Okay, I'm very confused now. A question of mine from 2 years ago with multiple upvoted answers and upvoted to ten was just closed as not constructive. I'm assuming that someone stumbled across it and voted to close putting it in the review queue.

If anything maybe it should be locked, but there were good answers to the questions and it proposed something for people to think about. It relates directly to programming so I'm just curious, what's not constructive about the question?

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    It was probably closed because it asked "What do you think" which is a form of polling, and polling is considered "not-constructive" towards Stack Exchange's goal of high quality questions and answers. You may be able to get it reopened if you edited it into something like "Should I be buying my own programming tools, and why or why not?", but that would be up to the community to decide (personally I would vote to reopen it)
    – Rachel
    Apr 17 '13 at 15:13
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    No, I'm not going to rephrase the final sentence because it contains some keyword that a robot would assume implied a poll. If they bothered to read the question, they could see very simply what I'm asking. I see where your sentiments about the site come from :) Apr 17 '13 at 15:18
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    I voted to close because it isn't constructive. However, I agree that it should have a historical lock. I already flagged it for the lock, but I don't know what the judgement was regarding its worthiness
    – user53019
    Apr 17 '13 at 15:49
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    @MikeBrown Did you come to Meta to discuss a closure or pick a fight? What good are statements like "If they bothered to read the question, they could see very simply what I'm asking"? Five people voted to close the question, you have no idea if they read it or not, or how thoroughly. Can we please keep the passive aggressiveness to a minimum? Thus far you haven't bothered to tell us why you think the question should be re-opened. "It's 2 years old & upvoted" doesn't say much about its merits.
    – yannis
    Apr 17 '13 at 21:16
  • I wasn't being passive aggressive. I stated my opinion quite clearly. It's a subjective question "is there value in owning your own development tools" I didn't explicitly state it in the question. But to be closed as not constructive just because I used a certain phrase when others were able to gather the implicit meaning of the question seems...odd. Apr 18 '13 at 13:40
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    Actually @MikeBrown the only people that didn't seem to gather the implicit meaning of your question is about half of the answerers. I didn't see you complaining that they were answering what you explicitly stated instead of what you implicitly meant back when the answers appeared. In any case, both questions, the implicit and the explicit one, are not constructive. "is there value in owning your own development tools" is not a question about a specific problem, it's an open ended discussion. A good one, but still a not constructive one.
    – yannis
    Apr 18 '13 at 14:14
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    I see your point. Like I said, it wasn't the fact that it was closed that confused me, just that I didn't understand the reason behind the closing. Because it contained a certain phrase wasn't sitting well with me, but the discussion is open-ended in that regard. Apr 18 '13 at 17:41
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    I think part of the problem is that "not constructive" is an argumentative and misleading wording for the actual closure reason. "Not constructive" has little to do with the actual constructiveness of questions; it mostly means "not a good fit for StackExchange". If you see it that way, it's less upsetting when one of your questions gets closed. In the real world, most questions which aren't aggressive and which ask something worth discussing are constructive.
    – Andres F.
    Apr 20 '13 at 22:26
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    To elaborate on my argument: in the real world, a non-aggressive question that spurs debate is more often than not deemed constructive. In StackExchange it would be closed as "not constructive", but what the closure really means is "SE is not a good fit for debates".
    – Andres F.
    Apr 20 '13 at 22:28

I went on a search for "what do you think" last night after seeing a few "what do you think" questions get asked, or answered and closed - this was one (of many) that I found.

Many times new users attempt to use old open questions as examples for why their question should be remain open. Closing old questions that don't fit the current quality standards helps limit this avenue of misunderstanding about the site scope.

Often new users will find an "what do you think" question and answer it. These questions, because of their age, votes, and views will cause it to immediately jump to the top of the hot questions, which attracts more answers of questionable merit. These new answers to "what do you think" are often quite poor and garner downvotes resulting in a poor new user experience answering questions on P.SE.

Locking is not available to most people, and is actually a stronger action than closing as it also prevents comments and votes (and new answers as closing does).

Closing does not mean deletion. As I understand it, having answers (and upvoted answers) will prevent such automated cleanups (of negative voted, unanswered questions).

There seems to be some misgivings about the questions... My close vote spree included:

If people feel that my votes on any of these in error, please help me understand where they were the mistake was made. My skill set at rewriting old questions is not the greatest, and I would welcome any help in reformulating these questions into ones that can be reopened.

