We closed this as per parent site guidance and previous Ask Ubuntu meta discussion over the same issue

Was it fair?

List questions are not proper for the site

This is called a list question where the OP asks people - most of the time following a pre defined answer template - to add answers to the post to build up a list of available solutions.

This is not a constructive question. It does not request a solution for a issue, there is no issue. Some questions can be answered with multiple solutions, true, but these have no issue so they ask no definitive solutions.

But there are more list question on the site, now what?

I did not spot them all, but while looking for one example I to compare I found this one What Custom Launchers and Unity Quicklists are available? and locked it.

This created some discussion since the question already has a lot of answers in it and has thousands of views (107k views to be more exact).

I'm not really sorry I did it, I hate ambiguous handling and the button was there, was not really a hunt, just happened to be the one I saw first.

If I closed the music players one because its a non constructive question I could not create a blind spot for this one so I opted to lock the Quicklists question so that it cannot be used as a based for further discussion on why can one exist and the other not.

There are many many more out there!

I know! Not nice, hem? I want to lock them all, they have information that is still useful and its not fair to delete them, people have worked on them and deserved the reputation gains. But should we moderators do that?

To me it sounds fair that they stay but the same should not be used as a opinion based to whether a question should or not be closed as Not a constructive question, it is more fair that those are locked for historical reasons:

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here. This question and its answers are frozen and cannot be changed. More info: FAQ.


What is your opinion on that?

Should we take care of those question and lock them somehow so that the Lists are not cool answers idea prevails or should we keep those open? How can we then prevent new lists question to be created?

Should we care about lists at all? Keep them alive and even incentive the creation of new ones (or at least not close new ones)?

Answers please! I agree or I do not agree can be given on up and down votes in answers. We have created 2 answers for that but you can add your opinion as an answer or if its just a small thing as a comment on either the question or any of the answers created. Futher answers are really welcome!


8 Answers 8


Tl;dr: Don't close existing questions, but do crack down on new ones.

In an attempt to help the debate, I used the "Incognito google search" test.

I opened up a incognito window, and went to google and searched for "unity quicklists".

Lo and behold!

Yeah, I can't do half-decent freehand circles, so I did a square. That didn't work so well either.

Look at that! First result is us. How nice.

Except that its locked.

Currently, since it is locked, it is uh, shall we say "un-updatable", and therefore is also going to be outdated really, really quickly.

What possible solutions do we have? After all, we have a fair amount of questions out there that are similar to it - they don't belong here, and we don't have an easy way to get them into the Ubuntu Wiki or something like that.

  • Short term: Unlock, and add a historical notice, but no lock, just like I did here.

  • Short term: Leave them locked.

  • Long term: Move them off this site!! They don't belong here. However, there is no other place on the internet with this much information, and that is this high quality (as in, has a list of features, screenshots, etc) - for now.

Also, StackExchanges purpose is to make the internet a better place.

As was posted on Meta Stack Overflow:

Wikipedia has a policy called "Ignore all rules". Simply:

If a rule prevents you from improving or maintaining Wikipedia, ignore it.

"Make the internet a better place" is Stack Exchange's "ignore all rules" policy. If a guideline, precedent, or action goes against what you sincerely believe makes the Internet a better place, you have an obligation to ignore it.

Something similar was brought up on Stack Overflow. What ended up being decided was the following:

  1. Broken links

  2. High rep users whinged about losing their precious reputation.

2 isn't a problem with us, since most of them are community wiki right now.

1, on the other hand, isn't either, because SO was talking about deletion. However, I would argue that having outdated, potentially dangerous information available is worse than broken links.


We already discussed this a few months ago - a SE community team member came in and started closing some of our list questions. We fought to keep them, and these guidelines are what came out of it.

If we decide to change this "policy" (for lack of a better word) now, then we need to make sure that is also updated.

Hopefully I made some sense, if I didn't, then find me in chat and I'll try to help you.

  • If the old ones stay why would we close the new ones? That sounds a bit like hipocrisy no? Should not all stay or go? Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 17:46
  • @BrunoPereira I point to this Meta Stack Overflow answer by a moderator, as well as this one.
    – jrg
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 18:16
  • Those do not apply as we already discussed on chat since they refer to something else or to similar locked list posts. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 8:52

List questions are okay, provided a defined scope

I feel that questions like Music Players in Ubuntu add value to the site. They address a practical problem ('I'm looking for a music player'), have a defined and objective scope, and — in my view — did not flood out other content with low-calorie "fun" back when their admissibility was more ambiguous. Also, it seems to me that no other arm of the Ubuntu community is well structured to answer this sort of question.

