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I've noticed that every time somebody poses a question along the lines of "What are some programs other coders find useful that I might not know about?", it is, no matter how many upvotes or answers it gets, doomed to closure.

Why? We're programmers; the computer is one of our most crucial tools. I would think that a question about making more efficient use of your computer would be extremely relevant on a site dedicated to programming. And based on the kind of response and participation the best of those questions tend to get, I'm not the only one.

(Disclosure: Yes, this was prompted by a question I asked on this subject getting deleted. And yes, that rankles. But it was a useful question -- and I've noticed that the topic seems to provoke a whack-a-mole reflex from the moderators in general. I honestly want to know why.)

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I don't know for sure, but my theory is that part of the reason is that those questions tend to just result in people throwing up lists of whatever they use with little context. A bullet point list of 6 apps that I use daily helps noone. The answers are also hard to upvote and there is a lot of duplication between the answers, since people are more apt to share what they use instead of upvoting someone else who may be using 90% the same apps they do, but then added something else that they don't.

  • That pretty much sums it up. The only thing I would add is to read those questions and honestly answer how many of the 6 guidelines do they fufill? The answer is usually not many. – Walter Jan 7 '11 at 17:00
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They usually get whacked because they are too open ended. That makes for a site with very few questions, but lots of answers. How are you going to ever find those answers if you can't find the questions?

You're asking "tell me what I'm missing". There's no practical, specific answer to that question. "Tell me the advantages of distributed VCS over classic VCS" will generate specific answers.

Joel's latest post on the SO blog also indirectly answers this -> http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/01/the-wikipedia-of-long-tail-programming-questions/

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See:

Some of these questions probably should be close either but do you can see the difference of these questions to your second example? Probably your question could be closed as off-topic because it has nothing to do with programming. Your question would be great on Super User (actually the same question did a huge success there).

The first example provided just be closed as duplicated.

Anna's answer complements what I think.

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    Although wildly popular, these questions are not exactly beloved by the SU moderators either. Their biggest problem is simply that they collect a massive number of duplicate answers... And once there are more than a couple dozen folks don't read and vote on them all anyway, so even the ranking becomes meaningless. Also, they attract spammers (especially on SO it seems). – Shog9 Jan 7 '11 at 17:56
  • @Mr. CRT: I totally I agree. – Maniero Jan 7 '11 at 18:21

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