I'm sorry, been trying to play by the rules as of late (or just avoid programmers.se) but I got notified that I had a notable question and when I went to look at it, I found that it was closed.

So, maybe it was an open ended poll, I recognized that it had pollish features so I removed them and it was reopened. And subsequently reclosed.

Now, why mod would unilaterally reclose something that was validly worked through the system with no funny business (to my knowledge) is beyond me. I was informed in chat that this is still a poll, but fortunately, one mod is not the end all arbiter of reality.

So, can we get a hard and fast community supported definition of poll when it comes to programmers.SE that I could be referred to, or refer others to, when a question is seemingly randomly closed?

  • FTR, I was asking, what is deficient in Code Complete in 2012. I never got any answers that I was particularly enamored with, I even put out a bounty to which I didn't get a good answer and I don't care that this question was closed. If possible, I'd rather ask a new question. Oct 22, 2012 at 2:52

3 Answers 3


The first version of the question:

I was just wondering for the sake of wonderment, what kinds of things need to be added to Code Complete 3e, and for the sake of reductionism, what kinds of things would be removed.

The current version of the question:

Is it even possible to call Code Complete, Code Complete if it doesn't have language features that even Delphi has like anonymous methods and generics? What key sections are missing from the book and what should be deprecated?

Hm? Still the same question, and still you're polling for people's opinions. Programmers is not a discussion forum. The "hard and fast" rule is scribed in the FAQ:

All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. How do we define that? Constructive subjective questions …


  • invite sharing experiences over opinions.
  • insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.
  • are more than just mindless social fun.


What kind of questions should I not ask here?

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here. However, if your motivation is “I would like others to explain ______ to me”, then you are probably OK. (Discussions are of course welcome in our real time web chat.)

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”

Both Yannis Rizos and maple_shaft give good answers as to why your question is not constructive. However, I want to address two other things you mention.

Now, why mod would unilaterally reclose something that was validly worked through the system with no funny business (to my knowledge) is beyond me.

Moderators are exception handlers. A moderator really exists for two purposes.

The first is to help correct mistakes. Sometimes, the community gets things wrong. They might reopen a question that was closed with good reason. Or they might not be voting to close a question that clearly doesn't fit. That's not to say that moderators are perfect, because we aren't. But when the community is doing something that in the grand scheme of things is actually detrimental to the community, we deal with it.

The second is to respond quickly to the worst of the worst. To stop people from defacing valuable information and prevent future damage. To remove content that is only vulgar or offensive and detracts from the community. To inform people when they are violating the norms of the community and how to correct their actions to become valuable, contributing members.

I was informed in chat that this is still a poll, but fortunately, one mod is not the end all arbiter of reality.

True, we make mistakes. However, there are constructive ways to discuss a moderator's actions that you think might be invalid and there are unconstructive ways to discuss these actions. Saying "yo mods reopen please" in chat isn't really a good way to address a problem. This meta post, asking why the question was closed is. Alternatively, pinging the mods in chat and asking why a question was closed is a good way.

Very rarely (at least on this site, based on what I can see) does a moderator take an action without either a flag on the post or after other community members have taken action (for example, as a third or fourth close vote). That means that many of the posts closed by only a moderator have been seen by at least two people - the person who reported the post and the moderator who took action.

  • 2
    You made a stupid decision to overrule a community reopen on a marginal question that I did my best to improve. I'm not going to give you a lot of respect, but I did say please. You're a lot quicker to close questions than you are to offer any constructive criticism. If you're going to be so quick to close, you better be equally quick to reopen and equally quick to offer constructive advice when you close questions that have been edited. I did have a "significant investment" in that question and I know it was a good one. If you can't figure that out, maybe you should just leave things alone. Oct 22, 2012 at 13:13
  • 4
    @PeterTurner Insofar you haven't told us why you think the question is on topic and/or constructive. How about you argue for your question on its own merits instead of resorting to personal attacks?
    – yannis
    Oct 22, 2012 at 13:15
  • @YannisRizos I'll let the question speak for itself. I said I don't care if it stays closed. On Christianity, where people are a tad nicer, the mods have a good tendency to wait until 2 or 3 are gathered to cast a final close vote. Now, I understand your reasoning for closing the question, that's OK in my book. But this is and has always been, a question asking for objective criticism of a well known book. All I've heard is the glories of code complete, and I'd like to know what it's missing. Why is that a poll question? How much more specific do I need to get? Oct 22, 2012 at 13:19
  • 1
    @PeterTurner I do often leave comments on questions that can be improved, point new users to resources that address why the closure happened, and answer questions from people. However, I don't always leave comments when it's obvious why the question was closed, especially when the close reason details it, especially to someone who is very familiar with the Stack Exchange model. I also respond to flags to reopen or chat requests and Meta posts to discuss the closure or to help get the question reopened.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Oct 22, 2012 at 13:20
  • 4
    As to why it's a poll question, I'm not sure how to answer that. I don't mean to be rude, but perhaps the definition of "poll", especially definition 15 will help. You don't have a practical problem presented, you just want to gather opinions from people.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Oct 22, 2012 at 13:24
  • You'd probably want to revise that reasoning a tad, as someone who is experienced in the stack exchange model and makes a good faith attempt to revise their question might have good reason to be annoyed when their question is unilaterally closed after being reopened by 5 community members. Oct 22, 2012 at 13:24
  • @ThomasOwens OK, I'll make a new question from a purely practical standpoint. Oct 22, 2012 at 13:24
  • 1
    @PeterTurner It was closed for the reason I mentioned - the improvements were insufficient. Allowing it to stay open would have set a poor example for other people. The Programmers community doesn't get things wrong very often, but they got this one wrong. It was an exceptional case, and I handled it.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Oct 22, 2012 at 13:25
  • 2
    Also, even with edits, it's important to remember that invalidating answers is a bad thing. Once you have answers, it frequently is better to solicit feedback and ask a new question.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Oct 22, 2012 at 13:26

It is still a poll because your question is specifically calling for random opinions on a loose subject. This is the very definition of Not Constructive.

These kinds of "discussion" questions are still good reads and a lot can be learned from them, but they are honestly best left for Reddit. We are trying to build something a little more concrete and special here than a forum where everybody gets a chance to shout their opinions on every debate.

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