I am leaving the relevant moderator's name out of this question because I wish to focus on the actions and facts and not on the person.

First, I sincerely thank whomever migrated my question (Need to make WatiN work for us, or need to find a different tool) to the Software Quality Assurance and Testing site. I had quite frankly forgotten about that site until it was raised in a comment after my question had been closed.

Second, the commentary on my question initially both before and after it was closed made some valid points on how the question could be improved. But, I think there were some less-than-valid points as well. Posters rarely agree that their questions should have been closed, and I realize I am no exception here. Further, I recognize that our moderators are volunteers, and I thank them for their efforts. However, I believe that the moderator who closed this question did not handle it correctly after I edited the question.

Since the relevant comments are now missing from the migrated question, I am relying on my memory of the comment thread, so I apologize in advance for any errors I may make in discussing the points raised therein.

  • If I recall, the close reason was "Too Localized." I initially mentioned that the website for WatiN had been down for several days and asked for any information. The moderator's comment when I asked why he closed my question was essentially that the site was just down temporarily, as another user had commented. Obviously, I did not know that the situation was being addressed when asking the question, and another user did. I had no way of knowing for sure that the condition was transient when asking the question. Nevertheless, among other editing for brevity, I edited that inquiry out of my question.
  • After I edited my question and asked the moderator if the issue was remedied, the moderator persisted in explaining that the question was too localized. This honestly seemed just like a way to justify the close decision after the fact. Had the close been a "five votes" sort of close, things might be different, but since it was one vote plus a moderator, I believe the moderator should have reopened (or, better yet, migrated) the question right away.

The moderator, upon giving reasons that the question should remain closed as "too localized," directed me to the FAQ. I had read it before, but I read it again. I believe my question was in compliance, and if there were not a more specific site to address the question, I believe that my question would have been on-topic for Programmers. To address the points I remember:

  • Point: I was asking about the status of two somewhat-related products, and I should have been asking the owners of those products instead. Why I disagree: Both WatiN and Watin Test Recorder are open source, without any obvious "central authority" to ask (especially with a site outage, Google Cache notwithstanding). I checked Google for status information on both projects. I did not find any compelling answers. Further, someone have known about a fork of one or both projects that I was not able to locate. Finally, if every project with a more specific community was off-topic here or on SO, many, many questions would be off-topic that are currently considered relevant.
  • Point: I was asking about a situation that was only relevant to me and would have been useless to other programmers. Why I disagree: I find it hard to believe that I am the working for the only company that decided to develop and/or maintain an internal web application for IE only and wanted to find a way to test it using .NET tools. Programmers deal with less-than-ideal situations all the time. I believed that another programmer may well have met a similar situation and had a solution based on his or her experience.
  • Point: The question was a "shopping question." Why I disagree: It's true that I mentioned that we might be willing to buy a tool if it was in budget and worth the money. That was hardly the point of the question. Even in a broader sense of "shopping" meaning "looking for a particular tool, paid or free," an adequate answer may not have depended on recommending a particular product at all. The answer could perhaps be an approach to using the tools I already mentioned, for example. I do not find my question equivalent in spirit to the canonical "Which camera should I buy?" shopping question in any event.

I am very willing to accept humble correction from the community should it be appropriate. But, I hope my view of the Programmers site is not so skewed that I am entirely incorrect here.

Comments? Suggestions for improvement? I know the process ended in what I believe is the correct result (i.e., migration), but how we got there seems wrong to me.

