Yesterday, I asked a question (some sort of reference request) about the name of a sample program.

Despite my attempt for it to

  1. fit the format of Q&A as is the case with the rest of SE,

  2. be on topic, show some effort, and be answerable,

  3. most importantly, be useful (so that search engines may index it and answer the question more quickly)

it received 2 downvotes. (I'm not sure about close votes as I'm not yet priviledged to view it)

Might I ask, why is that the case?


1 Answer 1


First of all, please be aware that any user that can cast a down -or upvote may do so, without having to explain their reasons.

So while I cannot tell you why your post has received these two downvotes, I can discuss why your post might have attracted them.

Second, I'm not so sure whether this question is on-topic. The help center states

Questions about how a particular piece of software or hardware works aren't science (unless you're asking about the scientific concepts behind that software or hardware). You may ask on Super User or other appropriate technology sites.

and I've always interpreted this as implying requests how to find a particular piece of software are off-topic as well. However, it is not clear to me from your question whether your question is about the actual program or about the concepts behind the program.

So I'm not sure. Some users tend to downvote questions they think should be closed (sometimes in addition to a close-vote).

Additionally, part of your request appears to be using SE as a method to get around your national firewall. Getting around firewalls is not the main purpose of SE, and some users might take offense at this request.

Finally, I'm not so sure how good of a "reference request" question this is. Usually, reference requests are for a well-defined topic where any work that explains the topic is a good answer. What this question looks like is a somewhat vague recollection of a computer program seen somewhere, and a request to find this specific piece of work. This type of request is rare on CS.SE and it reminds me of the "identification" questions (such as story identification on scifi.SE), which are often difficult to deal with without clear guiding rules. In particular, I'm not sure how useful the link between your personal recollection and the actual program is for others.

All in all, I think this question is not so great. Maybe you can make a better question by asking for the concept of verbosity of programming language itself, or in particular how to measure it. This way, we might still be able to help you even if we cannot find your particular program, either.

  • $\begingroup$ Got it (somewhatly). What I sought is an abstract program. I've explained it in the question to avoid it being confused as a concrete program analyzing the programming languages' grammars. Removed the "national firewall" part. Hope it can help. $\endgroup$
    – DannyNiu
    Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 6:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DannyNiu, I don't think the latest edit addresses the core point in Discrete Lizard's excellent answer. Perhaps it would be helpful to mention that part of our mission is to build up an archive of high-quality questions and answers that will be useful to others, so we prefer questions that others might have and that will help others too. As the question is currently phrased, it is about helping you with a specific memory, which might not be very relevant to anyone else who didn't have that exact same experience. $\endgroup$
    – D.W. Mod
    Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 7:28
  • $\begingroup$ I think the advice in the last paragraph of this answer is an excellent suggestion worth contemplating. $\endgroup$
    – D.W. Mod
    Commented Sep 21, 2020 at 7:30

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