Can someone explain why my question was not constructive?


The only answer given (likely before it was closed) clearly suggests that the question is constructive.

I don't see the question as controversial or frankly that different from similar questions that ask for recommendations on books, learning material, tools, etc.

UPDATE: Just a point to take note of... this question is getting down voted. What's wrong with this question? Why is there no mechanism to correct this issue -- if you're all so concerned with "quality" on this site?

  • 2
    "similar questions that ask for recommendations..." would you mind providing examples? Also note that it's "only answer given" before closure makes it seem constructive. If the question would stay open, you'd likely see it evolve into something different (as discussed eg here: "human interaction... doesn't blow up like a balloon")
    – gnat
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 22:05
  • Pardon my bluntness gnat, but you strike me as a man who has never done any research in the domain in which you now find yourself passing judgement. Just do a search here (or on other Stack sites): programmers.stackexchange.com/search?q=suggest
    – user43855
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 22:31
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    @Nathan Not all questions that contain the word 'suggest' are off topic. An intern asking how to suggest large changes is not asking for recommendations or suggestions. Those questions which are asking for suggestions are often closed. The standards for the site have undergone change over the years and not everything that was asked in '10 and '11 is appropriate today. It is a slow process cleaning up the old questions and you may very well have found some that needs some housekeeping.
    – user40980
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 22:50
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    This is all rather moot, which is off topic w/rt the Stack network. I've searched the web and found I'm not the only finding this "closing" process to be off-putting. I find it ironic that Stack's wordy, vague, and frankly subjective explanations of what qualifies as constructive are themselves not put under the same scrutiny as the questions users post. I'm also confused by the mechanism of closing, editing, and re-opening. If you're seeking a more refined question, then implement a process that uses such language. Closing something just smacks of elitism. I can't imagine this is your intent.
    – user43855
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 22:55
  • Responding to the update about "why is this being down voted" (and given the account is deleted, this may well be for naught) - votes on meta are different. They are used to express agreement or disagreement with the topic at hand - not about the quality of the question. See the meta-faq on this topic.
    – user40980
    Commented Feb 18, 2013 at 15:28

2 Answers 2


There are a number of reasons why your question was closed. I will use quote various resources from the FAQ to help elaborate.

I'd like to push code around and just have my way with connecting to services and using SOA when building web apps... but where do I start?

Where is an answerer supposed to start? From the FAQ:

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

If you don't know where to begin, then three or four paragraphs from somebody on the web isn't going to explain everything you are asking to understand. It takes years to master web technologies in just a single framework.

The best you will get are answers giving emotional support telling you that they are going through the same thing and that they remember how hard it was. That may make you feel good, but does it really help you? Does it really help anybody else that finds this question on their feed?

Can someone recommend the right book, or series of books.. the right tutorials, screencasts, or path of learning -- in particular, something that doesn't require a deep dive into theory, but has a practical hands-on aspect to it?

So this is where it is not constructive. You will get lists of peoples favorite books, then arguments will break about authors and then which technology is best. It becomes noisome and is difficult for a reader to feel like they got a solid answer. These kinds of questions don't have real answers. They just involve recommendations.

The FAQ:

it is not about .... what language/technology you should learn next, including which technology is better,

The bottom line is that we are different than your typical discussion forum. We are a Q&A site with a high standard of quality content.

I can tell your frustrated by delving into a new world of established technologies and practices, but believe me it takes time. If there is something you don't understand that you wish to know more about then find a book on it, read, and if certain concepts or design patterns don't make sense to you then post back with a more specific question that could have a solid answer.

  • Thanks for volunteering a response. FYI, I'm not directing my frustration toward you... rather I'm annoyed that people and policy on the Stack can't filter out rhetoric emphasis and personal style, so instead deem the question as non-constructive. Your first quote illustrates my point. In general, I think your saying my question is too broad and requires opinions. Fine but I'm asking for direction in transitioning from someone who learned the basics of programming to someone who wants to learn the basics of web-development. I've found resources that have helped the former, but not the latter.
    – user43855
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 20:33
  • @Nathan: Fortunately, other people have already asked this same question and have received pretty darn good answers. Remember, Google is your friend. :)
    – Jim G.
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 3:53
  • @JimG. - Thanks, but wouldn't the appropriate response to my question then be a simple link to these other "pretty darn good answers"? What's wrong with a little redundancy? Look around you mate, love songs, literature, solutions to all sorts of problems have common themes, similar ideas, but the nuanced subtle differences are what make one resinate more than some other. What is Stack's mission here... or your mission (if it differs from Stack's)? Why shut down a perfectly legitimate question that someone is struggling with only to respond with the drivel of "Google is your friend"?
    – user43855
    Commented Feb 17, 2013 at 4:31

There are two approaches to potentially answering a question about how to progress in a given field.

There is the shot gun approach. Asking for a number of resources and getting a list of a few dozen books and blogs and bits of random advice back. Unfortunately, this is not a high quality approach - things get out dated, for someone coming to read more about it they are left with a truckload of material but no answer. Providing answers is what the Stack Exchange network is about - and some questions that are unanswerable are not appropriate to be answered on the site.

The second approach is to actually find out what you know and what to know and have access to. This can potentially provide you with a high quality answer, but it is not useful to anyone who has differing situations (but the same question) as you do - this leads to duplicate questions of everyone trying to find out their own path and asking their own advice. Furthermore, to find out about you it requires an series of questions and answers in the comments to clarify and identify the proper answer for you. This again fits poorly with the Stack Exchange Q&A format. Such questions are occasionally asked in chat where those with the knowledge can interact with the individual to provide the proper guidance.

To attempt to keep SE from exploding with everyone asking individualized advice (rather than more general problems that can be useful to all programmers), questions such as these are considered off topic and not constructive

  • 1
    MichaelT, this is a reasonable opinion.. but no offense, this is just your opinion. There are in fact more approaches to answering a question on how to (allow me to correct you) efficiently advance knowledge -- not simply progress in a given field (I assume you mean career field). Since your advocating for the decisions to close the original post along with the mechanics and explanations for doing so, I wonder, do you also advocate for the mechanisms that are motivating me to now select an answer to this question despite there not being one that is helpful to me?
    – user43855
    Commented Feb 16, 2013 at 23:37
  • Shotgun approached seems very well appreciated in various cases on SO. I wonder if closing shotgun-approach questions is not selective, or at least up to a moderator's specific taste.
    – einpoklum
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 16:07

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