One of the topics that's come up several times on Meta.StackOverflow is the perception that Programmers.SE is a joke proposal, existing solely to help keep Stack Overflow free of all the "crappy" questions that it gets plagued with every day.

A few of examples of this perception (note: see Edits 2 and 3 below for clarification):

From Is the Software Engineering site proposal a duplicate of programmers.SE?:

You absolutely nailed my resentment of Programmers.SE; it was created as a tongue-in-cheek, NOT-Stack-Overflow site: the stuff we keep in the basement because it's not fit for keeping upstairs.

Robert Cartaino

The problem is that Programmers.SE was created as an amorphous blob where nothing is off topic (read: everything not Stack Overflow is on topic). The travesty is that Programmers.SE is, at least in perception, [your quote] "an ocean of jokes and polls." That's where the problem lies. I would have created the site very differently: Subjective/soft programming topics okay; Industry/engineering issues okay; The business of software okay; Banal polls/jokes off-topic.

Robert Cartaino

From Programmers on stackexchange:

So what you are saying is that Programmers.SE is the skin of evil left behind to free the race of titans from the bonds of destructiveness: http://youtube.com/watch?v=Ims5W5bJl9s&feature=related#t=11s

Robert Cartaino

If you browse questions on Meta for a bit, you'll quickly realize that there are a fair number of people who want to use SO for things that SO wasn't designed to be used for: discussions, polls, flame-wars, endless lists... And over time, this has created some amount of irritation on the site: some folks really, really want to, um, participate in questions like,

  • What's the single best way to type code?
  • Do you hurt sometimes (as a programmer)?
  • How can I get a job drawing cartoons featuring the funniest programmer joke about my favorite hidden feature in the worst language ever (on a boat)?

So rather than just stamping them out, like so many ducks putting out flaming elephants, some rose-tint-spectacled user got the idea of proposing a site for all the questions that shouldn't be asked on SO.

Programmers.SE is that site. Soon, it'll have its own set of rules and standards, and the cycle will begin anew. But until then, it remains an anarchic paradise of freedom and love.


I'm not going to challenge the premise behind the sentiment: in many ways, that was the purpose of the proposal, and Programmers.SE is flourishing despite it.

But I'm wondering if there's a way we can spin the content of this site more positively rather than being merely a wretched hive of scum and villainy.


One of the things that's popping up here is we should leave Programmers.SE alone because it's popular and as Nathan Taylor puts it, "Haters gonna hate."

I don't think the content or community Programmers.SE needs changing per se. Rather, I think we just need to provide a clear way to show value to SOIS and others, because the current perception is that we don't, and this site is more or less a joke that's gotten out of hand.

So how can we do that?

Edit 2

Looks like SOIS has decided to publicly address the banality of Programmers.SE on its blog:

There’s an even longer list of things that really belong on the new Programmers Stack Exchange, which appears to be degrading into fairly stupid water-cooler nonsense, and could benefit from an infusion of more meaty subjects, like these proposals:

I've created a new question, What questions are on topic, and what are off topic?, to see if we can hash out the proposed merges and other off-topic questions that have come up so far.

Edit 3

Robert Cartaino clarified his position and the quotes above in the comments:

I don't actively despise the concept of Programmers.SE at all. Read my quotes (above) very carefully. What I lament is the perception created; the "anything goes" ethos that simply aims to flout what makes Stack Overflow great. I wanted a site about the "Programmers' Life: a site for discussion of the business, careers, issues, and memes concerning professional developers." Subjective talk and soft topics okay if it follows a "back it up" philosophy or hard-earned experience. What I got instead was "what is the coolest/stupidest/weirdest/funniest thing you saw/did/tasted today?"

Software Q&A will live on SO, Programmers, and a few academic sites. That's it. Not dozens of ridiculously niche and redundant proposals. But the mere mention of merging proposals with Programmers horrifies most. "I don't want my subject on that site." That's a huge problem. Programmers.SE is the "Park Place" to Stack Overflow's "Boardwalk"; a tremendously valuable resource in a bad neighborhood. I'd prefer to paint over the graffiti and fix broken windows; to reestablish community pride so the police come out on occasion. But that's a far cry from "hater" or "actively despise.

