I feel like a lot of the closing of niche questions these days comes from the chat communities. (By "chat", I mean: http://chat.stackoverflow.com/)
There's a huge rash of "cv-pls" in the chat rooms. I don't have a problem with it in general, but the culture around it has become rather toxic. It effectively gives anyone there an automatic close hammer. Furthermore, it's not the current "dupehammer", but a close hammer for any reason, as you can pretty instantly get 5 votes to close.
Somehow, every question involving anything than popular web frameworks is apt to be closed as "too localized".
I can't count the number of times I've been in the middle of answering an admittedly niche, but well-phrased and on-topic question, when it's closed before I can answer. The source of the sudden rash of close votes? Almost always a "cv-pls" in relevant tag's chat room.
I usually (always) search google for my problem de jour. And frequently (enough so I remember) the first stackoverflow result is my exact question... but closed. Probably happens once or twice a month, and usually on something "thorny" (i.e. no clear cut answer... so "primarily opinion based" answers are fine... I can compare the top voted answers and decide for myself).
More seriously though, Stack Exchanges platform isn't designed to handle opinion polls and endless discussions. You might want to consider asking the question on a site geared to opinions and discussions such as quora or reddit.
They crafted a particular question/answer and submitted and vote brigaded it everywhere. They were quite obvious and denied everything when confronted. After pointing out the obvious ring (same people pushing the same link with similar comments on all sites) they ganged up on me and sent me horrible private messages.
This pissed me off and I overreacted, exactly what they wanted... After cooling down, I went to their chat rooms to apologize for my angry replies language and removed comments on reddit. But they never, ever accepted they did any wrongdoing and pat themselves in the back. Oh, and never apologized for their harassment that triggered me in the first place.
This is why SO, reddit, HN are slowly getting long time users disenchanted. If you are not part of some virtual gang you are just meat, like a ghetto.
Can't speak for reddit but I think HN is quite much better than SO. Specifically it seems:
* somehow grasping the house rules seems to be easier for people here than on SO. This might be because HN attracts another audience though, I don't know for sure.
* maybe because redditism and stupidity is mostly downvoted swiftly?
* spam and politics is dealt with before it hits the front page
* but contrary to SO moderators the ones on HN don't seem to get a kick out of finding something, anything that can be banned with the correct reading of the guidelines
I sometimes see what I consider to be abuse of downvotes but 1.) it doesn't seem to be rings and 2.) downvote abuse is very often corrected by the rest of the members.
I used to come here several times a day, submit stories, try to add interesting comments to discussion (even playing devil's advocate). Now I mostly just skim the front page on slow days and get sad on how concentrated the opinions get.
For at least some of these topics, Occam's Razor suggests it's the bias that's stinging you, not gamesmanship. What plausible gaming could be at work on behalf of Bill Gates?
For others, I have a really hard time believing that the gamesmanship has the directionality you think it does. NSA stories, for instance, have enormous support on HN. It is draining to express any skepticism on those stories at all. They also seem to be continually bolted to the top of the front page.
There were many HN stories promoting that place for a good while. But when things go sour HN looks the other way.
Dropbox problem story first moved below the fold, then deleted.
Those are just 2 examples. I'm not all day on the site, so I very likely miss most of these cases. This is just a tip of an iceberg.
Interesting. I usually find the mix that hits the front page about perfect.
A few times I have seen what I consider interesting topics being flagged of after an initial boost but I can live with that, I guess unlike me quite a few people are fed up after the nth discussion about open floor plans and I can live with that.
Google and Facebook get a lot of flack here (and some support). Gates has his defenders and detractors (I heavily criticise his business practices, I'm modestly approving of his philanthropy), and there are numerous NSA stories.
What you likely don't see is how many stories total simply fall off the submissions page. I check it every so often -- perhaps several times a week, perhaps only every few weeks. But there's a lot of inflow and much of it sinks. That's typical of any curated site. An editor's job is to say "no". Hopefully their accuracy in doing this is better than random.
As sites grow in popularity, if the front page keeps the same capacity, any given submission's odds will fall. reddit's answer was subreddits -- there are now well over a half million: http://redditmetrics.com/history
HN's going to have to resolve this conflict somehow eventually.
When the house rules include not saying "Thank you" your going to see a race to the bottom in terms of human kindness.
My issue is that SO is a dominating first-hit for lots of technical questions, and that by setting themselves into that position they kind of owe it to the community to make sure they don't have jerks (via voting rings or any such analogue) screwing up the quality of their results.
For example, I've searched for "what is the best x for y?" or "what are the tradeoffs for x vs y", and had even (a long time ago) contributed answers to similar questions in their game development exchange--however, they (or their users) have decided that there is no value whatsoever in fielding questions of that variety.
> What you really need are more voters voting. Not sure how you get there, though.
I guess a whole lot of the people who could have helped you left long ago because of your fellow moderators. A reasonable first step would be by adjusting the attitude.
Maybe part of the problem is we just don't see all those "primarily opinion based" and "ugly discussions" questions that seems to be oh such a serious problem.
We definitely see a whole lot of the most useful questions closed, often for technicalities. It doesn't exactly encourage participation, does it?
HN somehow seems to be better at dealing with the problems without scaring good community members away. Of course HN has issues as well but so far the moderation team is doing a very good job of keeping politics and promotion away while leaving to the broader community to vote if something is interesting or not.
The problem with discussion boards is that it is absolutely painful to dig through a post until you stumble on a solution, and even then, you're in no way sure it's a good solution.
They need to harness that opinion/discussion/off-topic-subject energy in a way that doesn't work against their strategy. I think they are losing a lot of opportunity along the way.
I totally agree. This manifests itself in the worst way at http://programmers.stackexchange.com/. Or at least it did when I bothered with that site at all.
Or maybe, as I have already answered ircmaxell, Stack Overflow could raise the bar for asking questions ever so slightly from being the one thing you can do without rep?
If torrents of new users asking stupid questions are the biggest problem on the site this seems like a first obvious step.
It just would not be worth any new users time, especially given that when a user wants a question answered, it tends be slightly time sensitive.
One can easily overcome that with ten skillful edits, 2 upvotes (or 1 upvote and an accept) on an answer, or 4 upvotes on a question (20 rep is required for chat).
It's fairly easy for an individual to get into the chat, if they want.
That barrier does keep spammers from flooding the chat, though. And if you consider it an interview process, that's what the earning of reputation points accomplishes, and I'd argue it does so rather elegantly.
Are there any [lang] libraries that are backings for the [service] API?
I stopped myself before going to SO because I knew that topic would get closed within seconds and I'd comments berating me for asking the wrong question.
