I'm asking this because a question about hidden features of Windows Vista was allowed, while mine about hidden features of Ubuntu was not. I'm wondering why?

  • 2
    I am a windows guy trying out Ubuntu, I want this question to live! – Binoj Antony Jun 11 '10 at 12:54
  • 2
    I think SuperUser is a good place for sharing and exchange of ideas, not only Q&A, as some answers are saying. – Tom Brito Jun 11 '10 at 14:09
  • 3
  • 1
    @Gnome, got it, we should rephrase the question with a "What are the Hidden Features of Ubuntu" :) – Binoj Antony Jun 14 '10 at 5:13
  • Also how about "Would someone tell me what the Hidden Features of Ubuntu are"! – Binoj Antony Jun 14 '10 at 5:14
  • I think I like Hidden Questions and for this cause I am sure if Morpheus were here he would say Isn't that worth fighting for? isn't that worth dying for? :) – Binoj Antony Jun 14 '10 at 5:23
  • Edited, now it is a question. How about open it now? – Tom Brito Jun 14 '10 at 12:52

"Hidden features" is a series of poll "questions", without being answerable questions in the sense that Super User is a Q&A site, that started on SO and is now largely discouraged. Due to popularity, older "hidden features" questions are kept, even though they make poor questions, though I believe they should probably be closed and locked to avoid copycats.

Also see the comment on your question:

poll-style questions like this are discouraged; they are better suited to discussion forums. Super User is designed for more concrete questions. a question like superuser.com/questions/149055/… is a bit more palatable because it's restricted to the uses of a single program. as @hotei's answer points out, none of your own examples are particularly "hidden features" of Ubuntu.

But I hope everyone changes their minds, because I just posted 50 "hidden features" questions on Super User:

  • Hidden features of Edubuntu 10.04 LTS
  • Hidden features of Windows for Workgroups 3.11
  • Hidden features of Vim
  • Hidden features of Emacs
  • Hidden features of Geany
  • Hidden features of Google Chrome
  • Hidden features of Opera
  • Hidden features of Firefox
  • Hidden features of Mosaic
  • Hidden features of XChat
  • Hidden features of Screen
  • Hidden features of Less
  • Hidden features of Sed
  • Hidden features of Ed
  • Hidden features of the Magnetic Needle
  • Hidden features of Butterflys
  • Hidden features of parsing HTML with regex
  • Hidden features of insanity
  • Hidden features of pharmacology drug abuse
  • Hidden features of god, where does it end?
  • 4
    i can see the user-suspension email now. "dear Gnome: you have been suspended from Super User until the end of time for an excessive amount of truly stupid posts. hidden features of god? really??" – quack quixote Jun 10 '10 at 14:11
  • Right, I'm off to create 100 sock puppets so I can upvote Hidden features of parsing HTML with regex 100 times. – Andy E's head Jun 10 '10 at 14:18
  • "everyone changes their minds", or the users will be others in the future.. :) – Tom Brito Jun 11 '10 at 14:14
  • I like Hidden features of parsing HTML with regex. – BalusC Jun 11 '10 at 14:21
  • 4
    Also Hidden features of ping and Hidden features of NOTEPAD.EXE. – Aarobot Jun 11 '10 at 15:42
  • @aarobot I also made some and thought I'd put them in this list – Earlz Jun 11 '10 at 16:31
  • 1
    @aarobot: Put ".log" as the first line; open, save, close it, and repeat in notepad a few times. – Gnome Jun 11 '10 at 17:20
  • 3
    @Gnome: That feature actually is hidden, and therefore invalid. True hidden-features questions are only allowed to list well-documented, mundane, totally ordinary features that excite the sorts of programmers who write a lot of empty catch blocks - like the ?? operator and lambda syntax. – Aarobot Jun 11 '10 at 17:38
  • @Aarobot: Put "bush hid the facts" as the only line, then save, close, and reopen. (Works with some other sentences too, but I don't know them offhand.) – mmyers Jun 11 '10 at 17:39
  • @Aarobot: Why do you say that? – mmyers Jun 11 '10 at 17:40
  • 2
    @mmyers: That's a bug, not a feature. ;) It also works with the text this app can break, and almost any other sentence with 4 words of those exact lengths. – Aarobot Jun 11 '10 at 17:42
  • 4
    And @mmyers, if you're referring to my comment about hidden-features questions not actually being hidden, look at the C# hidden features question. Which ones are actually "hidden?" The question would be better worded as "post your favourite C# language feature", but of course that would get closed, so we resort to misleading titles instead. And at least one of the highest-voted answers is actually advocating a horrible practice. – Aarobot Jun 11 '10 at 17:45
  • @aarobot: You're absolutely right, actually. It's apparent people want to copy other questions with these series (including the later "Urban Myths" and others), but it doesn't help that the currently highest voted question is a hidden-features either -- it really sends the wrong message. – Gnome Jun 11 '10 at 18:12
  • 1
    Also, over half of the "Answers" to the hidden-features in Vista "question" are wrong, most of those features were available in previous versions of Windows. The lack-luster quality of the answers reflects the poor question quality. – Chris S Jun 14 '10 at 17:20
  • 1
    @Tom: I've thought about it again, and I still stand by the assertion that in most of the particular cases cited here the poor answers are generally a product of the poor questions. The same generalization can be applied to most questions and answers I believe; if you ask a vague question you'll either get a vague answer, or possibly a totally wrong one. In either case you're very unlikely to get a "correct" answer, and the question's lack of specifics are the root cause. – Chris S Jun 17 '10 at 19:11

