users has said that he voted to close by accident.

Can someone please tell me why this decision was taken? Both questions are perfectly valid for programmers.se, and while such questions should be closed, locked (and probably deleted) on SO, doing so here merely amounts to censorship.

EDIT: OK, the unilateral closing of the atheist question has really pissed me off. If this happens a few more times, I see myself leaving the community for good. People were being respectful and the community at large had no problem with the question. It was closed once, and reopened once and had no close votes the last time I looked. That means that only 5 people felt strongly enough about it to vote to close it, and the rest were happy to let it be. This makes the "community-run" aspect of the website look like simply lip-service.

EDIT 2: I should clarify that I have absolutely nothing against vote-based closing. I may or may not agree with the closers, but at least everyone (at least those who have enough rep) is on an equal footing.

EDIT 3: Jeff has been talking about removing the "worst" 15-20% of questions. If this happens, I'm going to ask for my account on p.se to be deleted in protest. That's what voting and flagging are for. Remember, a closed question can be deleted if enough high-rep users cast delete votes. If I'd known that this site wasn't going to be strictly community-run, I would have approached participation very differently. Why should I be active on meta, cast close/delete votes or view flagged posts if every so often, the community's verdict is going to be overridden unilaterally?

  • "Why are so many programmers arrogant?" isn't locked... Its not even closed
    – TheLQ
    Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 20:30
  • It's been unlocked since then. According to Mark (see below), it was locked to stop an edit war, it's been unlocked since then. Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 20:46
  • @TheLQ programmers.stackexchange.com/posts/4693/revisions Commented Sep 23, 2010 at 19:08
  • 8
    +100 on the unilateral closing of the atheist question. That is such bollocks Jeff! Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 8:40
  • 2
    @Tomwij: Cheers for the edit :) Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 13:29
  • @Chinmay: None of the SE sites are strictly community-run. Administrators and moderators have always stepped in, at times, since I've been using them.
    – Roger Pate
    Commented Sep 25, 2010 at 1:04
  • 2
    @Roger: I've never seen it done in such an overt and autocratic manner though. The decision is either explained or super-obvious (in the case of spam or rudeness, for example). Commented Sep 25, 2010 at 15:34
  • @Chinmay: Then we've not been at the same places on SO. ;)
    – Roger Pate
    Commented Sep 25, 2010 at 19:43
  • 2
    OK, I'm happy with Jeff's clarification on what the scope of this site is. I will probably continue participating on programmers.se, but I'm probably going to treat it more like I treat SO, where I don't participate at all in meta discussions, as they are only going to be heeded if the site owner likes them. Commented Sep 29, 2010 at 23:08

2 Answers 2


The locker should at least write a comment or edit the question to justify the lock.

And since there's nothing like private mail, you can't send complaint to moderators or to Jeff for closing very interesting questions like Do programmers have higher tendency to be atheists than non programmers? .

  • 6
    +1 Agreed. But preferably, the locking shouldn't happen at all. Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 16:03
  • 1
    We're the black sheep, you know. We don't deserve to hear comments.
    – P Shved
    Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 16:14
  • 3
    I would also really like to know why the question was locked. Yes religion can be a thorny subject for some, but everyone was being respectful for the most part.
    – user95
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 13:43
  • 3
    @Heather: This site is not about religion, it's about software development. Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 15:47
  • 9
    @TomWij: no, that's Stack Overflow.
    – Wizard79
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 15:51
  • 1
    @Lorenzo: No, that's really wrong. Stack Overflow is for "professional and enthusiast programmers". I'm just quoting the FAQs here, again to restate my comment: I don't see how "religion" falls under "subjective discussions on software development"... Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 18:46
  • 8
    @TomWij The discussion of spiritual identification among programmers falls into the broader topic of programmer demographics. To me this subject is along the same lines of the "Why are there so few female programmers?" question which has been left open.
    – user95
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 19:04
  • And that's why other questions on the meta have been made to decide where to draw the line. Really... We have way too much subjective (and even changing) thoughts about what should happen with a question. Let's hope that the other questions solve that or it could result in a problem in the long end... Please note that the two questions differ in essence, the first is questioning "higher tendency to be atheists" (this is more a subjective discussion about religion) while the other is about "few female programmers" (this is more a subjective discussion about programmers). Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 21:16
  • 7
    @TomWij: The two questions are perfectly equivalent. The atheist question could be replaced with "Why are so many programmers atheist", while the female programmers question could be replaced with "Why do programmers have a higher tendency to be male". Both are subjective discussions about programmers with respect to personal characteristics (i.e., their sex or their religion). Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 22:19
  • No, by doing that you are changing the focus... Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 22:51
  • 6
    Not in any meaningful sense. The underlying question remains essentially the same. Commented Sep 23, 2010 at 12:15
  • 5
    Whether or not you think the question is off-topic, I still expect to see a "this is why we can't have nice things" kind of comment from a moderator when a question is locked.
    – user95
    Commented Sep 23, 2010 at 14:16
  • @Chinmay: +1 Yes, I see it now... So we should try to ignore the focus the user gives to it and base ourself on the underlying question. Thanks. :-) Commented Sep 23, 2010 at 17:48
  • 5
    A comment before locking, including a URL if one is available on the meta site or which otherwise is relevant, greatly helps. I've seen several SO moderators that do this from time to time. Could all moderators do this more often, pretty please?
    – Roger Pate
    Commented Sep 25, 2010 at 4:09
  • 2
    Judging by the hullabaloo about this, the question was interesting to a substantial subset of programmers. The number of such questions on the site is not out of control. Why not live and let live then? Commented Sep 27, 2010 at 22:42

