I've always considered "opinion-based" questions as those which would generate 17 answers with every guy sharing his own experience and wanting to add "me too" to the list but no one answer is better than the other. Obviously such a question would not be a good format for Q&A and good chance I'd be behind the closure.

At the same time I do not believe question above falls in that category. OP asked that question and got ZERO opinions in the first 6 hours. In more than 24 hours he got one answer from me.

Do I believe it is a good question? I do not. Because any real programmer (and most newcomers) should know that it doesn't take a lot to run python compiler or even one for C when you are just learning. One could probably hook up a keyboard to a phone and learn C on 5" screen. Information he is looking for is completely apparent to me.

This question was closed as "opinion-based" after I provided an answer which IMO wasn't based on opinion at all. Or does the community require me to post the actual perf graphs? So not only is close reason doesn't match the question, it doesn't even match the flood of all those answers the OP got as a response.

And what was the reason for closure? This question looked like it was well onto its way to the archive. There was no flood and no "me toos". If it was left open, it would probably have same answer count it has today. So to a new guy, who comes across this site, it probably just feels like a kick in the behind on his way out. And then we ask, how to attract more people.

I voted to reopen it not because it is a good question (although if it was bad, you'd think it would be voted down not up), but because it annoys people, especially new ones when they get shut down like this. And what's worse than no reason given for closure, is bad reason given for closure. And if it was left open, I do not see what possible harm this specific question could have done.

  • FWIW, I placed the final delete vote on this question. There hasn't been any recent activity or editing that would make the question constructive or worthwhile for the site. I'll be happy to vote to un-delete if a significant edit can be made to save the question.
    – user53019
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 22:04
  • @GlenH7: Nah, I was never really attached to that question, never considered it good myself. Just trying to make this place a bit more noob-friendly. However, your latest action just might trigger a new meta question: What makes us decide to delete some questions, but leave others? Why did you delete that question that had +3 votes, yet programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/223188/… from the same day with -1 votes is alive and well?
    – DXM
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 22:21
  • This MSO question explains when things get automatically removed. The question you linked should be deleted tonight, I think. For questions that Community won't pick up, I look at it from a number of points of view. The primary one being conformance to site guidelines, but also making sure it provides lasting value. And a good answer will stave my delete vote on an otherwise crud question. A quick search on MSO didn't turn up a good set of guidelines so feel free to ask another meta question. :-)
    – user53019
    Commented Jan 14, 2014 at 22:34

2 Answers 2


From the original question:

We can define "acceptable" as whatever you yourself would be willing to work in.

To my understanding, this means the same as

We can define "acceptable" as whatever your opinion is about what should be considered as acceptable

So IMHO the close reason fits perfectly.

EDIT: DMX changed the original text to

will using a VM have any negative impact on what I'm trying to use this machine for

but IMHO this does not change the situation that its 100% subjective what the OP means by "acceptable" in the question title. And everybody can have a different opinion on what is meant by "to have a negative impact".

Moreover, the question is about the usefulness of a very specific hardware configuration, which means its unlikely that answers will be of high value to anyone else than the OP.

  • Could that one single line out of his whole post be easily changed by a more experienced member of this site to help the new person formulate the question that better fits the format? There are some posts that are clearly the entire thing is about opinion, but for the post part this post isn't. Just that one sentence. If that sentence offended me enough to a point of voting to close, I would have changed it myself. But for others, it seems to be enough of a knee-jerk reaction trigger where 90% of other content no longer matters if that's how you defined acceptable.
    – DXM
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 21:16
  • 1
    @DXM: The heart of the question is about what is "acceptable" in a 100% subjective manner. Deleting that sentence would not change the subjectiveness, choosing a less subjective description would most probably change the meaning against the intentions of the OP. And as I wrote above, IMHO its not only that sentence which gives a good reason for closing the question.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 21:38
  • 1
    Do note that a wholesale transformation of an otherwise poor and closed question to make into a good and open question isn't unheard of. Sometimes it even changes the question to something the OP didn't intend or ask. Remember that the question is the seed of answers... and if it isn't phrased right, can also be the seed of a reworked question. Consider the complete transformation of programmers.stackexchange.com/posts/183982/revisions as an example of what can be done (and reopen the question).
    – user40980
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 21:42
  • @MichaelT: yes, when you exchange one question by a completely different one, its obvious that you can transform any poor question into an excellent one (and it has a good chance to be reopened then). But I guess it would be easier (and less offending to the author of the original text) just to ask a new question in such a case. And I don't think DMX's change has really made the current question a better one.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 21:48
  • @DocBrown: I agree with you. This question asks for opinion. As the closing tag says, all questions generate a degree of opinion, but... This question while it was open for 28+ hours never lived up to the "but" part of the closure reason but was closed anyway. What I don't agree with is that "at the heart" you seems to purely see words and I see a guy new to computers who simply wants to know if he should spend 3-4 days dinking around with VM and there won't be some hidden roadblock that next week/month will cause him to start over on a physical machine. All of us can help this guy and...
    – DXM
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 6:14
  • ... we can send him "welcome to community message". I think at the true heart that was the question that had a very simple and non-subjective answer that yes as a noob he can learn on just about anything. I agree with most closures and vote in many of them, but it does feel like we tend to forget the human aspect and I can see that driving a lot of potential users away.
    – DXM
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 6:22
  • @DMX: fair enough. And I guess the OP has got an answer from you that might be satisfying for him, question closed or not.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Jan 8, 2014 at 7:31

Primarily opinion based was probably not the best reason for closure. I noticed that too when looking at the question in the reopen queue.

Despite not having the best close reason, it is still off-topic for the site because it's essentially looking for a hardware recommendation.

Beyond the hardware recommendation, "acceptable" can be a murky term especially since the OP doesn't say what the VM's specs will be. But I will also grant that any reasonably provisioned VM will do fine on that server since it has plenty of resources.

So in summary, it's not a great question, but primarily opinion based is not the best close reason either.

  • OP stated exactly what his hardware specs were and he wasn't looking for recommendations. He already had the hardware. He was just looking for reassurance that he can use it. And I'm with you, if you want to keep it closed, let's close it. But let's do it giving a good feedback why it was closed. I think bad feedback is part of why people are turned away and I'd like to change that.
    – DXM
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 18:25
  • 2
    @DXM "Will XYZ run okay or not?" is still looking for a recommendation. "Yes, that's fine" or "No, that's carp" are recommendations. The rec comes from saying whether or not the hardware is suitably sufficient.
    – user53019
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 18:33
  • You can always flag the question and request having the close reason changed. A mod can then insta-open the question and subsequently insta-close the question with the correct close reason. I think you have a reasonable argument to make regarding changing the close reason.
    – user53019
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 18:34
  • 1
    And typically if was to run some Job X which requires Y resources on Z hardware, the answer absolutely would be an opinion, one has to run for himself and measure. But his noob question was can I learn C or Python. At that point, there's no opinion. The only correct answer is yes. Especially since he did give the specs and they blow most of hardware I've ever used out of the water. If there's no chance of it ever being no, it isn't much of an opinion anymore but simply an answer.
    – DXM
    Commented Jan 7, 2014 at 18:36

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