I posted this question earlier today on SuperUser: What was your biggest waste of money and what should you have bought instead?

I think it's a legitimate question, because I've spent a lot of money on computer junk, electronics, and software that I now realize would have been better spent on other things. Spending too much money on technology has prevented me from picking up other hobbies. Also, trying to get the best bargain has prevented me from getting different technology that might have suited my needs a little better. I was curious whether others had come to a similar realization, and what kinds of things they felt they had wasted money on.

Unfortunately for me, my question has been closed with the explanation, "Not a real question," and I was told to go read the FAQ. Of course, I've already done that, and I don't see the difference between my question and the tons of questions like these (which I also think are valid questions):




I've been told that someone who voted to close the question didn't see any value to future visitors of the site. I would like to think that the future value is that others can learn from our mistakes and think twice before buying something they don't need, when they could save up for something else instead.

  • I think the "wasted money" principle could be applied to anything, not just technology. I think that is just life. I am not sure how useful knowing how other people wasted their money helps anyone on SU. It is subjective on what is a waste of money technically. I am open to being proven wrong though.
    – Troggy
    Oct 12, 2009 at 23:02
  • 1
    What would be considered money wasted for you may not be for me. This is like asking whether spending money on an iPhone was worth it. If you dislike the iPhone, it would be wasted money. Whereas I like the iPhone, and to be it's the best investment ever.
    – Diago
    Oct 13, 2009 at 11:53

4 Answers 4


All sites in the trilogy try to avoid subjective questions. Specially SO and SF. In the two examples you have posted, two of them are old. Same thing happened with SO when it started, a lot of fun questions.

SU had a LOT of fun questions asked to start with and I believe it was tolerated for a little while.

Some sneak by unnoticed and when they've gained momentum, people don't close them.


A question is a request for information.

A discussion is a collection of statements, questions, comments, and opinions, usually concerning a certain topic.

A discussion might be sparked by a question, but your question isn't answerable in the sense of a single, definitive response. It's just a discussion about times you wasted money.


If everyone living on earth today, everyone who lived in the past, and everyone yet to be born...
...Could answer your question and not be wrong...
...Then it's safe to say you didn't ask the sort of question that these sites were designed to help answer.

Now, that doesn't mean the answers couldn't be interesting. And from time to time, you'll see a few of these questions slip through for just that reason: they hit a chord with the community, and enough people are interested in the answers, and interested in writing answers, to keep them open. But, strictly speaking, they're better suited for one of the many forum sites dedicated to these topics, or personal blogs.

  • 1
    While I understand your point, numerous humans lived in a time before money or even property, and thus would not be able to answer your question.
    – Super Long Names are Hilarious
    Oct 13, 2009 at 2:31

I closed the question and did provide feedback at the time.

Firstly, questions aren't closed on a whim. This question came up in the vote to close list and after reviewing the FAQ met the following criteria:

  • Requires extended discussion
  • No single correct answer
  • Possibly subjective and argumentative
  • Too far off topic

Based on this criteria the question was closed. I opted for not a real question since I believed Subjective and Argumentative is too strong a reason. Reality is no matter what reason is chosen, almost every single closed question will get disputed and someone will not be happy with the reason, which is one of the risks taken by any moderator closing a question.

These questions all follow a simple cycle, once the critical mass of 3K users are obtained:

  • 5 Votes to Close (Question Closed)
  • Dispute / Argument / Edit War
  • 5 Votes to Re-open (Question Open)
  • Refer to Step 1

However on SU at the moment this is not possible due to the lack of 3K users, and the lack of understanding of how the Trilogy works with regards to questions.

With regards to the 50 or so existing questions you will find, most of them where posted during beta, and since the discussion here raised the point that there needs to be more strictness on SU. Some of these questions have not been closed yet, simply because the moderators are really the only one's that can and at the time there wasn't any, or 3k+ and above users can, but because of the question being old, few notice them to vote on them.

A big part of the problems on SU is related to level of the users attracted to the site. The concepts introduced by the SO engine is unique and a lot of users remain unaware of their abilities, or how to correctly approach the site. Unfortunately this is not something I foresee changing soon, and this also makes SU one of the hardest sites to maintain, and potentially the one place most of the disputes will occur, as the subject matter is not clear cut and straight down the line.

  • 2
    +1, but please change your gravatar back to the old one :)
    – balpha
    Oct 13, 2009 at 8:55
  • You also have the problem of the SU mindset where they think that open-ended, must have and discussion type questions should be allowed, just because.
    – random
    Oct 13, 2009 at 8:57
  • @balpha - But why - I really like my new one :(
    – Diago
    Oct 13, 2009 at 9:00
  • 4
    @random - Yeah or people lack the skill to read
    – Diago
    Oct 13, 2009 at 9:01
  • Isn't it 2k+ users?
    – alex
    Oct 13, 2009 at 9:04
  • Which is your old gravatar and which is the new one? Either way, don't leave the XBox one, the black and white picture commands more respect :)
    – alex
    Oct 13, 2009 at 9:06
  • 2k users can edit other posts. Sadly that doesn't allow for editing into closed bad questions. 3k users can cast votes to close.
    – random
    Oct 13, 2009 at 9:06
  • @random I totally forgot what the rep limits were. All I know is it's incredibly hard to close anything on SU without the help of a moderator :(.
    – alex
    Oct 13, 2009 at 9:10
  • 1
    I need to work on a new gravatar actually. I can't use my wedding photo forever.
    – Diago
    Oct 13, 2009 at 9:11
  • @Diago: I can buy your answer, but several of the guidelines themselves are subjective. For example: superuser.com/questions/36911/… I think that question also meets the "Requires extended discussion," "No single correct answer," and "Possibly subjective and argumentative" criteria; but you still thought it was a valuable question. I don't see much value, because the intended audience of SU probably already knows these things are myths. I suppose my confusion lies in interpretations of the guidelines and when it's acceptable to dismiss them.
    – rob
    Oct 13, 2009 at 20:18
  • @Rob Honestly, we can spend the rest of the year reviewing every single question this way and we will never come to a final conclusion. When questions are flagged or shows a lot of unnecessary activity, we will act upon them. Some of these questions have died a slow and painful death by users losing interest. Again, this will change once the 3K user base is big enough, as has been the case with SO. The diamond moderators are not necessarily going to go back to every past question one by one and close them. Also your assumption is completely wrong regarding the intended audience.
    – Diago
    Oct 13, 2009 at 20:26

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