Locking does not prevent people voting or commenting on answers: it just prevents the question from being edited or being answered.

In the particular case of Why are so many programmers arrogant?, an edit-war erupted when the original poster insisted on using the question as a platform to air his grievances with the people who closed it. I think after 41 answers, an accepted answer, and 36 thousand views, adding more answers isn't really an issue anymore.


As I said elsewhere, if you guys can't understand why the atheist question was closed and locked, or why people are quickly closing questions like the homophobic or arrogant question, I don't know what to tell you.

This isn't 'nam, there are rules. If you want to ask shock questions and discuss any issue under the sun without any rules, use Yahoo! Answers instead of trying shoehorn "programmers" into a hot-button topic.

As a community, we need to be less stupid when it comes to identifying issues that are inflammatory or completely inappropriate for any public site, especially one that is supposed to be for professionals. Maybe it should be spelled out in the FAQ: "If asking or answering this question in the real world would have a high likelihood of someone yelling or getting punched, it is not appropriate for this site."

  • 2
    @Mark: Fair enough. I must have missed the edit-war. I logged in today to find it closed with little explanation, which bothered me. Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 17:09
  • @Chinmay As a side note, that question was unlocked (presumably because the edit war resolved itself).
    – user8
    Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 20:49
  • Yes, I realised that :) Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 22:02
  • @Mark: I've un-accepted, as the issue needs to be revisited. Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 17:23
  • 4
    @Mark: But why the locker has not added a comment to explain the lock?
    – Wizard
    Commented Sep 22, 2010 at 20:53
  • @Wizard: he didn't need to. The two locks so far have been pretty obvious as to why they've been locked. Common sense prevails here.
    – user8
    Commented Sep 23, 2010 at 1:35
  • 4
    @Mark: perhaps obvious to you. To many other people they've been just unjustified misuses of power, especially if you are not refreshing and following the question every minute. Writing a little comment with a line of explanation doesn't hurts anybody.
    – Wizard79
    Commented Sep 23, 2010 at 9:15
  • 7
    @Mark: A place where I'd get yelled at or punched for expressing my views is a place I'd rather not be in. I'm used to expressing (often controversial) views openly without being persecuted. I think you're not giving enough credit to people here, as most people can hold opposing views without becoming confrontational. Commented Sep 23, 2010 at 15:20
  • 13
    This is outrageous. Discussing atheism is “completely inappropriate for any public site”? And the fact that I never saw evidence of that makes me “stupid”? This answer is a million times more inappropriate and inflammatory than any of the questions that were locked.
    – Timwi
    Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 13:21
  • 8
    Mark: I don't think most people's problem with the atheist question is that it got closed per se, but that it got closed unilaterally, not by the community but by a single person. Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 13:31
  • 2
    @romkyns: you hit the nail on the head! Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 13:34
  • 4
    You may not know what to tell me, but could you try, anyway? I honestly don't understand. I have looked very carefully at the atheist question and doesn't seem at all like a shock question to me. In the arrogance question the OP had the gall to use the question body inappropriately (i.e. not locked for being a shock question either), and the homophobic question isn't locked.
    – Roger Pate
    Commented Sep 25, 2010 at 4:14
  • Atheism is an inappropriate subject for polite conversation now, is it? You need to read more Greta Christina and PZ Myers.
    – TRiG
    Commented Nov 2, 2010 at 15:38

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