Edit 4

Jeff Atwood has created two topics with the basic premise that Programmers.SE as it is now is too undisciplined, and SOIS will be taking steps to correct that:

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    I would ignore them. It doesn't matter what they say, we still get more views than Gaming and Meta.SO stackexchange.com/sites . Obviously some people like it – TheLQ Sep 15 '10 at 11:32
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    Haters gonna hate. While I agree with some of the sentiments, this proposal is obviously working out. That being said, I do wonder if it is likely to set a precedent which is contrary to the Stack Exchange network's primary objective of creating targeted Q&A websites which offer specific answers to specific questions. – Nathan Taylor Sep 15 '10 at 18:59
  • @Nathan: that's what I'm concerned about. If people at SOIC (e.g. Robert Cartaino) actively despise the concept of Programmers.SE, I'm not sure how much our traffic is going to matter without a way to demonstrate real value. – user8 Sep 15 '10 at 19:04
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    @Mark That is most definitely true- and I feel rather foolish now for not recognizing Robert Cartaino's celebrity status prior to my first comment. Reiterating what I said though, he's certainly not off base with his statements. The real question Programmers.SE poses is whether or not changing the SE precedent is necessarily a bad thing. – Nathan Taylor Sep 16 '10 at 16:43
  • We should ignore this and don't change a thing because it's working fine at the moment, the same issue arisen a bit at Super User because of the new Ubuntu/Apple proposals and it's just a matter of letting the proposals do it thing and see what they will become. Jeff has done some blog posts about them... The questions, sharing them, advertising our site across social media is the only thing we can get value of I think... Look at the people than think this community is fine, not at the others. Changing things does also affect those people, and we don't want to lose them! Ignore competition... – Tamara Wijsman Sep 16 '10 at 20:42
  • s/SOIC/SOIS/g. I don't know where the C came from. – user8 Sep 16 '10 at 22:20
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    I don't actively despise the concept of Programmers.SE at all. Read my quotes (above) very carefully. What I lament is the perception created; the "anything goes" ethos that simply aims to flout what makes Stack Overflow great. I wanted a site about the "Programmers' Life: a site for discussion of the business, careers, issues, and memes concerning professional developers." Subjective talk and soft topics okay if it follows a "back it up" philosophy or hard-earned experience. What I got instead was "what is the coolest/stupidest/weirdest/funniest thing you saw/did/tasted today?" (more) – Robert Cartaino Sep 18 '10 at 5:44
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    (cont) Software Q&A will live on SO, Programmers, and a few academic sites. That's it. Not dozens of ridiculously niche and redundant proposals. But the mere mention of merging proposals with Programmers horrifies most. "I don't want my subject on that site." That's a huge problem. Programmers.SE is the "Park Place" to Stack Overflow's "Boardwalk"; a tremendously valuable resource in a bad neighborhood. I'd prefer to paint over the graffiti and fix broken windows; to reestablish community pride so the police come out on occasion. But that's a far cry from "hater" or "actively despise." – Robert Cartaino Sep 18 '10 at 5:45
  • @Robert: thanks for the clarification. Mind if I add your comments to the question to make sure they are seen? – user8 Sep 18 '10 at 6:04
  • @Mark Trapp: Sure. Go ahead. I don't mind. – Robert Cartaino Sep 18 '10 at 6:30
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    Robert Cartaino is a genius: our domain should be basement.stackoverflow.com: meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/3/… – Wizard Sep 18 '10 at 12:27
  • No. Enough reasons listed in that question to not choose that to be a subdomain. Hey, look... We're from the basement, we're the black sheep. This is a bad idea! It was created like that but shouldn't be like that. – Tamara Wijsman Sep 18 '10 at 15:43
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    Of all the people on this big green and blue ball... why are you, NOW, worried about the communities' reputation as black sheep? Did you even attend ANY school, ever? The vast majority of everyone here has been a black sheep their entire life. – Steven Evers Sep 24 '10 at 6:12
  • I think it's better to close this question for being "subjective and argumentative", not everyone thinks that we will become a black sheep and there has been discussed way too much to have clear arguments... – Tamara Wijsman Oct 1 '10 at 0:17
  • Why have an extended discussion about an issue that isn't even there and already will be prevented by other questions, like the one posed on meta.SO and the 6-Q enforcement notice. – Tamara Wijsman Oct 1 '10 at 0:18

