It seems to me that "Not Constructive" is being overused...

I was thinking about this after having a question of mine closed:

What are the benefits of "enterprise-level" virtualization?

And now this one has shown up in the Review Queue with a couple NC votes:

What are the merits of SAS vs SATA drives?

Obviously I think the first one is fine, but then I specifically ran it by people in Chat first, and you can see the results in the voting on the Q and the As. The other question is even more highly voted (admittedly, there was more voting back in 2009).

To me, both of these are Good Subjective:

  • They aren't shopping questions. Shopping questions ("What product/service can do this?") invite a long list of possible solutions. Both of these questions are scoped so that there are only going to be a few possible answers.

  • Although they call for qualitative answers, they aren't asking for opinions, they're asking for facts that can be backed up. e.g. for the virtualization question, the answer that enterprise-level products have better support is a fact, not just an opinion.

I think these types of question are something that can make SF more appealing to and more useful for experienced sysadmins. They're useful questions to have on the site and they're good opportunities for people to share some of their experience. Instead of closing them because they're structured a bit like shopping questions, people should at least leave them open and preferably upvote the answers.

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    to state that a thing is "better" than another is to express an opinion - this is why nearly everybody in the world has the Best Dad. – the-wabbit Jun 13 '13 at 18:37
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    @syneticon-dj Like Bryan, you're being too nit-picky and literal... If you can't get over the word "better" being an opinion, how about "enterprise level products have more support and more types of support available." It amounts to the same thing. – Ward Jun 14 '13 at 6:18

"Not Constructive" / "We don't do product/service recommendations" are both overused in my opinion.

Jeff gave some very good guidelines for when subjective questions should be allowed to live.
I would distill them even further to a four easy bullet points:

  • The question can be answered concretely (i.e. not "What's best?" or "Which should I buy?")
  • The question/answers will be broadly useful in the future
  • Answers can explain the why and how behind some concept
  • Answers would not be just lists-of-things

If a question meets those four criteria there's no reason to close it.
These are the kinds of questions that have largely fled to chat, and we should be encouraging them on the main site, as they are what will bring in the high-end talent we want, as opposed to the clueless masses we're getting lately.

The Enterprise virtualization question is also open again -- It meets the four-point test above:

  • There are distinct reasons for using "enterprise" virtualization over "workstation" virtualization.
  • Those reasons can be described broadly, and would be useful to someone who doesn't understand the difference between "enterprise" virtualization solutions (VMWare, Hyper-V, and even Linux KVM to some extent) and "workstation" ones (VirtualBox, VMWare Workstation)
  • The answers provided explain the why behind using the "enterprise" solutions
  • The answers are not just "lists of things"
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    I agree with this message. Both of the example questions pass the there can be one true answer test, it's just that the One True Answer will likely be long and detailed. Which we need more of around here. – sysadmin1138 Jun 13 '13 at 11:48

The "not constructive" close reason is being removed and replaced with:

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.

This change is already live on mSO and should go live on SF shortly.

I voted to close that question as Not Constructive.

The reason?

enter image description here

The actual question you asked was

what would some of the benefits be of moving to a more robust platform?

Which in my mind, ticks all the boxes of the reasons I've highlighted above.

...and I've also voted to close the SAS/SATA question for exactly the same reason.


For what it's worth though, I do agree with your point about how you think questions of this nature should be left open as they are interesting and beneficial to us. But the description of Not Constructive, fits both of those questions and hence warranted a close vote IMO.

With regards to your specific question, there isn't one specific correct answer to your question. There are multiple correct answers that might not be covered by any one response to your question, but that doesn't mean other responses will be incorrect, which to me is 'polling'. You might need 4 or 5 responses to get a full picture of all the benefits (extended discussion), one admin's perceived benefit might not be as highly valued as another admin's, (solicit debate). So I stand by my reason for voting as not constructive.

  • While I agree with the reasoning, I also agree with @voretaq7's point of view that this is followed to the letter too much. Basically it leads to a discussion about changing the StackExchange (or at least ServerFault) rules for questions, which appears to be kind of a minefield. – the-wabbit Jun 13 '13 at 18:47
  • The problem with being so literal and following "the close reason exactly as it is written now" is that you're missing the point that they really are guidelines. They've changed in the past and they're about to change again. – Ward Jun 14 '13 at 6:21

IMO the VMWare question would benefit from a canonical "why should I select an enterprise level product" question.

The SAS/SATA question is possibly better answered by Why is Enterprise Storage so expensive?

  • I would argue that the VMWare question/answer could be expanded into that canonical question. (The SAS-vs-SATA could probably be mutually dup-linked to the canonical Enterprise Storage question - that seems sensible to me) – voretaq7 Jun 13 '13 at 4:28

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