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Not Constructive, a place for the discussions not allowed on Stack Overflow (notconstructive.com)
176 points by andrewstuart on July 18, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 196 comments

I don't know who you are. But if you are the creator of this site, you have my respect from the bottom of my heart.

Stackoverflow was wonderful when it was started the way it was. The moderated content was extremely useful. But later, they decided to screw everything up by doing some stupid things like assigning too much power to moderators.

I always used to assume SO was more like the real world democracy; if something isn't right, you could fix it yourself being an ordinary citizen. However, on SO, that's not the case anymore. There is a moderator on top of the users who decides what's right and what's wrong. And he goes into a 'rage mode ON' by flagging genuinely useful questions as 'inappropriate' or 'not suitable for SO', as he pleases.

How can you challenge his decision? God knows. I've searched round the site to report moderators. Good luck with reporting some rogue moderator. I like the fact that you can flag something offensive easily, but I don't like the fact that it's not as easy for the reverse.

Forget the moderators. Let's say you want to ask something about security with sessions in PHP. Good luck finding answers on SO. Your question will be migrated to some weird subdomain.stakcoverflow.com for which you need a separate account to maintain and collect your badges from scratch, again.

That's why I knew there would be a day when someone would start something like this. Nonconstructive nails it for me. And hopefully for other disappointed SO fans too.

Thanks for creating this.

I apologize in advance for sounding like an elitist prick, but in my mind, community-driven sites like StackOverflow, Reddit, Wikipedia, are prone to the noise of do-nothing armchair experts (especially in this economy with the unemployment rate) who have nothing better to do than stir philosophical debates over nothing.

As a person with a job who actually needs answers rather than reading through pages upon pages of discourse that goes absolutely nowhere, I appreciate StackOverflow's approach to moderation. StackOverflow is a place for specific questions and specific answers, not subjective nonsense questions like "how secure are sessions in PHP?" that, on this "Not Constructive" website, I imagine will be flooded with answers ranging from "PHP SUXXX LOL GO PYTHON" to "In my opinion, sessions are inherently broken blah blah blah". While the moderators may be able to mitigate these issues a little bit, the problem isn't so much with the answers as the question itself, which has no "correct" answer.

So, while I can see why people with a lot of free time might want to go to NotConstructive as a diversion, I foresee this site as little more than an informational black hole of back-and-forth BS.

My major disappointment with SO is how we lost the desire to be helpful and ended up with the desire to be "correct".

There are many questions that I would find helpful that get instantly closed because they are "not constructive". I'd like to hear my peers opinions on the respective merits of the latest javascript frameworks but that's "not constructive" so it gets shut down. I like to help people so I occasionally decipher weird English and try to work out what they need.... too often my submission of my reply is then blocked because the question has been closed. I dislike their rules about posting to jsfiddle (you must post enough code in SO for the question to stand alone). I dislike the cliquey and "current" aspect of meta. if you're late to the party then you've missed the discussion and we've already decided.

> we lost the desire to be helpful and ended up with the desire to be "correct".

But that's the whole point of StackOverflow. Right on the about page is their mission statement:

    Ask questions, get answers, no distractions

    This site is all about getting answers. 
    It's not a discussion forum.
    There's no chit-chat.
And while yes, it may be interesting for you to know what the "latest and greatest" of the Javascript frameworks is, that's really not the point of the site.

Why? Because the answer is inherently subjective. It's open to interpretation and flame wars. In a year, it will also be obsolete.

Compare that to a trivial question, like: How do you create a while loop in C++03?

Which is incredibly basic, yet will always have 1 correct answer that will then be added to SO's vast knowledge base.

There's also the great side effect of StackOverflow then becoming a place for real-world problems for actual practicing programmers rather than a debate forum. The "best Javascript framework" might sound like a great topic for you, but it's also indicative that you haven't actually started any work on a project, compared to, say a person trying to figure out how to do two-way binding in Knockout.js. I'd much rather have a site full of real-world issues that are getting solved than a site dedicated to theory-based bickering.

So what about the questions pertaining to "obsolete" frameworks, should we scrap those too? As exciting as this judgement of what is good information and bad information is its somewhat ironic that this categorisation is....... subjective. We have merely replaced flame wars with these debates. I don't think the time sink of productivity that you're evidently susceptible to (look at us both here!) is something that avoidable through censorship but a struggle that everyone must learn to deal with.

"How to create a while loop in C++03" is as you stated a terrible question become obviously this person hasn't even started on a project. Why don't they read a book? Is this their homework? ;) Whereas when I found the closed question on javascript frameworks I was looking to make some major modifications to an existing web site. Problem is that its not as user-friendly as I'd like and the Javascript is becoming a mess so I think it would be a good call to go with backbone or knockout but I want a few sample opinions as part of my _research_. But according to a response you gave me elsewhere, talking to peers that are probably more experienced in a given part of the field doesn't count as research. D:. According to the parent of this response my work related questions aren't even "real-world".

My issue with SO is they made a tool for developers who used it in many different ways. Then over the course of the next year and a half they started locking down on how _they_ wanted it used, (and by "they" I mean the most aggressive culture that prevailed amongst the owners/mods) I just find this a disappointment and a missed opportunity.

I had contributed over 10k's worth of rep there but after a while I just stopped going. It stopped being fun, it was no longer a community, we were no longer trying to help others as our primary goal. It made me sad.

SO has always had a very specific purpose in mind, and this has been advocated by Jeff Atwood, et al since the beginning. It was never meant to be a discussion based site. In fact, to quote the man himself,

"At Stack Exchange, one of the tricky things we learned about Q&A is that if your goal is to have an excellent signal to noise ratio, you must suppress discussion. Stack Exchange only supports the absolute minimum amount of discussion necessary to produce great questions and great answers. That's why answers get constantly re-ordered by votes, that's why comments have limited formatting and length and only a few display, and so forth. Almost every design decision we made was informed by our desire to push discussion down, to inhibit it in every way we could. Spare us the long-winded diatribe, just answer the damn question already." [0]

The entire point of StackOverflow is to answer questions as quickly, accurately, and efficiently as possible. You want more discussion? There's a chat room available. You want long, permanent discussion about (e.g.) the merits of various JavaScript frameworks? You're on the wrong site.

Plain and simple, SO is not (and never was) meant to be "a tool for developers who used it in many different ways". It was meant to be sued in one way: ask a concrete, specific, real-world question and get one specific answer that will always be correct.

Discussions about obsolete frameworks are fine. People still use them. If you are asking a question with a concrete answer that will not change, go for it. And by will not change, I mean that an answer about how to do something in Python 2.6 will never change, even though the version itself has been superseded by Python 2.7 and 3.x. That's still the right way to do the thing you want in Python 2.6.

