As many, I had a question migrated from Stack Overflow to Programmers.SE. I actually liked the fact it was migrated, as I initially also had the gut feeling it was more appropriate on Programmers.SE than Stack Overflow, but I couldn't find anything backing up this feeling in either Programmers.SE or Stack Overflow FAQ. On the contrary, I could find indication that the question was a better fit for Stack Overflow on their FAQ:

if your question generally covers matters that are unique to the programming profession then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

When I asked clarifications on why the question was migrated a user came up with a dead easy explanation that I am proposing to include in both Stack Overflow and Programmers.SE FAQs:

  • If it's a question about programming belongs on Stack Overflow
  • If it's a question about programmers belongs on Programmers.SE
  • I'm tempted to move this to MSO so it gets a more inclusive audience. Would you be happy with that?
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 11:28
  • @ChrisF - Do as you feel it's more appropriate: my goal in proposing was to to make something useful. Mind that I asked the removal of my meta.SO account, though and I don't know what kind of implications this will have in terms of visibility of the question once I will be removed.
    – mac
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 11:31
  • @ChrisF - Maybe it could be duplicated? (As it is a question to both SO and PE audience?)
    – mac
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 11:32
  • Well the team will see it here as well, but I was thinking of getting those who aren't regulars here to look at it. I'll bring it up with the other mods (both SO and Programmers) to see what they think.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 12:38
  • @ChrisF I don't know how much MSO participation is among PSE members, so I'd leave it here at least until we see some consensus locally.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Jun 30, 2011 at 13:19

4 Answers 4


Like Jon, I don't think that's a correct definition.

We do not only allow questions about programmers. Algorithm design and application licensing, for example, are both on topic without being about people and at least algorithm design is definitely about programming.

That said, I agree that there we need to better communicate the difference between Programmers and Stack Overflow. I'm personally partial to Jeff's own statement from Introducing programmers.stackexchange.com:

In a nutshell, Programmers is for when you're in front of a whiteboard working through higher level conceptual programming issues, and Stack Overflow is for when you're front of your compiler or editor working through code issues.

I believe our tag line could use an update to something along those lines as well. Currently it is "Q&A for programmers interested in professional discussions on software development", which is bad both for being extremely vague and including the word "discussions".

I think we should put more emphasis on conceptual programming questions or else we will be forever seeing millions of variations on "what's the best language for me" and "should I take this job". Not saying that those aren't real problems for people, but they're not questions that either fit very well in the Stack Exchange Q&A model or require the software development expertise and talent that we're trying to draw in and build in the community here on Programmers.

  • Switched the clauses based on feedback elsewhere, but otherwise A++ would upvote again.
    – user8
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 20:18
  • @MarkTrapp I like it!
    – jcmeloni
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 20:22
  • @MarkTrapp Seems legit. Thanks. :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 20:28

I don't agree with that definition. It doesn't completely conflict with our current FAQ, but it's not complete either since some questions about programming (design patterns, refactoring, best practices and the like) are on topic.

The difference as I see it is that SO is for solving coding problems, and P.SE is for solving programming problems. To elaborate:

SO is for:

  • Debugging
  • How do I code this? I tried this but...
  • Understanding algorithms (although this can be on topic here too)

Programmers is for:

  • Architecture
  • Understanding best practices and when to use them
  • Programming methodologies and their implementation

(Not a complete list)

Programmers is not just for subjective questions; it is for higher level questions. It deals with issues that come up when you step back from the machine that is your program. This could be working with other programmers, design, how to go about refactoring, or methodologies. Note though, that this includes questions about programmers and questions about programming.

Perhaps our tag line should be, "Q&A for professional programmers interested in all higher level aspects of programming."


I don't think that definition is right though.

There are plenty of questions about the act of programming which are subjective and which are therefore in the remit of PSE rather than SO.

I agree with the idea of having a clear distinction in the FAQ, just tricky to come up with one.


A total waste and confusing for most. Should have just expanded stack overflow to allow conceptual questions.

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