How to avoid jumping to a solution when under pressure?

This was closed as "too localized." What does that mean? This question has been up-voted 9 times and is closely related to:

What did those three questions do right that my question did wrong? When my question was closed, I tried to correct it so that it would be reopened. I think I even had 4 reopen votes at one point. It felt unfair to me to have my question closed, especially because:

  • I am not aware of a more appropriate place to ask such a question
  • I don't understand why it was closed
  • Why couldn't it be reopened when I corrected it?

Most programmers have to answer questions in interviews at some point. Wikipedia has a small page about Havoc Pennington, and his latest blog post is along similar lines, "Don't Screw up Your Next Presentation." The Google hand-out for interview preparation stresses, "Don't miss a hint if your interviewer is trying to assist you!" (which I interpret as meaning that you have to be flexible about your solution and not get hung up on your first idea).

Actually Not Invented Here (NIH) is a common hang-up among creative technologists. I worked one place where one person's bad idea determined our development direction for the next 5 years. It's not just me.

My question is ultimately about how one aspect of human nature applies to programming. Granted, I fail those CAPCHA Touring tests from time to time, but I am actually human, as are most of the programmers I know. We all have to adapt our humanity to the task of programming at some time or another. Why isn't that relevant to to this site?

  • 6
    Don't have much time right now to examine your question, just a small clarification: Upvotes don't really have anything to do with whether a question belongs to the site or not, a question can be both a very good and thoroughly researched question (upvotes) and a question that doesn't belong to the site (closed).
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 17:15
  • 1
    I remember your previous reopen attempt, and remember adding my vote to it. I'd vote to reopen again, but unsuccessful reopen votes expire and cannot be re-cast.
    – Rachel
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 17:59

1 Answer 1


The wrong close reason was chosen for your question; that happens sometimes. The correct close reason is:

not constructive
As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, see the FAQ for guidance.

The key phrase in your question being this:

Is there a checklist or are there techniques to recognize when you understand the problem well enough to start coding?

Which is a request for a List of Things.

In any case, your question is impossible to answer definitively, given:

When is it most productive to think and design more vs. code some experiments and figure out the over-all design later?

which is classic "Not Constructive:" it invites opinions and extended discussion, which doesn't really fit into the Q&A model.

I am not aware of a more appropriate place to ask such a question

There's no guarantee that any given question will be on-topic somewhere on the SE network. Some questions don't have a home.

  • 3
    have to admit, upon re-checking the question "too localized" reason feels insultingly wrong; I would rather go through re-closing the question (NC looks a reasonable fit), to avoid confusing readers
    – gnat
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 17:46
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    If the "checklist" request was removed and the question left as "How can I avoid jumping to a solution when under pressure?", would you consider it "constructive"? The reason "list-questions" are generally closed is because there is no "one-right-answer", and the end result is a list of everyone's favorite X, voted by popularity. But I think this question can be constructively answered.
    – Rachel
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 18:04
  • @Rachel: Eh, the question has already been answered; that answer was accepted by the OP. Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 18:06
  • @RobertHarvey Ummm are you suggesting we shouldn't bother trying to reopen closed questions just because they have an accepted answer? Based on the votes, it looks like the question and answer is useful to more than just the OP, so I don't see any reason why we shouldn't make an attempt to get it reopened. Programmers has enough closed questions as it is.
    – Rachel
    Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 18:23
  • 2
    @Rachel: What would be the purpose of such a move? To get more answers to an already-answered question? Wouldn't that essentially prove that the question is "Not Constructive?" Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 18:25
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    I have other questions I'd like to ask that touch on similar themes. If I understand why my question was closed, I can do this in a way that is constructive and appropriate for this site. Otherwise, I'll end up posting inappropriate questions and you'll be closing them, which isn't good for anyone. More likely, I just won't post them. I accepted the answer because there was only one and I was trying to boost my "acceptance" rating before asking another question. Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 18:35
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    @GlenPetersonL Have a look at blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping, especially the part where it is suggested that you ask "how" questions rather than "why" questions, and blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/01/real-questions-have-answers, which describes how some "soft" questions can still be considered constructive. Randomly accepting answers, regardless of their quality, is not a great way to boost your acceptance rating; a better way is to ask questions that are definitively answerable. Any accept rate above 50% is OK, especially for this site. Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 18:57
  • 4
    @GlenPeterson Do not accept answers just to boost your accept rate, and feel free to flag any comment pressuring you to do so. Only accept an answer when you are absolutely certain it's the solution you were looking for, accepting is completely up to you.
    – yannis
    Commented Jan 23, 2013 at 1:27

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