For the most part the only use I've gotten from SO has been from basic questions when I'm starting out with a language/tool/library. I haven't found it very useful for complex problems.
Oh well. I've written about my rants on SO before. [I won't link here but it is in my submission history]
Perhaps there is a particular way that SO should be searched? The recursive irony is both amusing and annoying: doing a google search, coming to an SO answer where a commenter rants "why don't you spend a few seconds with Google."
Do you notice that all the questions in the result are tagged both java and oauth?
monksy didn't say which particular languages and services he's interested in (the male pronoun seems safe in his case) but I venture to guess that if suitable libraries do exist, then there'll be SO questions about them already and they're easy to find.
This is explicitly listed as off-topic:
Questions asking us to recommend or find a book, tool, "software library, tutorial or other 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."
Maybe that's just me, because if there ever is a question with one correct technical answer, it's easy to figure out on your own. The things I want to interact with a human to figure out are universally to do with historical reasons for things, ergonomic choices, and opinions on quality. I want a smart person with strong opinions, not a politically correct karma grinder who can type quickly.
It's hard to find many articles about it anymore, but I did find this from 2007: http://grouplens.org/wikipedia-quality-over-quantity/
I also don't contribute much to SO, or to any SE properties, despite being on the early public beta. (remember the signup as a google spreadhseet). I'm ID 479 on SO.
Update, not the ones I was thinking of but a good read.
HBS Cases: How Wikipedia Works (or Doesn't)
Gwern has a fairly thorough elegy for the (now dead) inclusionist beliefs: http://www.gwern.net/In%20Defense%20Of%20Inclusionism.
I have given up though.
Meanwhile, nobody at the top cares because Jeff has moved on and everyone else just cares about site traffic and ad revenue (or at least that's my impression).
The reality is that good Q&A takes a fair bit of discipline to get right, and that means rules and standards. This rubs some people the wrong way, but it is the ONLY way to achieve reliable, sustainable, long term quality.
If you have specific examples of where things went wrong in a question, take it to meta and discuss it so that the community can adapt and change. That is how community works, and Stack is a democracy in that sense -- anyone can provide evidence and push for change.
(warning, though, scroll down in the comments here to see an example that turned out to be an anti-example when examined closely. A lot of times people just complain when they don't like rules, and the rules don't favor their personal needs versus the needs of the community or the greater Internet)
Any community is a sieve. It takes effort to join and the more you get involved the more time and effort it consumes and at every step someone gives up and drops out. The meta subsite is not easy to stumble into, very few people will have any questions to ask there and very few will have a good answer to contribute so it takes a lot of effort to get there. That means that the crowd that hangs out in meta will be very different from the bulk of SO/SE.
Several meta discussions were linked by ircmaxell above and another was posted in the r/programming discussion - http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/286299/closing-quest... - so let's take a look: those of questions that are expressing disagreement with how things are run (that cv-pls is a bad idea and that often questions are closed when they shouldn't) are currently at -20, -14, -24 and -13 points. But let's ignore the votes and look at the answers: the absolutely overwhelming consensus is that everything is right an nothing should be done. I'm not saying that "they" are wrong and "we" are wrong, just take note that there's zero overlap in opinions expressed here and there.
When was the last time a major feature change happened with the software? It's unrealistic to imagine that there hasn't been a need for change and that the tools that were necessary for managing the community, say, 4 years ago are precisely identical to the ones that are needed today. That implies the community hasn't changed or that the tools were somehow perfect. Both are very unlikely.
Discipline is completely beside the point here. Of course good Q&A sites need discipline, and that loops back to authority figures exercising their powers (mods, admins, etc.) And sure there are people who will complain that SO is a harsh place and they just want to have fun. But that fails to address the many very well founded criticisms of the mod community on SO that numerous people have made, especially concerning abuse of power and twisting the site toward a different vision than it launched with. Imagine a sheriff making a statement that police brutality is justified because criminals exist.
Spammers exist, and low quality questions are a menace, but that doesn't stop the problems with stack overflow from being real.
Moreover, it's all too easy to fall into the complacency trap of saying that SO still has significant value to a lot of people, is still hugely popular, etc. That doesn't indicate that SO is fine, it merely shows that it might not be too late to fix the serious systemic and endemic problems it has. If you were to look at some magical graph of the "successfulness" or "popularity" of stack overflow over time, the point where things "went wrong" would not be at the peak. It wouldn't even be at the inflection point where things went from accelerating upwards to accelerating downwards. It would be before that, when the conditions that caused the inflection point to occur were in effect.
Do you have any actual examples?
They were just discussing it on chat today: http://chat.stackoverflow.com/transcript/6/15-16
I've never gotten involved in Chat before, either, but just searching the most active chatroom for `cv-` brought that up immediately.
Unless it's offensive in some way, this seems like a terribly short-sighted way of handling bad questions. Ask questions back or offer suggestions for improving the question. Closing or deleting it doesn't teach the person anything, and it doesn't help the community.
So it might be useful to bias the site toward leaving questions open, and let people make weighted votes for closing. Initially, the weight of a vote would be zero. This would allow the quality of an individual's judgement to be established, and their vote given more weight as it proved to be more predictive of whether or not an issue was eventually closed.
There's a balance of rights / responsibilities, and if you have the right to closevote questions and earn magical rep points, you have the responsibility to explain why and try to help.
Herd-mentality and behaviour (demonstrated as closevote requests) seem like the opposite of this.
Rude comments and inappropriate downvotes sounds like a community issue - why are those not punished or otherwise dis-incentivized?
Maybe they need a metamod function.
They mean well, but it does feel a bit like a mob at times.
The Room Owners have felt for a while now that it can sometimes get out of hand, that's why we had this discussion in our Room Meeting. As davidism has mentioned, we've put some extra guidelines down now. The main one being that unless it's necessary (something like spam, offensive, dupe, etc, where the OP isn't going to be able to improve the post) we're adding a 10 minute "grace period" before requesting a cv-pls. This gives OPs the chance to edit their question, to respond to comments, etc.
I disagree with a few of your points, but I'm not really interested in getting drawn into a debate here. If you want to discuss it further then drop by chat.
I know you've come into the room in the past to ask/speak about some particular cv-pls. If, in the future, you have anything to bring up, come and speak to us.
The question was closed because the asker himself answered it apologizing for posting it, the problem being something completely unrelated to the code he had pasted. Everybody agreed.
I don't think it happens that frequently.
The majority of those are questions that should be closed.
It's just that a lot of wheat gets thrown out along with the chaff.
The problem is that very many people are not able to google and then ask in IRC. On the other side (the regulars), all they see every day is a torrent of "stupid noobs".
And I totally understand everyone who either retires from answering questions or turning into a sarcastic a..hole towards noobs.
There are plenty of others who've had positive experiences as well.
And those "caustic individuals" have a LOT to share if you're willing to engage in an open and healthy way.
I am outing, specifically, Terenko. In all my years as a forum contributor/mod I don't think I've encountered such a poisonous dick as that person.
I know you do a lot of good work for the PHP community, along with Gordon and many others, but, my friend terenko is truly a knob end and sadly encourages others who are up and coming PHP debutants to behave the same.
It really made me weep as a diamond mod why you guys tolerated his snide comments and activities.
Today, we have the ability to kick-ban. Awesome. But he's also calmed down a lot. And is seen as a resource.
It's gotten a lot better over the years, but there is still work to be done in there. But now we're starting to get the tools to handle it. Which is awesome.
If I'd gotten a message from yourself or Gordon about this kinda thing (out of band), I knew who you guys were, you are the life and soul of the PHP community on SO. We'd have acted, you're too good to lose.
But...as mods we kept a fairly light touch with regards to stomping into chat rooms and reading the riot act (even politely) because otherwise we'd be meta'd as Nazis's, Fascists and Stalinists. I remember many occasions us being lambasted for trying to "moderate" out unpleasantness (in the PHP and C++ rooms), I eventually gave up my mod diamond because I'd run out of "trying to be nice and diplomatic" energy.
Such is the way of curating a community.
I used to sit in the PHP chat room and become quite depressed that his attitude became the standard.
You know something, as a developer/ops for a web hoster I was about to throw my weight into the PHP project back in ~2010, i.e. contributions, bug reporting from live bulk hosted environments (we probably host around 12k busy PHP sites on Linux and IIS - sure not huge, we're a business focused hoster, uptime and rapid support is paramount [and we do ASP.NET, Perl, Classic ASP], but for a ten man company with some heavily customised environments it's a chunk of work), that kinda thing...but that room turned me off (that and the PHP dev mailing list - but that's another story).
Ignoring the problem does not make it go away. If you think one of the ways people are trying to solve it should be forbidden, that's fine. Please share an effective alternative.
This is what voting/scoring is for on all the SE sites. The cream will rise to the top. It would be easy enough for SE to disallow questions to show up in google results with a low or negative score, but leave it open for people to discuss, clarify or solve. The moderators on SO don't give the real community a chance by closing things within minutes. Duplicates aren't even a real problem, there is nothing wrong with seeing the same questions answered from a different approach or method.
We all agree about "send me teh codez", obvious duplicates etc.
If however this is the biggest problem then why is asking a question still one of a few things you can do without having rep?
If this is really the problem then raise the bar oh so slightly until you don't need to organize voting rings and detect duplicates at a speed that results in more than a few false positives.
And especially: http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/120275/is-asking-oth...
Basically, there's nothing wrong with the concept, unless it's used incorrectly. So if someone closes something incorrectly (you can point to a definite reason it's incorrectly closed), then re-open it or raise a meta post.
If you want to remove the ability for the people helping moderate a community to moderate, then how do you expect it to be moderated?
The big issue is that there are a LOT of low quality questions being asked. Duplicates. Many times literally copy/pasting the the question title into Google will give you the answer. Should these questions remain open because you want to repwhore? Should they remain open and further reduce the ability for Google to take you to a good canonical answer?
Or should they be closed and point to the good canonical answer? That way people can find their way to good content, rather than littering the site with duplication and poor copies of other answers.
The meaning of the CV reasons has changed over time as the community matures and figures out what works and what doesn't.
I do disagree with closing questions about particular framework (unless there's a dedicated SE site for it).
But bitching doesn't help. Raise a question on Meta. Step into the chat rooms and have a discussion. Get involved and help us fix things.
All bitching does is make the people who are putting time and effort into the community feel like they are doing something bad. Which is the fastest way to kill a community.
Happily this isn't Stack Overflow and this discussion hasn't been closed yet just because a few admins didn't think think it would fit within "Anything that good hackers would find interesting. That includes more than hacking and startups."
Edit: to clarify - there are a number of reasons why this topic is interesting to quite a few of us. Here are two:
* the usability issue of what we experience as someone someone destroying a good resource.
* reputation systems: a facinating thing in itself.
: as can be seen by the simple fact that this post is still on the frontpage despite - I guess - having been flagged multiple times : )
For example: http://meta.stackexchange.com/q/158712/147370
Look in this very thread. You have people saying it's a horrible practice. Yet nobody really saying what should be done instead.
The fact of the matter is that there is a huge problem on SO of under-moderation. Over 11,000 questions have >=1 closevote right now. CV-PLS is one technique that the community has found effective in keeping the site searchable and with good content.
The people who are against it, I'd love to hear ideas on other effective methods. But to say it should be forbidden is a bit short-sighted.
As I mentioned earlier: If this is the biggest problem the raise the bar for asking questions.
Today the site practically begs new users to ask questions as it is one of a few options that are always available for unexperienced users.
What is the argument for closing questions ... logistical? Database is too big?
I am sure there are valid reasons, but maybe they should be reexamined in the context of the human cost, and some tweaks could be made.
Google is very good at extracting needles from haystacks. If this SO mention is the only mention of an error message on the Internet, then someone else can find it in the future now.
What is Stack Overflow's goal
To be a large repository of reasonably correct answers to small technical problems, where there is only one reasonably correct* answer. Everything else is considered off topic, and unfortunately not a good fit for the site, due to the lack of tools to manage other types of questions
Although there are lots of other things that could be asked and answered, if they are out of that scope then they are considered off-topic and should be closed, according to the people who own StackOverflow. They're closed, not just to annoy people who want those other types of questions answered but because SO really lacks the tools to manage the answers to those questions reasonably.
For example the question "how do you install and configure nginx on different operating systems" is definitely a question that could be asked. However it would require a massively long answer, without a provably correct answer, with different approaches based on how you prefer to configure stuff. i.e. not a single probably correct answer.
Questions that ask for a recommendation for which library to use don't also meet the criteria of having a single reasonably correct answer. Which library you should use depends on lots of factors, and there's probably several, if not a hell of a lot more, possible libraries to use.
Also, questions like that invite debate, multiple answers, spamming by companies trying to promote their software etc. Although people might like to ask all sorts of questions SO have decided to try to limit the number of off-topic questions.
But hasn't the goal of being the large repository of answers already been achieved?
Yup, which is why StackOverflow is a considered a shit-show by people who used to find it very useful. If I had to guess, I'd say that something like 95% of all questions that are 'on topic' have already been asked and answered.
