A few minutes ago, a (broad) question of mine was put on hold. I wish to raise the discussion if such a question does not fit this stackExchange site.

The way I see some of the StackExchange sites (in particular I know the Mathoverflow one well), they provide a forum where people with a common passion can build a community of people with a common interest. One very popular and useful question that I have asked in Mathoverflow is the following:


People shared their own ideas and gave examples that they love. I was imagining that my German question today will generate the same kind of reaction. I in particular would love to hear which sprictwörter you like the best. (These sayings are like a window to the soul of the German language as well as helping with learning the bones of it.)

  • why was this given -1? it is not a valid question for the meta?
    – Menny
    Apr 28, 2015 at 7:23
  • 1
    Downvotes on Meta do not have the same meaning as they have on main. Here they merely show that somebody disagreed with your idea to allow broad questions.
    – Takkat
    Apr 28, 2015 at 7:35

1 Answer 1


There is quite a clear statement all over the Stack Exchange network that broad questions or list questions are not a good fit for the site's design.

All comes down to the simple one-question-one-answer maxime to produce question & answer sites for all who come here seeking for help. This has proven to be sucessful. Only if we keep following this we will be able to continue delivering high quality sites where a "best" answer can be chosen, and voting will push good answers to the top of the list, and bad ones further down.

All help sections on asking questions basically say the same:

So we all agreed we should not ask long list questions, questions that can't possibly have a single good answer, or are subjective in any way.

This is not different on Mathoverflow:

Therefore it is not much of a surprise that your question there was made a "community wiki" question. It could have been closed as well but as it likely had good answers already, people may have decided to leave it open.

We also keep some of these list questions as a community wiki for either historical reasons, or to give people some space to post recommendation e.g. on dictionaries or learning ressources. But this does in no way mean that such list questions are a good fit for the site.

On your question 5 community members agreed to close it so this vote is binding until another 5 members vote to reopen it (which is possible, e.g. after an edit).

  • I think you are missing the point the mathoverflow moderator are not missing it. My question there is far from unique- here are some example of questions which have a lot of possible answers:mathoverflow.net/questions/8846/proofs-without-words and also questions that asks for lists and where asked by the moderators themselves: mathoverflow.net/questions/16829/… and I can continue this list forever...
    – Menny
    Apr 28, 2015 at 7:21
  • Also, I think all of you can imagine nice answers to my question. The only answer that was given before you closed it is a very nice one. In any case, I guess I'm missing something and I'll just drop it. Thanks a lot for maintaining this great site! It helps a lot.
    – Menny
    Apr 28, 2015 at 7:26
  • @Menny: you may also agree that making this a Community Wiki where evereybody could edit in their favourite proverb would have been a somewhat better approach. So if people decide to re-open your question we should make it CW.
    – Takkat
    Apr 28, 2015 at 7:32
  • Sure! I'm sorry I didn't think of the CW option to begin with.
    – Menny
    Apr 28, 2015 at 8:13
  • @Menny: I made it CW so eventually people can add proverbs to your existing answers if they want to. This also works on closed questions BTW.
    – Takkat
    Apr 28, 2015 at 8:21

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