How does the questions limited to the scope of a nightly build of a ROM are helpful to site in long-run?

There are questions we receive that are more or less specific to a nightly build of a ROM. (In case one has never heard the term nightly build outside the scope of Android, I recommend reading wiki of Daily build.) By specific, I meant examples like the following ones:

If I've to give a brief of those examples, I would say:

  • individual or all apps crashes or gives ANR messages intermittently or repeatedly
  • any or all of mobile data, Wi-Fi and bluetooth does not work
  • encryption does not work correctly
  • screen blackouts during usage, including but not limited to calls
  • navigational button stops working
  • the famous boot-loop or "optimizing apps" at startup followed by a reboot and repetition of same cycle
  • texts not sent or received

A nightly is:

  • a ROM in progress, updates often and users are supposed to use the latest version;
  • supposed to be not used as a daily driver (a fact folks ignore), hence, ideally not meant for any user but for a tester who takes risk of losing their data;
  • expected to have bugs which may or may not be severe, but in any case it is expected that users report bugs whenever encountered so that the latter gets fixed ASAP before a stable build for all end-users is released.

While nothing stop the issues mentioned in my example cases to occur on stock ROMs or stable builds of custom ROMs, the likelihood of occurrence of them is greater on nightly builds and are often solved in a next build or some other build in near future once reported to ROM's developers. As such, while we may not be losing anything by keeping such questions, I ask again:

  • What long-term benefit does the site have from those questions?
  • Is there a problem you also see or have I exaggerated the issue?
  • As the title asks, what do you recommend for dealing with such questions, other than commenting?

Do note that nightly builds are updated at a faster pace. Possibility of a solution for a bug in a next release is also high if developer is aware of the issue. Once the next build fixes the issue, the question loses almost all of its usefulness.

This reminds me of the problem with shopping recommendations where the information definitely becomes obsolete in a matter of few months, if not weeks as in case of nightly builds here.

I noticed that the criteria of automatic deletion of a question isn't much helpful here.

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    Issues with nightlies should be dealt with like the same with beta versions. Who opts in for testing should report to the devs. And I fully agree: those posts won't be relevant for long. – Izzy Jan 26 '16 at 22:59
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    Maybe I'm getting old but I don't remember this being brought up before, well done. I see no reason to entertain any questions about bugs in nightlies, I think we should flag and close them. I'd like input from more people though before I go on a rampage. – Matthew Read Jan 27 '16 at 1:48
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    While we're at it, how about developer-preview ROM? Should we add another off-topic close reason for these kind of questions? – Andrew T. Jan 27 '16 at 5:04
  • Since my suggestion was the highest-voted, I've gone ahead and created a CW question and answer android.stackexchange.com/q/147830/12442 to dup questions to. – Dan Hulme Jun 8 '16 at 13:07

I think you're right that these questions add no value to the site. They're almost never fixable by users, and we do seem to get a lot of them. I've tried to reduce their number in the past by adding to the cyanogenmod tag-wiki a note about nightlies and about how to get bugs fixed faster; also by adding a comment like "don't use nightlies" to such questions.

I'd be in favour of a "canonical" CW question of the form "I have problems using a nightly/unstable build of this ROM; what can I do about it?", with an answer that (a) suggests how to report bugs, and how to help out mod authors in other ways, and (b) tells you not to use nightlies on a phone you actually want to use. All these questions would be duped to this canonical question. I'd even be happy to write the question and answer, if the community agrees with this solution.

  • Do you aim for a post with multiple answers or a single coherent answer? – Firelord Jan 27 '16 at 13:34
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    @Firelord A single CW answer, like the question. Is there a reason there would be more than one answer? – Dan Hulme Jan 27 '16 at 14:07
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    I think this is a good solution, although I personally also have no problem with just outright banning them. This however has the benefit of not requiring us to petition SE for an additional close reason in the dialog (3 is the max by default, and we are using all 3). – eldarerathis Jan 27 '16 at 23:07
  • @eldarerathis I just flagged this Nightly build question off-topic for "trying to find an off-site resource" because "these types of answers become obsolete quickly". Am i correct in flagging it in that manner? – Aaron Gillion Mar 23 '16 at 7:31

I agree that there is little value in questions that are specific to a nightly ROM builds. I think it would be a good idea to have a policy of closing such questions. We want questions (and answers) for the "long tail", not questions (and answers) which are only helpful to the Asker in the here-and-now.

To that end, a canonical question and answer here on Meta Android (similar, perhaps, to this question on the Uber Meta) would be useful. It should specifically call out the reasons why such questions aren't allowed (already well-delineated in Firelord's question).

A ROM should have a stable, public build before it becomes a valid topic here. If there is a ROM where a "beta" is as stable as most other ROMs "final" release, such an exception could be mentioned here.

Another canonical question and answer on the main site could be titled "I'm having trouble with a daily ROM build. What do I do?" The answer could explain why such questions are off-topic (with a link to the Meta question I mentioned above), issues need to be forwarded on to the ROM maker, and then list the major ROMs and their bug-reporting mechanisms.

In this case, 'prevention is better than cure'. On Stackoverflow, upon trying to submit a question, the editor is smart enough to realize there's more code snippets than text.

With that approach in mind, how about, upon asking the question, expressions like 'Unstable', 'Nightly', 'CyanogenMod' (or other custom ROMs with nightlies) in same sentence/paragraph are flagged, then a prompt appears pointing the asker to learn more about questions relating to nighlies.

I think its much easier stopping them in their tracks with such a hint. With that prompt, should an asker proceed to post nightlies related question(s), it becomes obvious the post needs to be deleted, and should be.

Edit

Hint might look like this:

enter image description here

  • I don't know. It could be useful though you can be more specific by providing a visual of the use case. Although such questions are now treated as not useful in long run, I don't find them much of a nuisance as much as development questions and the issue noted here are. I'm fine with voting them for closure. Note that my conservative approach here doesn't imply that I'm not welcoming preventive measures. :-) – Firelord Feb 23 '16 at 10:26
  • @Firelord edited answer with image – Rexford Feb 23 '16 at 10:40

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