  • 4
    This is actually a simple issue; by migrating the question to a site that is more focused on your particular topic area (therefore making the question less localized) Mark gave your question a second chance to attract a decent answer, from folks who are specialized in the subject area of interest. Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 6:02
  • @Robert Harvey Yes, that's what happened in the end, and as I said, I agree that was best. And, in fact, the question has attracted good answers there. It's what happened before a commenter suggested migration with which I am taking issue.
    – Andrew
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 19:03
  • 1
    @Andrew for what it's worth, the SQA.SE mods were notified of the question shortly after the closure and independently of any comments left on the question, as it's standard procedure for us to check with other SE sites when a question might be a good fit for them. The goal is to see if we can improve questions on our site first, then check with other sites to see if we can find a home for them.
    – user8
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 19:23
  • @Mark Trapp And thanks (again) for making that happen. I completely agree that it is desirable to ensure that a question is welcome elsewhere before migrating, and I never knew that the mods took the time to ask each other whether a question is appropriate. I had not manually "migrated" my question yet because I had not had a chance to perform my own due diligence to determine whether the question would follow SQA's rules and guidelines. But, yes, I understand your point that you initiated migration prior to a commenter's suggestion, so thanks again.
    – Andrew
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 19:33
  • 2
    @Andrew No problem: we mods have a special chat channel specifically for facilitating inter-SE communication like migrations. :)
    – user8
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


I was one of the moderators you interacted with and the one who migrated the question. Your question was flagged for moderators as being too localized, which is why moderators stepped in.

One of the main goals for Programmers.SE is to ask questions that will serve as useful information for future vistors: if someone is having a similar problem, we want them to be able to find the question and derive value from it. To that end, questions need to be generally applicable to all programmers, not just the question asker, and have some amount of lasting value.

Programmer diagram

Your original question and its current, "tl;dr" version state the framework in question is dead, that you're unsure of what the status of the project is, and your question still asks what you can do to make it work again. A comment was left, stating:

Per the Sourceforge mailing list it's a memory issue with watin.org and it's being looked into; WatiN isn't dead.

Essentially, rumors of its death are greatly exaggerated: it isn't dead, its website is just having some trouble. In a few days, the question would be obsolete when the website comes back online.

Granting you didn't know about the mailing list beforehand, you do now, and that would be where you'd want to check on the status of the website and follow-up with any concerns about the status of the project.

Beyond that, your question asks for a list of recommendations for a testing framework, and you laid out several requirements for that framework, scoping the question specifically to your situation. We're not looking for questions that specific, as they are unlikely to ever help future visitors, especially on a site that's geared towards programmers in general.

That is, the question's scope goes from all programmers (our target scope), to testers, to people who use the framework in question, to people having trouble with the framework in question, to people having trouble with the framework in question and have the same exact set of requirements you have. There aren't a lot of visitors, if any, who would derive value from that question.

Which is why we generally don't field questions that ask for lists of recommendations or shopping recommendations: everyone's requirements are different, and it has the potential to create an infinite number of iterations of the question, each one only helping the question asker.

Instead of questions that give a person a fish, we want questions that teach a person how to fish. "How do I go about selecting a testing framework?" would be a better, more general question and would work well on Programmers. The comments left on your question were intended to guide you towards editing your question to that effect.

As to why it took so long to get the question migrated: we don't migrate questions away unless they are especially good fits for the destination site (the so-called "don't migrate crap" rule). I put a feeler out to the moderators on SQA.SE to see if it would be something that they would be interested in, and it took a few hours for them to get back to me. Once they determined it would be a good fit for their site, it was migrated.

  • Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I have some thoughts in reply, but I'd like to wait for others to respond first.
    – Andrew
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 19:02
  • 3
    @Andrew I'm not sure what other responses you're expecting, but I think Mark covered everything I would say in this case, too.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 19:13
  • @Anna Lear Perhaps none, but I'm thinking more of users than moderators. That was also my cover for not having time to write a full reply right now. :)
    – Andrew
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 19:14
  • 2
    @Andrew I think Mark has covered the whole issue well, and I believe that is why no one else has written a response. So far his answer has been upvoted several times, which implies that other users agree.
    – Michael K
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 19:21
  • @Michael It implies that seven (so far) users agree. Maybe no one else will respond, and that's fine too.
    – Andrew
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 19:23
  • @Andrew: You won't get many more replies because it's how it works here on P.SE. Try Quora.com. It's less strict, crowded by high profiles and much more user friendly.
    – user2567
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 20:05
  • 5
    Eh, @Pierre... You could post an answer, you know... If there's something you want to say.
    – Shog9
    Commented Aug 12, 2011 at 20:30

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