Perhaps to most important point you are making is that "this judgement of what is good information and bad information is ... subjective. We have merely replaced flame wars with these debates." But the thing is, no one is really debating. This question was answered when the site began. Or certainly not long after. SO is a finely tuned machine, really, really good at one thing: answering practical questions in a practical way.

In fact, read up on the Coding Horror article referenced above[0]. Jeff Atwood talks about Discourse, a framework he and some other folks are trying to put together to address the need for a really good discussion-based environment. He makes the point that forums are the place where these discussions happen and are saved for posterity, and that's how it should be. When talking about the option of Stack Exchange as an online community for discussion, he refers to it as "quite frankly, terrible", because "We only do strict, focused Q&A there."

That really should put the issue to rest. SO is not a place to have open ended discussions. That's what forums are for.

[0] http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2013/02/civilized-discourse...

I always thought the purpose was to kill off expert's sex change but I appreciate your post and the quotes. I don't really think how its ended up is right or wrong just not what I was hoping it would become.

It's a bit of a shame because the only thing going for expert's sex-change was the communal aspect of helping people (although obviously this process was used to extort $) but SO has lost that a bit. The issue is that there are now three parties. On mailing lists and IRC channels its typically just two. One seeking help and one-to-many helping. But on SO there is a third one that is seeking to identify whether or not the two parties should be allowed to be exchanging information in the first place.

But that's Jeff's dream and he's achieved it. Maybe its just not for me. That's fine, I'm a bit of a weird one to be fair and don't really expect to be catered for. The only thing that bitterly disappoints me is that save the idealogy through moderation it works almost exactly how I'd want "my perfect Q&A site" to work (I think the format is actually better than a forum). The technology is there but they just chose correctness as their #1 priority.

There's really no need to make transphobic comments.

it's not transhobic its what the url used to be:


My frustration isn't fueled by sitting by an armchair and imagining about a philosophical problem that doesn't exist yet. I am talking about a REAL issue of Stackoverflow. While my php sessions example was average indeed, I would point you out some specific hurdles faced myself while using the site.

For example, while securing cookies for authentication (language independent, but try JAVA for this example), you could use two routes - Either Encrypt then HMAC it or, use something that combines this both by default (like AES-GCM). Now, if you search on this particular subject on SO, you would find genuine questions messed up and half of them migrated to crypto.stackexchange.com and the rest to security.stackexchange.com. And this is the crux of my parent comment.

Sorry if I appeared to be sitting on an armchair thinking about what debates I could stir while in reality I'm just like any other developer out there trying to find something useful from the site, hoping to make it better.

And yes, your apology for being an elitist prick is accepted.

This is a real problem with the stackexhange platform, which is fragmenting communities. While there is a genuine reason to do it, I think the decision was primarily based on "business". My opinion, I could be wrong.

Before assuming it's just going to be things like "PHP SUXXX LOL GO PYTHON" check out some of the questions that have been closed. Here's one I came across this morning on open source face recognition libraries:


The original question was asked in June of 2009. It was marked as "protected" in June of 2010. Then it was closed as off topic in April 2013.

While it may be true that the question itself is not framed particularly well, the answers are really useful, including one from November, 2011 that was posted more than two years after the original question.

If the original question was considered off topic in 2013, then it was presumably also off topic in 2009 when it was originally asked. If it had been marked that way at that time, some very useful answers would never have appeared.

That is your example of a good question on StackOverflow that was closed?

That question exemplifies why SO needs moderators. The question is "I want this GIVE IT TO ME. I refuse to do any research on the subject."

It should have been closed in 2009, but SO hadn't been inundated with horrible questions like that yet. The current moderation, while having gone a little too far I agree, came into being because of questions like that.

You're conflating 'Is this useful?' with 'Does this belong here?' I suppose someone else doing your work is always useful to you, but it doesn't belong on SO.

There are questions that get closed where people have done their work and have asked in a good way. Current SO moderation has gone too far in cases. However, this is not one of those cases.

What the hell is up with that attitude? You're completely missing the point of a welcoming community by closing the door with an RTFM sign. He's writing his own shit but is wondering if there is a library out there already that is better/already does it.

The point of a community is to be helped and then help. You make it sound like you got to where you are by yourself and that's the only _correct_ way. To be frank this attitude has no place in a community.

"Does thing belong here?"

NO. "Are we helping each other?" That's should always be the purpose of any community site and the reciprocation of help is something that has driven every newsgroup, irc channel and community dev sites for DECADES.

Do it for me is not a question. It is a demand and a lazy one.

> You make it sound like you got to where you are by yourself

Hardly. I ask questions. RTFM doesn't answer everything, nor does it explain, but you actually ask intelligent questions and are in a position to understand answers if you did some work before hand. Of course the referenced post wasn't looking for an answer to understand, they wanted 'use libfoo.'

> "Are we helping each other?" That's should always be the purpose of any community site

I have to write a script to install this thing here at work, would you mind doing it for me? That would be a BIG HELP to me.

See the problem yet? Technically it is a question, it would be a help to me. I suppose a community site would be more than happy to go about that then.

Oh and the response on any newsgroup for decades would be "Do your own damn homework, come back when you have a question."

I know what you're talking about but I think you just failed to read the second paragraph of the post.

> I'm using OpenCV for detecting the faces and a rough Eigenfaces Algorithm for the recognition now. But I thought there should be something out there with a better performance then a self written Eigenfaces Algorithm.

Does this sound like a "plz send me teh codez" to you?

Yes, I did read the whole thing. He asked, tell me what library to use. That was the whole question. It was very much a 'do my research for me' question.

"I want to do this. Tell me what library to use."

"What is better ..." questions are closed on SO for the same reason.

I think it was more a:

"There are probably people out there who already know all of this information and are willing to share it" question.

I find it curious that you don't see asking peers for their opinion as a valid form of research.

I'm afraid you missed my point. I didn't think it was an example of a good question. I thought it was an example of a good answer.

There is a trade off between having a site like SO, and a forum (and all the grey areas between).

One is time sensitivity. What technology libraries 4 years ago is still the top-of-the-line library today? Maybe face recognition libraries ages better than say a web frame work or data base access library, but its a very fuzzy line which requires a crystal ball to get right. Such questions is better places on sites like HN (ask HN).

The quality of the answer is the other big trade-off. Would "I'm looking for a free web framework in Python, Java, C++, or C" create the same quality answers as "I'm looking for a free face recognition library in Python, Java, C++, or C"? My guess is it would not. This mean that two similar looking questions will get very different quality in answer.

One could suggest that OS invented something like wikipedia's ignore all rules policy, and let moderators decide to allow the question about Face recognition Library but not one about web frameworks. That could make the system more useful, but also create more issues.

Time sensitivity is becoming an issue for SO, but I would think that's a reason to leave time sensitive questions open rather closed - so they can be continually updated.

Don't mistake seeming popularity for "top-of-the-line". More often than not, an old, mature library is a much better choice than the latest fad.