On the other hand, totally open-ended questions like "What cool tricks and tips are there for new Ubuntu users" should remain off topic.

A quick battery test could be: "Is the number of possible answers finite?"

  • What will happen to those answers once a version of them does not further work and they have a zillion votes on them? When the information on those "answers" becomes wrong the content of the question becomes noise only, how can we avoid it? Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 12:26
  • @BrunoPereira This is exactly why we're so well equipped for this problem space. If a solution to any list question becomes invalid, it can be deleted. This isn't true for forums and old blogs. Of course, a valid question is whether this opens undue administrative burden, but highly-popular apps don't fall out of maintenance to the point of being unusuable too, too often. The bigger problem is when a new answer to such a question becomes better than old solutions, but this is already a problem with regular questions, and is not specific to lists.
    – Jjed
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 12:33
  • I would agree on What player has X or Y features questions faster than I would like plain list question, allowing those means its a a matter of time before we wont be able to handle all the posts on them and then they become what the name says, just a list of unknown status posts that cannot be all checked and verified. After that happens how are we better than a blog or any other place that post lost invalid information? Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 12:51
  • @Bruno in case an answer goes outdated or invalid, I believe we have an option to add a notice to the answer saying that, "At the point of writing, this answer was historically correct. But, it doesn't apply to the wider audience anymore" or some other notice along those lines. I strongly believe SE has enough features to help us manage outdated content fairly easily compared to other platforms.
    – jokerdino Mod
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 13:04
  • 1
    I would argue you're underestimating the ability of the system to scale. Looking at the review tab, I can't imagine moderator-intervention-required maintenance of lists will ever amount to much relatively. And if you receive a flag "Popular Media Player X no longer works", don't you think a quick Google would usually be enough to verify? Given the traffic these lists get (and their CW status) the community can handle most updating outside of answer deletion. It works on Wikipedia.
    – Jjed
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 13:08
  • 1
    @BrunoPereira Also, there is a nuclear option. If a list becomes ever becomes crazy outdated beyond repair, delete and redirect to a new iteration of the question. Ostensibly, situations requiring this sort of intervention wouldn't come up very often. I feel worrying about how much maintenance these lists would require is like worrying about puddles beside the ocean.
    – Jjed
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 13:14
  • @JacobJohanEdwards Its cool man. I have removed the cw you made since I already cover the same terms you did there, feel free to vote (down or up, does not matter), hope that is ok. Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 17:49

My answer: I'm not sure if I agree or not! Argl!

  • These are questions that lots of people want answers to. They're often highly voted for and some of our existing infinite-list-of-X (ILoX herein) questions are the most popular on the site in terms of traffic.

  • ILoX is widely regarded as a "bad thing" in the wider StackExchange community because it doesn't fit the Q/A format. Lots of sites shoot them on sight.

  • When we close NARQ and OT questions, we often tell the OP to go to UbuntuForums - but how is a forum structure any better than ours? If you look over UbuntuForums you'll see thousands of these questions and they bloat, stagnate and die in just the same way as they would here. At least we can rank answers.

By banning this style of question here and doing nothing else, we're blindly hoping that another segment of the community can fulfil the demand for answers but as I say, the alternatives to us are no better at handling the problem.

So yes. I'm in two minds between "Argl, this is somebody else's problem!" and "Argl, think of the users!". I think there are arguments for:

  • Embracing the demand and trying to enhance how we deal with ILoX questions. This does need work because infinite lists are very hard to browse and new (better) answers take a while to float to the top.

    Edit: Computer Science Theory keep a big-list meta-tag and seems to allow them. Yeah I know everybody hates meta-tags but if we were to adopt something similar, it would help us monitor the usage.

  • Finding a better solution in the community. My first thought for something better than both AU and UF was the oft-forgotten Wiki. MoinMoin is not my favourite format language but technically speaking it's slightly more adaptive than our version of Markdown. The challenge (that Jorge "Delete-a-wiki-page" Castro will hate) is maintaining these.

    Converting our content out to the Wiki is one thing but it would be irresponsible (and a waste of our time) to push the content there and then just abandon it.

This isn't really an answer but I'd like to hope that some workable ideas can come from my rambling.

Edit: I've read Stack Overflow: Where We Hate Fun and like my opinion the answer is not cut-and-dry. Not all lists are evil, but that doesn't mean they all hold value either. The decision should come from a three-way balance between it fitting our remit, what the community wants and the actual value in the question.

Oli's Opinion-o-meter (last updated: 12.48UTC): Currently erring more toward saying we shouldn't just close all lists because they're lists. Chance of rain.

  • I like the idea of suggesting to move these to a wiki format, I do understand its a big risk but then again the same can happen here in Ask Ubuntu, what are the chances that the answers there will not end up the same as the Java answer discussion we had a few weeks ago, plain wrong and ready to be deleted? Sure we can edit them out but what will happen when there is a Unity split and a version of an answer no longer works with the next version of Unity? Create a new list for the new version of Unity? Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 12:22
  • I don't really want to follow what the computer science theory people are currently doing. They have a lot of meta tags going on currently, like, for example, homework tag. But, other than that, interesting points raised for discussion.
    – jokerdino Mod
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 13:02
  • 2
    We should not close current lists, they serve a purpose. Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 13:13
  • @MarcoCeppi great man, add an answer explaining why! Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 13:55
  • Oli's Opinion-o-meter update needed! :) Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 9:14

List questions should not be locked (vote up or down)

Remember: locked questions and their answers cannot be edited, the posts in them cannot be voted and new answers cannot be added.

  • ... I wouldnt give a blanket (on masse) lock and closure - the most popular by virtue of their vote & visit counts I would leave open.
    – fossfreedom Mod
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 11:56
  • Should new lists be allowed on the site then? How can we justify closing ones when there are others open with the same structure? Can you develop more of that in the form of an answer? Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 12:23
  • ... actually Jacob Johan Edwards has just taken the words right out of my mouth!
    – fossfreedom Mod
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 12:26

As the author of this post in question (thank you Bruno Pereira, for bringing it up and pointing it out to me), i honestly admit, that it was intended and expected to be a listing-your-answers request. You already established that fact, so this is only a personal remark.

Furthermore i understand, why this and other requests like these were closed, but i don't oppose, nor do i agree. Why? Because there is clearly a conflict involved, which has been pointed out sufficiently in the comments above, both for pro and contra.

Next (and most important) Step:
How to deal with these sort of problems / How to make community rules fair and equal to all of its members, which only leaves two options:

  1. Allow list questions
  2. Exclude list questions

Being a non-supporter of strict rules, that totally cut out useful, helpful and valuable content/information, which is to be considered the case here, i suggest the following idea:

Why not allow these list-question in a fair way to everyone!

  • First of all (if this is the way to go) all list-questions, that have been submitted must be deleted, in order to put everyone on the same level.
  • I noticed, that there is a community-bot, that edits answers, which can be used, to create these questions anew (best web-browser, music-player, applets etc..), so that users can only answer instead of doing both.
  • Also the reputation-points system is somewhat a disturbing factor in this case. If possible (that is for the developers/website ppl to say) points shouldn't be given for list-answers at all, since these can also be considered as opinions and secondly regarded as answers. Not every effort must be rewarded if we talk about community, even if Ayn Rand would strongly object, if still living and interested in this discussion. (A great woman of her time!!)
  • These questions would also make a good sub-category, which are not shown on the main page as questions, as it is right now, rather there would be a link to the sub-category section, like the meta forum. (Again, this is for the developers to consider/decide and some work for sure!)
  • Also it is important to make a template like structure, that requires specific information in a specific order, like (only an example):

1) Image of the application.
2) Link to HP/Developer.
3) Extendable through/with plug-ins.
4) How to install / installation-options.
5) Stable/unstable release
6) Last update / maintenance

  • And the last point would be, to transform list-questions to non-discussion posts, (no comments of-topic, nor sub-comments in this area), since this was the idea in the first place! All necessary information required are there, thanks to the template-structure and user could post specified questions about on of the listed (i go with browsers again) in the askUbuntu HP, like before.

