So, lately, Ive been noticing more and more questions that are, for lack of a better term, "slow-motion trainwrecks." For example:

Is that OK to leave a small endless loop script running on server?

Starts out as a not-horrible question regarding the horrible practice of having a script run as an endless loop on a server. Gets an answer. Adds some clarifications and expands on what he's doing. Gets a couple more answers outlining the proper way to do what he's doing, then proceeds to make more edits to his post, each moving in the direction of (and adding reasons for) why it has to be done the stupid way.

So, now after the clarifications, we have transformed what once was a decent question, with proper answers to it, into something that no longer resembles a question, but is instead an impossibly narrow request for validation/justification of how to do [insert really bad idea here].

What's the proper approach to questions like this, that get worse and less valuable as they're updated? Close for unprofessional? Rollback to a more broadly useful version of the broader question? Downvote mercilessly? Something else?

  • Yeah a definite increase I had one with the potential to go like that today but I mostly ignored the followup and it was headed off at the pass by a bunch of upstanding citizens.
    – user9517
    Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 20:59
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    Yeah, I had one the other day that looked like a reasonable question until he clarified in the comments. As soon as he admitted that he didn't know how to [do unbelievably basic GUI tool task] I VTCed and walked away briskly, avoiding eye contact. Commented Apr 15, 2014 at 22:19

1 Answer 1


I generally VTC those types of questions with "not professional" because he did not provide all the information out of the gate to begin with, signaling that the OP has no idea what he wants and instead fishes for ideas. The entire point of Q&A is to ask a well defined question and get a well defined answer from someone who knows how to do it ...not have a dialogue.

I've had people ask me in comments unrelated questions or expand their question after I answered it...for these, I typically just ignore them or fire a close vote their way. For really bad questions, I downvote them too.

  • 2
    Not sure I agree with this. "bad at your job" isn't the same as "not a professional"
    – MDMarra
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 3:23
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    @MDMarra I dunno, I think it is, as we use the word on ServerFault. Even if someone is employed as a sysadmin, if they ask something basic enough or want to do something wrong enough, we close it down for "unprofessional." Whether it's actually the case or not, "professional" implies certain standards and levels of competence. I've made money doing any manner of things, but that hardly makes me a "professional" locksmith, or a "professional" driver or a "professional" alcohol distributor, and so on. Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 6:14
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    @MDMarra Unfortunately "you're bad at this and you should feel bad" isn't a valid close reason. ;)
    – Nathan C
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 12:02
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    I mean...there are custom close reasons now.
    – MDMarra
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 12:04
  • @MDMarra There are custom close reasons, but from experience, I can tell you that if you get too creative... or in many cases, too honest, it causes problems. The auto-comment close reason gets flagged as rude, the OP gets all butt-hurt, and it's a big thing. Seems better for everyone to just close for "not professional" and explain that "professional" means certain standards, and "doing it right," rather than explaining why, specifically, $[brain-dead, amateur-quality idea] is a brain-dead amateur-quality idea. Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 13:06
  • Burn! (heh, butthurt)
    – ewwhite
    Commented Apr 16, 2014 at 14:24
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    "If it's gonna be amateur night, I want a hundred thousand dollars. I want it upfront. I want it in a bank account. I want another hundred thousand when you get the [accepted answer]."
    – MadHatter
    Commented Apr 17, 2014 at 7:14
  • This speaks more to what people want these sites to be as opposed to what they are. Commented Apr 24, 2014 at 17:53

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