I often find very much useful information in closed questions on stackoverflow.

What annoys me is karma-farming questions.

>I apologize in advance for sounding like an elitist prick, but in my mind, community-driven sites like StackOverflow, Reddit, Wikipedia, are prone to the noise of do-nothing armchair experts (especially in this economy with the unemployment rate) who have nothing better to do than stir philosophical debates over nothing.

One man's "philosophical debate over nothing" is another man's passion.

And one man's "productivity" is another man's who gives a fuck.

I imagine something like the Ask* subreddits (with smart, but firm moderation) for programming would be good: http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience

Moderation is strictest at the root, and you can collapse all the trees with a link near the comment form. However, the discussion is the best part. It's where smart people share their knowledge, and other smart people add on to what was said or offer different takes. But you can stick to the root for the Stack Overflow style straight answers.

rmrfrmrf, You may have written the greatest comment intro of all time: "I apologize in advance for sounding like an elitist prick..."

There's so much nonsense in these few lines, I don't even know where to start disputing it...

For one, you can certainly fix things on SO. (I hváve a third or a fifth of the power necessary to kill or resurrect and question.)

Further, moderators do not flag. That's utterly wrong. Moderators react to flags – and they mostly do nothing more.

And the place to challenge them is rather easy to find: it's on httP://meta.stackoverflow.com. Now, I am not saying that all your problems would be solved when you post there (nor even indeed that I would agree with you that they are problems), but if you've been around for as long as you seem to imply and you still haven't found meta, then I will have to presume that there must be something wrong – on your end.

Also, there already is a place to make all those discussions, and you can even do them in realtime. It's the SO chat, and it's been there for years, with a link to it from every single page. (Note: Chatrooms are generally more relaxed than SO proper, but that doesn't mean they'll all be what you want them to be. Many of the older ones have acquired quite their own culture, and if you happen to burst through the door and trample over that, you might find yourself among a group of people who resent you having come in.)

Finally, there is not close-reason "not constructive" anymore. It's gone.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am the first to admit that some things are in dire need of improvement on SO, and it has turned me off enough that I likely haven't even given a dozen answers last year. But any critique should still be well-founded, or it will be ill-received.

Most of what you say here is just nonsense.

1. In the vast majority of cases, if you see something not right on Stack Overflow you can fix it yourself. Anyone at all, regardless of reputation, can suggest an edit to any post.

2. You can challenge moderator decisions on Meta Stack Overflow, which is linked at the top of every single page on the site. (Or, if you have enough reputation, you can just vote counter to most moderator decisions directly on the site. It is democratic.)

3. There are over 1,600 questions about security with sessions in PHP on Stack Overflow. http://stackoverflow.com/search?q=[php]+security+sessions+is...

3. There are over 1,600 questions about security with sessions in PHP on Stack Overflow. http://stackoverflow.com/search?q=[php]+security+sessions+is....

Yep, and the top search result (with the most upvotes) is locked. QED.

WTF? Why is it locked? And it has 127 upvotes and 141 favorites. You can't upvote anymore, but you can click the favorites icon, so I'm sure the upvotes would be way higher.

Right below the word "locked" it gives the reason why. The help center explains more.


> Right below the word "locked" it gives the reason why.

You mean this very illuminating blurb: > "it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site"

Here is the question: "What are some guidelines for maintaining responsible session security with PHP?"

That just means you can't post new answers to that particular question. You can still post new questions about security with sessions in PHP. There are over 1600 others there as evidence. QED.

I have top disagree on point 2. One a question is deleted by a moderator you can only bring it up in meta. You can't vote to undelete anymore (maybe other moderators can?). For anyone who has powers gained through the points, mod's deletion is final.

And that's sometimes very annoying since those deletions require only one person. No voting, no double checking. Delete-happy mods can definitely abuse it.

Whereas a "delete-happy" mod can abuse their power, another reasonable mod can just as easily reverse it.

As far as mods that tend to be trigger happy, they can be filtered out since mods are elected by the user base. Technically, you can choose who you want spending their waking hours going over questions and filtering out what shouldn't be there.

That's why I said you can vote counter to most moderator decisions. That's the one thing that only another moderator (or employees of Stack Exchange, who oversee moderators) can reverse. And no, "delete happy" mods cannot abuse it. There is oversight by other moderators and the Community Team at SE.

I've seen enough questions killed that way that yes - I consider it easy to abuse. It happens all the time but if it happens to someone else's question it's not worth my time/energy to raise the issue on meta. The lack of balance here is what makes it really annoying to fight.

If there were no mods with decisive power and it was completely up to be controlled by the common population (including people who sign up with multiple accounts), how does that help? How does multiplying the amount of people with power make it less annoying to fight an issue?

> people who sign up with multiple accounts

Reputation thresholds minimize this problem to begin with. Any remaining problem could be largely eradicated by focusing enforcement efforts on those people instead of exercising hypocritical control over what content the community is permitted to deem worthy.

It would be interesting to see exactly what number of the community actually wants discussion posts and how many don't. Currently it is the community that votes to put a post "On Hold" before a mod comes around and verifies that it is a legit post that should be "closed." It is brought to their attention by the community who do not want it there. (And not just high rep members of the community.)

It's not abuse if moderators are deleting questions that don't belong on the site to begin with. If you don't care strongly enough to raise the issue, perhaps the question was rightfully deleted after all.

I'd prefer they just closed them. There's a difference. Also if I disagree with community moderation I can say so or vote for the reverse action. Not so with diamond mods.

It's also a community site, not my job. Even if I care a lot, dealing with meta is not worth it in most cases. I look through the close votes whenever I have spare time, and would appreciate if other decisions were also taken in the open rather than by one person who may be especially grumpy that day.

I'm not arguing about contents of the questions - some are stupid and deserve closing/deletion. Just want to make sure those decisions are always reasonable, accepted and possible to revert.

Most closed questions are just closed, not deleted.

Yes, you absolutely can disagree with and even reverse actions taken by diamond moderators.

> "2. You can challenge moderator decisions on Meta Stack Overflow, which is linked at the top of every single page on the site. (Or, if you have enough reputation, you can just vote counter to most moderator decisions directly on the site. It is democratic.)"

I had done that before, but it is not helpful nor democratic. For example I posted about a question I answered and that was closed as not a real question. Even when the issue was addressed, and it was accepted that the reason of closure didn't really apply to this case, it was reopened for a few minutes and then closed again for the same (invalid) reason.

At the end you can challenge whatever you want but the moderators that closed it on the beginning can close it again as many times as they want. They actually said that SO is not interested on generating new content since they already have a lot, so they will be really picky about what they consider a "good" question

Have a link to that last statement? I can't imagine someone saying that, considering how quickly technical content gets outdated.

