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There are some highly-voted questions on our site that don't match the FAQ, but I feel are extremely valuable to programmers.

I've only been programming a few years, and when I came across these questions I felt like I found a goldmine of information. There's so much out there that I don't know I don't know, and having a bunch of things that can improve me as a programmer in a central location is extremely valuable to me.

I do not want to see these go away in a purge, so can we keep these questions opened, but locked?

The questions are:

  • Stuff every programmer needs while working

    I first saw this question a year or two back, and at the time I was fairly new to programmering, and usually worked by myself. Some of the answers to this questions are extremely useful to new programmers, and are a huge help in productivity.

    For example, I had no idea the kind of value an extra monitor would give me. When I saw that was rated one of the highest-voted answers, I asked for a 2nd monitor at work and was amazed at how much more productive it made me.

    Another answer that assisted me was I didn't realize it was common for programmers to wear headphones or listen to music at work to help keep distractions out. I always thought that kind of behavior was rude and unprofessional, and would have never considered bring headphones in to work to shut out the distractions.

    Other answers that were of value to me was allocating time for research, and the value of having my own personal whiteboard. I now have both :)

  • What is the single most effective thing you did to improve your programming skills?

    There's so much good information in these answers that have helped me, but I'll try and highlight the ones that made the biggest change:

    Try to work with people smarter than yourself. This helped me when the company decided it wanted to increase the size of their programming team, and I was responsible for finding a candidate. At first I considered hiring a few interns or juniors to help with the workload, and then I remembered this and decided to go for one person with more experience than myself to try and improve my own programming skills. The company was fine with that and I got my way, and I working with someone that has more experience than me has has taught me so much that I didn't realize I didn't know.

    listen to what others have to say, regardless of job title I noticed I was weighing opinions based on who was telling me things. For example, we had a network guy who started dabbling in programming, and at the time I discounted some of his opinions because didn't think he knew what he was talking about. But I soon realized that just because someone is inexperienced does not mean they don't know what they're talking about, and we ended up implementing some of his suggestions after all.

    Start a pet project and teaching others. I think these were the two that lead me to starting my own programming blog, although I really couldn't pinpoint the exact answers because at the time there wasn't nearly this many answers and upvotes.

  • How to become a "faster" programmer?

    Again, another one of those questions with so much good advice for new programmers that I don't even know where to start. But here are some of the answers that made the biggest impact on my programming style:

    Avoid gold plating - do only what is asked of you (in terms of requirements) I can't tell you how many times I would try and add extra features, or suggest things that weren't actually required. After reading this (and many other similar answers) I really started simplifying things and only building what was asked for.

    Don't reinvent the wheel, consider reusing past work and the work of others I was one of those people who always liked to build stuff myself to using pre-made stuff. Answers like this were the reason I started using 3rd party libraries more, and I've actually managed to talk my company into purchasing a commercial library (Telerik) which has reduced development times by quite a bit.

    Avoid switching tasks too often. Distractions and task switching can kill a day / Eliminate distractions I started noticing how much distractions and interruptions were affecting my productivity (I got interrupted a lot), and started doing things like putting my phone on DND for hours at a time when I needed to get stuff done. I noticed an immediate increase in productivity, and now most people know to email me if they want something that isn't an emergency instead of calling me.

I realize much of this information can be found online, however seeing the suggestions with such a high amount of support from programmers (upvotes) really made me think about them again, and instead of simply taking note of it and moving on I actively went out and tried to make changes in my work environment.

I've found quite a few open-but-locked questions on StackOverflow which were are clearly not a good fit for the site, but contain so much useful information that they are locked with the following message:

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. More info: FAQ

I was hoping we could do the same for these questions since I think they contain a lot of good information for new programmers, and would hate to see them go away because they're a bad fit for the current site scope.

