I was just getting my daily dose of programmers SE and noticed another closed "not constructive" question: Is writing software easier than reading and understanding it from scratch?

I've read through it and the answers and couldn't agree with the decision to close. OP is clearly someone new but between himself and a friend, he arrived at the same conclusion that several great authors (Uncle Bob being one among them) have also pointed out in their books. It took me almost decade of professional programming before I discovered and read those books. And I can't see those books about writing better software and improving your own skills and our profession as being a bad topic for programmers SE.

I've worked with professionals with more experience and higher salaries compared to me who seems have never stopped even once to ponder this very same question. I would reward OP for taking the time and thought he put in, instead of turning him away, as that question is very relevant to our profession.

I fully appreciate the work moderators are doing to keep this site going and overall, I am very grateful for the effort you guys are putting in, but it does feel that sometimes we over-aggressively close questions.

  • 1
    I wish some of these misfit questions were allowed. We are human after all.
    – tgkprog
    Commented Jun 11, 2013 at 15:41

1 Answer 1


It is an interesting discussion and I must admit I found the answers very enlightening, but in reading the question, their are only two possible answers...

1) Writing software is easier than understanding existing software because ...

2) Learning software is easier than writing software because ...

The ellipsis can really be any rationale but ultimately nothing more than the enlightened opinion or rational argument of a single person. It would be a great discussion for Slashdot or Reddit but it is not a constructive question as specified in the Help section about what kinds of questions not to ask.

there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”

The OP provided the answer that he already accepts, that this is because writing something line by line conforms with the natural psychology of how humans build understanding on complex problems. Providing your take or best guess in a question is a very good thing, but ultimately he/she is polling for more possible explanations or arguments, rather than looking for the right answer to a specific problem.

There really isn't a specific problem here, it is more of a philosophical dilemma and I don't believe there is a "right" or "wrong" answer either way.

In other words, I agree with the community closure of this and as a moderator I don't believe it should be reopened in its current state. Users with privileges to cast a reopen vote can cast and disagree with my assessment and if so then I will respect that and not personally close it again.

  • 1
    I agree with everything you wrote here, and with the closure, yet I've hovered over the reopen link once or twice. It's an excellent question, and there's useful information in each of its answers. Can't think of a better way to phrase it right now and make it a bit more narrow (just woke up, perhaps a bucket of coffee will help), but at least I think it's safe to say that this closure does not mean the question is on a path to deletion.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 8, 2013 at 12:41
  • 1
    @YannisRizos No, the coffee bucket will just have you condemning it more, the tequilla bucket will have it reopened within the hour Commented Jun 8, 2013 at 18:10
  • 3
    @JimmyHoffa Nope, the tequila bucket will have it migrated to Anime & Manga.
    – yannis
    Commented Jun 8, 2013 at 18:18
  • There may not be a right or wrong answer, but that's why we have votes. The community can, and will, decide which answer is more relevant via votes... and the OP will decide which answer is more relevant via their checkmark. There's numerous examples where this is the case, even on SO (which purports to be more deterministic in its questions and answers than this site). Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 20:30
  • Besides, a possible answer that would be outside of the categories of answers you've defined would be one that enumerates learning styles and demonstrates how reading vs writing code would affect people of each style. That is the power and pain of the more open ended questions... you can get answers that you totally couldn't have predicted... or you can get garbage. It's been said by mods and the creators that this is a site where the quality of a question is related to the quality if its answers. That question has some pretty good answers. Commented Jun 21, 2013 at 20:33

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