I wanted to edit my entry but it seems like HN won't let you edit it after a little while. I read my entry again and I think my selection of words was poorly, yet the sentiment was the same. It was in a context were he was talking about lazyness on some questions in SO (which I agree)

Here is an extract of the comment in the question on meta:

" Small sites are starved for content. SO is not. I say we should be far more restrictive at this point. We would still help users, but by guiding them to where the answer is rather than once again spending the time to write it up, vote on it, etc. It's redundant. And that's for the good questions. The bad ones just have to go"

The thing is "good" and "bad" question are relative to the person who read. The question that I am talking about here might not be a high quality question, but still it didn't deserve to be closed as "not a real question" , if any it should just get downvoted.

This is the link to the meta:


NOTE: Something happening after I check that, it seems that the question was reopened once again after the last time I check it out. I might just delete all my comments on here then :/

Wow. This answer is chilling:

> I say anything short of perfection should be nuked. But that's my own personal extreme view. (Actually, that's not my extreme view. My extreme view is questions should be closed by default. Only opened upon review. And bad openings carry harsh consequences [loss of rights, re-earnable] for the voters.)

> The thing is "good" and "bad" question are relative to the person who read.

In the strictest sense, I suppose this is correct. However, the funny thing about language is that it's designed to be perceived in the same way by as many people as possible. That's the entire point of language. We elect moderators to exercise their judgement with regards to how a question will be perceived by most people, and I'd say they aren't usually wrong.

If your question was closed twice maybe it wasn't as relevant as you thought.

It wasn't my question, I was just the answerer. Truth be told, it appears open again right now, something happened after the last time I checked it.

In any case, low quality questions should be downvoted and not closed as "Not a real question", at least in this case it was a legitimate question and it didn't fix with the "Not a real question" criteria.

If you are curious, this was the question:


> They actually said that SO is not interested on generating new content since they already have a lot, so they will be really picky about what they consider a "good" question

No Stack Overflow moderator told you that.

Sorry, after read it again I realize I chose poorly my words to describe what this user said. I posted an extract of the comment in another entry, the context was that there are lazy people in SO (Something I am agreed with) and they should be more restrictive with what gets there. I don't have a problem with, my only concern is that some good answers are being lost in that restriction process.

Good luck with 2).

There is a thing called tyranny by majority and most of the people who post on meta are mods and have a very specific frame of mind.

If you don't like that a question was closed, flag to reopen (if you have over 2k rep I believe). If you don't understand why a questions was closed or feel a moderator is abusing powers, create a post on Meta and it will be dealt with. Then the voice of the users will overrule the moderator decision. Not that complicated, really..

I can't say I recognize the situations pictured in your rant.

Have you tried to do this?

Reopening usually never happens. Discussions in the comment section is totally useless and wasted time.

Discussions on Meta also just repeat that your question is not for SO.

Yes, I have. Reopening almost always happens if a question is wrongly closed when you get a few eyes on it from meta. So that removes the moderator-abuse part. Discussions in comments are of course useless, as it's only you there vs. those that closed the question. As I said, bring it to Meta.

If the discussion on Meta repeat that the question is not for SO, then those closing the question probably did the right thing. After all, Meta is the user's voting their opinions.

I've seen this happen many times.

Posting to Meta isn't obvious to anyone unfamiliar with SO/StackExchange.

Well, if people don't care to get familiar with the site (checking how others use it, reading the faq and rules), it's not weird if their questions get closed..

Thus creating a closed loop ecosystem that grows increasingly stale.

Requiring familiarization with a system before the power to change things is very very basic. Any open source project require it. I can't directly go and get a patch accepted into the kernel without familiarize myself with the project, the code, and the process of suggesting a patch. I can't request a youtube video to be deleted/undeleted without reading about youtubes process.

familiarization is the basic of the basic requirement for doing anything anywhere.

Information on how to contribute to the kernel--and most big open source projects--is readily available in multiple formats. This is the first I've heard that Stack Overflow has an appeal process.






The closest I found to an answer on SO was marked as a duplicate by several people with no link to the previous answer.

So the issue is not that people have to familiarize with the SO process, but rather that the SO process is badly documented.

Maybe a bit circular, but maybe someone should post on SO meta to improve the documentation?

The problem is that you have a complex and exclusionary process to begin with.

The comparison with open-source isn't apt; inclusion in the mainline of an open-source project affects every user of that project. Keeping code that does not fit with the goals of the project negatively impacts existing users of that project.

Not so for SO questions, or for Wikipedia pages; a page or question you never see, but contains useful information you don't personally think is notable (or "constructive"), costs you nothing to keep.

This is just the Wikipedia editorial/deletionist problem. Some people are more interested in enacting and enforcing process and community "norms".

Actually, SO IS like a real world democracy.

Real world democracy frequently end like this... it is a natural evolution of sorts of democracy, and this is known since democracy exists (there are greek texts about the theme)

Yes, and excellently stated. In any organization, power will be captured by those who are most interested in capturing power. Wikipedia and Stack Overflow are no exceptions.

I disliked S.O. for a long time, but the more I use it the better I like it. "The prisoner falls in love with his chains" as Dijkstra said. I only recently ran into the rogue moderator problem, in the Prolog section. If you don't know Prolog you really won't be able to tell whether there's enough information there or not. It's a real issue, and the appeal process is long and unpleasant.

The community becomes to big to be moderated like that. I've seen this happen back in the day for BBSes and the same happens still.

Hey there, Andrew here, I'm the OP.

I want to be clear that I have the greatest respect for Stack Overflow. I think there has been nothing ever that has increased programmer productivity more than Stack Overflow. (quoting wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Silver_Bullet) Fred Brooks said that "there is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order of magnitude [tenfold] improvement within a decade in productivity, in reliability, in simplicity." But Stack Overflow hadn't been born at that time. No language, operating system or compiler could ever have more impact on developer productivity than an effective global Q&A site for programmers - that's what Stack Overflow is and it is damn fine.

It's just that Stack Overflow would be diluted and weakened by allowing open ended discussion on software technology and development. People go to SO with questions for which they want a specific answer.

Not Constructive is intended to facilitate the valuable discussions about software that don't fit into that strict Q&A format. Not Constructive is for broader questions, and welcomes subjective opinion. It's not in conflict with SO, it's a complement to SO.

Please do sign up at http://signup.notconstructive.com if you're interested in hearing when we launch.

I'm glad to see there are people making an effort to have a place for water-cooler chat and extended discussion. I hope this works out, just as I hope Slant.co ( http://slant.co ) works out. Thanks for taking the time to launch something like this, and good luck in your endeavors.

It seems it's directly related to Stack Overflow but I wonder how both will be "connected"? Are you going to go to closed questions on SO and post a link to your website? Directly contacting authors of closed questions might also prove difficult since many users don't display their email address. Overall, I don't quite understand how it's going to work out. If there's no connection to SO (beside the questions being imported from there) then it's like any other forum.