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    "What do you think?" Is practically implied in every subjective question on the site. It then becomes a debate of if it's "good subjective or bad subjective". If it's a matter of phrasing, editing out that statement would not alter the question. Retroactively enforcing new guidelines and closing questions because they don't meet guidelines that didn't exist at the time seems a little Orwellian. Apr 17 '13 at 15:24
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    Going on a search of a specific phrase and voting to close all those questions is not helping the site, its hurting it. If SE wanted to close questions based on a regex, they could do that easily. It would be far better to search for a phrase, then read the question to see if it needs improvement, and what you can do to improve the question to make it better fit SE's question standards. In many cases, such as this question, questions just need a small tweak in the wording.
    – Rachel
    Apr 17 '13 at 15:25
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    Also it should be noted that type of question was acceptable and encouraged in the early days of programmers. Going back and closing all our old questions is not a good way to maintain the valuable content that was posted back then. If you think the phrasing provides a bad example for new users, then alter the phrasing. Don't close the question just because of the exact phrasing used to ask the question (which was acceptable back then) is no longer acceptable by SE's standards.
    – Rachel
    Apr 17 '13 at 15:31
  • it would go smoother if you invested a bit more effort into trying to find a dupe prior to straightforward voting (for low effort questions it's often very easy). As Karl said, "duplicate is the most helpful close reason... If I have a choice between closing as a duplicate and another reason, I always choose the duplicate..." Other than that I think you did a pretty good job and discovered a smart heuristics
    – gnat
    Apr 17 '13 at 15:44
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    @Rachel I believe that closing these questions serves to improve the site in that it prevents new users from asking questions that match those bygone days that are no longer acceptable with the justification that similar questions are still open. It prevents users from answering these questions that would result in an answer that is downvoted and a poor experience. There are quite a few that I didn't close vote after reading them.
    – user40980
    Apr 17 '13 at 15:45
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    I would also point out that looking at this question's comments, one can see a user exactly doing a search for a term and using that as justification that his question should have remained open.
    – user40980
    Apr 17 '13 at 16:22
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    @MichaelT And I would say that it does more harm than good, because you are sending confusing messages to users by closing down useful content that the community apparently found valuable, and closing old upvoted/accepted contributions without warning or giving the OP a chance to edit is likely to upset long-term members of the community. If the core question is a decent one, and the answers useful, try and find a way to edit the question to be a good one for SE first before immediately jumping to close it.
    – Rachel
    Apr 17 '13 at 20:15
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    @Rachel no content has been removed. As a not-mod, if I modify a question it bumps it back up to active (and a hot question) which is even worse than leaving it sit. Of the questions that I listed above, are there any that are able to be fixed to be constructive in the current scope and able to be reopened? Making these changes while the question is closed is less impacting on the site because they won't be able to be poorly answered until they are reopened - if that happens at all. If there isn't any way for them to be fixed, then leaving them closed is the best thing to do.
    – user40980
    Apr 17 '13 at 20:20
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    @Rachel Maintaining the content that was posted in the good old days is not a priority. Unfortunately we do not have a way of saying "Hey, this was posted when things were more relaxed, please don't ask similar questions" while keeping it open. "If the core question is a decent one" That's a big if. Personally I don't think this question is a decent one. If you think it is, please post an answer, you might be reading something in it the rest of us missed. What are its merits? Is it just that it's old and it got a handful or so upvotes.
    – yannis
    Apr 17 '13 at 21:22

I just looked at the question and I fully agree with the closure, mostly for the reasons outlined in MichealT's answer. I don't see how it's anything other than a poll for people's opinions: "Do you [own your own tools]?", "What do you think good people?" I don't see how either of those questions will lead to anything other than an extended discussion or opinions. There's no visible problem.

Should the question be locked? First, this question won't be automatically deleted. It has been up voted and has up voted answers. The automatic deletion script will not kick in. In order for this post to be deleted at this point, it requires moderator intervention or enough users voting to delete. As far as locking, the only valid reason for locking would be "historical lock":

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. More info: [FAQ].

It's not a good question for this site, but I don't see how it has historical significance. It has 623 views (a handful of which were probably generated by this Meta post) in 2 years. It only has a score of 9, and the top answer only has a score of 18. Looking through the answers, I'm not seeing anything amazing.

At this time, my recommendation would be to keep this question closed. If anyone is interested, I would suggest pulling out anything relevant and considering writing a post for the blog. It may be a candidate for deletion down the road, since I'm not seeing any significant value added by keeping the question around.


There are a number of cosmetic attributes of questions that make them more likely to be closed:

  1. Using the word "you" in your phrasing. Have you ever, what do you think, do you follow this practice, etc. This makes it sound like a polling question, even when it's not.
  2. Only putting your question in the title, not restating it in the body of your post. This makes it feel like a rant/blog post, even when it's not.
  3. Including a prologue with your reasons for asking, worries about topicality, etc. This makes it feel like you are trying to make a case for a weak question, even if the question stands on its own merits.
  4. Including your "résumé": related background experience, etc. This makes it feel like the question has a narrow application, or that you're just looking for validation of an opinion you've already decided, even if you aren't.
  5. Including a thank you or salutation at the end. This makes the question feel chatty, even when it's not.

Your question violates unspoken rules 1 and 4. People will probably reopen if you edit it to change or remove the sentences containing "I" or "you." More like, "Is owning your own programming tools beneficial?"

As far as whether old, upvoted questions should be targets for closing, I mostly agree with MichaelT's reasoning. Old questions get resurrected all the time. However, I wish people would write a meta post before doing bulk closures of old questions, especially since the original author isn't always still around to fix the question.

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