I recently asked a question about preventing apps from running in the background. Before I asked it, I read several related questions and found that they didn't address the particular question space I was wondering about.

Because I was sure that some people would think my question to be a duplicate, I tried to deal with that topic when I initially wrote it, and in later edits as the controversy developed.

What I noticed (which, to be honest, wasn't unexpected) was that in both comments and answers, people kept trying to answer a different question than the one I asked--one that would have been a duplicate had I asked it.

The upshot of it all was a few down votes, the question being closed, and subsequently collecting some reopen votes. And, some people portrayed me as being unreasonable when for not changing my question to match their misconceptions of what I was really asking. (Despite my question being clearly worded, people wanted to talk about what should happen, or discuss how to handle a particular app instead of a general solution that might or might not exist.)

How could this situation have been handled better? How can one ask questions that are similar to but not the same as previous questions without having to fight a horde of people who falsely claim they're duplicates?

P.S.: I just found this post which I believe is apropos to this topic.

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2 Answers

Your question says:

There is already a similar question to this one, but mine is narrower in scope

Yours is much more detailed, but I don't see how it's narrower in scope. Your question says:

Can I prevent such an app from running in the background?

The other question says:

Is there a way to prevent the service apps (or any other apps) from automatically running in the background?

I don't see a difference. You said "That question was about saving memory" but the question doesn't say that. Regarding Jeff's comment on the other Meta question, I think there does need to be some form of distinction between the questions, not just between the "desired answer" and the ones given so far.


You may take issue with the answers to the other questions (which are the same answers that yours was given), as have several of those who have asked them. That's unfortunate, but it doesn't change the nature of the questions. One option you would have is to put a bounty on one of them explaining that you want a solution for, and only for, preventing particular apps from running in the background.


The reason why I want to do this is irrelevant. Perhaps it's to save battery. Perhaps it's another reason. This question is about how, not why.

Questions like that are often received poorly; they're known as XY problems. As a general rule, SE is about finding solutions to problems, rather than helping people with solutions they've already decided on. That doesn't make your question off-topic or anything, but problem solvers tend to get annoyed in these cases.

In the end, I believe the most basic answer to your question is "rewrite the Android OS so it doesn't do that" or something similar. Given that, perhaps you can see why people want to give you alternatives.


Going forward, I think it would be best to combine all of these question into one, as Flow said, with a single CW answer that address (1) why it may not be necessary/Android's design (2) the use of task killers and their drawbacks (3) solutions that actually prevent apps from running in the first place. If that sounds agreeable I will create it once things are a bit more settled.

Edit: I've created the question How can I stop applications and services from running? and closed all others as a duplicate of it. Please feel free to add to, update, and correct it.

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I just want to add to Matthew's answer that I think that the confusion comes with the fact that it's hard for the average user to distinguish between an Activity and a Service running in background. We have two questions

  1. How can I stop a Service from running in background?
  2. How can I stop a App from running in background?

Both a very similar. Yet there are not really exact duplicates. That is why my solution would be to reopen the first question of type 2 and close either this one or Scott's question as duplicate and merge the answer(s).

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