I'm becoming frustrated at questions being closed due to being "off-topic" where they are clearly on topic. Two recent questions have been closed

  • Please recommend a patterns book for iOS development: I got two decent answers and wanted more on the topic. As stated in my question body there are many books that teach the language, and how to write interfaces, but very little on actual patterns and practices for solving common design scenarios. So why is this off topic? Some may say that one books is better than another, however I don't really care. I'm looking for professional advice so I can go out and apply patterns within the books that I find best to me.
  • What is the convention for the star location in reference variables?: Two decent answers with good reasons either way, if I didn't ask this question I would be less informed and still not know what is the best. Again, this I can choose to do what I like, as long as I stay consistent.

So, if these are subjective, where do we ask these types of questions? If we get valuable answers what's the harm? I don't ask these types of questions on stackoverflow and ask on p.se instead as the FAQ clearly states that subjective questions are allowed within reason. I believe that both of these questions meet the "within reason" criteria.

  • I will just comment that as a rule I would generally ask questions where I'm having a problem on stackoverflow, however if I'm in need of guidance on a topic I've asked it on p.se, is this a general rule I should conform to? Are there other resources on SE or elsewhere that are a good fit for the questions raised above?
    – Brett Ryan
    Dec 12, 2012 at 3:43
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    Your second question has been reopened, after some minor edits, to focus on readability, maintainability, and reducing errors rather than personal preference.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Dec 12, 2012 at 11:16

1 Answer 1


Just for the record, of the two questions you linked to, one was closed by 5 community members and the second was closed by a moderator in response to a user's flag on the post. Both were closed for the reason of "not constructive", which is defined not only in the FAQ's first three questions, but also two blog posts on the Stack Exchange blog - Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and Real Questions Have Answers - which are also linked to in the FAQ.

The first question, about iOS development, is a reference request. Generally, reference requests do not make good questions for Stack Exchange sites. As previously discussed on Meta, the community is in favor of questions that are about solving a particular problem. The Stack Exchange format isn't good for generating lists of resources, but it's meant as a platform that requires humans to synthesize knowledge and experience combined with links to reputable resources to support that knowledge or experience.

Although that question probably isn't salvageable, there are good questions in there about techniques for separation of concerns or the creation of a service model for domain objects using the Objective-C language on the iOS platform. Instead of asking for books about those subjects, the recommended approach would be to search through existing questions, then ask specific questions about your problem. Instead of getting a list of books, you'll get people's expertise and knowledge, along with links to various books, articles, blogs, documents, and so on that are appropriate for the situation.

The second question, about reference variables, will likely begin a debate or extended discussion. One of the criteria for a good question on any Stack Exchange site is that it helps you solve some problem. Although there are some objective problems related to style and choosing a style, this particular question is just polling for opinions on which selection is better. Once you start getting into the realm of personal preferences and opinions, the question is no longer a good fit for the question and answer format of a Stack Exchange site.

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    The argument could be made however that the position of the reference star in declaring a variable could affect code readability, which would be on topic as code readability is a legitimate software development problem. Besides I don't see more than a few possible opinions on this cropping up, and we can Protect the question from new users as well. That is my opinion, but I agree with you on the first example.
    – maple_shaft Mod
    Dec 12, 2012 at 2:47
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    Thanks for your answer Thomas. With your explanation I can now see how these questions had been closed. It is obvious I am new to ObjC but am eager to learn best practices from the community but did not wish to "bug" the community, it's easy to learn a language but applying it is a whole new thing. It's also evident I'm new to C also (as with the star question), when I actually asked I didn't know it was something to be debated as I did not find anything on my searches. Going back to the ObjC question though, I have found good sources of patterns being quite sparse which is why I had asked it.
    – Brett Ryan
    Dec 12, 2012 at 3:41
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    @BrettRyan I'm right on the fence for the second question. Started a discussion in chat about it, feel free to join in.
    – yannis
    Dec 12, 2012 at 9:46
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    @BrettRyan Taking a second look at the second question, the wording is not constructive, but I don't think that it's necessarily a bad question if instead of including your personal preference. I made a few edits and flagged it for review by another mod - check it out.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Dec 12, 2012 at 10:11

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