I am of course talking about What advantages does Ubuntu have over Windows as an environment for programming?

It's picking up a number of meta comments (and allegations) so I thought it better to transfer some of that to Meta where we can talk about it without bombing what I consider a valid question.

Before we go any further, let me head off the "But Oli, you've got a very vested rep interest in that question"... The phrase "a drop in the ocean" couldn't seem more applicable to me. The reason I answered it in the first place is because I think it's a good question. The current main reasons I like it are:

  • It's furiously popular. 2576 views in 22 hours.
  • Its subject matter is great advertising for Ubuntu.
  • It's attracting people with real experience. We've got people coming in from other SE sites to help out here.
  • It is about Ubuntu, it is about development and it can be answered satisfactorily without bending to plain old mud-slinging or obviously one-sided views.

It was closed as being too opinionated which I objected to because it was pulling in so much real world experience, explicitly contrary to that particular reason. I don't deny there is opinion in some of the answers but that's not enough. There are also some concerns about its general on-topicness which I have attempted to fix with a very simple edit.

I've just deleted the following meta-comment from BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft:

This question is incredibly off-topic for a number of reasons; the only reason it's still open is because a moderator likes how it agrees with his OS-political-opinions. That, plus the fact that he deleted all the highly-upvoted comments explaining why it's off-topic, is just another reason we need more checks-and-balances to prevent moderator abuse.

I'm deleting some comments (like the above) because they're completely meta. I'm trying to address or fix them and move on. In this case I hope this question itself answers most of what Danny has to say...

If you agree with Danny or have another issue with me or another moderator, please take it up with the other moderators on Meta (I can't hide a question from them) or the Stack Exchange team via the contact link at the bottom of every page.

Otherwise use this post to rage on about the validity of the original post.

  • 8
    I don't think you're going to get anything in that question but opinion (that's why it's getting the traffic and the comments). Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 13:04
  • 4
    "I am surprised to not see "GNU Make" in any of the answers." had me rolling on the floor though! Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 13:04
  • I'll move my comment here, too, since it was one of those: I agree that this would be more on-topic at Programmers.SE, but my experience there is that the mods would close it without a second thought, and not listen to users who want it reopened, ignoring any good answers it may have gotten before the closure. I'm happy to see that "good subjective" questions are allowed somewhere.
    – Izkata
    Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 14:07
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    I think I know why is "hot" i.sstatic.net/DM5hP.png. That is my "first" time seeing a AU question in the Hot dropdown list (which is why it's generating lot of traffic, etc.). I just hope that later we aren't dealing with ~100 answers since I was the first one that voted to close as opinion-based (in an attempt to prevent this and since the quality of the already posted answers was good enough).
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 15:13
  • 1
    If we're worried about 100s of answers we should protect it and add a answer notice like they do on Super User.
    – Seth
    Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 16:31
  • Thanks for explaining your reasoning on the questions usefulness. I do agree with Jorge though. I'll vote to re-open and see where the answers go. ;-) Commented Oct 18, 2013 at 21:43

2 Answers 2


Levelled opinion from experience or cited fact is both valuable and welcome.

I spew my opinions all over this site and it's usually warmly appreciated. That's because my opinions, when I give them, come from my experience. Why am I not tripping over "primarily opinion-based" more often? Let's look at the reason. Emphasis mine.

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.

Many of the opinions being exchanged in this question are those of programmers who have used both Ubuntu and Windows and are well pitched to offer their professional opinion. There are posts and comments both against and in favour of Windows. People are giving reasons. Things have an unexpected level of balance (given where we are). People are being objective about their subjectivity.

What's best is we have levels of quality where the voting helps pick the better answers out from the less good. The system is working. I know there's been some concern about ramble in the comments here but I'd be happy with a hundred answers if they all had value and in that vein we can vote to prune out the weaker answers.

We should reserve close-opinion for discussions like "What should I set my wallpaper to?". No expertise will ever help there, nor will it help another user. It's a fishing expedition in a barren lake.

Also see: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/09/good-subjective-bad-subjective/

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    I think we need to protect it now... the answers are becoming crappy.
    – Braiam
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 3:30

Only specific questions require specific expertise

This is not a specific question and thus should be closed.

I think you would have closed the question had you not answered it yourself. Quite frankly, the only reason such a vague question is open is because you are the one protecting it.

The OP should have been forced to make his question more specific, about a specific language, a specific type of development, the availability of certain software or of didactic resources, whatever. But not just 'why use ubuntu for programming?'

Otherwise expect the following type of questions,

  • 'What advantages does Ubuntu have as an environment for hacking?'
  • 'What advantages does Ubuntu have as an environment for writing?'
  • 'What advantages does Ubuntu have as an environment for learning about computers?'
  • ...

Sure, these will be high-traffic questions, but they corrupt the system, are outdated quite fast, and can never be complete. If a question cannot be completely answered, it is not sufficiently specific!

This is the type of question that will get a "this question is here for historical reasons" tag. This question should have been on the forum, not the QA site.

I would love to see another mod close the question. You have gained +650 rep from that question, so I personally find you should have asked another mod to judge this question and clean it up when needed. There's plenty of excellent mods or trusted users (like Jorge on the present page) that would have given you an honest opinion.

  • We clearly differ on opinion on what specific requires. I consider this specific enough, you want it razor sharp. FWIW the OP is talking about Visual Studio and that's how I aimed my answer. Unfortunately I haven't got 650 rep... There's a daily cap so on the day when I posted the answer, I missed out on 210 rep from the answer... Oh and 140 rep on other posts. Get over the rep thing. And I have spoken with another mod and they and other trusted users are welcome to give their opinion directly (or through here) of me or my actions.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 9:45
  • What convinces me so completely is the +48-5 the question has and what effect that has both for our little community here and the wider Ubuntu community, amid the excitement of a new version launch.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 9:51
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    @Oli you seem to miss my point and I feel I am wasting my time to convince you otherwise. I don't think the reasons you give to keep the question open should be applied to other questions. The question is primarily opinion-based (this is even mentioned in the answers, also cf. Jorge's cmt) and you reopening the question is awkward. I do not necessarily agree with BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft's remark, but you should at least have respected the community's decision, have opened a meta question and have left it to others to reopen the Q.
    – don.joey
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 10:43
  • I understand you care little about rep gains. Your reputation as well as that of Jorge, Seth, Radu, Luis, FossFreedom, to name but a few, does not depend on a number. It is based on your concrete actions to help this community as well as your (plural) leadership in the community. You are very valuable to the community. This question, however, is a slipper and, because you opened a meta question about it, I am being honest about it. No offence intended.
    – don.joey
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 10:45
  • None, taken. The second time it was re-opened, it was purely by the community. But that process takes hours. Before it was first closed, it was the most popular question on the entire SE network. It's my prerogative as a moderator weigh up more than if a post is the best it could possibly be, and factor in how it affects our community. Pair that with my belief that it's a valid question and it's clear why I might act unilaterally.
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 12:31
  • I'm super-busy at work and can't really slug this out but I think we're looking at it from different angles. Mine is: How does closing a really popular question help the site?
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Oct 23, 2013 at 12:36
  • Anyone might want to read The trouble with popularity
    – Braiam
    Commented May 9, 2015 at 18:56

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