I posted the following question which was very quickly put on hold, likely because the way it was phrased invited low-quality, opinion-based answers:

What's the formal term for “usual way to solve a problem”?

I once read a term that referred to the usual and expected way to solve a given problem. For example, writing a = a + 1 in C-based languages would be considered inelegant by many programmers, who might say "writing a++ is more ****".

Do you know the term for this that is used in programming literature? I think it was an adjective, and it was not "canonical".

Then, the correct answer was given in a comment by CodesInChaos, and gnat posted a link to a meta question regarding which terminology questions may and may not be on topic. So I tried to edit the question to improve it, asked to reopen it, and flagged it for moderator attention.

Ultimately, it was closed.

Now I'm curious: what was wrong with the question? I genuinely feel that the question and the correct answer would prove useful. Can it be rephrased to have a chance of being undeleted? What are the criteria?


1 Answer 1


The main problem is that this type of question leads to poor quality answers.

The term you're looking for I believe could be either

Principle of least astonishment (POLA)*


KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) ?


I could see the terms orthodox, conventional and by the book being used in that situation.

And looking through the comments you find:

Perhaps you remember the word idiomatic. – CodesInChaos Sep 25 at 7:32
The word "familiar" comes to mind. The WTFs/minute cartoon also comes to mind. – Nick Alexeev Sep 25 at 8:46
Was it 'intuitive'? – JayMee Sep 25 at 10:08
optimal?....... – jmo21 Sep 25 at 10:12
nominal?........ – coredump Sep 25 at 12:21
"accepted" is the most common, see Stackoverflow lol – psibernetic 22 hours ago

This is not the type of answer quality that we wish to encourage on the site. Correct or not, answers that are not much longer than the type found in gameshows are poor quality answers, and the questions that solicit them are thus also poor quality questions. Asking a question that essentially asks the site to be a crowd sourced thesaurus pushes the boundary - and often a bit too far.

  • Thanks, the last paragraph makes it very clear. I never thought of judging questions this way! Sep 29, 2015 at 14:27
  • 2
    Thank you for your understanding. There's a bit of another take on this in the blog post Optimizing For Pearls, Not Sand. As an aside, you are always welcome to drop into Software Engineering Chat and ask such questions there. We have an active chat room (mostly during the north American work day) and can easily be distracted from coffee day to answer other questions.
    – user40980
    Sep 29, 2015 at 15:17

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