I'm trying to understand the scope of SuperUser and figure out what it is about my question about the history of computer display outputs that warranted closing.

It's my understanding that questions that are subjective, unanswerable, asking for lists, situational, or specific are eligible for closing. That said, I don't believe that my question fits into any of those categories.

I'm asking for a canonical, what are the facts, answer. What did computers use for output before monitors? The answer, apparently, is that there were several methods. That's still not subjective. It's a question of facts - what was. It's also directly related to computer hardware.

It was closed with a comment that claims that it's not constructive. I don't think so. The community, for the most part, seems to agree. As of writing, it has 18 up votes, two down votes against and three reopen votes.

Is it off topic, or not constructive, or perfectly valid?

  • 3
    I voted to reopen, but as Tom said, it could have probably really shown a bit more research effort. Note that upvotes alone are no indicator of on-topicness or usefulness. I'd vote to close as not constructive if the answers you continue to receive are low quality, not consisting of more than a few links, et cetera.
    – slhck
    Dec 1, 2011 at 20:23

1 Answer 1


Your first answer is just a link or two with no additional information and has 14 upvotes, that's a bad sign. If it's so easy to post two links and get away with 140 rep, this really means your question is too simple. About any proper computer history site includes the information you request.

When it is so easy to answer your question, and it's not even a problem; it is nowhere near constructive as most people will only be linking or copy pasting information that already exists on the internet. Why don't you do a search and read the stuff in it's full context; than to type out a full question, waiting for answers and firing up a meta question because your question got closed?

Questions on Super User require some research on your part, and be about an actual problem.

And we aren't talking about a lot of research, but only viewing ~2 pages of Google to get to your result. It is likely easier to ask a question which requires less work on your part, but in the end it costs more time...

  • I didn't realize that the FAQ requires that questions be about an actual problem. Great point.
    – Moshe
    Dec 1, 2011 at 20:31
  • @Moshe The "actual problem" is something I'd consider last when determining whether something is on-topic or not, if all the other criteria are met. Note that the FAQ says, if you'd like others to "explain something, that's generally fine".
    – slhck
    Dec 1, 2011 at 20:40

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