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    Why do you feel that keeping these questions around benefits the site, its readers, and the world at large? Be specific... – Shog9 Feb 8 '12 at 20:55
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    @Mr.CRT It benefits programmers. I've only been programming a few years, and when I come across questions like these I feel I've found a goldmine of information. There's so much out there that I don't know I don't know, and having a bunch of things that can improve me as a programmer in a central location is extremely valuable to me. – Rachel Feb 8 '12 at 20:59
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    Be specific - what did you learn reading, say, "Stuff every programmer needs while working" that made you a better programmer? Tell a story, relate it to the needs of others, contrast it with the arguments made for closing (not constructive, etc) – Shog9 Feb 8 '12 at 21:07
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    @Mr.CRT As an example, I had no idea the kind of value an extra monitor would give me. When I saw that was rated one of the highest-voted answers, I asked for a 2nd monitor and was amazed at how much more productive it made me. Another answer from the same question, I didn't realize it was common for programmers to wear headphones or listen to music at work. And didn't understand the value of a whiteboard. Or allocating time for research. I have gained a lot of information from questions such as these, and would hate to see them go away because they're a bad fit for the current site scope. – Rachel Feb 8 '12 at 21:16
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    Put that in your question. Then do the rest... – Shog9 Feb 8 '12 at 21:22
  • @Mr.CRT Thank you, I didn't understand what you meant about being more specific at first. I've updated the question so it attempts to get specific questions locked, instead of generic list questions. – Rachel Feb 9 '12 at 15:36
  • What would be the difference in this case between closed and locked? Both keep the question around, but closed emphasizes that while the question may be useful they are not on topic. – Michael K Feb 9 '12 at 15:43
  • @Michael Locked topics aren't going to get deleted, while most closed questions will eventually get deleted. Having a note about why the question is still around also lets us close similar off-topic questions with a link to the locked one. It shows that although the question is useful to programmers, it is not a good question for the site. – Rachel Feb 9 '12 at 16:03
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    Locking a question is the nuclear option: it's to prevent Bad Things™ from happening to a question while disputes can be resolved and abuse addressed. The end game for both perma-locked questions and closed questions is deletion or reopening after substantial improvement; locking just makes it impossible for anyone to improve the question, thus significantly increasing its chances of getting deleted. – user8 Feb 9 '12 at 19:45
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    @Rachel If the question doesn't belong here, and no improvement will help it, the option is deletion. – user8 Feb 9 '12 at 20:11
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    @MarkTrapp That makes me sad, because this site has helped me so much and it is trying to get rid of some great questions which could provide the same help to other new programmers. – Rachel Feb 9 '12 at 20:20
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    @Rachel If they're helpful, I don't understand why we can't even try to improve them. Why is improving questions so loathsome? – user8 Feb 9 '12 at 20:33
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    @Rachel For questions that don't belong here but you feel are valuable: stackprinter.com/deleted (i.e. archive them off-site) – Gilles Feb 9 '12 at 20:33
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    @Gilles You're my hero :) I always did wonder where that FizzBuzz question had gone... – Rachel Feb 9 '12 at 20:48
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    One great way to preserve these questions would be to convert them to blog posts, that was one of the first ideas that floated around for our community blog. (Rachel, I know you know, being part of the blog team, leaving this here for everyone else) – yannis Feb 10 '12 at 2:30
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I'm not going to take a stance on whether these questions are welcome on Programmers Stack Exchange. However, consider this:

  • If the questions are worth having on the site, then you should not block them from gaining new answers, or from being commented on, or from being improved through edition.
  • If the questions are not worth having on the site, then they should be removed from the site.

Locking is not at all appropriate for questions that do not belong here, even if it was once thought they did. Locking was practiced on Stack Overflow as a temporary measure while the site's scope was settling. It has unfortunately lasted longer than it should have, but really, do not take example from that. Locking is appropriate as a temporary measure to prevent content wars. Locked questions with useful information buried inside dozens of answers do not help anyone. The information should be in answers to focused, searchable questions. Make up your mind: either the questions are useful, and then they should be maintained (hence open); or they are not, and then they should be deleted. Locking bad questions just for historical value makes no sense: you're framing garbage.

framed garbage

If you want to retain the present content — sure, it probably does have nuggets of wisdom if you dig deep enough — a questions and answers platform is not the right place. Take it offsite! I hear there are plenty of companies who'll host your content for a small monetary consideration.

  • Well said. I mistakenly assumed that questions were locked to preserve their content, however I see now that is not the case. If I can find the time to combine all the answers to a single answer, I will do so, however I'm not holding my breath. I suppose if those questions go away then so be it. – Rachel Feb 9 '12 at 21:04

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