7

What to do with barbecue sauce

What are some tasty ways to use up our [extra barbeque] sauce?

and

https://cooking.stackexchange.com/questions/6005/how-can-i-make-sandwiches-more-interesting

What are good ways to spice up a sandwich without breaking the bank?

I'm having a hard time reconciling the difference between these two questions; both are asking for "list of X" type answers, and honestly, both seem reasonably specific enough to survive.

My personal criteria for list of X questions is:

  1. Are they specific and detailed, enough so that answers will explain "how" and "why" and be more than someone's stated opinion?
  2. Is it on topic for the community?
  3. Is it properly marked community wiki?

(more at Should we have a "List of X" close reason?)

I'm not saying closing one or both is wrong, I'm just curious about the specifics of the rationale.

3

Here's my rationale. I admit it's kind of wishy-washy.

The barbecue sauce question falls into the "What to do with ingredient X" category. We have an existing meta discussion here, with no real resolution or direction. However, we have several questions that have been posed in this category and have received useful responses:

Personally, I view these questions as potentially useful. I view them as a compromise of sorts due to us not permitting recipe swapping. As long as they are not posed as "what is your favorite ..." or "what are some recipes for ..." they can provide recipe ideas for individual ingredients. Is barbecue sauce a particularly good example of this type of question? Probably not. It could at least use some clarification as to what is in the sauce.


Regarding the sandwich question, I find a few things "wrong" with it that make it different than the barbecue sauce question:

  • It's not a simple ingredient
  • What is a "sandwich"? (ridiculously broad, poorly defined)
  • Feels like a "what is your favorite ..."
  • It feels more like a foodie question than a chef question
  • The user described his current sandwiches as "boring", but what does that mean?
  • It doesn't provide any criteria for "spicing it up" besides "not breaking the bank" (how do you even evaluate that?)
  • I can support sandwich being too broad. I might suggest editing it to make it better rather than immediately closing it, however.. of course you'd be guessing the OP's intentions, but it depends how welcoming/nurturing you want to be to new users – Jeff Atwood Aug 26 '10 at 10:00
  • @Jeff: You stay up late! Do you think I should reopen it? I asked in the teacher's lounge regarding this specific question and everyone present suggested closing it down immediately (no cooking mods were in, other ones though like random). – hobodave Aug 26 '10 at 10:19
  • 1
    Chipping in: my intuition disliked the sandwich question strongly (for reasons like hobodave's list), and disliked the BBQ sauce question weakly. – Tobias Op Den Brouw Aug 26 '10 at 13:05
1

I think the question fails on criteria #1:

Are they specific and detailed, enough so that answers will explain "how" and "why" and be more than someone's stated opinion?

Not really. List-type questions are sometimes OK, because even though answers may be motivated subjectively, the question itself still has an objective interpretation.

In this case, the question is really subjective and it could be interpreted in a myriad of different ways. Absolutely nothing is made clear:

  • What is a "sandwich?"
    • Does it have to be two slices of bread? Open-face OK? Au jus?
    • What types of bread? Is pita OK? Tortillas?
  • What ingredients are available?
  • What preparation equipment is available (panini grill, regular grill, fry pan, vacuum sealer...?)
  • Will it be eaten immediately or left sitting in a fridge or cooler for several hours?
  • What does "in a rush" mean? How much time is actually available to make one?
  • What do the terms "inexpensive" and "breaking the bank" mean? What sort of budget is available?
  • What do the terms "boring" and "spice up" refer to? Taste? Variety? Something else?

If you start thinking about how you'd answer a question like this, it really does begin to sound like a "What's your favourite sandwich?" poll. There's just nothing specific enough to make it more than that. A "sandwich" could be practically anything - it could be a burger patty wrapped in lettuce.

Much like a recipe poll, the number of different combinations of ingredients and preparation methods that could be posted as answers is practically infinite. Due to the incredible scope of the question, I would actually classify this as a recipe poll itself, which puts it firmly into off-topic territory. Any true "expert" answers to a question like this would almost certainly be lost in a sea of noise.

Now, normally, if a question is almost specific enough but not quite, I would leave a few comments first or even try to edit the question. There's too much ground to cover here, though. It sounds like the author doesn't really know what he wants, or if he does know, has done an exceptionally poor job of communicating it (no offense, if you're reading this). Questions that vague are the kind that eventually attract hundreds of "meh" answers and end up being no more useful than a Google search for "sandwich recipe."


Geek analogy follows: Non-programmers please ignore.

An analogy for Jeff: Try to imagine a question asked on Stack Overflow asking this:

  • "I develop a lot of corporate apps that end up being pretty bad. What are some ways I could make them better?"

That's a terrible question. It can be answered in a thousand different ways by anyone with more than 10 minutes of experience - and it the same time, it can't be answered at all. Compare to:

  • "I've been investigating CouchDB and it looks very interesting; I'd like to try using it but I don't really know where to start. What kinds of projects is this product best-suited for and why?"

That's a better question. It's still an open question and should obviously be wiki, but at least it's dealing with a specific technology and encourages expert answers with reasonable detail.

Just substitute "CouchDB" for "BBQ sauce." It's less advanced, but basically the same thing.

  • as usual, great insight -- I also came to agree that the cooking-ness essence of "sandwich" and "bbq sauce" indeed made the difference. – Jeff Atwood Aug 30 '10 at 8:46
  • No offense taken -- I admit I was more just asking a question to try out this whole StackExchange idea. This was the first thing that popped into my head. But something I don't understand about StackExchange: what is the point of closing a question like this? What harm does it do to leave it open? – carl Aug 31 '10 at 9:22
  • @carl: There is no harm in leaving one such question open. But that's a bit like asking what's the harm in ignoring one illegally-parked car. In order for the community to succeed, we have to think bigger; what's the harm in ignoring all discussion questions? Plenty - they flood the front page and take all the attention away from the more difficult questions (the ones that really give us an edge over other sites - if they're answered well). And if we arbitrarily ignore some questions instead of closing them, then that's simply unfair to everybody else. – Aaronut Aug 31 '10 at 15:23

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .