It was reviewed quite extensively on meta. This debate is years old. Can we get a resolution on this?

I came to the site far after the question was initially presented. In fact, it was already exhaustively summarized and five years later I have nothing to add.

In our FAQ, it says

Basic SQL - ask on Stack Overflow

It's time to drop "basic" qualifier and welcome all SQL questions. We need to purge that line:

Think about it like this, if you ask a question here in 2012 you may have had it closed for being too basic. Over the next five years you worked on your skill. You were leaving the cave. You've been contributing to StackOverflow your "basic" questions. And now, years later, we have to tap you on the shoulder to tell you about this awesome expert community we have and what we have to offer, and why you should be welcomed back.

I'm prepared to answer the basic questions, and it's easy to dupe-them over better questions with sufficient answers. The network gives us that functionality. It's a lot of work to actively recruit people back to the site who have been turned away and to convince them that the question is sufficiently not-basic. Please stop making us do that. Let's get more questions, more votes, more activity, and treat all people regardless of skill level equally on the basis of subject matter. This also serves our Be Nice mission statement.

And, other than confusing people that come in now, I don't find this enforced anyway much. It's almost as if it's an antiquated relic that needs some attention. I don't think I've ever seen anyone in the past year close a question, in good form, for being too basic. Myself and many others salivate at a good question, basic or not.


Not sure what we should do here, but I would advise people to vote on this matter on this question

  • 2
    -1 because if you think 'It's time to drop "basic" qualifier and welcome all SQL questions' then the place to argue your case is where it has been "reviewed quite extensively on meta", not by asking for a clean slate here. May 29, 2018 at 13:23

2 Answers 2


I think that's a great idea, and agree fully with everything you've said. Plus, in the spirit of "be nice", it seems foolhardy to close as "too basic".

Whatever happened to there is no such thing as a stupid question?

One can imagine a scenario where we have two dba.se sites; one for noobs and one for the people that know what they are doing:

  • dba-for-beginners.stackexchange.com
  • dba-pros.stackexchange.com

I expect people wanting to post questions would do so on dba-pros.stackexchange.com since the answer should be the best answer you can get.

So, should everyone be forced to post their question at the dba-for-beginners.stackexchange.com site first, allowing the question to be vetted for "inclusion" in the "exclusive" site if deemed worthy? That smacks a little bit of elitism in my mind.

Alternately, we could have a classification method for new questions where we tag the question as "noob" (or something less offensive). This would allow the "elite" member to filter out questions that they don't want to see. A Bayesian classification system could be built to automate that "filter" so that advanced folks never need to see a question about how to do a join.

Since the name of this site is Database Administrators not SQL Experts, the argument could easily be made that no SQL questions are on-topic here since this site is for database administration. I think we all agree that would be silly.

  • 2
    Be NIce has nothing to say about closing off-topic questions. We can be nice while telling people their question does not belong here because it is too basic.
    – Paul White Mod
    May 29, 2018 at 5:14
  • @PaulWhite that's cartesian. If the rule is you have to play football to come to the stadium, I can understand that. If you tell someone else to go home because they're not a pro or not playing to your standard -- that's not nice. Regardless of whether or not you have a rule that addresses it. If you're there to play football, you should be welcome to play football -- at any skill level. May 29, 2018 at 5:41
  • @EvanCarroll Then we disagree. Asking off-topic questions is arguably not very nice either, but that's irrelevant (as are soccer analogies). Nothing stops us meeting the Be Nice requirements when informing people that off-topic questions are off-topic. I don't know how else to state it.
    – Paul White Mod
    May 29, 2018 at 5:45
  • Well, to not be Cartesian, you need to define what is on-topic without relying on skill level; or, alternatively, you need to accept a definition of nice that excludes those lacking a level of skill and within that scope of nice conveying that lack of skill to those very people. May 29, 2018 at 5:51
  • 4
    @EvanCarroll People aren't off-topic; questions are. There are plenty of sites in the network that disallow basic questions in a particular topic area. The Be Nice policy is not at odds with enforcing topicality.
    – Paul White Mod
    May 29, 2018 at 6:11
  • Regarding the extensive edit: the site name has always been controversial but we are stuck with it, and Database Administrator is technically more inclusive than one might think. Proposing a new site should be done on Area 51.
    – Paul White Mod
    May 30, 2018 at 6:19
  • I am not really proposing a new site, or proposing we change the name, just using that as an example.
    – Hannah Vernon Mod
    May 30, 2018 at 10:44
  • @HannahVernon now that you're a mod, is it time to remove "basic" dba.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic ;) it has more votes dba.meta.stackexchange.com/a/758/2639 Jul 6, 2022 at 23:30

This debate is years old. Can we get a resolution on this?

Ok, then the resolution would be "no", (as given by Jack Douglas).

I don't find this enforced anyway much

Perhaps you are right that we have become too lax in this area.

I'm prepared to answer the basic questions, and it's easy to dupe-them over better questions with sufficient answers.

The right place to do that would be where the questions are on topic.

Related meta Q & A:

  • Regarding "too lax in this area", perhaps a set of examples indicating what is considered "too basic" would be helpful. My point is, what seems basic to you, is likely not basic to me :-)
    – Hannah Vernon Mod
    May 29, 2018 at 15:02
  • For instance, is this question "too basic"? It could be a simple UNION ALL (with associated column fixes) is the answer, but it might also be that there is a much better way to get the right level of detail from msdb another way. It's pretty clearly not a programming-related question - so it doesn't belong on Stack Overflow.
    – Hannah Vernon Mod
    May 29, 2018 at 15:14
  • All the close reasons are somewhat subjective and applied imperfectly by humans. I keep an eye on the close statistics and who votes when and how, so I do speak from some experience. "Too basic" is not really any more subjective. If you're asking me for a guideline, I would say questions of the sort someone with only one or two year's experience as a database professional would ask. If you want feedback on a particular case, feel free to post your own meta question.
    – Paul White Mod
    May 30, 2018 at 6:03
  • @PaulWhite: *would ask = should ask (FTFY)
    – Andriy M
    May 30, 2018 at 6:09
  • @AndriyM Well yes, there is an implication there that the person in question is of average ability or something like that. Anyway, I'm not really trying to provide a complete definition here, any more than I would try to do for the other close reasons (in a comment).
    – Paul White Mod
    May 30, 2018 at 6:14

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