My popular question below was recently closed as "not constructive" and I'd like to know why. As a Stack Exchange moderator myself, I'm puzzled. Here's the question:

The question has specific answers. Just because there are multiple reasons for the practice doesn't make it a poll where any answer is valid. Nor is it a discussion. The question was a search for the variety of specific technical reasons why spaces have been avoided in filenames. The question is specific, and the answers can be judged.

I think protecting the question should have been sufficient to guard against the "me too" answers.

Follow-up question: Since this question has been closed as "not constructive", is it likely to be deleted in the future? What's the policy on this? (I know at money.stackexchange.com we tend to delete any question closed for reasons other than "possible duplicate".)

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    Half of the answers simply mention "Old habit" and "I also use xyz" – it would be nice to have an actual answer that provides context and backs up claims with facts.
    – slhck
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 14:14
  • @slhck Still not a reason to close the question. Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 14:17
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    Part of that has to do with the answers it accumulated, see: > We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or specific expertise.
    – slhck
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 14:20
  • Yes; specific expertise. The people who answered are presumed to frequently work with computers and are describing reasons why they avoid the practice. It isn't non-expert conjecture or speculation. Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 14:22
  • @ChrisW.Rea why *they* avoid the practice and you get a quetsion ful of why I do x - which isn't different from a poll question
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 14:50
  • 1
    Would this have just been better as CW?
    – jcolebrand
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 14:56
  • @jcolebrand Perhaps CW. I'm mostly concerned that closure means eventual deletion which means a waste of the question. The question does summarize very real reasons behind a common yet misunderstood practice. Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 15:20
  • 1
    @jcolebrand Community Wiki has been on the way out for a while.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 15:58

1 Answer 1


When your question is expected to generate a host of answers that lead off with "I do it because..." then that is what constitutes a discussion on and of personal preferences.

To further this frame,

So, what are the reasons that spaces in filenames are avoided or discouraged?

Asking for multiple answers is different and less constructive than when there are multiple ways to answer.

If you're asking why people do things a certain way, that is not constructive or on topic.

If you want to know why the computer chokes or stalls when you're using filenames with spaces, that would be both on topic and constructive.

  • Personal preferences? Nah. It isn't a "personal preference" if a person has been conditioned to not use spaces because of, say, a C++ compiler not accepting spaces in filenames on the command line. That's not personal preference. That's a root cause of conditioning, an answer to the question "why?". This vestigial practice has a host of underlying reasons and the question seeks to discover those reasons. Personal preference answers would be "I do it because I have a visceral hatred of unnecessary whitespace." The question seeks the reasons. Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 16:29
  • Then your question is better suited to Psychology or one of the other brain sciences or cognitive understandings
    – random Mod
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 16:32
  • Now that's ridiculous. The conditioning may be psychological, but the reasons sought are technical and live in the computing domain. Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 16:34
  • Same arguments then on this: meta.superuser.com/questions/4699/…
    – random Mod
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 20:09
  • I disagree on that. The no-spaces workarounds have grown out of technical limitations in computers: command line interfaces, protocols used by tools like web browsers, etc. Nothing to do with "productivity". It's technology, man. Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 20:27
  • Your question is about users and why they continue to do what they do and you want them to back it up with research. Not about why an OS or compiler is putting a belt around its neck when it sees a filename with a space.
    – random Mod
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 20:29
  • Would you say the same thing about this question? superuser.com/questions/60499/… ? Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 20:31
  • 1
    Yes, it would be better for UX, if they wanted it
    – random Mod
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 20:36
  • Call me a sucker for punishment. Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 20:44

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