There will be no direct connection with SO. Not Constructive is just a place to come to ask open ended questions about software development, where opinions and subjective answers are considered relevant and valid.

We won't be importing questions from SO.

How do you distinguish Not Constructive from Programmers.SE?

Programmers.SE originally took "not constructive" questions, but that turned out to be a mess, so they had to refine their scope multiple times until a viable model appeared. Now their scope is more or less "whiteboard" questions, which can be partially opinion based (just like almost every question on SO), but that is not the focus. The FAQ says:

    > Specific issues with software development, for instance:  
      - algorithm and data structure concepts  
      - testing and quality assurance  
      - development methodologies  
    > freelancing and business concerns  
    > software architecture, engineering, or licensing

if nc gets enough traction, the SO moderators may be able to provide an nc link when they close questions.

> No language, operating system or compiler could ever have more impact on developer productivity than an effective global Q&A site for programmers

Well that's just opinion. The text editor seems pretty important to me. Syntax coloring? Makefile?

Besides, how could one describe SO in a way that wouldn't include other sites just like it (Experts Exchange, etc)?

Can I ask how the site will work? I guess from other comments you've made here and the fact you haven't just grabbed an open source package and launched already that you have some specific plan on how this community will be structured?

We'll wait till launch for details.

What can I say? Like many people, I believe, I find the questions that have been closed, usually as "Not Constructive" to be the most helpful.

I don't understand Stack Overflow, but the weird negativity over there certainly keeps me from asking or answering questions there or at most of the stack exchange sites.

I actually like the strict style of Stack Overflow.

And i find the "Not Constructive" to be exactly that.

Yes, it can be annoying when a question is closed and you really wanted to discuss it, but the rules are quite clear on what is and is not classified as "Not Constructive", and the discussion should just move to some of the discussion threads instead.

And i don't know what you interpret as negativity? I have never seen unfair or non-objective use of moderator functions?

I spend a lot of time on that site, and like you I generally think the strict criteria are a net positive.

However, I'd just like to add that I've seen lots of abusive language and misuse of powers to close/put on hold. Flagging of unnecessarily negative/harsh language is not in general followed up, which basically means that it is encouraged.

Agreed, whenever I happen across a closed question, I always sit there and scratch my head "but that's a great question!". I think it's a similar phenomenon to the over deletionist problem on Wikipedia.

There's certainly questions on SO that should be moderated away, and WP articles that should be deleted. But there's so many of both kinds that are obviously genuinely good one has to wonder at the motivations of the people closing them.

A while back I started noting the times I came across a stack overflow link that I was interested in and then sad to see closed.

Here's the list:


Wow. This one pretty much has 7500 upvotes (counting favorites since they closed it). http://stackoverflow.com/questions/194812/list-of-freely-ava...

With 822,000 page views, I guess it wasn't hard to get 5 votes to close it.

That's confirmation bias - you "happen across" them when they're linked to from here

I happen across them multiple times a week via Google. When I was actually active on SO, I encountered them daily. This and the more general malevolent attitude of Stack Exchange toward the "community" they hypocritically champion is why I pretty much gave up on SO.

> whenever I happen across a closed question, I always sit there and scratch my head "but that's a great question!"

So you're saying that every question ever closed that you have seen, should not have been closed? Then I think SO's moderators and users are not the problem.

Or the moderators are just doing a bad job. I have the same experience as him.

Now you are jumping to conclusions.

It depends a while lot on your search skills I guess.

Am I? Read my quote, it's exactly what's being said.

No it's not. You even quoted me.

And exactly because of this perceived negativity, SO recently changed their close criteria - right now, "Not Constructive" is not even an option in "close" voting.

While the reason was changed ("Not Constructive" isn't very descriptive and not easy to understand), the criteria for closing based on "Not Constructive" stayed around, we just split it into two close reasons that both have narrow-er focus:

1. Too broad - There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.

2. primarily opinion-based - Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

These two close reasons capture the essence of what "Not Constructive" was meant to be, and are both much clearer to boot.

(Disclosure: I'm a diamond moderator on Stack Overflow: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/users/16587/george-stocker )

Expert opinion is useful; aka, constructive.

Primarily opinion-based questions are not welcome on Stack Exchange sites. By all means, use notconstructive.com for all of the subjective questions--and consequentially noisy answers--that your heart desires to read and ask.

> Primarily opinion-based questions are not welcome on Stack Exchange sites.

Yes, we know. Even the SE site created with such questions in mind was screwed over by Atwood's unilateral meddling.

You've mistaken disagreement for ignorance.

Well, if you disagree, then you're welcome to instead use notconstructive.com once it's up and running.

"Primarily Opinion Based" is the new "Not Constructive"

definitely a step in the right direction. it can seem heavy handed when a question is closed. giving clear reasons and rules why is good thing

Worse, when a moderator closes a topic, it stays closed, even when they're wrong. I recently asked a question, but moderators misunderstood my question so they closed it as offtopic. I explained my question in more detail, and it should have been apparently that it is clearly on-topic, but they didn't do anything about it.

I see this happening in a few comments, so I'll address it here (Full disclosure: I'm a (diamond) moderator on Stack Overflow).

Whether your question is closed by a diamond moderator, or by the community, it can be re-opened with five community votes (or another moderator stepping in an re-opening it, which happens).

If your question is deleted by the community, it can be undeleted by the community. The only time a question cannot be undeleted by the community is when it's deleted by a moderator.

There's a difference between moderators, and community moderation. I see people using the word 'moderator' when they mean that five members of the community closed their question, and this isn't really correct (it makes it seem like a band of 12 people runs Stack Overflow, which is the furthest thing from the truth).

In your particular case, if you improve your question to address why it was closed, it will automatically be placed into the review queue to be re-opened. If five members of the community agree, it will be re-opened. If it still doesn't get re-opened, you can always open a meta question about it ( http://meta.stackoverflow.com ).

I wanted to address this because it's incorrect to say, "When a moderator closes a topic, it stays closed." That's just not the case.

If you link me to the question, I'll be happy to take a look at it and re-open it if it should be re-opened.

I think that the single-person deletion allowed to mods is a big mistake. It's hard to correct and can be handed or really randomly. For example look at question 2380148 on SO. Years old, both question and answer have 10+ votes, there were other people both commenting and answering... But some one mod decided to delete, so it's gone. (He lost the diamond since then so now I can vote against it - it was not possible originally)

The post was closed because it is obviously off-topic as stated in the FAQ. We've recently implemented a substantial overhaul of the closing mechanisms, and so you'll see on that question (http://stackoverflow.com/q/2380148) that there is now a close reason that is very specific:

  "Questions asking us to recommend or find a tool, library or favorite off-site resource
  are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract 
  opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem 
  and what has been done so far to solve it." – George Stocker
The question is still there and is still helpful to anyone who happens to land on it from some search; it just cant' be contributed to anymore unless the question is edited to raise its quality and the community reopens it (it doesn't take a diamond-mod to reopen). I can't tell that it was ever deleted, although it could be that a status change was backfilled after the flags updates.

