The question Cross platform JS/PHP editor software with FTP support and code hinting has been closed twice, reopened, and is well into process toward being closed again.

Looking around the site, I see there other very similar questions where the only difference is the language they are targeting. If thats the case, is this question overfly broad because one of the criteria happens to be a popular feature? Seems like a silly line to draw IMO.

It would seem to me that there is a demand for it to be open (since it keeps getting reopened nearly as soon as it gets closed). If the questions is indeed too broad, perhaps there is not a clear understanding among the community about what makes a question overly broad.

In closing:

This community is still very young, and we need to have clear, consistent critera about what makes a question good or bad. I also think we need to take the "baggage" from our experience in the network so far and leave it at the door. This community is going to be vastly different than most other sites on this network and we need to keep that in mind as we move forward.

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    I closed it the first time. And I reopened it last time. I attribute it to learning, but I do think many users simply aren't yet sure how to handle these things.
    – user46
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 15:55
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    While @Undo has a valid point related to the learning process (which we're all enjoying), I also agree with iamkrillin that time has come to setup some first hard rules. If we don't, we might end up in non-constructive "open/close" cycles that are bound to result in general frustration for us all. On the positive side, the temp-mod candidates look promising. Yet, that also means we need some agreed-upon rules they can enforce when they get elected… it'll make their job a bit easier.
    – e-sushi
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 17:23

3 Answers 3


This is a case where the question itself might simply have crossed that line of "too broad." I don't know if it should be closed, but this is the type of thing that needs to be carefully self-moderated and tempered, and should at the very least be a very small component of this site.

On other sites, we use the phrase "not a real question" because the problem statement doesn't really reflect an actual problem the author is having. It's just a shout out for everyone to start listing the products they use, where the voting is something akin to a popularity contest. Here's how you can tell:

It already has eleven answers
Within minutes, folks were piling in with what they use… but no answer particularly meets the (unstated) needs of the author better than any other. There's a vague sense that voting might correspond to popularity, but this is not supposed to be a "people's choice" poll of who's using what.

There's a lot of heavy voting
Everyone is chiming in because there's no particular answer that is any more correct (or even relevant) than any other. It's just who knows what. A Google search does the same thing.

The "requirements" of the author are commonly available, so the answer justification is nonexistent or non sequitur
There's a lot of answers stating simply I use… I use… I use… but very little detail to explain why it meets the needs of the author. Where features are being touted, it's not even clear if the author is interested in those issues at all.

I often use the term "casting a broad net." It's used when the author doesn't really have a specific question in mind, but hoping to learn… something… by picking through the rubble of the most-common replies later. It is, essentially, a conversation starter. We are trying to avoid too much of that here.

Overall, this question is just eliciting a lot of guess work and building a popularity poll. I don't know if this should be closed, but this is certainly not what this site is for. I just wrote up post addressing a similar issue:

How to deal with similar questions

  • @Gilles Pretty much. I don't know if the "question is good to have", I just don't know if it's going to become too often-repeated to fight. But the success of this beta will lie in whether we can keep this "problem" in check. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 17:44
  • Good, I wasn't sure I wasn't missing something. I guess this is the recurring popularity vs quality debate. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 17:46
  • To me, this shows the proposal might not work after all. We've got 4 Qs that are more or less dupes showing the same issue while only half of them result in "on-/off-topic" discussions. Funny enough, all 4 should've been closed according to this. Meanwhile, I understand why SE was critical about the proposal in the first place. Compared to other Betas, I've seen more "open/close/open" action than constructive "software recommendations" (AKA Q&As) with actual solutions to real problems. From my point of view, the non-existance of a basic starting-ruleset (see regular Q&A sites) slowly kills it.
    – e-sushi
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 13:54
  • I think the question is fine, if interpreted narrowly: answers must meet the requirements (e.g., "syntax highlighting"). I don't object to a lot of answers to a question; sometimes there might be lot. I'm not so sure in this case that the answers do meet the requirements (I don't use any of those editors for JS/PHP dev) but I think that's the real issue here.
    – Ira Baxter
    Commented Feb 9, 2014 at 15:03

I closed it the first time, and I'd close it again. It's far too broad.

More specifically, what this question lacks is a problem to solve. Contrast with FTP file editor and uploader that's also a code editor?

The “JS/PHP” question has only a feature list, with 10 suggestions so far. It's well on its way to becoming http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_text_editors. In contrast, the “FTP file editor” question provides a workflow (I'm not sure whether to call it a use case or a user story). There isn't just a list of requirements to meet: software that meets the requirement but that is ill-suited to the workflow (overkill, suboptimal, …) would not be a good recommendation.