I can only answer for my vote.
The secrets you had as example was so very basic (how tab completion works and how to copy/paste in a terminal). I could not on that basic take your question serious and felt that it had no merit being on SU.

  • 1
    The question is CW, so your or anyone could give better examples.. ;) – Tom Brito Jun 10 '10 at 18:58
  • 2
    @Tom Brito: the point is that by providing non-hidden features (they're standard fare for any book on u/li-nix) you appear to be trolling. The question is valid, but you need to do a serious re-write if you want it opened. I'd suggest editing out the original list and simply asking straight-out something like "What are some hidden features of Ubuntu (specifically) and other unix-like systems (in general)?" You could even mention you know about common features like tab-completion, but are interested in features folk rarely seem to know about. – Randolpho Jun 11 '10 at 13:44
  • @Randolpho done, now it is equal the open Windows question. Let's hope something happens... – Tom Brito Jun 14 '10 at 12:45

I would say that Ubuntu is at same time too wide and not enough.

When asking about hidden features for Ubuntu, you will end with answers matching to Linux in general, or particular programs used by this or that distribution. So it's too narrow, because it should extend to whole Linux, and at same time too wide, because extending to plenty of pieces of software you can identify.

When asking about "hidden features of Vista", you can't single out really parts of it. By its nature, it's a monolith: the desktop manager, the file manager, everything is included in this monolith.

As opposed to Linux, where the desktop manager is not only used by different distributions, but as well changeable for the same distribution. Same for most of parts. It's hard to give a list of "hidden features", for a system on which you can potentially change all of its parts.

  • 1
    I think "too wide" isn't a good reasons to close a discussion. Excepting if the question should be split in more questions. – Tom Brito Jun 11 '10 at 14:05
  • 3
    @Tom: Super User is not a discussion forum. – quack quixote Jun 11 '10 at 14:56
  • @QuackQuixote but, as I just posted, it should. Many users want to use it as so. – Tom Brito Jun 14 '10 at 12:49
  • 3
    @Tom - no, it shouldn't. Discussion is a noise in a Q&A context. It clutters useful information with personal opinions. It's the reason why you can't find easily a solution on forums. Forums are adapted for discussions, Stack Exchange is not. – Gnoupi Jun 14 '10 at 12:53

As quack quixote mentioned in the comments to your question, "poll" questions are discouraged from the trilogy sites because there is no solid "correct" answer, people just vote for the ones they like the most. Unfortunately for you, you picked a topic that was less favourable to the community browsing the site at the time you posted it, hence the quick close and down votes.

FYI, If you look at the revisions for the Windows Vista question, you'll see that it was "locked" and "unlocked" several times over.

