I noticed that this list question has +10 score But this one has -7 score

As far as I can tell from my reading, on this particular StackExchange site. List questions are not off topic (unlike some other SE sites)

Neither of the questions are particularly fantastic, (or particularly awful). What makes one better than the other?

The one with the poor score is far more definitively answerable. The one with the good score requires some quantitative thought (which I guess makes it more interesting).

See also Re-evaluating our site - what is the scope of an "acceptable" list, if it exists?

  • My first instinct would be to say the former question requires more research effort to answer than the second, though I'm not sure it follows that that means the one should have more upvotes than the other. Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:11
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    possible duplicate of List questions for The Old Republic / MMOs -- CW, closure, other? Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:22
  • That said, while my answer to the other question addresses the more general case, the specific case of these two questions, I suspect that the answer boils down to, as @RavenDreamer noted, "Research Effort". Which many people do take quite seriously as a voting criteria. Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:23
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    I really want to banish this phrase "list question" at some point. It is misleading. Being a list is not in itself a problem for questions, nor do I find it to be a relevant attribute to the specific case here either.
    – Grace Note StaffMod
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:26
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    Looks much like a case of research effort. The block question is (with some exceptions) easily searchable on both Google and the Minecraft wiki - Heck, on the wiki it's a row on the Blocks navigation bar ("Mineral Blocks"), all following a simple schematic the asker already knew. The question indicated no such effort, so downvotes are rather reasonable. Both questions are, as far as I can tell, fine from the "list" standpoint.
    – user98085
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:28
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    But how important is research in the end. I like to look at a SE site a repository of knowledge, in Q/A form. Like I like to look at wikipedia as a repository of knowledge in encyclopaedic article form. Does this come back to judging person rather than content? If the asker had immediately answered his own question, than that would be a useful resource added to the site. And thus "good". I guess this is getting off topic, and might deserve its own metaquestion. Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:29
  • Research effort is important insofar as it gives us two things: Firstly, context. We know what the asker has tried, what else there is to look into, and how to point them in the right direction. Secondly, it tells us if the asker is just making us do the work for them, or if they at least tried to solve it by themselves first. We're rather lenient on new users with that, though, of course, so it's usually just a matter of it happening repeatedly.
    – user98085
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:34
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    I would say the first question is good because the answer may contain things that are not immediately obvious, such as brewing stands (because of the resources required to build them not being available). The second will only ever contain stuff that is easily searchable.
    – Robotnik Mod
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 21:11
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    @Oxinabox Research effort is one of the things cited as grounds to downvote a question into oblivion, but for the record I don't agree with the productivity of this behavior. Like yourself, I ask the question - if people are searching for the answer, why doesn't a Q&A site want to house it? Unfortunately, I find that as a collective we sometimes become a little smug in our "expertness", and this expresses itself as impatience and condescension to folks who are just looking for an answer to a simple question.
    – EBongo
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 12:25
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    @EBongo Not everything searched for is a good fit for a Q&A site. For example, searching for "games like X" is not a good question for this site. There is no definitive answer we can give to those and will only result in opinions. Other things may be better fit for wiki websites.
    – Batophobia
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 15:43
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    @EBongo A simple question that they expended no effort themselves to solve. We're here to help, not be a solution to laziness. Are they acceptable questions? Yes. Are they good questions? Not a chance.
    – Frank
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 16:05
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    @Batophobia We have site policies for what questions are allowed, but that doesn't mean I agree with the reasons for all of those policies (though I agree they've been decided democratically). :) I think policies against questions on the grounds that those questions don't fit our site model make sense (questions without a definitive answer). We're not talking about such a question though, are we? Our aspiration should be to help, full stop. The only reason we don't allow some questions is that we don't feel we can do a good job helping. For simple questions, why not help?
    – EBongo
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 16:11
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    @fbueckert I believe a question can be good for two very different reasons: 1) It shows research effort - the asker tried hard, and still couldn't find the answer themselves 2) It is useful and clear - it is a problem many face, and other players of that game can look at it immediately and think that's a good question. Like I linked in my comment above, I think at worst a simple question would be neutral or slightly downvoted. Downvoting it into oblivion, and having a culture of we hate simple questions just seems antithetical for a Q&A site.
    – EBongo
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 16:16
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    @fbueckert Ideally yes. I think there is a lot less debate about what a very good question is. I'm merely pointing out that questions can be good for different reasons, and not always only for the well researched reason - hence the semicolon in the tooltip. I will add that the other examples you give there sound like plain bad questions. I wouldn't defend those. I would however defend the second example given in this question. Simple... but also useful and clear.
    – EBongo
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 22:29
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    @EBongo I'm a huge proponent of teaching people to help themselves. I don't think we do anyone any favors at all by encouraging simple, unresearched questions. It just leads to dependency. If you're not even willing to attempt to figure it out yourself, I see absolutely no reason to help. We allow questions of that nature, but I stand by my statement. If you don't take the effort to try to help yourself, it's not a good question. To me, that's critical.
    – Frank
    Commented Aug 24, 2013 at 22:44

1 Answer 1


Itemized lists, where multiple answers collectively form a list, are not allowed. These are usually subjective (e.g., "What is your favorite X?") or otherwise consist of elements from an unbounded list such that answers can only be distinguished from one another by personal preference (voting for the item you prefer) rather than quality or correctness.

Questions answerable with single concise answers are not itemized list questions, even if the answer contains a short list.

The second question seems to have been close-voted due to its quality, though I completely disagree with the reasoning. It and questions like it are on-topic as you can see, and although I personally dislike them greatly, they're still not itemized lists.

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    Do note that the second question wasn't closed. Both are fine, but one of them lacks research effort, hence it's downvoted heavily.
    – user98085
    Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 11:20
  • @FEichinger Thanks for clarifying, I couldn't see the post history easily from the mobile site. Commented Aug 23, 2013 at 15:21

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