Although I've been using it a while, it's just incredibly rare for me to find a technical question that would be on topic for SO, that doing a google search for doesn't have an answer on SO in the top 5 results.
I think the people who run StackOverflow are either morons or have business reasons for not dealing with this problem.
Although the 'find me a library' questions are off-topic they aren't really a big problem - what is a big problem is just the same set of questions being asked day in, day out by people who are too stupid to be able to use Google to find answers to questions like "Q) Why is my compiler saying there is a syntax error on this line?" "A) There's a syntax error on that line."
The vast majority of people who are asking questions on StackOverflow are people who either read their compiler's error message, or do a google search - so it's really unlikely that they're going to spend time trying to understand the ethos behind StackOverflow or spending much time formulating a short, self-contained, correct example.
Because it's so easy for people to sign up to StackOverflow it only takes people a minute to post their badly formed question, which leads to the current torrent of the same questions day in day out. Without increasing either the 'cost' of asking a question or other barrier to prevent people who fail at using google, then it's inevitable that SO will continue to be besieged by bad questions.
As I said, I think the real problem is that the vast majority of on topic questions have already been asked. The site needs better tools for finding duplicates or expanding into a wider set of questions, for which some answers will be longer, non-authoritative answers which just currently aren't a good fit for the site as it currently exists.
The current system lacks lots of tools that would be required to manage questions and answers that are currently off-topic. Personally I'd prefer it if they improved the site to allow more wide ranging questions and answers and better filtering of 'questions' (e.g. why is the only tool available to mark a question as something that is asking for a recommendation of a library to close it? Why can't we just tag it as 'find me a library' so that people who are interested in answering that can answer it?
*Note - even if an answer is provably incorrect, it won't get deleted unless it's downvoted into oblivion. Which leads to raising of eyebrows when answers to security questions have wrong answers that have been voted to 40+
I think this is mostly a problem in so far as answers aren't updated. I'd say that for most "well formed" question belonging on SO that was answered correctly years ago -- most of those answers might no longer be entirely correct and/or the questions themselves might "block" newer (up to date) formulations of the same question.
Things like new versions of compilers, libraries, programming languages, kernel/drivers (and accompanying new hardware) shifts previously correct answers (and "correct" questions) into not-quite-correct-anymore -- but still "too similar" for opening up new questions.
And as questions cease, so does answers, which means the community dissipates/moves on -- and SO becomes irrelevant again. That I think is the danger.
What I see 6 years later is a lot of "why is this question closed as 'not constructive' when it has 500 upvotes?!?!"
There is clearly a disconnect between the way the end users see stackoverflow and the way the moderators see it. These days, it seems like the stackoverflow guys (not necessarily Joel specifically) are inexplicably blind to human behaviors that was was highlighted in 2009. But, I don't have the whole story so maybe someone closer to the situation can explain.
I don't know who is right or wrong. The thing I'd like to know is if stackoverflow still "works" for the quality contributors who invest their time writing extensive and insightful answers. Or, have a significant percentage abandoned the site because they wade through too many questions from homework, or outsourced sweatshop employees who don't even do modicum of googling, etc.
On the other hand, are the majority of complaints distorted because they are mostly voiced by the Eternal September crowd?
So, is it experts leaving? Or newcomers overwhelming the site with bad questions? I don't know if one can gather from website analytics which of the 2 situations is dominant.
The former is inevitable - most people, like the author of this article, spend the bulk of their time up-front: post a lot of answers, enjoy the experience, get tired of it, pull back to only answering the occasional post that piques their interest. So there's a fairly constant fall-off of activity from people who've previously posted a lot. And this gets worse when these folks find fewer questions that interest them, which brings us to...
The number of questions posted on Stack Overflow every day is overwhelming. Over the past year, it's ranged from a low of about 5.5 thousand per day (Christmas holidays) to over 11 thousand per day; currently it's averaging around 8.5K. Depending on your interests, you might see very little of this (if you focus solely on a relatively obscure tag) or all of it (if, as many do, you drink from the firehose at http://stackoverflow.com/questions/?sort=newest) or some mixture (if you stick to the home page).
The folks who stick it out long-term tend to have some pretty gnarly filters in place. Those who don't tend to become very bitter about the whole Eternal September thing, because that's most of what they see. The chance of dropping in on Stack Overflow over lunch & just stumbling upon a new question that covers some novel, interesting tech you've been working with lately is pretty slim, so if that's all you're answering anymore, well... You're probably not answering very much anymore.
The trick here is to find a way of putting more interesting questions in front of the folks they're likely to interest, and showing fewer "here's my homework, verbatim" questions to... well, everyone. And it's a hard trick.
Disclaimer: I work for Stack Exchange and have been hanging around Stack Overflow pretty much forever.
What really frustrates me is that the usual interface to SO is Google, yet SO closes so many questions as duplicates that this interface is massively under-optimized. It would be much easier to find the solutions to problems if there were variations in Google's index for every different way a question's been asked (and answered).
And answering questions is a great way for intermediate developers to concretize their own knowledge. There's always a new wave of developers needing to learn. Why on earth SO fetishizes itself now as a DRY repository of programming questions is beyond me. Ok, it's not actually beyond me, it's because SO is made up of programmers, and programmers tend be compulsive about DRYing up everything in sight even when that's not the best solution to the problem.
The complaints of SO's elites are the same I've seen since always on mailing lists and forums by the folks who have the most power and thus force their ideals on everyone else. It repels novice users and creates a hostile environment for mentoring and learning. What's sad is that when SO first came out, it was set apart from these incumbents for being welcome, open, and friendly.
Another side issue is that the SO culture almost certainly is not receptive to female developers. I thought of this the other day when I saw some woman's post in the negatives. The sort of chest-thumping, rule-brandishing nitpickery that's the order of the day is an intimidating turn-off for a large swathe of people.
What's happened to SO is why every institution has to be replaced eventually, as SO will be, by some question and answer site that returns to SO's roots. The world is crying out for it again the same way it was when SO was founded.
If you want to clarify what you're responding to, I can try to provide a more helpful response; until then, here's some useful references for the "roots" of SO's current policies:
I didn't get tired of answering the questions, even the not-so-great ones from low-rep users; I got tired of putting lots of energy into a website with a culture I no longer agreed with.
Is this data publicly available?
As noted in the comments there, this tends to be slightly inaccurate, as it ignores changes in reputation over time. But it's close enough to see the general trend; I left a comment with a more accurate picture of the usual trend and the more recent drop-off.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm the sort of person who makes these places bad... but I do ask decent questions, and the only people who ever pay attention to them are the rep farmers hoping to cash in with a Google answer.
The Soup Nazi wanted to feed people and lost the opportunity to do so when he became obsessed with loiterers clogging the queue. Fictional exaggerations not withstanding, scaling is a hard problem to solve in many different systems - especially when some users/customers/tasks can easily require 100x the average processing time.
The worst are the ones where some new mod has trolled through four-year-old questions closing them whenever possible. Makes me wonder how much great information has simply been deleted to give a new mod, what, a feeling of power? More history (ironically)? It's also darkly funny when a mod clearly doesn't understand the technology involved, and thus doesn't understand that it is, in fact, valid and properly worded.
I suppose it's no different than the rest of the tech community, "blogosphere", social coding sites, etc., where it's a self-promotion-centric approach that dominates. You'll get further working on the latest and greatest stack than you will solving hard problems with an older tech stack.
> When it was young you could find veteran wizards who answered all sorts of obscure things because it was fun. The last straw for me was seeing a perfectly valid question about video memory in DOS get drive-by closed by some mod.
You used to be able to find stuff about ZZT-OOP on SO. Not anymore.
I don't know if you could call it an outright failure when it gets a ton of traffic, search engine cred etc., but it's certainly not a success for me.
Now there's a burst of nostalgia.
Oh man, I ran into this the other day when asking about Ember.RSVP.Promise.all.then. A mod (or I guess just a power user) accused me of not reading the docs and recommended closing the question. He provided a link to the docs on Ember.RSVP.Promise.then (notice the lack of "all" in there) as evidence that I didn't read the documentation. He was rude, I was rude, fun times were had by all. But, after I made the point that the function I was talking about operated on arrays and not individual objects (and is also basically undocumented) he deleted his comments and then went and downvoted all of my other questions.
If it's gotten so bad that this is preventing legitimate edits and answers from improving your content, you have a very serious problem - both culturally and technologically.
It has rather ensured that I never made any effort to contribute to that community. I do still use SO answers if Google or DDG happen to provide me with a link to one that answers my question, which in fairness is quite often, even most of the time. But when so many of those clearly helpful answers (often answering my own question to the letter), are downvoted/locked over some matter of bureaucratic principle or the opinion of a nameless moderator, it makes it abundantly clear that any contribution I might occasionally wish to proffer will be unwelcome, and any question I ask is as like to be met with censure as actual assistance.
Actually participating in SO seems these days to be about as fruitless an endeavor as editing Wikipedia was.
On question closure, this is rarely done by moderators (users with a diamond ♦ after their name), but by 5 votes from regular users. Only moderators can lock posts.
Disclosure: I am a Stack Exchange moderator
That's just begging for abuse.
Or is that too off-topic/closed as not constructive? /s
The core of the issue, as was pointed out above, is the vtc-please culture in certain chat rooms. Culture is a very hard thing to change (impossible?), and whatever change you make to how closing works is unlikely to be effective unless cultural change is brought about too.
Simple because the fix consists of watching patterns of behavior for a while, identifying the cliques of users who do this, and then mass-banning them, or at least mass-revoking their privileges to close stuff. For maximum cruelty, just reset and peg their reputation permanently at zero.
Not easy because then they're going to scream their entitled little heads off about it, and you'll need to recruit another generation of active moderators.
Are you sure confirmation bias isn't causing you to overestimate the frequency of this happening?
I'm mostly on msbuild/labview/C++/C# tags both for questions and answers. I do see locked questions when looking for answers, but definitely not every single one rather the opposite, and I don't have the impression at all my participation is fruitless: some of my answers get a decent amount of upvotes which should be an indication they are useful now and in the future, some do not (mostly because they are in a less popular tag) but still get an explicit 'thanks this helped' from the OP.
Sure I do see the problems with SO, but unlike some I don't have an urge to rant because the problems are of minor inconvenience for me. Either my threshold for starting a rant is way higher, or I just have less problems. Or a combination of both.
It's obviously a great site, but as always most moderators are usually people with more spare time than real clue on how to organize things.
Heck they removed a lot of options from that close reason to minimize this, as anything database related go punted to the DBA one (which is only for professional questions not minor schema questions).
I don't think Tim comes off as "elitist"/"cool kids" (also Tim is genuinely a really nice person, not at all uppity or "elitist" ). There is a rising deluge of utterly shit quality questions being asked on the site. As an "expert" I just can't be bothered any more trying to assist users who are missing so much fundamental knowledge and understanding about the tech they're working with. Hell, some of them can't even tell me which version of IIS they're using. It saps too much energy and is the reason why my own participation on the site has taken a nose-dive over the past couple of years.
I do agree with the comment throttling timer and "@user" behaviour in comments, I think that was one of Jeff's personal things he got implemented much to the frustration of many folks on the site. I like Jeff but some of his ideas about how to solve certain types of problems were a bit peculiar.
I still love SO, I still visit daily but it sure burned me out as an "answerer".
: Disclosure: I'm an ex-diamond mod on the site - I would like to think I played fair, erring on the side of giving folks the benefit of the doubt and that their questions were asked in good faith (and with a tiny wee bit of upfront research).
Quite a lot of questions seem to have a negative score or are locked for seemingly no good reason and the ones that aren't are questions like the above that are easily googleable.
A lot of the time it feels like the person asking the question hasn't bothered to a) read man page or b) do a google search beforehand or they lack basic knowledge about Linux - such as what the /proc file system is for.
SO seems to have not awakened to the fact that it is the defacto programming information site for all languages and developer capabilities and no longer the purview of elite.
I think the moderators have gotten more and more zealous. Everything is looked at with the guidelines in mind, instead of common sense. I suspect there's a certain type of person who likes to apply stringent rules to everything, and common sense people just have enough and decide not to run in the elections.
If SO was a billboard I could understand the need to only have the interesting stuff on. But SO doesn't have a space problem. If someone has posted a question, it's likely they're not the only noob wondering what the answer is. If the question is useful to people, Google will lead them there.
I've had this happen with my posts. It's never been egregious, like a user inserting something inflammatory into my otherwise mundane programming question. Most often, the offending edits give the appearance that the original poster doesn't know how to write or doesn't know basic programming concepts. It's not unheard-of for potential employers to look at a programmer's accounts on Stack Overflow, Github, etc., so an unflattering edit could be problematic.
Granted, one can use a pseudonymous account. But it would be better not to have to.
Some folks, upon encountering an unanswered question they also want an answer to, will do some quick copy-editing just to try & get a few more eyeballs on the problem.
But my frustration with stack overflow lately is with how many people ask ill-formed questions because they don't understand what they're talking about -- and don't seem to _want_ to understand what they're talking about, they just want a copy-paste solution. (Worse is when the answers are from people who similarly have no idea what they're talking about)
Rails is not an end-user app. It's a framework for developers. You use it to program. If you don't know what you're doing, copy-paste from reddit/SO aren't actually going to get you very far.