  • So timing of the question is the key? – Binoj Antony Jun 11 '10 at 12:55
  • @Binoj: I would say it's an important factor. I've seen questions get closed very fast and similar questions stay open or not gain enough close votes and it all seems to depend on the vigilance of the community. It doesn't mean the questions should be allowed, however. – Andy E's head Jun 11 '10 at 14:56
  • 2
    @Binoj: Timing is important because 100% of the users are not online 100% of the time. The subset of users who will see a question is essentially random, and will have a collectively different standard from the subset online at any other given instant in time. That doesn't mean that there are better times to post, it just means that some users get lucky. As another meta user has explained, it's like buying a lottery ticket; you might win big, but most of the time you'll lose and it's foolish to play. – Aarobot Jun 11 '10 at 15:49
  • This looks like an error on the system. Maybe it should allow just a close vote at an hour.. – Tom Brito Jun 14 '10 at 12:47

In addition to Andy's response, and this is just a hunch, here are a couple of other thoughts on this:

  1. The Vista question was asked about a year ago when things were still settling down after SU was launched. Could be that the community attitude toward these types of questions has shifted since. The locking activity that Andy mentions could be an indication of this.
  2. The Vista question had a bounty set on it (indicated by the gold border around the accepted check mark). Bounty questions can't be closed or deleted during the bounty period (short of mod interaction). May be that people decided to bypass it during the bounty period and then never came back to it. The bounty was set on it a couple of months after the question was asked, so maybe it was set to prevent it from being closed. I've seen that strategy used before with varying success.

Many of the Hidden Features question brings out hidden gems and hence adds good view value to it.
Check for example the Hidden Features of HTML.
I have been working in HTML since 1998. Still I had no idea about the first 3 answered features.
I am willing to bet that most of you did not know at least one of them, please comment honestly!

  • 1
    I use several resources for programming discussion, but that doesn't mean SO must be one of them. Q&A sites should have questions and answers. – Gnome Jun 11 '10 at 13:45
  • 3
    This same argument could be used for any open-ended question. If somebody has a great "tip", they would be doing the community a far greater service by creating a self-answered question tailored specifically to the problem said protip solves instead of chucking it in the middle of a "hidden features" poll. The former is specific, maintains the Q&A format, and is far more useful in a search. – Aarobot Jun 11 '10 at 15:46
  • @Binoj: you didn't know about DOCTYPE, meta-refresh and fieldset? Hmmm... Even if that's the case, surely these would be better as answers to specific questions: "How can I control how my document [is validated|quirks mode]?", "How can I cause a page to refresh without using script or HTTP headers?", "How can I improve accessibility for dense forms?", etc... – Shog9 Jun 11 '10 at 16:52
  • @Shog, I meant top3 voted questions, 1.protocol-independent absolute, 2. label for and 3. contenteditable=true. U knew all three of these? – Binoj Antony Jun 14 '10 at 5:10
  • 1
    Well, still none of you have commented on whether you learnt something new by reading that page or not.. – Binoj Antony Jun 14 '10 at 5:21
  • @Binoj: yeah, but again that's beside the point - those work better as answers to specific questions. If I need to make my labels work properly, I'm not going to search for "Hidden features of HTML"! (incidentally, it's sorta sad that two of the top-voted answers violate the conditions set forth by the question...) – Shog9 Jun 14 '10 at 6:58
  • @Shog, other than asking questions I have found SO to be a good place to learn things, I am guessing from your answer that you did not know all three, and if learning 3 new things did not make sense to you and was besides the point then whats the point! You seem to imply that you come to SO just to find answers to the specific questions you ask, and nothing else. How about the simple attitude of hey I learnt that something like this can be done, maybe I can use this when need arises, take it easy, lighten up, its not Armageddon. – Binoj Antony Jun 14 '10 at 8:52
  • @Binoj: I did know those three things. I knew them because the topics interest me and so in the past I've spent free time reading books, articles and discussions on them. I'm not saying you must learn only via Q&A - that would be silly! However, Stack Overflow is a Q&A website: therefore, it's just as silly to use it in a way contrary to this nature, especially when there are plenty of good sites dedicated to hosting tips and tricks, discussion, and full articles on these topics. As for Armageddon... – Shog9 Jun 14 '10 at 14:32
  • @Shog, I have a dream I want to see SO grow beyond just Q & A, in effect change its nature. As for Armageddon {which I loved btw} I look beyond it to the federation – Binoj Antony Jun 15 '10 at 11:37
  • 1
    @Binoj: I recently wanted my shovel to be a hammer, as I was driving in a post and badly needed a hammer. However, repeatedly hammering on the post with this spade did little to accomplish my goals, and nothing at all to change the nature of the implement. Eventually, I realized my mistake and walked back to the house to get a hammer. The Swiss Army knife is a fun gimmick, but sometimes you need a tool built for a specific purpose; the jack of all trades is the master of none... – Shog9 Jun 15 '10 at 16:02

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .