This question was closed as nonconstructive, which seems wrong to me. (The creator of the question also did not think it was right for it to be closed.) It's a question about a design decision (or else, about whether or not a particular behavior is a bug). Such questions have definite answers, even if the answers are hard to determine. Unless we're going to start closing questions for being hard to answer, it seems to me that questions about design decisions should be left open.

Some users' justification for the idea that this question should be closed was that the creator of the question can file a bug against the odd behavior, and then the response to the bug would answer the question. This is true for plenty of behaviors, but it is rarely an appropriate way to get support. For example, if I wanted to know why Libreoffice was written in Java, I could file a bug, "Libreoffice written in Java," in which I argue it should be written in some other language. In extreme cases, one could meaningfully say that an application is written in the wrong language and that a rewrite or code translation is warranted to fix the bug. But in those cases, one would be well-advised to consult with others first before filing the bug. In cases like the question linked above, it's not inappropriate to file the bug...but it's still better to consult with others first if there is doubt about whether or not the behavior really is a bug.

I'm concerned that by closing questions like this as nonconstructive, we're setting a precedent of encouraging potentially nonconstructive bug reports.

It seems to me that a better alternative would be to leave the question open. Then, if there are no good answers after a while, it would be reasonable to answer or comment, "No one has been able to provide a particularly good explanation for this behavior, strongly suggesting that it is a bug. You should consider filing a bug report about the behavior, and then the developers can decide if it is appropriate. They may also be able to provide an explanation for it. You could then use that explanation to write your own answer to your question."

Some questions about design decisions can be easily answered (like questions about why root logins are disabled by default, or why Libreoffice is included in recent versions of Ubuntu instead of OpenOffice.org). Those questions are never closed. I wonder if the desire to maintain a high accept rate on AskUbuntu subconsciously drives the practice of closing the harder questions about design decisions...


2 Answers 2


Generally, I think you can only decide on the constructiveness of a design decision related questions on a case-by-case basis.

The question under consideration seems to be a rather useful one. I believe the question was closed because it was poorly worded and it wasn't obvious that the OP wants to know why it works the way it is. It sounded more like OP was giving suggestions on how the whole experience could be improved. I have since edited the question and improved the wording so it is obvious to others what the OP is trying to ask.

I had a similar question on why an application has a $0.00 price tag and I could figure out the reasoning. If the question is to be reopened, I am confident I can give a rather reasonable answer that, I think, is constructive to the site as well as serve as a useful resource to people who have had similar question. I can provide links to the filed bug report, with references to the updated design specifics of software-center along with the answer.

Waiting for the community and the moderators to make a decision..


jokerdino's answer sounds reasonable, but even if anyone can point to somewhere to find an answer to this question I can't yet find how useful its answer is.

I am more for Matthew's answer who provides reasons why the question can not be answered or why people shouldn't dare to answer.

There is no solution to the question as it is not a real issue nor a major problem. I agree that $0.00 value items shouldn't be "purchased" but I yet wish to know how "knowing why" will become useful.

As Matthew says, people uses to down vote answers which seems not to have sense for them and this affects the user's acceptation rate/reputation. (even this answer is going to be down voted as Mattew's answer has already been).

Reopening the question isn't either useful. I am for closing it down in the understood that people will be affected if they dare to drop an answer to that question, which is really tempting indeed.

  • Downvotes only decrease reputation slightly, and being downvoted doesn't affect your accept rate. Accept rate is how many of your own questions have accepted answers. Furthermore, downvotes here on meta don't affect reputation at all and do not have the same meaning as downvotes on main. Downvoting on meta can express disagreement, whereas on main it expresses a belief that an answer is wrong or at least unhelpful. Being downvoted (even a lot) on meta does not say anything negative about you at all. See meta.askubuntu.com/faq#vote-differences. Commented May 9, 2012 at 16:22
  • You're really informed. But how does this make a difference on this topic? I mentioned user's reputation based on my opinion about that people uses not to take in consideration how useful the answer can be for anyone else. If they don't find it useful for their case and if people (especially newcomers) pay attention to how accepted/rejected has an answer been. I yet wish to know: How a question like this can be useful for you? having the same usefulness for me... and for everyone's facing a similar situation. Thank you Commented May 9, 2012 at 16:27
  • The purpose of Ask Ubuntu is to help users. Even questions that rarely come up can have answers. Only questions that would probably never arise again for anyone else are closed as too narrow. As for how the question could be useful for me, I also want to know why one must go through the purchasing process to get a $0 item through the Software Center. I might have asked the question if Ralf Hersel hadn't. And it's a question about something that potentially affects all users! Finally, the other 5 people who upvoted it probably thought it was a useful question too. Commented May 9, 2012 at 16:32
  • They upvoted the question as re-opened... not the question itself... that's easy to know... Anyway, thank you very much. I have enough of this and I have said what I think. Thank you again. Commented May 9, 2012 at 16:34
  • The question has been reworded. What is asks has not changed. No matter when it is cast, an upvote to a question on main expresses the belief that it's a real question worth answering. Commented May 9, 2012 at 16:38
  • I think the question was more or less a bug report. It was even addressed as one and led to a refinement of the feature in question. If the question had been written as a bug report with steps to reproduce and the rest, it would have been OT right? Commented Aug 25, 2015 at 18:42

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