There are some questions on our site regarding Software Engineering. (Example 1, Example 2)

What should we do with those questions when Area 51 - Software Engineering will be pubilc beta?

Should we...

  • keep them open as they are valid for the FAQ? (If not, we should list SE as an exception)

  • close them as off-topic and ask them to post their request at the other site?

  • or do something else?


2 Answers 2


Let me preface this with the fact that I'm the creator of the SE proposal.

There's no reason why SO, this site, and SE can't all coexist. So far, the majority of the questions on Stack Overflow and here are related to the construction phase of the software development life cycle. And you can tell that there's isolation in the people based on the percentage committed to the other proposal. Less than 10% of the people involved in the Programmers private beta committed to the Software Engineering Stack Exchange and around 8% of the SE committers committed here. That's honestly a pretty small number.

The SE stack exchange is designed for requirements engineering, design and architecture, testing (excluding the implementation of test cases - that's Stack Overflow's territory), and maintenance practices. SE also covers topics such as configuration management processes (not tools, as that falls into Stack Overflow's domain), business and engineering management, development processes, tools (although construction tools such as text editors and IDEs are covered on Stack Overflow), software quality, and professional ethics. High level questions on computer engineering, theoretical computer science, mathematics, usability, and systems engineering would also be on topic on SE, while more specific questions would be directed to the appropriate Stack Exchange (if one exists).

Honestly, it's likely that this site, SO, and SE will have overlap in topics, but I think the target audience is going to be different. SE is specifically focused on people pursuing a software engineering degree, have a title similar to "software engineer" at work, or perform academic research into the field of software engineering. On the other hand, this site and SO cater to people who work as developers and programmers (which software engineers do...about 20% of the time).

I think that how this should go down is that SE enters private beta, we get a bunch of good questions going in the first week. Then, once SE enters private beta, there's a discussion started on the three relevant metas - SO, here, and SE - to further define how each site can "play nice" with the other two.

Right now (as awesome as this site is), its future is still undecided for another 2.5 months and the SE exchange hasn't even opened. So let's take this one day at a time, work together to build strong communities, and see what happens.

  • +1 It's indeed a lot easier to answer this if you have a complete good view over the SE proposal, and the idea also seems good... Yeah, let's just let this question rest till the time is right(, although it might be nice to think in advance about the limits in overlap for both sites). Sep 12, 2010 at 15:21
  • This is something that we have to think about, and something that Fishtoaster (we go to the same school and know each other quite well) mentioned. And this is just an expansion of what I told him. If we can roll all Software Engineering into here, that would be good. If the people want a separate site, that's good too. It all comes down to addressing how we can all best serve the people who are using these communities.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Sep 12, 2010 at 15:26
  • 1
    I don't think there's going to be that much overflow between SO and here. There hasn't really been any significant quantity so far. I think here/SE is the main concern. Sep 12, 2010 at 16:40
  • True, but in the long end we shouldn't allow that non-significant quantity to grow. Sep 12, 2010 at 20:51
  • Isn't 'software engineering' just a poncy name for development? Sep 13, 2010 at 19:11
  • @adolf garlic: No. Software engineering is a complete life cycle approach. Most people use development to include only construction (the act of writing code). Actual development is something like 12-15% of a project, if you include everything that is needed.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Sep 14, 2010 at 1:03
  • See discussion at meta so meta.stackexchange.com/questions/64407/… Sep 14, 2010 at 16:05
  • Careful with the abbreviation SE, (Software Engineering/Stack Exchange). Of course context makes it clear, but it threw me off in the beginning. Sep 17, 2010 at 10:02
  • @Thomas Owens - so you would include pre-sales in that then? Oct 5, 2010 at 17:18

I think, we should keep them here. Unlike code problems (which go to StackOverflow), software engineering problems are inherently more subjective, and are more likely to fit here.

Also, we should win over that site!

  • +1 Seems like a good idea, we probably tag those questions as [software-engineering] too... Sep 12, 2010 at 14:27
  • Actually, very few software engineering questions are subjective. There typically is a "best answer" with case studies and/or empirical research to back up the answer. However, there are questions in the SE stack exchange proposal that are on-topic, yet more subjective in nature. Not sure how this will be handled yet, but let's wait until SE opens.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Sep 12, 2010 at 15:07
  • @Thomas: The sample sizes for software engineering studies are rarely large enough to be conclusive
    – Casebash
    Sep 18, 2010 at 23:15

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