I'm not sure that this question is appropriate: it reads to me as though the person asking hasn't done their basic research - but I don't want to downvote or close since I'm pretty new to the whole process myself.

What do folks here think?

4 Answers 4


Is see three key things to take into consideration

  1. Is there easily accessibly information on the topic? Is it in a format that a non-professional (we don't know how advanced this student is, and where in the 'bell curve' (s)he falls) can easily grok?
  2. Has the user given enough information to adequately answer the question? Is there enough information to make follow-ups questions by potential answerers able to provide an adequate answer with one, maybe two iterations of follow-up questions?
  3. Is the user trying to take unfair advantage of the community and the general contract of the site?

I believe the answers are no, yes, and no.

In a quick search (less than 30 seconds, mind you) I wasn't able to find a good guide or article on how to determine what makes a feature or what doesn't (the first question, it seems to me, is how to determine what makes a feature for his list to be tested.) This may have simply been I didn't type the right terms in there, or look long enough. Chances are if I were doing this for work, I would have more than 30 seconds of research time, but still. If he's been given a term by his professor and this term is misrepresented, finding research on it will be very difficult. One of the most limiting things about student projects is the lack of exposure to alternative methods and terminology.

I believe with a couple good follow-up questions, skilled members of the site will be able to give him assistance on how to develop this document he's looking for. Of course, this implies that he's willing to stay the course, and that he's going to reactively research what the follow-ups have in them.

Now is he trying to take unfair advantage of the site and its members? I'm not convinced he is. I've seen some pretty blatant "plz send teh codez" style posts, and this doesn't seem like it. His question is "What should be my criteria for building feature list for TDS?" - This indicates to me that he's willing to do the work himself, but is needing assistance on how to do it. To me, that's the ideal format for a homework question.

I can certainly see why there would be concern though. There isn't much to go on. Typically low-info homework questions are indicative of student-leeches. We don't know anything about his application he's developing this document for, although it's entirely possible that's intentional so that he can get general criteria for what constitutes a feature to which he can apply to his application.

tl;dr in my opinion, it's legit, but it needs some work before it's an answerable question.


While this may be a legitimate question, something just feels fishy about it. The poster mentions they are a student and this is a project that they are working on. If they are asked to do something like this, doesn't it seem to indicate that they should have received some instruction on how to build a list of features.

For that matter, the lines that start with "Generic" and "Specific/Functional", as a former educator myself, seem like they are practically copy and paste right from the assignment sheet of information that is typically used to guide the student in thinking about the project. The whole thing actually reads that way. I could easily reword it as a project assignment:

Build a list of features for a test design specification (TDS). There should be one design specification for each feature.

Describe the criteria used for building the feature list for the TDS

Consider: Generic - User interface, Performance, Usability, Error handling, Notifications Specific/Functional - User management, auction management, product search results, Bidding and bid history and management

I'm all for helping out students. But at the same time, this just feels like someone is asking us to do their homework for them.

Edit: I noticed that the asker edited his question after the fact. That edit REALLY raises my suspicion because it looks even MORE like a copy and paste from some other document and then an edit to format it for some other purpose. I've added a comment that requests more information so we'll see what he comes back with but I'm sorely tempted to downvote this.


I think it's just fine to vote to close a question that in its current state, is just not ready to answer. Remember, one close vote (unless from a mod) won't close the question straightaway, it takes 5 close votes to do that. So if a question gets enough votes to close, you know there's community consensus that it needed to be closed.

Closing a question doesn't delete it, it just stops people adding answers - to my mind, that allows a bit of time for the user and other members of the community to work on improving the question before opening it up again for answers.

Note, I'm not suggesting that we vote to close any question that could do with minor edits or clarifications - but I am suggesting that in questions like this, where it's still so wide open that the answers could go everywhere, that in order to keep the site useful and avoid clogging it up with poor questions, we make use of our close votes AND also leave a comment and help the user to improve it.

tl;dr Don't be afraid to vote to close, it's just good housekeeping and we want to keep our site nice to use

  • Thanks for the suggestions - I'm a lot less concerned about downvoting something now.
    – Kate Paulk Mod
    Aug 8, 2011 at 18:07
  • Just thought of an analogy that might work for this community: think of it as like finding a really vague bug report with terrible repro steps and worse still, makes the problem sound trivial when it's actually really severe. Would you really hesitate for a second before closing it as a dupe of a really well written bug report that has crystal clear repro steps for the worst potential case, all relevant logs, and a cogent summary of potential impact? We want to make sure visitors see the second kind of report when they first arrive, not the first.
    – testerab
    Aug 26, 2011 at 19:58

If you do not want to downvote or close, perhaps you could reply with some links. I am sure this student would be grateful for an opportunity to figure out part of this for themselves.

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