• Algorithm and data structure concepts
  • Design patterns

Algorithms, data structures, and design patterns, in my opinion, belong on Stack Overflow. This is especially true considering that "specific programming problems" (design patterns are potential solutions to these) and "software algorithms" are on-topic on SO. I would also suspect that "higher-level" (meaning above and beyond implementation specifics) would probably be more suitable to Theoretical Computer Science or Mathematics, depending on the specific question.

  • Quality assurance

The SQA Stack Exchange is now in public beta. Feeding QA questions to them would probably be beneficial to their community. In fact, according to their Area 51 stats, they could use some more questions and visits per day. We should show them some love.

I think that the FAQ should also be more specific about tools (IDEs, editors, libraries) belong on StackOverflow.


3 Answers 3


The problems Software Quality Assurance has shouldn't have any effect on our site: Joel Spolsky warned about the issues of trying to segment the programmer population into progressively smaller camps, and the fact that they can't field enough questions, to me, indicates Spolsky wasn't far off the mark in his original assessment. Many, although perhaps not all, questions related to the topic are on-topic here and shouldn't be migrated to a struggling beta site.

As to the other questions: as Anna points to, they're not on-topic on Stack Overflow, and are on-topic here. Stack Overflow is for very specific, here-is-my-code-and-I'm-not-sure-where-I-went-wrong-with-it questions; Programmers.SE is for conceptual I'm-planning-on-doing-this-but-need-help-with-the-big-picture questions. The topics you list as being better off on Stack Overflow are are our best, most useful questions: the questions that most resemble what Programmers.SE is about.

That is, if these questions aren't on-topic here, what is? The junky questions that aren't good enough for Stack Overflow? We figured out early on in beta that wasn't going to work, and that's why Programmers.SE was launched as the conceptual yang to Stack Overflow's concrete yin.


The issue with saying, we don't do that, it goes to SQA is that it's for "software quality control experts, automation engineers, and software testers".

Now I have some stuff in common with that group, manage people in that group and sometimes want input into issues from people in that group but sometimes I want to ask QA related questions to programmers.

If I as a unit test question, that's a QA question but it's also a programmer (rather than test analyst) question. Similarly, code review is QA but it's programmer QA not test analyst.

I like SQA and will go sign up and suggest to my test team they do the same, but it doesn't mean that QA isn't a programmers topic.

The same is true of design patterns. The question "how do I drive effective adoption of design patterns in my team?" (or some better variant there of) is a valid programmers question, and an invalid SO one. Are we saying we wouldn't allow it though?

These boundaries can't be hard, it has to be on a question by question basis.

  • +1 There are any number of topics where both programmers and testers might be interested, but they'd generally have a different take. Agreed that it has to be on a question by question basis.
    – testerab
    Nov 7, 2012 at 15:00

I agree about making it more clear that tool questions belong on Stack Overflow.

Not sure about SQA, though. I think we can direct people there, but until they're out of beta, I wouldn't remove the topic from our FAQ. I realize this is kind of a chicken and egg thing, but I'm not sure what the right move is.

Last but not least, I disagree that algorithm and design pattern questions belong on Stack Overflow. So long as we aren't talking about problems with a specific implementation of an algorithm or a pattern, they are certainly welcome here. Programmers is for whiteboard-y type questions and both algorithm and software design concepts are great for that.

If nothing else, I personally think those subjects are the more interesting ones that we welcome. Taking them off of our on-topic list would be a loss, especially considering that Stack Overflow tends to not respond very well to questions that don't involve code.

  • 1
    I agree - don't remove it until SQA is out of beta. But perhaps suggest it as an alternative somewhere to kind of nudge them along. I think more SE communities should do that. If there's a good partner site that's in public beta, they should kind of promote them to cross-populate them. As for the design patterns/algorithm questions, I think that they should only be on-topic in one place (either here or SO) to centralize knowledge and prevent duplication, and it just makes more sense on SO.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Jul 8, 2011 at 23:05
  • 1
    @Thomas and it just makes more sense on SO I disagree. :) We desperately need questions that aren't "I'm a programmer, help me name my cat" or "how do I develop social skills...as a programmer". Meaty software development questions are hard to come by. I'd rather we consolidated that knowledge here. There are other good topics we cover (licensing, freelance, etc.), but I think having some actual development topics on the list is very important.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jul 8, 2011 at 23:11
  • Perhaps. I'm just throwing out ideas here for things that I see, trying to gauge community response.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Jul 8, 2011 at 23:14
  • @Thomas That's totally cool. Thanks for bringing it up!
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jul 8, 2011 at 23:15

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