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We have had a number of questions asking for comparisons between X and Y. This question is the latest. As a couple of people alluded to in the comments, there is often too much variability in academia between universities/departments/disciplines to ever be able to provide a comparison that isn't way too localized.

To me it is obvious that questions about comparison that are too localized should be closed. In other words, I think question like is department X at school A "better" than department Y at school B, should be closed.

In the questions I am concerned about, the questions seem to have broad appeal and are asking about things that seemingly would have a definitive answer. It seems to me that closing them as "not a real question" or "not constructive" seems unfair. I can think of a couple of ways forward.

  1. Continue closing them as not real/constructive with a comment about why an answer is difficult
  2. Leave them open and unanswered with a comment about why an answer is difficult
  3. Leave them open and answer them with a comment about why an answer is difficult
  4. Add something to our FAQ saying why they questions are "off-topic"

I think closing them and even leaving them unanswered sends the wrong message to people. Adding something to our FAQ would at least tell people we are not interested in these types of questions.

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Such questions should be closed and then deleted.

The FAQ should state that such questions are not suitable for this site. The FAQ doesn't need to state that they are off-topic, because that's not the problem with them. The problem is that they're not constructive; and they are not real, objectively-answerable questions; and the FAQ should state that.

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    I am still against the concept of deleting all questions that are closed. If the "bad" questions are all deleted, there is no way a new user might figure out what questions are salvageable and when it's beyond all repair. – posdef May 20 '13 at 8:10
  • Many questions on this site have ambiguous answers. We would need to formulate the question in a way to discourage questions like this from ones where a definitive answer isn't possible. If you have a good (and simple) formulation for how to do this, we can take it into consideration. – aeismail May 28 '13 at 20:32

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