I recently find this question "How to create a table with all the combinations of 0 and 1".

  • The statement is clear.
  • It's popular, many visits, many answers.


  • The effort shown to find a solution is "0".
  • It sounds a lot like an "homework".
  • It's more related to "how to program", or "which is the logic I've to use to solve this problem" then to "how to use eXcel". Nonetheless we have to admit that with tools as eXcel, gnuplot, ..., the boundary is not so well defined.
  • One of the million "How to convert decimal in binary" links, with eXcel and the warning on the 10 bits of the internal DEC2BIN function.
  • A StackOverflow "programming" question "Using DEC2BIN() with large numbers"
  • The Microsoft Page "Binary from 32-bit integer"

So: Is the fact that a question like this became popular enough to move the boundary of what we believe to be admissible as a question in our site? In other words shouldn't it be closed or migrated?

I always feel a kind of discomfort thinking to close a question...

  • 1
    We prefer people to research before posting, but that isn't an absolute requirement. Existence of answers elsewhere doesn't preclude a question here. Nobody commented with the typical complaint for a non-researched, easy-to-find question, and it isn't a trivial one. It attracted a lot of interest and a lot of different answers; answerers thought it worth the time and not close-worthy, and had fun with it. It has many heavily upvoted posts; people found it useful. It teaches some useful techniques. The community thinks it has value. I don't see it pushing any boundaries or a closure candidate.
    – fixer1234
    May 20, 2017 at 1:45
  • 1
    But to your title question, popularity is only tangential. It's an indicator of community valuation, opinion, and interest, but doesn't supersede site rules. A question that fundamentally shouldn't be here shouldn't remain just because it's popular. This example though, doesn't come close to rising (falling?) to the level of something that shouldn't be here. To me, it's on-topic, in-scope, not excessively broad, and doesn't violate any basic requirements. So it isn't getting special dispensation for popularity.
    – fixer1234
    May 20, 2017 at 1:57
  • @fixer1234 IMO, it's really a broad question because it is strictly related on how to implement the Decimal-Binary conversion or the binary counting, and you can pass through a wide number of other different techniques. Nowadays there are examples in many programming courses at each level from primary school to the university. For this (programming relate) is not so on topic too and you find different answers. Moreover you may use your own fantasy too. I thought to 5-6 different ways to do it just reading it. Re-reading this comment I thought to other 5-6. But it is not this the only point.
    – Hastur
    May 20, 2017 at 23:26
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    Many times I've seen such a kind of question branded as homework or We are not a scripting service_(no research or effort shown:"Tell us what research you have done and why it didn't meet your needs"_<-How to Ask)... It's a typical test made to check how much a student followed the course, if he's able to find the limits of a used program or to use the notions learnt till that point...We usually discourage students that only ask to have their problem solved without even try to do smth. BTW I noticed the interest, boosted even because one of the "Hot Network Questions", and I raised the issue.
    – Hastur
    May 20, 2017 at 23:45

2 Answers 2


In general, the Stack Exchange communities (including SU) try to avoid making sweeping generalizations about topicality or acceptable questions.

The rule goes something like: in general popularity shouldn't make a question bad, but good answers can make a question more worthy of staying open.

But there are plenty of exceptions (especially old questions) that are kept around for historical reasons, even though they're disallowed nowadays.

  • 1
    I agree with "but good answers can make a question more worthy of staying open."
    – Hastur
    May 31, 2017 at 15:51

Insufficient prior research is not really a reason to close. It may justify a downvote though.

Popularity should not be a reason to close either. If you find a similar question was already asked and answered, vote to close as a duplicate, otherwise let it be. I don't see how any other close reasons could apply tho this particular question.

  • Да, нет наверное. The popularity was eventually the reason to keep the question open :-). I see a consistent difference between Insufficient research and no research at all. BTW IMO it is a programming question of a course with a wide (really wide) number of answers made by a student that asked us to answer his homework... and it was popular (that allowed me to doubt about the opportunity to close it, and to write the question on meta...). ps> thanks for your answer.
    – Hastur
    May 31, 2017 at 15:50
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    @Hastur Technically all questions in existence are a result of insufficient research (even "What is the cure for cancer?"). Taking it to a pedantic extreme the only questions that are not lacking research effort are primarily opinion based or original research (i.e., a question which has no answer, direct or indirect, in any library or electronic resource, including disassembling binaries). NOTE: I'm not suggesting that every question on most SE sites should be closed or DV'd, I'm just kind of bored at lunch, heh.
    – jrh
    Jun 1, 2017 at 15:51

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