Now, what might make it an "SO community" issue, is that when I try to explain the fundamental concepts involved (which I actually kind of enjoy doing, when I'm in the mood), my answers -- or the questions themselves -- are likely to be closed/deleted as inappropriate.
Now, many questioners aren't even interested in this kind of answer, it's true, they just want a copy-paste. Sometimes you can give them one (even if it doesn't serve them very well because they are trying to do the wrong thing, or dont' even know what they're trying to do), sometimes their question is so off that it's not even possible.
But for those who are -- maybe we need a place where people can actually get fundamental conceptual things explained, like you'd do in a professor or TA's office hours. And SO doesn't seem to want to be that place?
Perhaps the Stack Overflow owners realize they can muscle in on the programming language documentation business. With the ongoing increase in programmers who learn a programming language at the same time as they're paid to write production code in it, the promoters of some languages will inevitably skip writing documentation that fully describes what it does and instead set up a basket of Stack Overflow users to plant lots of answered questions, which also gives the initial appearance of an existing community for that language. Eventually languages will even be designed and implemented without any thought given to documentation that explains it from beginning to end, but instead only the intention for it to be learnt in Stack Overflow-sized chunks, keyed to search engine keywords instead of documentation subheadings. And part of Stack Overflow's business model may be to host the primary documentation for these emerging types of programming languages.
Dr Dobbs magazine described this phenomenon as a "conundrum" and used Groovy as an example of this new type of language: "The endless variety of features requires considerable documentation, which is simply not available, especially for the advanced features that give Groovy much of its benefit. And so, if you jump in today, you'll find the language is easy to learn, but hard to master". http://www.drdobbs.com/jvm/the-groovy-conundrum/240147731
I can understand the author. Still I found out, that my name was also in one example of "Soup Nazis" (how embarrassing!).
The point is, that with some experience, you are "invited" to review other posts. You can also see it as giving some of the benefit taken back. But as reviewer, you should take responsibility for the quality of questions and answers. And I must say, that there where many cases, where I wanted to vote differently but knew, that the system is intended differently -- the vote I made in the example was one of them. You are softly pressured by the system, to adhere to the "group standard".
I think it is a little similar to the Wikipedia problem. Wikipedia also is less attractive to authors today, than it was, because many are chilled by the rigid system. The problem is, that some system is needed for the quality, but how could you reduce the chill factor for newcomers?
I think, a little less rigid system would be beneficial to stackoverflow (as it does not need to be an encyclopedia). Some "Soup Nazi" behavior is fostered by any (more or less) rigid system. Here, more sense of understanding of the more experienced users (especially reviewers) would also be good.
One other little note, and don't know if anyone else noticed this, but SO is somehow biased a bit towards Microsoft. It's no big deal, but I thought I would mention it. http://blog.codinghorror.com/giving-up-on-microsoft/
As SO fossilizes, I think there might be an opportunity to create a new programming QA site.
"Stack overflow has failed to understand it’s mission. Stackoverflow exists to share technology information–not to curate it. Curation should be replaced by indexing and ranking. With Stack Overflow, it is as if google had decided on a primary strategy of deleting content from its index, rather than a primary strategy of ranking good content highest."
I found a question that could easily be answered and would be of value to users hitting this issue.
Here's that question:
I could not stop laughing at how this confirms the insanity being discussed here.
"Questions asking us to recommend or find a book, tool, software library, tutorial or other off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam..."
Yes. And 238 million people saw Dez Bryant catch that ball notwithstanding the NFL's rule-which-must-be-followed-to-the-letter-of-the-law.
Some guy, or woman, won't get their question answered that could have helped them. It was a reasonable question. And people are willing to help them. In some way, I suspect StackOverflow is incredibly proud they prevented that...but stuck to the letter of the law on their policy.
You win StackOverflow.
Sometimes you get very cool superusers like BalusC who will edit a sub-par question for clarity or formatting rather than delete it out of hand. Most of the time, I look at his edits and I like what he does with the question. Add value, add value, add value. BalusC makes JSF a joy to research on and work with.
What he does isn't rep-farming using google but rather putting effort into being helpful. Same goes for others.
Contrast this to what people refer to as drive-by downvoters: people who seems to routinely troll the forums looking for anything that can be closed.
Of course, it wasn't long before obnoxious pedantic tyrants swarmed in and took over, reveling in their chance to get a cheap power trip. Volunteering to contribute wasn't fun under a constant barrage of rudeness from people who contributed nothing and couldn't even be bothered to offer alternatives or suggestions while insulting and deleting other people's contributions.
It would be an interesting case study for someone to find out how Wikipedia survives despite the best efforts of its own moderators to destroy it.
I see many questions and answers where the top answer mostly works, yet buried below there's a much better answer. I see this happening in areas where technology is in flux, such as languages with evolving syntax, or when toolchains are moving to new tools.
Collaboration can improve this by enabling subsequent people to add additional information. Some examples: "This older answer is for version 1, and this newer answer is for version 2", or "This older answer is specifically for bash, and this newer answer is specifically for zsh".
* Wiki-style editing of some kind, along with collaboration tooling, and users can annotate particular pieces of information within an answer.
* Ability to combine/collaborate on multiple answers, such as beginning with introductory information relevant to all the answers, then having some kind of sectioning for specific information for each version.
Two small steps can help toward this:
* Mark an answer as applicable to a specific version number, or range, or date, or implementation.
* Enable the question author to accept an additional new answer that is more current, without subtracting points from the original answer.
I accept that this sometimes may be necessary, but I asked a question which was then edited to be a different question, so that the answers I got were entirely useless.
I understand the need for moderation but surely they should not be able to change the meaning of what you posted.
New users cannot edit questions?
1. Need to incentivize new users to read some real basic FAQs before posting. Not sure what the best solution is. Fascist Me wants to see them walk through a wizard, agreeing that they understand basic topic X before continuing, but that doesn't sound too user friendly.
2. Need some better text similarity with Latent Semantic Indexing or something to find duplicates. I'll see new questions that I know are recent duplicates, but then can't even find an example. Doh.
Instead of forcing RTFM on every new user, I don't see why new users should not have immediate tryout without reprocussions and learn the guidelines from a kindly mod or other user replying with a reason why their question is not appropriate/duplicate or whatever. That is the point of upvotes/downvotes and active moderation. This is a learning community, not a cadre of elitists.
I've yet to participate in a forum where that doesn't occur.