It was not closed. It was deleted. Will was a diamond mod at the time he did it. After posting this message I voted to undelete which is probably why it was just closed by the time you got to it.

But doesn't that illustrate the problem enough? You don't see the history, mod's actions are unknown now. I agree that it can be closed according to the current rules. I was talking only about the deletion.

It's a very frustrating site. I take the time to carefully write up a question, and many things can happen to that.

  * it doesn't get answered
  * it gets closed pretty quickly (and usually in an offputting insulting manner)
  * it gets changed(!) and a question I didn't ask gets answered
I suspect there's a lot of frustrated wikipedians taking it out on Stack Exchange.

I have had similar experiences.

Generally speaking if I'm going to take the time to write a question on SO it's because I can not find the answer already, only to have that question not answered, or worse edited beyond the questions original intent.

Yeah, I've asked questions and found within 5 mins people are rushing in to change the wording and tags and so on. Pity they do not spend more time finding answers.

When the vibe turns to over-moderation I.E. strict enforcement to the point human beings are forced to act as functions with predictable output, it's tedious, Not Constructive (ironically) and overall unpleasant to even browse let alone ask questions.

reddit's AskScience[1] also suffered this fate.

[1] http://www.reddit.com/r/askscience

The problem with community startups is that the community drives the direction of the startup as much as the company.

Companies can either choose to let the community go in whichever direction they want or they can step in and shepherd the community in the direction they want the business to go in.

Apple does this when pick the kind of apps they'll allow in their store, Stack does this with the kind of questions they allow and Etsy does this with the kind of items they allow to be sold.

Allowing the community to follow a natural path isn't without risk, especially as it's often the people at the edge of the community who end up driving the overall community.

For example look at how having at how adoption of Loopt in the gay pickup community affected it's ability to grow as a more general purpose social network or more recently the impact the Indian population is having on Quora.

it used to be way better some time ago, when it just launched. people posted fun questions, played code golf, etc.

I stopped seeding after politcorrectness nazis were chasing me because of swear word I used (shouldn't be too much to ask for - Microsoft has done much worse to me). now I'm just a leech there.

People still play code golf. It's just now on it's own site.


What's the point submitting project that hasn't launched?

Not to mention there is http://programmers.stackexchange.com which is exactly "a place for the discussions not allowed on Stack Overflow" so really, what's the point?

> What's the point submitting project that hasn't launched?

I agree; it would be nicer if they finished at least an MVP before launching.

> Not to mention there is http://programmers.stackexchange.com (...)

AFAIR it also has some track record of killing interesting and valuable discussions, so actually I think this product is a great idea.

If it were we'd see "moved to programmers.stackexchange.com" instead of "closed as not constructive".

Testing the waters, getting valuable feedback, starting a conversation. What's the point of working on such a project if nobody is interested?

So true. I have launched many projects to the sound of chirping crickets. There's a great deal to be said for building the momentum in advance of opening the doors.

This was the original ill-fated purpose of programmers. from a few years ago. It's changed since.

what made it change?

Seems like they're following lean principles. I have no problem with them seeing what the interest is before they start coding. Seems smart to me.

Who among us has not googled a problem, found the top hit at Stack Overflow, got our solution, and noticed also that the question was closed as not-something?

IMHO the whole thing can be handled by upvotes (as HN demonstrates, you don't even need downvotes)

Can you give some examples?

My experience has been slightly different. I have often found stackoverflow questions (closed as NC or NaRQ) from google searches and thought "This is interesting, but I would be embarrassed if my boss saw me reading it."


I detest stack exchange sites with a peculiar passion (I'm usually pretty relaxed about most things). Seeing incredibly useful and important questions closed for this very reason, and others mutilated by "gods" who have the right to alter questions as they see fit fills me with rage. I only end up on SO as a result of a google search, and I haven't bothered contributing for years.

Even worse is superuser ~ a couple of down voted questions and comments and you get banned for life, with no recourse. I don't know what kind of Nazis run that shop.

My 2c * avoid badges/karma/superpowers. It just creates an ego cult that is responsible for much of the problem. Wikipedia has this problem with elitist editors who think consensus amongst themselves trumps wikipedia's own rules. * Have a system of encouragement to improve poorly worded or duplicate questions. But any changes/closes/holds must be approved by the question owner. * Maybe think of a different name for the launch site. I'm not sure its possible to "reclaim" a word with so many bad memories attached.

I feel like Discourse (http://www.discourse.org/) would have been a good fit for a site like this.

Isn't the from the same creator? You can imagine the same bad moderation practices that squelch useful discussion will be baked in an encouraged.

SO is a community, Discourse is a platform.

> Not Constructive is the place for open, subjective, opinionated, extended discussion about software development.


Quora is a walled garden (behind FB) which I sincerely hope this won't end up as.

And you must be "at least 13 years old". Unchecked that bullshit just to see what would happen and I got a notice, that I won't be able to retry till tomorrow. Impressive.

I'm curious about that checkbox. The whole reason for it, I'm guessing, is because of COPPA ( Children's Online Privacy Protection Act), but then that applies only when you collect a significant amount of personal information from someone 13 or younger and/or directing them to behave a certain way.

Which leads the question, why would Quora need that much information about me in the first place? I don't recall getting an "I'm over 13" checkbox when I signed up for HN and we're ostensibly doing the same thing: Discussing.

The same is true for most sites, even Stack Exchange, because of COPPA as mentioned below. If you mention openly anywhere that you're below 13, moderators are obliged to delete your account (since they can't keep your personal information)

> Subscriber certifies to Stack Exchange that Subscriber is an individual (i.e., not a corporate entity) at least 13 years of age. No one under the age of 13 may provide any personal information to or on Stack Exchange (including, for example, a name, address, telephone number or email address).

- http://stackexchange.com/legal

Quora is much broader in its scope and also has usage restrictions that make it basically useless.

It's doing great at increasing smug.

Judging by the points by time by rank in the front page, I 'd say this has some flags. Which would be a shame, as that kind of censure is exactly what the site is against.

Every time there is any criticism of SO here, however constructive, the flaggers come out in force :(

I suspect the flags are more likely because the title implies that there will be a discussion site, as opposed to just a launch page.

Can you explain what "points by time by rank in the front page" means please?

This post right now has 130pts after 3 hours. And its way below 3 hour stories with 50pts on the front page.

Background from 2011: "Why does Stack Overflow sometimes seem so eager to close “off-topic” that happen to be VERY relevant to the programming community?"


