There’s widespread agreement that a large number of questions on SO are bad, but there’s a lot of disagreement as to which questions are the bad ones. The dominant position on MSO is that good questions involve effort and need to show non-working code. Like Academic-Quantity, I find this frustrating because when I’m looking for an answer on SO, I could care less about someone else’s working code. The questions I find helpful questions are mostly “how do I do this thing?”, with zero or little code in the question, no need for effort in the question other than looking it up in the manual, and answers that help me because they show how to do this thing that I also wanted to do.
I don’t completely oppose debugging questions, because they are useful, but I wish that they were edited to highlight the specific issue. This is something he asker can’t do — if they knew where the problem was, they’d usually be able to find a solution. Unfortunately, SO has a widely enforced rule that you do not edit code in a question (even fixing obvious errors like a stray or missing character at the end of a copy-paste often gets rolled back!).
Going beyond SO, the whole reason I’m on Stack Exchange and Codidact is to build a repository of answers. I want to get answers for myself, and I pay it forward by answering other people’s questions. I’m not here to help specific people, I’m here to help myself and to help people in general. So for me, as long as the site maintains a welcoming atmosphere, the priority is on the community, not on individual members.
I’m aware that we aren’t all on the same page here and we need to compromise. But I do hope to push the compromise further towards a knowledge repository and less towards one-on-one help. A forum or discussion list without a concept of duplicates is perfectly fine for one-on-one help; it’s not what we’re here for.
Stack Exchange does not ban recommendation questions (“shopping questions”). Some individual Stack Exchange sites do, most prominently Stack Overflow and Super User. Others don’t, for example Unix & Linux has no particular problem with questions of the form “best tool for xyz”.
Software Recommendations was created because SO and SU don’t accept recommendation questions and weren’t willing to start. I was a moderator for the first year of the site. What I learned (or rather confirmed, none of it really came as a surprise) is that recommendation questions do work in the Q&A format, but they require strong moderation. SR enforces question and answer quality guidelines, not just through voting but also by closing questions and deleting answers that don’t meet the guidelines regardless of their score.
Indeed. That’s a big part of why I’m opposed to a Quora-like model where any topic goes. Different topics, and different communities, have different views on what makes a good question or a good answer.