I used to enjoy visiting the site because quite often there was a nice general question on the front page that related to me in some way... Well, ALL of the general CS type questions are answered now... and any new ones are closed as dups almost immediately.. Which means the questions that survive these days are hyper specific, and not very useful or enjoyable...
Unfortunately, there is no better way to self-organize and moderate large masses of user generated information..
I have 20k reps and I can't delete questions. This is not correct.
I tend to agree with the OP that sorting and filtering are a better solution to maintaining quality than unnecessarily closing marginal questions. However, some questions certainly need to be closed. The problem (or at least a problem) seems to be that with such a large number of privileged users, hitting a 5 vote threshold is not difficult, even if the question doesn't deserve to be closed. Increasing the threshold would be one solution, but would make unnecessary moderation work. A don't-close vote seems like potentially a better solution.
Edit: Unsurprisingly, looks like I'm not the first one to have this idea: https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/125/how-about-a-vot...
And my favourite questions are often those ones in the 20%, for example, when you type "1nf vs 2nf vs 3nf" into Google, the top page, is this StackOverflow post:
Despite the fact that the top answer has 218 upvotes, the question has been closed as 'not constructive' (which is cearly not the damn case, it's the top hit in Google for fuck sake!).
Stack Overflow should either stop this from happening somehow, or back their own goddamn policy and deindex or remove this content from the site.
That answer can no longer be improved upon, despite the fact it has such high search ranking, because some idiot deemed it 'not constructive'. What hogwash.
There is clearly a gap in the market right here that Stack Overflow either needs to plug, or someone else will (and at their expense).
Sometimes a question seems like someone is just asking for an answer, like posting their homework, and hasn't tried anything or even googled at all for help. Maybe those questions should be closed and deleted with prejudice but if I was giving the benefit of the doubt I'd prefer to move them to "pergatory.stackoverflow.com". I guess that's what they are by closing them but.
But, often there are noob questions that are similarly frustrating but giving the person the benefit of the doubt maybe they really don't know where to start. If wish I could click a button that said [Move to noob.stackoverflow.com] or something like that where people with more patience or that just like helping noobs could be more helpful.
I also wish it was easier and required when marking as duplicate to provide a link to the duplicate.
Where this is a good thing for the long-term usefulness of SO, like the OP said it takes away from the short-term usefulness of the site for us plebian self-doubters.
Having said that, previously asked questions on SO answer ~90% of my programming questions, so they're obviously doing something right.
I've thought before that a 'staging area' for questions might be useful, where a question gets posted by _anon_idiot_user_ like me asking why thier code won't run because of something simple. It is marked as 'not useful' for whatever reason, but can still offer (diminished) reputation to answerers. After a particular amount of time, the question is removed from the SO 'canon' (i.e. unpublished and deleted), but the reputation sticks. Nobody's ego is hurt from having thier stupid question memorialized, and mods would be more forgiving to stupid questioners knowing it will go away once solved.
just an idea. All in all, I'm eternally grateful to SO and it's 'asshole mods'. They've taught me more programming than any other entity on the web.
There is a finite number of people who can answer a question, and these people have a finite amount of time. They don't necessarily know a question is going to be bad before they read it, so if a bad question stays, it continues wasting more and more people's time, and taking time from other people who did put in the effort to ask a good question. So instead, the question is closed while you improve it, and the idea is for it to be reopened when you're done.
Oh, and remember how it was going to be all Wikipedia of programming, where really good answers would be zipped together so that SO became the defacto good-idea repository? And could evolve over time? Such a good idea. Never materialized.
Proper props for putting in the effort. Better than e-e. Usually, though definitely not always, better than isolated boards. But now we're in a good-enemy-of-best world where I still want some site or system addressing the original problems, but SO is so dominant I don't see how it could germinate.
SO is generation 2, better than generation 1. But it's having gen-2 problems. I think a lot of it is because they are so proud of having fixed the gen-1 problems that they refuse to see their gen-2 problems.
Eventually we will see generation 3.
I remember some of the solutions proposed were a higher threshold for downvotes as the site grew, and the requirement that an actual explanation be typed in with every anonymous downvote or deletion.
But it's the nature of the site. No one else is doing it. Maybe that's because it's not easy. Maybe you should compete with them. I have a feeling there's a lot of people here who've been burned by SO. I know I have.
But you can't argue with success. So I've thickened my skin and hardened my resolve, and I'm in the top 3% of users now. I expect my current body of work on the site to put me in the top 1% within a year or so, with no further work from me.
The answer to this is to build a better StackOverflow, if you can. But I don't think you can.
"Running out of questions." comes to mind.
Also, off-topic, I don't think being in a top percentage is something to brag about or a sign of merit. I've done nothing but ask stupid questions on SO and I was lucky to be there when the site was new (lots of high-coin questions!) and I'm in the top 5%.
That percentile rank is a foot in the door in a lot of situations. If someone who is interested in me finds out it's because I give comprehensive smart answers with strong communication, in spite of the fact that I wasn't around when there were lots of easy questions to be had, I think I've got something pretty good to brag about.
That's not to say that I wouldn't consider someone who asks lots of good questions too. That requires communication skills as well as technical skills. I personally find it harder to ask good questions than to give good answers.
The example of the Python question about angles is from 2011. I believe that subsequent to that time there were changes to both the close process and the reopening process. Part of the problem I think was that close votes accumulated and did not expire, so that they would stick even after a question was edited or months had passed since the vote was cast.
The most recent podcast...about taking more Venture Capital...discussed some of the cultural issues that have developed at StackOverflow. There are two significant pools of users: those like me who know a little or nothing, and those who know a lot. One of the goals of the funding is to make StackOverflow work better for both...at least that was my impression from the podcast.
At the top end, the gamification has problems. It doesn't matter how competitive or smart anyone is, they aren't going to catch John Skeet any time soon. So people make up things to entertain themselves. Anyone else remember the popular Meta about deliberately feeding bad algorithms to suspected homework questions?
It's always been clear [you can listen to six plus years of Joel and Jeff and the gang yourself] that the longterm purpose of StackOverflow is not helping the person originally asking the question. It's making the internet better. It's also always been clear that there was a tension between questions that are interesting to experts and questions that are so basic that only an absolute beginner will ask them. The test case was:
How do I move the Turtle in Logo? 
I feel beside the new stuff that comes from new FWs and languages most questions seem to be answered. Therefore starting to focus on long term quality is not a bad thing.
Most of my recent work in SO was also not asking questions but correcting/connecting answers that are already there.
xinit -- /usr/bin/X :1
This is what is happening. the quality of the questions has deteriorated so much instead of improving.
the people providing quality answers have moved on.
when the chicken leaves and the eggs start rotting, that's when you know, the decline is the beginning.