11 Answers 11


One idea I had was to position ourselves as a sort of mechanical turk: yes, there is a proliferation of polls and greatly subjective questions, but that has value to a passerby because it's a great forum to get a variety of possible opinions about something.

Take Job hopping, is it a problem?, for example. There are a ton of different opinions, some similar to others, some completely divergent. There's very little evidence to support any one answer's perspective as being the canonical answer.

But the value in the question is being able to accumulate all possible perspectives on the issue in one shot so one can synthesize their own answer to a related question.

This could even be applied to the categorically silly questions like What is your favorite “programmer” cartoon?: if I was looking for programming cartoons for whatever reason, I could spend a lot of time performing Google searches, or I could just ask "What's your favorite programming cartoon?" on Programmers.SE and relatively quickly have a fairly-curated list of them.

Another example that would be beneficial to Stack Overflow (while still being off-topic there) are questions like What is your opinion of the new Java 7 features?. You can ask here to get a list of various opinions about a specific programming topic to get up to speed and so you can create an informed question or answer on Stack Overflow.

In short, I think we can keep being the garbage dump for Stack Overflow and still have some selling point when it comes time for Programmers.SE to be reviewed as being viable.

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    Agreed. It's right way to handling things here. However I am against to "anything is allowed". This site has a scope and you defined well. – Maniero Sep 17 '10 at 20:19

I'm here because I want this site to succeed. Not as "Questions we wish were allowed on SO", but as "Questions that can't be allowed on SO". A place for all the things that SO/SE was never designed for, or explicitly designed to prevent, but which massive numbers of users want anyway.

I really, really want this to be the SE "black sheep". Because like it or not, there's always a black sheep. It's a necessity. Look at all the forum systems that have a "lounge" or "soapbox" or "battlefront" set up for this very purpose: to relieve the pressure placed on the system by all the (overly-) enthusiastic users who would otherwise treat it like their personal playground. These are often the most popular forums on the site...

You may not like it that SO needs such a thing. I don't. I'd much rather see one or two "fun" questions slip past the voters each month, giving folks a chance to get it all out of their system, and then get quietly deleted or archived once the next month rolled around...

But wishful thinking doesn't change anything. Here already, there are a handful of users who not only want the "fun" questions to thrive, they want them moved back to SO! At some point, you have to compromise.

So my advice is, accept it, work with it. A cesspool may not be something you want to show off to guests, but you definitely don't want to do without one. So build the best you can...