I do generally like Stack's focus because I know exactly what I'll find when I get there: super-smart and helpful users (even if I do sometimes have questions beyond its scope).

The problem is that the ideal place to host these discussions is... Stack Overflow.

Their policy on open questions is dead wrong.

No, it's not. They have a clear purpose: they want the site to be useful. The definitive go-to site for programmers that have a question they need answered in a way that solves their problem.

Lengthy discussions can be interesting, but they don't solve problems. They're not useful. Therefore, Stack Overflow is not the right place for them.

Actually they even have a place for discussions: a chat feature that can be linked to from any question.

"They have a clear purpose: they want the site to be useful"

Hmmm, you might want to re-think that one. I can't see how 200,000 questions(and answers) about how to do a for-loop in python(or insert here your fav language) is considered useful.

Don't try to sell me the "report as duplicate" functionality. It is rarely(compared to the content) used. And the reason is simple, look at the people who answer these questions! Some have a reputation in the hundred thousands. Rep farming at work!

SO is a great tool, but I think it's prime time is well behind us. Right now it has become a substitute for Google, by Javascript(mostly) kiddies, that somehow can't find the time to google their trivial questions - let alone read the documentation.

IMO unless they begin to "punish" such behavior, the quality of SO will continue to decline and people like me will begin to distance themselves even more, from this excellent(at some point) site.

EDIT: typo

> And the reason is simple, look at the people who answer these questions! Some have a reputation in the hundreds. Rep farming at work!

I was confused by this statement. Doesn't a reputation in the hundreds put you distinctively in the lower end of reasonably active users?

You'll need to go page 1300 or so before you see users with three-digit rep: http://stackoverflow.com/users?tab=reputation&filter=all

True. I meant hundred thousands! Sorry.

It is interesting that you think "report as duplicate" is rarely used. It seems to me that it is very often used. In fact, it seems that it is at times used more liberally than it should be on questions that aren't really duplicates.

As I said, rarely relatively to the duplicate content. Liberally? Definitely not! Most people(which is understandable, I guess) don't want to lose the opportunity to gain some more rep, even if they know that the question has been already answered a thousand times. I am most active in the `python` tag. At least there, I could list way too many examples.

Oftentimes where I've seen duplicated content marked, the question suggested doesn't adequately or fully answer the new question, which may have an advanced or updated (or just different but valuable) slant.

Keeping only the first iteration of a question is seriously detrimental to SE.

I agree completely with what you say. Unfortunately you're talking about something completely different.

I'm not talking about all the instances of posts that get marked as duplicate, neither about those that are marked as duplicate when they shouldn't.

I am talking about those that should be marked, because for all intents and purposes are identical to a thousand other answers, but unfortunately they don't get treated as such.

The reason? Reputation farming plain and simple. It's not even something that's controversial. It's happening all the time and many people like me, voice their opinions, instead of seeking reputation points. That's all.

I have a favorite screw driver. On occasion, I use the back of it as a hammer and it works quite well in that capacity on some jobs.

The lengthy discussions have not only been interesting, they've often given me a swath of new ideas and approaches to a problem I haven't previously considered. Human brains don't function in binary and often move to ternary or quaternary switching or more to yield to a better result.

SO's conformity has a hopelessly awkward enforcement that is both unnatural for human beings and, is ultimately, Not Constructive. That's not my opinion; as the commenters on this thread have repeatedly shown, it's empirically observed fact.

Programming (hell, technology in generally) should be humane as they (should) ultimately serve humans and is advanced by humans. I refuse to not act like one.

>Lengthy discussions can be interesting, but they don't solve problems.

The problem is that SE's criterion for a "lengthy discussion" is so moronically short that valuable and constructive questions are getting killed off. I echo the sentiment elsewhere in this thread that I have many a time had a question answered in a thread marked as "not constructive".

It's downright wrong and insulting.

Their philosophy is that some people are better suited to judge usefulness than others. They apparently believe that a one-developer, one-vote system would not judge such questions "correctly."

> They apparently believe that a one-developer, one-vote system would not judge such questions "correctly."

I find this dichotomy fascinating.

They do a fair job of justifying that democratic voting doesn't generally identify useful questions, but then again the site's main feature is a one-person, one-vote system.

>Lengthy discussions can be interesting, but they don't solve problems. They're not useful.

Eh? Discussions between experts is exactly how difficult problems are typically solved, in reality.

Not in the reality I live in. Typically, difficult problems are solved by one expert sitting down and doing some hard work. They may ask others about specific points, but certainly not the kind of thing that gets closed as "not constructive" on SO (or used to, the system has recently changed) - things like "What's better for webapps, Python or Java?", "Do student projects influence job prospects?" or "Should I go back to academia?"

I agree with you that certain hard work is best done by one person, if we're talking considering problems with computationally deterministic solutions to be difficult (and ignoring 'standing on the shoulders of giants' effect) then you're probably right.

But, for the majority of difficult problems which don't have single fixed solutions, i.e. real-world problems, I wouldn't give a single expert working in isolation the time of day.

(The questions you suggest are straw men. I'll only say that I wouldn't want to see those on SE either, but I don't consider those are the style of questions under discussion here.)

Ha! Useful seems to be their main criteria for closing questions.

Haha, I've joked with a few people there needs to be a 'CrapOverflow' as a sort of cesspit of programming 'debate' so it's good to see someone following through. (Funnily enough, I just checked and Stack Exchange owns crapoverflow.com :-))

Hopefully it's not a cesspit, rather a good place to ask questions such as "which language is best for building applications such as...etc" or "which is the best of the current crop of JavaScript MVC frameworks in late 2012" or other stuff that isn't strictly technical questions with well defined technical answers.

Honest question - do you genuinely believe someone (or a group of people) without 100% understanding of your project will be able to definitively tell you what language/framework is best for building your application? These types of subjects have been debated to death with the general conclusion ending up with "use the tool you are most comfortable with".

Honest question - do you genuinely believe someone (or a group of people) without 100% understanding of your project will be able to definitively tell you what language/framework is best for building your application?

Not the person you were replying to, but here's my take:

No, of course not. But that's not the point. The value is in the discussion and the process, not in any one answer. When you ask a question like that, you don't expect one conclusive answer... you expect many answers, debate, back and forth, and illumination of the pros and cons of various options embedded in that debate. Then you make a decision where you combine your own knowledge / biases / experiences with what you gleaned from the aforementioned discussion.

These types of subjects have been debated to death with the general conclusion ending up with "use the tool you are most comfortable with".

The "conclusion" of the discussion itself is irrelevant. The conclusions that matter are the ultimate conclusions made by the many readers of / participants in, the discussion.

There's value in the debate. Doesn't mean there will be a "right" answer, but there will be valuable information coming out of the discussion.

Interesting choice of questions.