With only a feature list and no use case, “JS/PHP” boils down to a list of software that passes all the checks.

In a way, this question is good to have had early in the beta — it makes me realize the importance of a user story in a question, not just a list of bullet points. This is step 2 in Tim Post's guideline for a good question: “describe your task”. Come to think of it, this is a crucial difference between a list question and a recommendation question. Recommendations are what we're here for.

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    The question you referred to is also on the way to be closed. And Vim was named in the JS/PHP question, twice. On a +7 and on a +2 answers. I don't think the question "lacks a problem to solve".
    – Sergio
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 17:48
  • @Sergio The two close votes are for duplicate, and we've discussed that separately. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 17:59
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    @Sergio Oh, Vim and Emacs have been mentioned now. Yeah, on a big list which gives you no information on what to choose. This reinforces my impression that this thread is “every editor out there that's more advanced than nano and Notepad”. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:00
  • Not all editors out there are for JS & PHP and have the features requested. But I do agree with you that there are a lot that do have those features.
    – Sergio
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:02

The number of JS & PHP code editors "out there" is huge. There is a lot to choose from.

This question asks for a code editor for 2 specific languages and with:

Syntax highlighting - Code hinting (like IntelliSense) - Support FTP - Be cross platform

Because SE sites reach out around the world, I see advantages in sharing user experience in this subject. I did not post this on Stackoverflow, because I respect and agree with it's scope. Here being Software Recommendations SE site, I thought this was the place.

I understand some of you affirm it lacks scope, its too broad. I think its not the question that is too broad, it is that there are a lot of programs ( & answers) to choose from. This causes many answers, each with many options. If the answers lack quality, don't up-vote them, if they can be improved we can all leave comments on the answer asking for improvement. The same applies to the question. Still, the up-votes outnumber the downvotes in both question and answer.

I think the question is appreciated for those who didn't have contact with (for some) basic programs like Vim or Notepad++. And some other (like myself) simply appreciate the input of the community in this subject.

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    The upvotes are irrelevant. It's a common phenomenon: a -5 question is a bad one. A 0-score question is an obscure one. A +5 question is a useful one. A +50 question is a bike shed question and is pointless. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:04
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    @Gilles, voting is the community's way of agreeing/disagreeing, giving value or showing there is no value in a post. You write "The upvotes are irrelevant", "A +50 question is [...] pointless", i disagree.
    – Sergio
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:08
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    Up/downvotes and close/reopen votes measure different things. Close votes indicate answerability. Bikeshed questions are not answerable, not in a useful way. They're popular (hence all the upvotes), but they aren't good to have around. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:16
  • I don't think this can be generalized, the top voted questions on JS/PHP on Stackoverflow have +2K upvotes. Some are common problems that beginners normally have, others are important programming questions that are always under updating and cover new challenges in performance, user interfaces and changing API's.
    – Sergio
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:21
  • SO has been cleaned up of many of its historical bikeshed questions — they're still around but you won't find them if you list questions by score. A couple of years ago, the bikeshed questions largely outscored these useful programming questions. We know what works and what doesn't, we can learn from SO's mistakes. We don't need to make the same mistakes again. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:25
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    Sergio, thanks for chiming in. Keep in mind there's nothing inherently wrong with your question; we're just going through the process of figuring out whether these fit on this site — a subject long anticipated as a potential trouble spot. It's not uncommon to forgo some of these broad overview questions so early in the beta. Sometimes they simply fit in better when they are just small sampling among a larger body of work. Or maybe these works now and we just have to learn how to moderate them properly. The private beta is about setting up a really strong foundation for this type of thing. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:30
  • @RobertCartaino, I understand this Beta phase is important. I think the question here on Meta has a good point in the fact that this question refers to a popular language with many possible answers. Also it is the time for SR to define if it can be a bit more relaxed in the hard rules for example Stackoverflow has because it is about fact-answers. Programming is in many aspects a exact science with correct/incorrect answers. Software "recomendation" is about "recomendation", which includes individual opinion. That opinion, when explained in facts should be upvoted, but not just "wrong".
    – Sergio
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:45
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    Just not "random recommendations" which is the crux of the concern here. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 18:50
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    @Sergio On the contrary, SR needs to be more rule-enforcing, because of the softness of the nature of the questions. To some extent, the good stuff comes out naturally on SO: test the code, upvote if it works. The easier it is to write a post without doing anything concrete and fallible, the more contributions need to be regulated to avoid noise. Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 21:55

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