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    I don't have any issue with the subject matter on Programmers.SE: as I said in my question, there's no reason to dispute or change the entire intent of the proposal a few days into beta. The problem is we need to demonstrate value, especially to SOIC. If the concept behind it is not well received even there (which, currently, it isn't), we can't simply just say "haters gonna hate." So the question is really, "how do we show value, because it's clearly not immediately obvious to the people making the decisions?" – user8 Sep 15 '10 at 19:07
  • @Mark: I actually do think it's obvious to SOIC. I just think they wish it wasn't... The site is what it is what it was intended to be - if you try to change that, you'll end up with nothing. Live or die, all you can do is promote it to those who will benefit from it, and avoid driving away the users who have wanted it so very badly these past two years... – Shog9 Sep 15 '10 at 22:29
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    Again, it's not about changing anything: it's about demonstrating value to the people making the decisions. If SOIC thinks Programmers.SE hurts their brand, they're going to close it down despite what a certain subset of their users want. We need to show that, even given the content here, having Programmers.SE is a win for SOIC, not a begrudging necessity. – user8 Sep 16 '10 at 21:24
  • s/SOIC/SOIS/g. I don't know where the C came from. – user8 Sep 16 '10 at 22:20
  • @Mark: I get it, but... I fear if you try to spin this too much, you'll end up creating unrealistic expectations for the site. If you want to justify the inanity by saying something like, "learning through play: pointless arguments encourage participants to make better arguments, a valuable skill" - that's fine. But, "It's not total chaos, it's a repository for opinions!" - that, i think, creates unrealistic expectations. Sometimes, it is just chaos. And that's ok. – Shog9 Sep 17 '10 at 0:17
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    @Mr. C and all: We need to know if P.SE will be a site to post subjective not proper to SO or will be a repository to jokes. You specially have did jokes everywhere. Certainly the site have space to jokes, but make jokes in most spaces is dangerous in my point of view. I don't want spend my time on a joke site. To me the follow kind of page seems more to vandalism on a serious site than a joke. It's bad taste. I attitudes like that is giving the wrong tone to the site more and more. programmers.stackexchange.com/tags/programming-languages/info – Maniero Sep 17 '10 at 20:15
  • @bigown: any discussion has the potential to be a joke, and any joke can turn into a discussion. Have you seen Slashdot? That's why they're such a bad fit for SO - why spend the time researching an answer, when a pithy or controversial opinion will outrank your cold, hard facts... But I must take issue with your "wrong tone" comment: as soon as you encourage users to share their opinions, you'll find they are endlessly varying, the "tone" of the site an ever-changing amalgam. Sites like Wikipedia and even SO strive to keep that in check, but an opinion/discussion site cannot. – Shog9 Sep 17 '10 at 21:35
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    So you wanna turn P.SE on Slashdot? In my opinion P.SE still a Q&A site, not a discussion site. Discussions and jokes can happen but should be secondary. If P.SE becomes a black sheep I doubt it would still open. I'm totally with Robert Cartaino. P.SE doesn't seems a StackExchange site. More and more off-topic, not a question, barely duplicated questions are made. More and more answers have been made to be funny and gather reputation. – Maniero Sep 18 '10 at 16:00
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    @bigown: your top tag is [poll], yet you're arguing this should be a straight Q&A site? Bit of a double standard there, eh? Again, P.SE was created for the "black sheep" questions, those that had no business being asked on SO. If you dislike certain questions or answers, then maybe you should start participating: down-votes on the site itself are far more visible than bitter comments tucked away on Meta... – Shog9 Sep 18 '10 at 16:49
  • Poll is a question. You talking about double standard? Who defending discussions and now it's talking to stop discussions here (a local made to discussions)? You have your opinions and express them, can I have mine? Can I express them? – Maniero Sep 18 '10 at 17:53
  • @bigown: I'm not arguing that the site needs to change / be locked down / cleaned up or anything else. My actions on the site are consistent with my recommendations on Meta. Yours aren't. – Shog9 Sep 18 '10 at 18:34
  • And anyone that disagree with you is wrong? People who will decide the future of P.SE don't think like you. – Maniero Sep 18 '10 at 20:51
  • @bigown: All of us will decide the future of P.SE. Folks who agree, folks who disagree, folks who never read this. The future of P.SE will be decided by people who rarely or never show up on Meta.P.SE. Worth keeping in mind... – Shog9 Sep 18 '10 at 22:59
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    Joel, Jeff, Robert, etc. will decide the future of P.SE based on what all of us build here. I totally agree with them and I'm doing my best to success of P.SE. I can make some mistakes but always trying to organize our community. Basically I disagree with your attitudes. I agree with more than 99% of what happen on P.SE. – Maniero Sep 19 '10 at 20:29

I think Joel has a point. Since the site has moved from private beta to public beta it seems the questions are drifting further away from being programmer-related. Many are completely irrelevant questions with "for programmers" tacked on the end as token gesture.

