Most of my questions about good practice I want to ask are like this:

Is it good practice to do [thing]?

Sometimes there's a non-opinion based answer like "You should always do that" or "You should never do that".

And sometimes, it's opinion based, and answers are like "It's up to you".

If it's the latter, my question will be closed for being opinion-based. But I don't know beforehand which case is will be.

Basically I'm asking a yes/no question, and if the answer is no my question will be closed.

What should I do in these situations?


1 Answer 1


When asking about practices, there's no such thing as a best practice. There may be a best practice for your particular situation (or still, maybe not). It's very important to talk about the context in which the practice will be used. Knowing sufficient information about the context will help determine what practice(s) make sense or if the practice(s) that you are looking at have a chance of being good practices.

First, provide sufficient context. Tell us about the environment in which you work, any constraints that exist, and how hard those constraints are. Then, focus on solutions to a particular problem working within those constraints.

If you do that, you may get a closure as "too broad" (which is fine - closing a too broad question before it gets answers is a good thing, assuming that people are asking clarifying questions in the comments and the question is being updated with additional information), but it can always be reversed.

  • 3
    I agree, such “Is it a best practice if I do X?” questions can often be turned into great questions when they are expressed as “How can I solve this problem? I tried X but am cornered about these aspects.” Then a possible answer can respond “For that kind of problem X is the best practice though the following drawbacks are known. In some cases, Y could be an alternative.”
    – amon
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 12:31
  • I think the believe in "general best practices" in software development and software engineering is a hard-to-kill myth. However, to be fair, there are a few practices which could be seen as "best" at least for a very wide range of situations (like professional team development or development of software which should stay maintainable over a longer time interval). And for some questions, an answerer could make an educated guess about the context, and start his/her answer like "For the following constraints X, Y and Z, IMHO the best practice is Foo". ...
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 17:16
  • ... Furthermore, I am under the impression some people here in this community think it is "best practice" always to downvote/close vote questions with the buzzword "best practice" in it (and usually without explaining their vote), without giving askers a chance to improve their text or others a chance to find an answer which may prove the question is not so bad as it looks at a first glance.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 17:23
  • 3
    @DocBrown I kind of agree. But I disagree that answerers should make assumptions. Visitors should be able to use the question to determine if the answers are likely to be of use to them. If there is insufficient constraints in the question and answerers are using different assumptions, it becomes difficult to find question/answer combinations that are useful. It also makes it difficult to vote on the quality of answers. But I do agree that it's hard kill the myth of "best practices". I also agree that just because a question contains the keyword "best practice" doesn't make it a bad question.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 17:39
  • Don't get me wrong, I think in most cases it is definitely better the askers should add enough context and constraints to their questions to make any guessing unnecessary. However, I have also seen a few nice answers to mediocre questions where the answerer did exactly that - telling about the assumptions they made about missing details. My point is, this is not always "black-and-white", there is a grey area.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 17:49
  • 1
    @DocBrown It absolutely is a grey area. More than once, I've written answers with making assumptions. I think it's up to the answerer to assess based on what they know and decide. If they feel they are making too many assumptions or are making some big leaps, the preference should be to comment asking for clarification and vote-to-close as 'too broad'.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 17:52

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