I'm new to the site - wondering why this question: Database Design Query (not mine) was voted down. Seems on topic. Is it not specific enough? If so, should folks be making comments on how to improve it?

2 Answers 2


It was put on hold for being too broad.

Asking for the best-practice for an employee database is not exactly a clear-cut problem to tackle, especially since there isn't really a problem even being stated. It reads more like, "what's your favorite way to do this?" If you check the help-center, it seems questions like that aren't desired in this part of Stack Exchange.

If the question was framed differently, such as,

"I do X to achieve Y. Do you see a cleaner/more maintainable way to do it?",

that would be an actual question that could be answered, objectively. That would probably get a better response from the community.


Look at the first half of this meta-answer.

The question, which you're asking about, looks like (I'm not saying that it is) an example of "I have a problem (i.e. a database to design), how do I solve it?"

Maybe, theoretically, a question about "design" should be on-topic.

But there's e.g. another question here where someone commented,

Just because the OP used a diagram to describe some classes, rather than code, suddenly they feel entitled to use the "design" tag.

Which implies that users have this site have some opinions that specific types of "design" question are on- and off-topic.

Also, the last time I asked a database-related question here, users seemed to have trouble reading it.

I asked how to improve it and this meta-answer suggested the question would be easier to understand with pictures (e.g. ascii art), or code (e.g. DDL).

It may be that people want a more-general question ... about a more-specific class of problem:

  • No: "how to solve my problem?"
  • Yes: "how to solve this class of problems?"

If I look at the titles of other questions tagged recent titles include:

... which are, more-or-less, general problems. Someone else might have the same type of problem.

Whereas the question you're asking abot doesn't have a good title like that: its title is currently Database Design Query.

Maybe the title should be changed to ask something about (*reads the question body*) storing sparse (i.e. frequently-missing) or non-homogenous data -- figure out a general question to ask about the specific question.

This meta-answer reads the question as "best-practice for an employee database" ... the question needn't (shouldn't) be specific to an employee database; perhaps it should be phrased to that its being an employee database is a specific example of some (to be defined) more general problem description.

This meta-answer includes,

With a design question, it is expected that the person asking the question has taken some time to sketch out the design that they have come up with and identify the problem they are encountering with the design.

So if the question is going to be about my design(s) I guess it should at least be specific about what the various problems are, that I've identified, with my various designs.

But here the OP was asking, "Here are requirements and here are designs, which design is better?" ... maybe they should have been asking, instead. "Here are requirements and here are designs, and here are problems with the designs."

Actually in this case I think the problems with the designs are obvious, but anyway I think these are various reasons why people might have downvoted.

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