The FAQ states,

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here. However, if your motivation is “I would like others to explain ______ to me”, then you are probably OK. (Discussions are of course welcome in our real time web chat.)

This question arose,


Selected quotes,

Of course, right now I don't have an actual USE for this


Basically, what are some uses (for the everyday linux/unix user) for turning old desktops into virtualized and networked machines?

Surely that's an open ended chatty question without a real problem at the core? I flagged the question as not-constructive, but that was deemed invalid.

In which case I'm confused. Are chatty open ended questions allowed, or is that question actually specific enough to be on-topic?

2 Answers 2


I don't think it's "not constructive" — it's not really likely to inspire debate or argument. It's more like "not a real question" — it's overly broad with no specific goal.

But that's semantics. I dismissed your flag, but probably should have said "valid but no action needed" rather than rejecting it as invalid. I think it's more the sort of thing to vote down rather than outright close. If the community closed it, I wouldn't reopen, but I didn't want to use the big moderator insta-close stick. I'd really prefer questions be edited, improved, and focused rather than shut out.

  • Okay thanks - I guess it's hard to interpret that when all we get to see is "not constructive – 21 hours ago Invalid". Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 20:28
  • Yeah. Sorry again about the "invalid" flag. There's no "eh, I don't think that's quite right" choice. When you get to 3k rep you can vote to close posts directly, which is really better than a moderator doing it. I prefer for the moderator actions to be reserved for egregious problems.
    – mattdm
    Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 20:39
  • Understood, maybe I should just stick to voting down and commenting rather than flagging then? Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 21:03
  • @EightBitTony I'm going to partially contradict mattdm here: it was ok to flag the question if you thought it should be closed. That's what the “doesn't belong here” flag is for. It was consistent of mattdm to mark the flag as invalid since he doesn't think the question warrants closing. Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 21:52
  • 1
    Which moves me back to my initial question - since the posted question isn't about a real problem, and is looking specifically for a discussion, why is it a real question? Anyway, nm, still got a lot to learn I guess. Commented Aug 24, 2011 at 21:54
  • 1
    @eight we're changing tag handling terminology from "valid/invalid" to "helpful/declined" for this very reason. Commented Aug 26, 2011 at 3:29

I agree, this looks like a textbook chatty question to me. It's basically asking “what's your favorite use for virtualisation at home”. Its score is medium six guidelines for subjective questions:

  1. inspire answers that explain why and how: sort of.
  2. long, not short answers: not particularly.
  3. fair and impartial tone: ok.
  4. experiences over opinions: ok.
  5. facts and references: not particularly.
  6. not just mindless social fun: no.

This is the kind of post that can degenerate into a long list of answers (not useful due to the lack of organization), or can be largely ignored (not useful due to the lack of answers). It feels very much like something that would be best discussed in a chat room. I voted to close as “not constructive”.

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