I admit, our site (and its parent network) is quite structured, we have a lot of rules, and if you don't know all of them, the result of applying them might look strange.
One important thing to know: we are not trying to accommodate all possible questions, but only these at which we are good (description of "good" follows below). And for this, each question has to fit, roughly, two types of rules:
- it has to meet the topic constraints, and
- it has to result in a certain type of answer, which, for lack of better word, I will call the structure constraints.
Importantly, each question has to meet both sets of criteria, else it is closed.
For the topic constraints, we are broadly about the preparation of food (and there are pages on the Help center and questions on this Meta which define where exactly we draw the border on that).
For the structure constraints, it is helpful to understand the history/purpose of the network.
The network started when our founder Jeff Atwood was tired of searching for answers to programming problems in forums, wading through pages of unnecessary chatter, only to see that nobody on the thread offered a solution. So he decided to build a new system: A kind of repository of answers to programming problems, where each new asker stumbling over the same problem would see the correct answer right away. His startup not only built a sytsem suited for that, but also created and fine-tuned a set of moderation principles to create exactly this outcome.
At first, they allowed all kinds of questions, but soon they noticed several types of questions for which the system does not work. They decided that they cannot be everything to everybody, so they decided to stop accepting these types of questions. One of these not-accepted types of questions came to be known as big-list questions.
Big-list questions are defined as questions whose correct answer is a list of items. They define some kind of criteria, and there are multiple items in the world which meet these criteria. There is no way to postulate that somehow one of these items constitutes the "correct" or at least the "best" answer, they are all equally qualified.
At first, these questions were accepted on SO, and they created the following problems:
- Many people reading the question can come up with at least one answer. So these questions trigger a kind of "me too" instinct and people click on them to post their item, without thinking whether they should do so.
- This results in a question with too many answers. The idea behind the SO system is that you see 4-5 answers which represent 4-5 ideas or viewpoints, and take your pick - or if you are in a hurry, you only look at the top one (by votes or by checkmark). These questions got dozens of answers, sometimes over a hundred.
- People in the thrall of "me too" who saw the question late didn't care to read through two pages of answers, they just posted their idea. So there were tons of duplicate answers within the questions. When you consider that a) SO allows for duplicate answers, b) some people posted multiple items per answer and others only one, and c) each new answer bumps up the question, it spiraled out of hand.
- It is per definition impossible to accept an answer on these questions. The intended semantic behind the checkmark is that the OP tries all suggested solutions, or at least the ones which voting tells them are worth trying, and accepts the one which produces good results. While we are aware that it doesn't always happen (and for some kinds of question, it is impossible to happen), the problem with these list questions is that they don't have one correct, or at least one best answer! All items that can be listed are equally good. So picking one over all others and thereby declaring to all new readers "this is the one you should use, forget about the rest" is terribly misleading.
- Voting also breaks down on these questions. People would usually open the question, read the first 3-4 answers, note that they are correct, vote for them, and stop reading. This means that there tended to be a huge difference between the highest-voted and lowest-voted items, and the difference was determined mostly by time posted - the earliest answers got a few votes, got noticed, and gathered more votes, while the later ones got nothing.
For these reasons, it was decided that this type of question is actively harming the system, and it was forbidden. Most sites on the network also implement this rule, with very few exceptions (I am only aware of maths).
It is of course known that this state of affairs is annoying to users who have this type of question and want it answered. However, you shouldn't forget that
- the foremost user is not the individual asker, but the millions of anonymous readers which come and rely on the existing information to solve their own problem (thus the word "repository" I used above). SO and later SE rules always have the tendency of solving conflicts of interest such that the anonymous readers get the most utility.
- the interest of the asker is also frequently not served with this kind of question. For example, the earliest popular big-list questions on SO were "please recommend a book to learn <some programming language>, and the askers said that while they can easily discover a lot of such books in a bookstore, they want to know which is the best one, recommended by the SO community (whose expertise they trust). But instead of getting that, after a few weeks, they got the same huge list as when searching a book catalog, and while the results were apparently ordered by quality, they were actually ordered by random timing events.
There is another type of question which, before answered, cannot be distinguished from a big-list question. It is a question which also defines some criteria, but it is so precise, that it turns out there is no single item in the world which fits these criteria. Then you don't get tons of answers, you get none.
While this question doesn't produce the same problems as a big-list question, it also creates no benefit for the repository:
- as it doesn't get answers, it is quite superfluous. It does create some extra work though, e.g. when new users register just to post "I also wondered that". But neither the asker nor the new readers can get their problem solved.
- at the beginning, it is impossible to distinguish big-list from empty-list questions. So if empty-list ones are allowed, it becomes very difficult to close big-list questions in time.
To return to your own example, I think you can now recognize why it is a big-list (or possibly a zero-list) question. You had even recognized the impossibility of a correct answer, so you offered an acceptance to the earliest good answer - which is another sign how this breaks the system.
I hope this makes it easier to understand why sometimes question get closed even when they seem on topic - in fact, I would argue that frequently the topicness rules are made as a second thought to the structure rules. But in any case, both must be met for a question to be allowed.