To give you an example, check out the last question I've asked there: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/27510345/c-map-assignment....
11 downvotes and closed within a few hours; apparently I pissed off one of the moderators (when asking him why is my question "off-topic") and he invited his gang to downvote me as well, some other guy even threatened to deactivate my account. That is SO now, and I no longer try to engage into that community.
Edit: Looking at how the votes in my question are evolving as we speak, I see that some guys still go in and downvote it more. Read out the question, and check out the really good accepted answer, if you don't think that's valuable information for many programmers out there then I'm at a loss of words.
And yeah, you are right, I used the word 'cunt' after they started behaving like that, I'm sorry if that scared you; I did it because I was really pissed off by all their bs. Have you ever felt annoyed some time in your life? Apparently not, lucky you.
It's not? I know of many men and women who use it. I've also heard some twisted logic how the use of it is "empowering" or some other nonsense.
No, apparently you pissed off all of the moderators when you called them all dick-sucking cunts.
You must be a really special dude to do that and then get your feelings hurt when you get downvoted for it.
Anyway, doesn't matter--throwing insults, weak or strong, deserves downvotes. I don't understand why you're defending his right to be a complete asshat on a moderated forum. It's only just barely even related to the topic at hand, since he earned his downvotes.
Should have just been purged.
Your question is shared with all the future people who have the same problem, it isn't your soapbox to complain in. Your experience with SO is probably fairly minor, the moderators have each had to deal with at least a half dozen people breaking questions to suit their own benefits, it gets tiring quickly.
I have a single Gold Badge in the SO world. It was awarded for an answer that I gave which earned more than 100 up votes. Sadly the question to which I responded has since been closed (for years now). When content that I worked hard to create suddenly disappears from the site because moderators deem it to be "not a good fit", you start to feel it's not worth your time ...
They outgrew the initial laissez-faire model and needed to grow beyond it. However I heartily agree they didn't do the best at making that transition.
'I have tried to do that (by overloading operator, operator=) but it doesn't seem like I'm going somewhere. Can anyone suggest me a way to achieve this behavior?'
You said you have tried, but you didn't post what you tried, or how it didn't work. This makes your question hard to answer, and essentially means anyone answering is going to have to write your code for you.
You then finished it up with a passive-aggressive FAQ section which was entirely unnecessary, and included 'I want to do it this way, even if there is a better way' - which is just a terrible way to go in asking a question.
StackOverflow gets incredible numbers of questions every day, and the reality is people are not willing to help people who actively make their questions harder to answer. That's not people being assholes, it's people getting burnt out trying to help the 20,000th help vampire (http://slash7.com/2006/12/22/vampires/).
Everyone who complains about StackOverflow, in my experience, tends to be someone who wants others to do work for them. Yes, SO doesn't do that. That's by design.
It's literally there...
>You then finished it up with a passive-aggressive FAQ section which was entirely unnecessary ... 'I want to do it this way, even if there is a better way'
What's wrong with that? I wanted to achieve a very specific thing. Can you please tell me what is wrong with that?
That FAQ is meant to avoid getting answers that I don't need. Have you ever used SO? When you do you'll see that these questions usually get a lot of responses like:
"Just drop C and go for Python, Python does everything for you XD"
"Just throw Boost in there and you're done [and turn your 1s compile time into 10 minutes] XDDD"
1) Answers on questions aren't just meant to serve you, they're meant to serve people that find the question later. It's incredibly important to note when there's a better way altogether to approach a problem.
2) Askers on SO often exhibit the XY problem. Saying you're not interested in other approaches is not simply dickish; it's ignoring (often) good advice that other people are donating their time to give you.
Honestly, your entire interaction on that question is a prime example of why so many moderators go to the other extreme and become trigger happy. Because anybody would get burnt out dealing day in, day out with people having the same sense of entitlement that you have.
I understand that it is a really nice side-effect that your questions stay there and can be read later by other people with your same problem, however, be aware that it is a side-effect. Let me quote the first few sentences on their own site:
"With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about programming."
Yup, every question, not just "the ones you think are popular", every one, including mine. Actually, the more specific and detailed your question is, the better it aligns with the SO philosophy.
>Saying you're not interested in other approaches is not simply dickish; [...]
It is not dickish, I'm just not interested, how is that wrong? It is not; if you actually understood what is good for SO questions, you would see that focused questions are much better than fuzzy ones.
Also you called me a dick for no reason, I don't care because I grew out of those things long ago but apparently you (and some other guys here) haven't, so please leave out the vulgar language; you guys should, at least, live by your own standards.
Yeah of course you will downvote, because you can; what you can't do is to actually add to the conversation by posting a reasonable counter-argument to the things I stated. Have a nice day dude.
One reason people point posters towards more conventional, extensible, canonical solutions is so that following readers/askers understand that what's being asked is on the fringes of what should be done.
Personally, I also believe SO doesn't always make the right call on what content should stay or go, and some of my meta questions attempt to address this. The bottom line is that people that don't work for them are only participants, and we're not the ones making the rules.
You know this to be hyperbolic.
My unfortunate experience has been that on a larger scale project, people will eventually desire every feature from a boost container, re-implement it in a buggy fashion, leading to a slower, buggier, poorly designed clone of something boost had.
I eventually started fixing container bugs by rewriting them in terms of boost containers...
You gave a shorthand description of what you did. You didn't post the code, you didn't explain why it didn't work.
If you can't be bothered to ask a question people can answer, why should anyone bother to answer? You claim SO is a bad community because you get rejected - I counter that you get rejected because you are toxic, and you not being on the site makes everyone else's experience better.
You not being there is a feature, not a bug.
I have had questions like yours before, by the way (see http://stackoverflow.com/questions/24173094/c-polymorphic-in..., for example), and I kind of agree that it shouldn't have been closed like that. C++ is a confusing language and there was indeed a good amount to learn from the answer to your question. But you definitely could have handled it much better; get some feedback and maybe edit or make a new post with that feedback and you'd be good to go!
All this is going to trying to show you that your attitude is a little belligerent (it's showing on this HN thread again, even), and changing it goes a long way. I've come to the conclusion that the people on my class's forum and you don't really realize that there's something wrong with how you're communicating. But being polite isn't very hard, and I think you almost managed to do it in that SO thread. Take some time to work on your attitude, and you will get much further :)
Please don't take this in the wrong way. It's up to you to change if you'd like; I'm pointing out the benefits and you don't have to if you don't want to.
I would agree that "off-topic" is completely incorrect and I can't think of a valid reason to close it.
Your question asks people to help you, with no attempt at making this useful for others. I can see why people downvote such questions.