So I would like to jump in the programmers.SE community, but for the life of me I can't actually figure out the community standards.

I had this question closed: What languages do Node.js developers primarily come from?

And I literally do not see how it fits NARQ. It's a precise question with a literal factual answer. I do not know the literal factual answer or how to research it. That's why I posted the question.

The only problem I see is that I gave the background on why I wanted to know the answer to this question, but the question is a legitimate question in its own right. One person answered the "background" question and was quite helpful to me. This is pretty typical practice on SO for instance - you try to research a question, ask a derived question, and someone is all the more helpful by giving you a different approach entirely.

So, I'm asking for 1) an explanation of why this was closed and 2) some information on how I can learn what belongs and does not belong on programmers.SE, that would help me avoid asking non-real questions like this.

  • 1
    I may be missing something here, but what's the "literal factual answer"?
    – yannis
    Apr 25, 2013 at 14:42
  • @YannisRizos "X% of Node developers were formerly developing in Y language, making it a plurality." At best a research study might have asked this, but more practically I was hoping someone active in the Node community could give a reasoned observation based on meetups, fora, etc. s/he has participated in. e.g. "Among the SF and Node meetups it seems most Node developers were PHP developers looking for something more modern to do server-side in."
    – djechlin
    Apr 25, 2013 at 14:48
  • 3
    It may have been voted NARQ because it seems unlikely that anyone can provide a factually-supported answer to your question. Apr 25, 2013 at 14:54

4 Answers 4


I was the fourth vote of five.

My reasoning can basically be summed up with "the question that is being asked does not present a problem that can be answered"

There is no problem stated as the question. There might be a problem behind the question (on conventions of log levels), but the question itself doesn't have a problem.

Since it doesn't have a problem, it can't be 'solved'. And is not a real question.

I often have this problem with technically literate business people asking me for a technical solution to their problem (I want a field in this spot on the page that to enter this value). I can do it, but it is often the "right answer to the wrong question." I am hired to solve problems - and the problem was that the business person wanted XYZ and gave me the solution to the problem to implement, rather than the problem to solve.

It takes some asking and thinking of what the problem actually is to be able to give the right answer to the right question. When asking a question, consider that when the question asks for validation of a solution, it is a less than ideal question - there isn't a problem to solve.

I was also debating the 'too localized'. The answer for "What languages do Node.js developers primarily come from?" today is probably quite different than it will be next year, or the year after that. As such, the data for the answer, if it could be found, would not be useful at a later point in time.

Requests for data are inherently difficult to answer with this consideration. If someone was asking "what different versions of Android are in the wild?" the two possibilities are "the stats as of now" - which won't be useful in a few months, or a link to a page that has the updated stats - which is a link only answer (and places us as a proxy for google).

  • Good point re. too localized. Would you say that questions on programmers.SE need to specifically be problem oriented instead of fact oriented?
    – djechlin
    Apr 25, 2013 at 19:30
  • @djechlin ideally yes. Problems (especially ones that are language agnostic) tend to be timeless and can be applied again and again (OO problems of Java are similar to the OO problems of C#, and even can be the OO problems of ruby). Facts are rooted in the now and the other facts of the question - if either of these change, the question becomes less useful to others.
    – user40980
    Apr 25, 2013 at 19:39

Disclosure: I'm the 3rd of the 5 community votes that voted to close.

It's a precise question

Yes, this is true. But the value of your question to the community was not particularly evident to me - nor apparently to the other 4 voters. Arguably, too localized may have been a better close reason.

with a literal factual answer.

Possibly, but there's a presupposition that the answer exists.

After reading your question, my initial reaction was "So what?" I didn't see how having an answer, much less a definitive answer, would really make a difference to the decision point you were at. If I read your question correctly, you're trying to decide on which logging levels to expose. And you're basing your decision on the background and therefore presumed preference of your target users.

What really drug down your question is that it's a research resource request. You're looking for some demographic type of study that says _% of Node.js users have a Java background and _% have a Ruby background and so on. Research resource requests generally don't fare very well on P.SE. While it's possible to craft an answerable question in that genre, it's pretty rare for the data to exist. Again, NARQ may not have been the best close code.

Your question meets some of the criteria of a good question, but ultimately I didn't feel it would generate lasting, meaningful value to the P.SE community. And that's why I voted to close.

You asked how the question could have been made better. As you might surmise, I'm not sure it's salvageable, but these aspects would help.

  1. Explain what research you've already done and where you're stuck. There's no mention of this in your question.

  2. Explain why this matters; explain the scope of the issue. Yes, you stated: I think it makes most sense to follow the convention of the language that a most typical Node developer is comfortable in. But c'mon, really now? The nomenclature behind logging levels really doesn't make a difference. How well you document what each logging level does will make quite a bit of a difference. Pick them, move on, and if the user community really, really hates the levels you offered then change in response to that feedback.

  • Thanks for your answer. I've noted to be mindful of resource requests but I'll be accepting Michael's answer since I understand the problem with data-based answers a bit better from it.
    – djechlin
    Apr 25, 2013 at 19:29
  • @djechlin - yw and I should point out that meta is a bit different as main site reputation isn't affected by meta activity (MSO is the exception to that rule). In this case, you have two correct answers. And if we had the other close voters reply, it's possible you'd see 3 more different answers, all equally right. Props for constructively asking about why it was closed.
    – user53019
    Apr 25, 2013 at 20:18
  • thx. I understand rep/meta, I still decided it was worth a note since in accepting an answer I do effectively have to pick one as "better." And yes, I feel I understand well enough that I'm not hampered from participating in programmers.SE further :)
    – djechlin
    Apr 25, 2013 at 20:29

I am the second of the close voters.

"What languages do Node.js developers primarily come from" is a polling question, so I could have closed as Not Constructive.

I closed as "Not a Real Question" instead, because the actual question was "What should my logging levels be" and the OP was trying to back into that question by ascertaining what languages Node.js developers were familiar with, which really didn't make much sense to me, given that Node.JS uses Javascript.

As to the criteria for closing as Not a Real Question, the question is solidly rhetorical; there's no real problem to be solved here.


Potential answerers want to know 1) that any answer they give will likely benefit you, and 2) any answer they give will likely benefit others. That said, there are some things you can do to make the question more "real" to them.

The first is to give some background, why is this question being asked., and what is the real problem. Answerers have gotten "burned" too many times by questions that appeared to be about code, but were really about database management or other issues. Not that this is the case with you, just saying.

The other thing to do is to provide an example of code from another "language that Nodejdevelopers came from." Few answerers want to answer a question like this from beginning to end, but most are will to help you to get past a point where you "got stuck." So start your question just before where you got stuck.

"Not real" means that there is a "reasonable doubt" about this in the minds of five answerers. The burden of proof here is on the asker.

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