"Formal" being the working term here.

I did not ask what people "informally" thought. I asked

Is there formal terminology for storage of key value pairs?

And it gets closed for being an opinion based?

Terminology for a stored dataset of key value pairs?

I don't want to come back to this board because the downvoting and closing is so inconsistent and random here, that its killing the board. Why even have a "Terminology" or "Definition" tag if you can't even ask for "formal terminology" without it being considered "Opinion Based"?

2 Answers 2


Unfortunately, there is often no universally, or even widely accepted, term for many concepts in software engineering. Even with projects like the IEEE Computer Society and ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC7 (the ISO's software and systems engineering group) maintaining the Software and Systems Engineering Vocabulary, people don't agree on terms and what they mean.

Because of the lack of widely accepted terms, most questions about terminology fall squarely into the opinion-based category. Questions that will attract individuals posting their own opinions, or in this case, the terms that they happen to be familiar with or that their current (or a past) organization use aren't a good fit for this format. Once the answers are posted, votes don't tend to represent the goodness or correctness of an answer, but the popularity of a given term or definition.

I've also found that many questions about terminology are bordering on a resource request. The person wants someone to go find a glossary definition of a term and provide the associated term or definition. Good questions tend to require drawing on knowledge and expertise and not just one's ability to search.

  • Show me a "terminology" question that doesn't fit your definition. In addition, how would you know if no formal definition exists prior to an answer being offered? That is appealing to one's own incredulity on the matter, assuming there is no formal definition. Finally, if there is no "formal" definition, why not leave the question so someone can answer, "No; there is no formal definition. I have checked x and y sources and could find nothing"?
    – Anon
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 16:44
  • 4
    @Anon I'm not going to hunt for questions. I explained this community's rationale for how people tend to perceive (and vote on) terminology questions. I can also say that questions that can only get a less-than-helpful answer don't tend to be valuable - the purpose of Stack Exchange is not to get your question answered, but build a library of helpful questions for a larger body of people. Others can also weigh in, but this is what I've seen over the past almost-11 years of participation here.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 16:53
  • You didn't demonstrate how the rationale is not random or arbitrary. You also didn't explain how closing the question was not incredulous. Now you are implying that the question I asked is not "helpful". And now you are refusing to find a proper example of a question about terminology that I can use as a reference. This is unacceptable, because you are not dispelling how closing this question was not arbitrary. You are just appealing to vague platitudes of "Build a library of helpful questions to a laarger body of people" -- That answers none of the concerns brought up.
    – Anon
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 17:15
  • 1
    @Anon The decisions that are made by people are not always not random or not arbitrary. Since voting decisions (up, down, close, or reopen) are made by people, perhaps those votes are random and arbitrary. That's why it takes multiple people to agree in order to close (or reopen) or delete (or undelete) questions to avoid those random actions. Three people have decided that your question is rooted in opinion or is likely to attract answers that express opinions rather than facts. As a moderator, I've reviewed it and agree with them. (1/2)
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 17:20
  • 2
    If you want to go through the terminology tag and vote to close questions that you feel don't belong, feel free to. That will put them into a review queue for others to consider and vote on as well. While doing that, maybe you'll see some good examples of how to ask a well-received terminology question. But it's not a reasonable exercise to expect someone else to go through and find you examples of good questions - that burden is on the asker.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 17:25
  • 1
    Your phraseology is alarming. I don't vote based upon my "feelings". Also; why would I go through the terminology tag and downvote questions? Maybe I'll find a good example of a well received terminology question -- What kind of suggestion is that? My complaint is that the decision and reasoning for closing mine is random and arbitrary, which means in effect that there is no example of a reasonable standard by which to ask questions about terminology, which is proven when even moderators refuse to cite an example that demonstrates qualitatively between my question and a proper one.
    – Anon
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 17:52
  • 3
    @Anon This is my last comment here, but I didn't suggest down voting questions. I suggested reading them and finding ones that are representative of good questions. If you feel that some don't belong, vote to close (which is different than a down vote). I explained our typical standards in the answer. The decision is not random or arbitrary - the question you asked isn't a good fit since we can't provide useful answers backed up by experience and citation that aren't rooted in opinion.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 17:55
  • The decision is not random or arbitrary Yet you state that you vote by way of your feelings, and get quickly impatient when asked for an example of a proper terminology question. Relying on 11 years of experience is not a substantive argument, and is ironic because while I accuse the closers of arguing from incredulity [That they do not know, and therefore assume no quality answer can emerge], you are asking for almost complete credulity on the matter [That you know, and that I just must trust you based on your experience alone].
    – Anon
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 18:15

Why even have a "Terminology" or "Definition" tag if you can't even ask for "formal terminology" without it being considered "Opinion Based"?

Our community does not have a homogeneous opinion about what kind of terminology questions to keep and which to close. To my observation, specifically the three members who closed this questions are part of a subset who tend to close-vote each and every Terminology tagged question immediately, so they probably think those question are all too opinionated (others surely think differently about this). Don't expect to get an explanation from them, they seem to be pretty immune when their votings are questioned.

However, that does not mean those close votes were completely unjustified for this specific case. I have my doubts there is a "formal" terminology for the concept described in the question (assumed by "formal", we mean "a definition in some official standard"), so the correct literal answer to your question is most probably "no" - which does not make a particular interesting Q&A pair. If you would have asked for a "widely accepted term", you would probably have gotten the answer you got in the comments below your question ("key-value store"), still it is debatable and opinionated if this is a most-widely used term, or the primary term, or if other terms may be a better fit.

Currently, I don't see a good reason to vote for reopen this question - you got an answer in the comments, and in retrospection the answer sounds pretty trivial ("storage for key-values = key-value store"). If someone has surprisingly an idea about a better, not-so-trivial answer and wants to post it, they can leave a comment here and ask me for a reopen vote, then I will happily vote accordingly.

  • 1
    I like your answer. The only problem I'd say is that if it is an unknown, leave the question open for at least a week or something, because the possibility of esoteric knowledge finding an esoteric question is minimized when the incredulous close it within hours of it being posted. I don't see what these reviewers are contributing to the community when they limit the range of questions to merely the obvious and immediately available information through a DuckDuckGo search.
    – Anon
    Commented Aug 4, 2021 at 22:29
  • 2
    @Anon: I don't think it will be easy to convince the mentioned part of the community to wait a week before they vote to close. When an asker thinks a question got closed too early, the best option here is probably what you did: ask here on meta, trying to draw more attention to the question and get some other members involved. If the question is "good enough" for at least three other members, it is likely to become reopened (but don't be disappointed if it does not work in this particular case).
    – Doc Brown
    Commented Aug 5, 2021 at 6:40

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