Sometimes, I see people go into the comments and post links like the following and starting discussions Why is asking a question on "best practice" a bad thing?

But other times when I look around I find highly upvoted questions that seem to break these "rules." Is it a good idea to have logic in the equals method that doesn't do exact matching?

So it can't be a real rule because those threads are not closed by default. It seems rather to be situation or opinion based.

These topics are highly discussed on meta.

Now, is it ok to go out and try to enforce some of these "rules" upon other user, based on your own opinion?

I my opinion the person should downvote and maybe leave a comment saying "downvote because in my opinion ...." rather than just commenting these links and portrait it as fact. potentially even without downvoting.

I think if anything, the downvote is the critical part instead of proving someone wrong. If enough downvotes, the question will clearly visible a low quality question. From some random comments with discussion and links, this is not so quickly apparent.


2 Answers 2


On the "Best Practices" Topic

There are no rules specifically saying that "best practices" questions are not allowed.

The link Why is asking a question on "best practice" a bad thing? is if anything a only a statement that usually questions that mention the words "best practices" are not good questions for stack exchange.

This distinction is specially important in Software Engineering Stack Exchange, as there are some very good questions that can be based on the knowledge and guidance of experienced software engineers that would fall under the category "best practices".

Look no further than the example of variable naming. Criteria for choosing good variable names could be considered a "best practices" but there are many books, experiences and stories that make this a relevant software engineering topic. But even so, "Is this a good variable name?" is not a good question as it is primarily opinion based.

The criteria for a good "best practices" question should perhaps be the ones listed in the don't ask section:

Some subjective questions are allowed, but “subjective” does not mean “anything goes”. All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. What does that mean? Constructive subjective questions:

  • inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”
  • tend to have long, not short, answers
  • have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
  • invite sharing experiences over opinions
  • insist that opinion be backed up
  • with facts and references
  • are more than just mindless social fun

Back to your question

Now, is it ok to go out and try to enforce some of these "rules" upon other user, based on your own opinion?

As they are not rules per say, I'd say that no, it is not ok to enforce this kind of thing.

  • Now, did the person you mentioned tried to enforce this kind of thing?

I'd also say that no. That person only left a comment link indicating that the question should not be in the site, in their opinion.

  • Could that person have better explained the possible downvote and the link?

Perhaps. I personally do not see any problem, but sure... one can always improve the communication. But that leads me to the next question:

  • Is the person required to leave a comment when downvoting?

No. See this question and the links in it: Encouraging people to explain downvotes

  • 1
    My metric for a good "best practices" question is very simple: have you tied your question to a specific issue you are having? "Given this particular problem and my specific goals, what would be the best approach" is a good question. "What is the best way to build a website," or "how should I name my variable" are both bad questions because the OP hasn't stated what they want to accomplish. In most cases, "What is the best practice" is just a proxy for "tell me what to do so that I don't have to think about my problem," or worse, "tell me everything about this particular subject." Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 20:37
  • 2
    This shouldn't really surprise anyone. We don't accept questions of the form "Review my Design" without a stated goal, for the same reasons. We don't accept "Design my architecture" questions for the same reasons. This principle is also followed on Stack Overflow: show us your attempt. The only difference here is that our subject matter is a bit different and we don't require code, but the principle is the same. Questions that fail to meet this basic criteria invariable end up in a game of "twenty questions" as we try to figure out what exactly they need. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 20:40
  • 2
    There's nothing at all vague or opinionated about this. In fact, quite the opposite: asking people to "show their work" focuses their mind on their problem and their goals, makes their question more specific, and improves the answering process. The outcome is better for everyone. Commented Jan 1, 2020 at 20:45

I don't see a comment link to the meta post about "best practice questions" as an attempt to enforce a rule on the asker or their question. The post gives an explanation why it is a good idea to avoid the buzzword "best practice" in a question, since it is often triggering close votes and downvotes from people who are too lazy to read or understand the question in full, and don't do a "sanity check" if the question is focussed enough to a specific issue to be answerable. And questions which are specific enough for the site usually don't need to use the "best practice" idiom, they usually can be rephrased. If someone thinks such kind of rephrasal is possible, why should they downvote?

Giving a downvote is independent from this - and a downvote for an unspecific "best practice" question with a link to that meta post is IMHO usually better than a downvote and a close vote with no comment at all (and often not even a close vote, where the close reason could serve as a comment).

  • Even when posted under a question that does NOT contain the buzzword, but can rather be classified as such based on the given topic?
    – The Fool
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 9:56
  • 1
    @TheFool: surely depends on the case. Note also: commenting just requires 50 rep, downvotes 125 rep points, so even if someone would like to downvote a post, they might not be able to.
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Jan 2, 2020 at 10:10

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