I know that SE generally frowns on open discussions and opinion polls.

I also understand that SE is not (yet) the only place on the net for Q&A. So, if you don't like the rules, ...

What is attractive in SE that it accumulated knowledgeable audience. You are able to gauge the professional level of people answering questions not just by their rep number, but based on their real contribution to this site. So if one wants to find out prevailing opinions or take a temperature of a current trend, there is a ready professional community that you can trust much more than any random people elsewhere.

I read about good and bad subjective questions and wonder what category the following will fall into.

I want to ask what should be in the toolbox of a ... (put a name of a popular language and/or technology) programmer. This question will be formulated in terms of group of tools based on their specific purpose and will use brand names for illustration purpose only. (Nothing like whether XYZ is better than ABC.)

This is still not a clear-cut question that can be directly answered with facts only. This does call for a discussion and even the best answers will be just opinions. Programmers (as specialists in any other trade) have different backgrounds and experiences, work in different industries and geographical areas, deal with projects of varying complexity. The answers have to be subjective.

Such posts will not age well (unless constantly updated) but at the time of initial Q&A should produce a lot of stuff to think about. Kind of mini consumer reports.

Will such type of questions survive on Programmers SE? Should they?

  • 1
    Have you considered using chat? You could start a discussion there, and then post your findings in our community blog (for some extra visibility).
    – yannis
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 9:43

2 Answers 2


I'd say that these types of questions are off-topic. Not necessarily because they are discussion-oriented. I suspect that this question would be closed for one of these reasons:

Questions asking us to recommend a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Programmers as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.


If you asked whether technique/technology/whatever X is appropriate to solve problem Y, that might be an acceptable question. Not necessarily a good question, not upvoted, but probably not closed.

While this site is about conceptual problems, specific details about a real problem are key. If you said you are trying to accomplish something, need help, what are the benefits of technology X to this problem? That is something objective and answerable.

When in doubt, look at the questions tagged with whatever topic you are asking about. Look at which ones are closed, downvoted, upvoted, etc. Try to focus on questions from 2013 on, some older questions are still hanging around because the site changed quite a bit at one point. Many of them are poor examples of acceptable questions regardless of the fact they are still open.

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