Neither of which have an answer. Unless you want to discuss the fine details of the problem. In which case I'll hire your site to do the architecture for free next time I have a major project.

Questions like that aren't unanswerable. They are however unanswerable without knowing a lot about your specific case (requirements, skills, staff, infrastructure, etc). So they tend not to be QA because they either get surface treatment (leading people to make bad decisions on partial information) or they lead to abuse (people taking advantage of it).

Questions like that aren't unanswerable.

If by "answerable" you mean "have one, and one one, unique, correct, objectively verifiable answer, which can be determined using only the provided information". But this kind of definition of "answerable", while fairly close to what SO uses, is overly rigid and eliminates the potential of a lot of valid, useful, and insightful discussion and commentary.

I understand where SO are coming from in having such a rigid definition of "answerable", and it's their site and they can run it however they see fit. But I see no reason to maintain, in the broader sense, that a Q&A site can't adopt a different position, which recognizes that the value of many questions is not in finding one, and one one, unique, correct, and objectively verifiable answer, but is rather in the discussion itself.

So I guess what I'm saying is... SO has it's place, but a similar site that uses a different model also has it's place. IOW, the SO model is not the one and only valid model for a technical Q&A site.

Stack Overflow blog entry on why they stopped using "Not Constructive" http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2013/06/the-war-of-the-closes/

This is a great idea. I think. There's not much to go on from the minimal page.

Please would you consider changing the font colour for the email registration box? The text was very pale, and so it was very low contrast.

May I ask how moderation is going to be handled? Is there going to be some form of user voting?

What will you do with obvious trolls? Some people like engaging with trolls, and that can be harmful to the site.

How are you going to handle the 'hot button' topics that attract inflammatory responses?

We're hoping people might choose to become moderators. We really don't want a nasty negative trollfest. The idea is not to allow open ended mud slinging matches. Rather to allow discussion about topics that aren't strict questions with one valid answer. Free flowing discussion about software technology and software development.

No one here has mentioned Slant? I think it solves a similar problem quite well http://www.slant.co/

+1! Slant.co works great because many "not constructive" questions are on the format "which alternative among $x is best for $y?" However, the site seem to be lacking in polish. For example, it doesn't remember your login and the procedure for updating and commenting on viewpoints is convoluted. Plus, there is no timestamps anywhere so it's hard to see what is going on on the site. Stackoverflow is much better from a usability perspective.

I was about to post the same thing. I think Slant is exactly the platform we're talking about here and it's already good to go!

I recently submitted a question to unix.stackexchange, and the next day (after it had been answered) a moderator came along and "improved" the layout of my question. Objectively the result was no worse than my original, and perhaps it was indeed better, but I can't help feeling like my private space was violated by that.

Your questions and answers aren't really "yours" on SE. That's the way it works. A bit unusual, but nothing wrong per se. Like Wikipedia, but that you still get credit for what you started.

I see this complaint an awful lot considering Stack Exchange literally tells you to go somewhere else if you feel that way: http://unix.stackexchange.com/help/editing

Tome, I've had the same thing happen, but I chalk it up to simply the way the site works, which I knew upfront. Occasionally, however, the "help" in refining my question isn't that helpful...

I have experienced that many of the questions I am most interested in are closed as "Not Constructive", seemingly to fulfill some artistic vision of the moderators and how they would like to "architect" the community. Very frustrating.

I also had a situation where I found a bug in some Python code on an accepted SO answer, submitted an edit, and had my fix repeatedly rejected by moderators. I tracked down one of the moderators' email and asked him about it, found out that he does not know Python and that he rejected my edit because it was already an accepted answer so why should I edit it? ...? In the end, after I persuaded him that my fix was helpful by getting other developers to testify that the existing code was broken and the fix fixed it...he posted my edit as his own and took credit for it.

ITT: wah, wah, StackOverflow doesn't work the way I want it to. I'm right and the mods are wrong.

If you don't like StackOverflow, go somewhere else. SO is successful because it has rules and boundaries. "Everything goes" just does not work well in online communities.

Isn't this is project an effort to make that somewhere else.

Sure is, but there's not a whole lot you can say about a sign up page. Let me know once the project has launched... then we can have a discussion on how this site actually works (or doesn't, as the case may be).

My bet is that the site won't form a community and take off unless they put in some rules and boundaries. Then the complaining will start, and we'll come full circle.

It's funny, "Not Constructive" doesn't exist any more as a reason for closing.

Great idea. Imagine seeing this on HackerNews posts, or reddit, etc., even popular posts that got plenty of upvotes and had substantial discussions going on:

"As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question."

I was thinking about building this just yesterdaynight!

Coincidentally a community I used to really like is being flooded by noobs and trolls in the past few months, that was the actual trigger. I was thinking of creating a community that was more like a combination of Stackoverflow, Hackernews, and a few older members of that other community.

Anyway, it's funny how often things I thought of appear right the next day. I'm sure it's just coincidence or some other illusion, but it happens pretty regularly.

Link is just a crappy sign up page, but I agree with the vast majority of comments here that some really great questions that would have been useful to me have been closed. So good to see some competition coming up!

As an experienced Android developer, for example, most of the questions I see that aren't closed are simple things answered by the docs. The things I see that are closed are things I actually myself have trouble with, like which monetization solution to go with.

Well I signed up immediately. In the last 4 weeks alone, every single one of my posts on any of the stackexchange sites have been marked as "not helpful" , "not constructive" etc.

I ask a simple question regards a web app, and i thought it was a genuine and innocent enough question and it got closed. The watchman culture is a little too rampant now.

I'm glad this service exists and to learn that i'm not the only person affected by it.

Looking forward to the final product.

Get ready for heavy traffic. I have a search filter on SO for thread with a handy amount of votes that have been closed, mods are crazy on that site.

Interesting idea, and even better name.

Another option is BOTHSIDER.COM (http://bothsider.com).

Tweet-sized opinions on both sides of any issue, including "not constructive" Stack issues.

We are up and running right now!

Disclosure: I'm a Bothsider Founder/CEO

...or you could've started a new community here:


- wouldn't waste our time looking at yet another sign-up dummy page.

Good about time. The number of times where I have a what technologies should I use do thing X kind of question and there isn't anywhere good to ask.

Might be worth looking at OSQA as platform.

I assumed this was what quora was for. But let's see how this matches up? If this just a clone then probably its going to have a hard time.

Quora is bad at/does not specialize in answers involving code/math.

Small nitpick but you don't need the coma after "trolling" and you have the conjunctive "or" after that.

Might as well 301 to news.ycombinator.com

Oh dear good watching all the pro SO shills leap out in defence of their kingdom is making my eyes bleed. Please, please go back home.

Yes, everyone who disagrees with you should just go away. HN is not a place for two-sided discussion!

You would make a great Stack Overflow moderator.

Nice strawman...let me guess you vote left?

That's not what a strawman is.

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