Well, i made some new rules in this idea as it seems, in a slightly different context, though it is more acceptable as it is right now imo.

So far!

  • I like it. Love the 2 points you showed on the 3rd paragraph, not trying to be strict we need to define well if the community is able and wants to have these questions around. If yes then we should allow new ones to be created and if not we need to decide what to do with the old ones. Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 8:55
  • Have you considered to make an official vote on the mainpage, for all users who are interested to participate. If it wasn't for your hint i never noticed this open meta-question. Also thank you for your nice reply!!
    – v2r
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 16:38
  • That is not the proper way of handling this, the main site is about Ubuntu, and only Ubuntu, meta is the place to discuss questions and issues about the main site :/ Would be great to see more people involved in meta since we discuss important stuff for the site here though. We do try ;) Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 5:41
  • I see and understand that. On the other hand (i am assured) most of the users on the parent site are not aware of these important discussions and decisions that follow them, therefore don't bother much to drop by. Maybe, if the moderators would advertise the meta forum once in a while on the parent site and look at the traffic statistics (moderator tools?!) it would be different.
    – v2r
    Commented Mar 28, 2012 at 10:52

Split, no split? Draw a line please.

Answers on the site should address a issue that can be solved, list question only mean one thing: information ready to be outdated soon but will not will not be deleted for sheer amount of votes on them.

This is not the way we roll, we should not be deleting several 30+ voted answers because we made the mistake of allowing them to exist in the first place.


I do understand that the user comes first all the times and that information is always nice to have at hand but we need to draw a line between Ask Ubuntu and the outdated random information we see population blogs out there.

Lets be reasonable we work with down and up votes but no answer will get 30+ down votes once it becomes outdated in a non solvable manner.

I am proud of Ask Ubuntu because of the reliable information provided and the trust worthy updatability of the content, sheer amounts of answers do not fit any of those parameters and I would easier see these questions and future list question locked out of the site.

New list questions are valid questions then?

How can we justify the closure of new list questions then? Lets not be ambiguous on this, its a matter of time before the answers on those questions are not longer relevant and the amount of answer outcomes the attempts to check and control the information on them, it will be a grave yard of emptiness crap if no one controls them.

If we allow these to populate we are not better than any blog out there that explains the users solutions that do not work and are not updated anymore.

But if we are to allow those list to stay we should allow new ones to exist instead of closing them.

Solutions please!

We need to lock those and future version of them closed. Allowing them to be open while closing new ones is not the solution.

I would really feel wrong to just close something and call it not welcome when others are still there under the same parameters used for closing new ones.

Moving them to a wiki format is a great solution, the risks of letting them die would greatly be minimal compared with having to delete answers later on here on the site.

If a page is outdated on a wiki it can simply be deleted, no one will probably complain. The opposite here in the site is not true.

  • What then of lists that don't go outdated? (eg "New games in 2012", "Features of 12.04")
    – Jjed
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 12:49
  • @JacobJohanEdwards what guarantees that in 2 years that information will even work for new versions of Ubuntu? Since there is no issue I can post anything I want in them and that would still be true and get 100 votes, then what? Someone decides oh yeah, this does not work in our time frame anymore and deletes it (if even, that would be great imo), who will check that then, another voting pool to ask if we should or not delete those? Think not! (like the discussion, keep it coming, its good to see the other side) Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 12:55
  • There is another option: Why not have two separate posts of this kind for both, "older" (11.10) and "newer" (12.04) version from now on, and when the next OS 12.xx is released, simply delete the oldest post, being 11.10, to keep things orderly. Users who still use v.11.10 for sure know their way around after that timespan!!
    – v2r
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 0:15

Perhaps there should be some modular way to put things on the Ubuntu wiki and embed chunks of text specifically from that site. This way, someone could link to an article (which is typically frowned upon) with an embed. Then the question could be locked or not. The REAL data might be more likely to be maintained on the wiki. Solving both problems I think.

  • Yes. We've discussed this in the past, I think we're waiting for Oli to get a free weekend and write us a markdown > whatever the ubuntu wiki uses bridge to make it relatively painless. Or something like that.
    – jrg
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 13:49

I agree to lock list questions (vote up or down)

Remember: locked questions and their answers cannot be edited, the posts in them cannot be voted and new answers cannot be added.

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