I am referring to


which was closed - and when I (not having seen the warning that asking about icons was off topic at UX too) re-asked it at UX it of course also got closed. It is really amazing how quickly that took place. As if I was being punished for having the gall to ask for an opinion.

All I want is to -poll- (ohh I cannot poll) ASK the programmer community for what they would pay attention to when I try to help them choose a service on my site over screen scraping. So I used the word ICON and get slapped. Very disappointing and unhelpful.

Would this be a valid question anywhere at SE?

What is the most recognisable graphical element spring 2012 that would make you realise that this page exists in XML format too (not rss)

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    Your best bet would be to pick a few icons you think are good, then ask on UX.SE which icon is easier for the user to understand between the two or three choices. This way you're presenting a problem which has a finite number of options, one of which is probably better than the others. You could also ask in chat, where programmers sometimes hang out and nothing is off-topic – Rachel Apr 16 '12 at 13:21
  • I would love to, but Icons are a nono at UX. Already got slapped there too. It is even in their FAQ. Thanks for the constructive suggestion. I will try the chat :) – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 13:35
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    @Rachel Choosing an icon is off topic for UX, see the link at the last sentence of my answer. – yannis Apr 16 '12 at 13:37
  • @YannisRizos Yes, saying "which icon should I use" would probably be off-topic, but if the question was worded differently, such as "which of these two icons is easier for the user to understand", it might be on-topic. Can't know until you try :) – Rachel Apr 16 '12 at 13:44
  • I do not dare any more. Learned my lesson. Pistol whipped and cowering in a corner – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 13:46
  • @mplungjan Everyone asks bad questions. The important part is to learn from them and move on. If you strongly object to something, feel free to voice your opinion on meta (although meta is much more unforgiving then the main sites so expect many more downvotes. I know I've gotten quite a few :)) – Rachel Apr 16 '12 at 14:01
  • Yeah - I know me too :| – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 14:25
  • In response to your edited title, questions that are edited to confirm to site standards can be reopened. That is not a reason not not close. – Caleb Apr 16 '12 at 16:43

Would this be a valid question anywhere at SE?

What is the most recognisable graphical element spring 2012 that would make you realise that this page exists in XML format too (not rss)

Unfortunately, no version of your question would be suitable for Stack Exchange, the problem wasn't its wording. You are polling for people's opinions and that doesn't really work with the Q&A format. The main problem with your question is that there is no sane way of validating the answers, as every possible answer is equally valid. For example let's say that I posted this as an answer:

enter image description here

And then I ask 20 of my buddies who are active on various Stack Exchange sites to upvote it. How would you know that this +20 answer is what you are looking for? How would any one else know? There simply aren't any actual parameters in your question to test answers against, other than the extremely vague and unmeasurable "most recognisable".

Stack Exchange sites work when the best answers float at the top, and they fail miserably on questions like yours, as there's simply no way to ensure that the highest voted answer is the best. Real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions.

Furthermore, while we welcome some subjective questions on Programmers, we expect all questions to require the unique expertise of software developers. And choosing an icon has nothing to do with our professional expertise, regardless of the fact that a part of your target audience (may be) programmers. It's a user experience question, but for all the reasons I explained above and because icon questions tend to be too localized, your question isn't suitable for User Experience Stack Exchange as well.

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    btw, that icon is horrible, don't use it... – yannis Apr 16 '12 at 13:12
  • That is a more constructive comment/criticism I have received today. I was asking what would you as a developer recognise on a page that would tell you to go check out the machine readable version of this page. So ok, opinion, but WELL INFORMED opinions that I could use to at least get started. – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 13:19
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    Unfortunately opinions, well informed or not, don't work. It's not you, it's the format. That said, both the other answers explained sufficiently why the question didn't belong here, and I would expect from someone with 20K rep net wide to be a little bit more familiar with how Stack Exchange works and not get so worked up about a question getting closed. Tone it down a bit, we are all volunteers here and the other two answerers are not even moderators, they went out of their way to explain why your question was closed. – yannis Apr 16 '12 at 13:24
  • The thing that annoys me is that if TPTB had waited a LITTLE while I would get enough answers for me to be happy. But since it has been decided by a group of people that we do not tolerate polls, anything looking remotely like a poll is closed faster than a brothel in the Vatican. And alas being familiar is not the same as agreeing. I often manage to answer questions that are then closed due to being perceived as off topic. Does not mean that the asker didn't need the answer – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 13:26
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    @mplungjan When a question clearly does not belong We prefer to close it as soon as possible, to protect people from wasting their time answering a question that will eventually be removed from the site. Right now it's only you that's upset, and although I don't like that, it's far better than closing the question after it got answers and upsetting more people. Your question clearly didn't belong, it has little (if anything) to do with software development and it was a poll at the same time, so there wasn't really a reason to wait here. – yannis Apr 16 '12 at 13:33
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    @mplungjan Does not mean that the asker didn't need the answer Obviously the asker needs an answer, why would he ask if he didn't? But that's irrelevant to whether a question is on topic or not. – yannis Apr 16 '12 at 13:35
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    I have enough rep on SO to assist in closing questions - and I do when they are vague or poorly formulated. However if they are not and not duplicate and I can answer them I will. That is all I ask. – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 13:43
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    PS: How my question and subsequent answers would upset anybody outside the people who patrol and enforce their interpretation of the FAQ beats me. If you see a question you feel like answering, you answer it. If you do not feel like answering it, then you ignore it. I have not yet seen a question anywhere at SE that UPSET me or made me feel I wasted my time. I have seen questions closed before anyone got the chance to decide to answer them - it is the latter I am referring to. I wasted my time asking - closer wasted their time closing - lose-lose. Anyway. we can agree to disagree – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 14:43
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    @mplungjan That wasn't really my point, my point was that if a question clearly does not belong it's better to close early, instead of letting people answer it first and then closing and deleting it (eventually). People get upset when their answers are removed... – yannis Apr 16 '12 at 14:45
  • Right... I see what you mean. that is why I sometimes hurry and edit a question to help the asker. Sometimes I am not fast enough... – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 14:49

