Here is the question https://apple.stackexchange.com/questions/41969/what-input-devices-do-you-find-to-be-an-indespensable-part-of-using-your-mac

The question is not intended to be about shopping recommendations? After seeing other questions such as Which OS X Applications do you find indispensable? I though it would be useful for such a question to exist for hardware input devices and the things people are doing with those devices to make make an impact on their user experience.

  • 4
    Thank you so much for sticking with this! The short answer is we're trying to cut down on all CW posts and may want to cull some of the other questions you mention that have all the "special rules" needed to explain that they are not just a normal Q&A but instead big lists for voting and discussion.
    – bmike Mod
    Feb 28, 2012 at 19:34
  • Define "CW posts"?
    – MrDaniel
    Feb 28, 2012 at 20:15
  • CW = Community Wiki, which has generally been used for list-style posts in the past.
    – Daniel Mod
    Feb 28, 2012 at 20:19

5 Answers 5


There was a time when Ask Different had more list-style questions open. I've even written some of them myself, and some were closed and others stayed open. Compared to other Stack Exchange sites, we still have more than average, but we're moving in a direction where the general expectation is that a question asked expecting that there will be a single best answer that can be accepted for the question. While there might still be occasional list questions, they're the exception, not the rule, and the list generated needs to be very very useful.

I think you already see how your question is different than the typical question on the site. The general expectation is that a question should be an attempt to solve a particular real-world problem. So if you were looking to do something particular (use a computer with a particular disability, for instance, or enter numbers quickly, or run a slide show from the other side of the room from your computer but also be able to jump to arbitrary slides), asking what input device someone recommends could be a very good question. But "hey, what input devices do you use and why do you like them?" is a direction we've been trying to move the site away from.

It's not a bad thing to wonder about, and frankly, I'd be interested in reading the answer to a poll like that, but it's not a constructive question for our Q&A problem-solving format here.


While I can't speak directly for the sub-culture of the Ask Different site, I don't feel that either question is suitable for the site.

Both of these questions are nothing more than lists (or requests for lists) and badly maintained ones at that. Specifically, the question you refer to which is still open:

Which OS X Applications do you find indispensable?

Is "Not Constructive". How many of you really have all 210 applications installed on your Mac? Furthermore, what is indispensable for one is almost certainly not for another. The problem where a majority of answers to the question are not selectable as being right. A handful of well intentioned answers can be read and digested in a short period of time. You can see how hard it is to get even through the first page of answers. The rest are effectively buried. Well intentioned or not, these large questions have problems of scale that don't afflict small targeted questions.

On top of that, the highest voted answer, DropBox isn't even an application, it's a website which has an application for the platform.

Both of them should be closed as "Not Constructive". Like the book list questions that are very contentious on Stack Overflow (to say the least), they might be valuable, and they might have a place on the Internet, but that place isn't here.

Questions of this sort simply do not fit the format or vision of this site.

  • I would encourage everyone that doesn't feel these sort of questions are useful to down vote them. Talking here, discussing all make it easier for the mods to step in and either fix the deficiencies or perhaps close these sort of questions.
    – bmike Mod
    Feb 28, 2012 at 19:35
  • 1
    Also meta.apple.stackexchange.com/questions/697/… makes a good point where not being specific in the question body "buries" lots of good answers. It would be far better for the site to have 5 good questions about specific input devices that solve specific needs. For that reason, the catch all questions are often down voted and closed.
    – bmike Mod
    Feb 28, 2012 at 20:46

What sorts of answers was the "what devices are indispensable" were you hoping to get? What problem were you trying to solve? I feel the question would be better if you asked that deeper question and not the warm-up "list all awesome input devices ever" question.

A question that allows any answer to be equally valid makes for a noisy mess.

Who can do without a keyboard or a mouse - there's two banner answers without thinking past a millisecond.

Now - if you had a practical problem. Say what hardware is indispensable for someone with cerebral palsy? By listing a specific condition everyone can gain value from the information, expertise and answers. I don't know if a magic mouse or a trackpad is better for someone with that level of motor skill. By having a real problem, the question becomes on topic.

Do read up on these links for background (most of the mods have had a lot of time to think over these issues and are thusly quick to jump on questions that are likely going to run afoul of the guidelines) and let me know in the comments if any of this makes sense to your particular question here. It still can be edited into shape and reopened - just will need some consensus built about what and how it will exist given the goals of the site.

  • Ya I see the problems in the question now, its going to stir up more opinion based answers, and could lack out on the creative solutions I am thinking about because the question is too vague. So I think the best solution is to let this question go and hope for a the creation of better more focused question relating to input devices in more specific situations.
    – MrDaniel
    Feb 29, 2012 at 2:06
  • Most excellent. I'm happy to help if you ever want to ping me in chat or ask here. Thanks for the response and digging into the why a bit with us.
    – bmike Mod
    Feb 29, 2012 at 5:05

I believe this type of question will be down-voted since it's an open-ended question and it's doubtful there could be one correct answer.

  • Huzzah! Voting is very important for showing that a question is contentious. Just because something is popular doesn't mean it should remain.
    – bmike Mod
    Feb 28, 2012 at 19:36

My biggest concern about your post is that this is very unspecific question and unlikely to be helpful to the community on the long run:

  • It's not a real problem you face.
  • Most answers will probably be valid for any computer enthousiast - no matter if he's using Windows, Linux or OSX.
  • Hardware does not get updated, but upgraded

    We need to be aware of that a hardware upgrade is a replacement of hardware. Why do I mean mention this? Software does not change it's name over time. When it get's a major update, the version number changes.

    With hardware, a name is closely related to a unique product. But the product becomes unavailable or outdated over time. Hence, the list of answers will become very bloated in time and require steady clean-up.

  • I think that's the point of hardware input devices, they are in some cases around for a longer time than originally intended. That does not reduce there functionality, in fact it sometime might enhance the opportunity for more interesting use cases and or hacking...
    – MrDaniel
    Feb 28, 2012 at 20:36

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