Im unsure about the appropriateness of questions about the origin of product names or other designations. For example I can't see the distinction between these questions:

yet they were handled very differently, one was well received and the other was closed as being "not constructive".

Is either appropriate?

2 Answers 2


Yes, the two questions were handled differently, for a good reason.

  • What does the “i” in Apple product names mean?

    has an accepted answer that says:

    Apple declared the “i” in iMac to stand for “Internet”

    and included a citation for that statement.

    In short: it was possible to give an accurate referenced answer to the question.

  • Is there an official policy behind the 'S' in 'iPhone 4S' and 'iPhone 3GS'?

    Let's start by looking at Stack Exchange policy, as given in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and Real Questions Have Answers:

    Constructive subjective questions:

    1. inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.
    2. tend to have long, not short, answers.
    3. have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.
    4. invite sharing experiences over opinions.
    5. insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.
    6. are more than just mindless social fun.

    How many of those are true about this question? Personally, I count zero.

    Next, look at this site's FAQ:

    What kind of questions should I not ask here?

    You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

    • Is the question practical? No
    • Is the question answerable? No
    • Is the question based on an actual problem you face? No

    End result: This question is subjective, non-constructive, meaningless, and unanswerable—so it shouldn't be here.

If, at some future point, Apple did publicly release an official policy, it would then be an answerable question. But until then? Close it.

  • OK, I understood completely, until this. Unless what your saying is that (based on the FAQ) neither question is appropriate, but the first one turned out to have an answer so it's OK. But how this question ended up as not useful is beyond me.
    – orome
    Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 13:06

I closed your iPhone question because of the discussion that came below it in the comments. By the time I got there, behind the scenes it was flagged three times and five mods—even some from community management—looked at it. It came on the day of Steve Jobs' death, emotions were still raw, and the overall discussion—public and private—was quickly diverting away from the original topic with one of the early comments. I don't like closing questions, but better safe than sorry.

As for the question itself, it is, at least at this point, unanswerable without a citation, and therefore would be considered not constructive. The question you linked to before has multiple citations in the answers, but Apple has become a lot more quiet over the past several years about the naming standards of their products. It's an interesting question, even if only a footnote in Apple canon, but not one that is going to get much in the way of a quality answer these days that the SE sites strive to achieve.

One unsolicited piece of advice that I will give is that what happened to you is has happened to even the best of us here, and to please keep on engaging the community. People will vote the way that they want, but the moderators have pretty clear guidelines as to what to do and you stumbled into a bit of a grey area, more on the murkier side of things. If anything, you found a new boundary for the community and that is always a good thing.

I say, carry on as you were and welcome to the site.

  • No problem at all with the shut down per se, I'm just wondering whether it was bad timing and bad luck, or whether there was something radically different about the two questions that I missed. I really would like to know what the 'S' is for, and I'm sure there's an answer to be had. As for knowing whether there were citations like those for the 'i' question: there's no way to know that without asking.
    – orome
    Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 1:52
  • Both bad timing and bad luck. Let me do some quick cleaning and I will re-open it. Gimme a minute. Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 1:53
  • Thanks (though it may be a cursed question).
    – orome
    Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 1:54
  • 1
    That may be true. It is open again. An answer to this would be interesting. I just don't think we're going to get one. Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 1:56

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