Bluntly, no. Actually it is in the best interest of the community to close off topic questions as soon as possible so as not waste the time of people who would potentially answer if the content isn't going to be kept around on the network.

In this case, SE sites are not the place for poll questions of any kind. These kind of questions are specifically outside the scope and focus of the sites. Please take this kind of activity elsewhere on the internet so as not to dilute the focus that makes these sites what they are.

  • For me today these sites are not helpful - quite the opposite. I try to help people as much as I can and I today feel that there are people who relish waving the whip if at all possible. I am quite disappointed. – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 12:03
  • I have a site. I want to help the programmers that visit it choose the best and most useful representation of data. I ask programmers.stackexchange.com a simple question that will help programmers and get slapped. – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 12:05
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    @mplungjan: It may be that SE sites are not the answer to the problems you face. This isn't Radio Shack or Yahoo Answers. One of the things that makes these sites supremely useful to SOME people is their emphasis on focusing solely on a SPECIFIC NICHE. If we tried to be all things to all people, we would no longer server anyone as well. This isn't the place for polls. If that's what you are looking for, we just aren't the answer. By trying to cover that scope too, we would reduce the value to people asking questions with potential definitive answers. – Caleb Apr 16 '12 at 12:06
  • And serious programmers give answers at yahoo and radio shack? "What is the most recognisable icon anno 2012 that would make you realise that this page exists in XML format too" is not a question that might have a definitive answer? – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 12:07
  • @mplungjan: Having a question closed is not a slap. – Caleb Apr 16 '12 at 12:07
  • It is to me. I spend a lot of time trying to help people - when I then ask for help for myself I get closed in seconds – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 12:09
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    @mplungjan: It isn't your place to interpret what a closure means "to you", you need to look at it in the context of what it means on an SE site. In this case, it sounds like you're just in the wrong place. If you walk into Dairy Queen and ask them to sell you a transistor, you aren't going to get much satisfaction. Arguing with them isn't going to get your a transistor. The clerk suggesting you to try another store and moving on to the next customer trying to buy ice cream isn't a slap. – Caleb Apr 16 '12 at 12:13
  • Except of course that my question is not irrelevant except to whoever here decided it SOUNDS like it is. So your analogy is not correct. It is not like I ask for hardware in a dairy. – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 12:19
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    @mplungjan - but it is like you are asking for hardware in a dairy. You are asking for something offtopic for the venue. And the topic for the venue has already been decided as not including poll questions. – Rory Alsop Apr 16 '12 at 12:32
  • Then you want to close these? Best practice - not to mention it is like asking for milk in a dairy where some of the people working there do not like milk and have decided not to sell me any, but the rest of them would love to, but the haters got to me first! – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 12:35
  • @mplungjan Seriously we are haters now? That's rich. The only hater in here is the one calling names right now and making seriously passive aggressive arguments. – maple_shaft Apr 16 '12 at 12:55
  • Still it is a better analogy ;) – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 13:15
  • PS: replace haters with "milk-dislikers" if you wish. Haters was too strong. – mplungjan Apr 16 '12 at 13:29

Polls aren't useful here. In fact the opposite is true. That is one of the reasons you got such a quick response.

If you have a read of https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/faq you will see the very first section is:

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Programmers — Stack Exchange is a site for professional programmers who are interested in getting expert answers on conceptual questions about software development. If you have a question about…

  • algorithm and data structure concepts
  • design patterns
  • developer testing
  • development methodologies
  • freelancing and business concerns
  • quality assurance
  • software architecture
  • software engineering
  • software licensing

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