I would like to see the site be for questions that are of interest to programmers in their capacity as programmers, rather than the "What are some good socks for programmers?" type of questions.

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    +1 this seems to me to be the spirit in which the proposal was made. – fearoffours Sep 20 '10 at 8:54
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    I recall every other SE site I visited experiencing the same in their beginnings. People are pushing the boundaries of what can/can't be asked. It'll work itself out in short order once the regular community starts... regulating. – Steven Evers Sep 24 '10 at 5:55

I'm not sure everyone is seeing the big picture... programmers.SE in a way is the white sheep, and SO is the black. But seriously, thats the pot calling the kettle black(hat)?

Everyone knows the most votes, the most views, the greatest gain in rank is and always has been the subjective-language-agnostic-poll-discussion.

For one, its why I'm here. Sure, SO has become a valuable resource to gain insights to things I do not know... quickly But I would have normally been able to figure it out eventually by sifting through pages and pages of poor search engine results.

But seriously, after so long as a programmer you get to know your stuff and you don't need to really research much... and after a very long time technologies change, you miss the news and before you know it something else has come along that's better, but you didn't know.

Part of the reason for having an almost never-ending-community-wiki-discussion-that-can-never-close is so that I CAN reference that tidbit of obscure programming history. I CAN find that joke that was hilarious I want to share with someone. I CAN find an outlet to vent about things with people that actually get it and are not all confused.. well because I'm talking in jargon.

I think everyone is here because we are all passionate about this. And the negatives I have heard I just do not see happening. Like seriously? People are really going to start trolling and flaming the programmers?

Do you know who we are?


What Joel has forgot to say in his awkward blog post, is that this "fairly stupid water-cooler nonsense" site has been created because all the dishoused questions, banned as "subjective and argumentative" or "off topic" on Stack Overflow, needed a new house.

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    Please anonymous haters, don't be coward and explain your downvotes. I'm sure that you are happy to have dishoused us from SO, but now you want to close also Programmers, don't you? – Wizard79 Sep 18 '10 at 12:02
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    "fairly stupid water-cooler nonsense" is totally different to "subjective and argumentative". "What's your favorite snack?", jokes and more jokes, questions that aren't questions just pollute the site. P.SE can have space to distractions questions and answer but can't be the tone. Day by day I am seen quality degrading. Some of top reps are defending what I think it's causing this degradation. – Maniero Sep 18 '10 at 16:17
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    @bigown: so you didn't participate in the definition on A51, you didn't participate in the private beta, but now that you're here suddenly you know what the purpose of this site is and everyone else is wrong? You've been here barely a week, during which you've asked a ton of GTKY questions, and now you're standing up to lament some perceived slide into mediocrity? The site is doing exactly what it was designed to do; if you don't like the content, then why are you contributing to it so enthusiastically? – Shog9 Sep 18 '10 at 16:59
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    I'm trying to do this a good site. You are trying to make jokes everywhere. More and more people are agreeing that P.SE is going to wrong way. It's proportional to dump dropped here. More dump, more people will be against this way. I didn't know that participation on definition gives the power of truth. – Maniero Sep 18 '10 at 17:47
  • @bigown: It's not "participation in definition" - it's just "participation". You're here on Meta criticizing the content of the site up and down... but near as I can tell, you've stuck mostly to the soft questions yourself. Actions speak louder than words: if you're so upset that the site isn't serious enough for your taste, then why aren't you asking serious questions? – Shog9 Sep 18 '10 at 18:33
  • You changed what you said, thanks to clarify. Who criticize soft questions? You need read the whole thing, not just some picked words. I recognize the value of soft questions, but any things has the right place and right moment. What the follow link tell to users? This is a big party, everyone get drunk and saying anything? programmers.stackexchange.com/tags/programming-languages/info Thin way is against rules of whole SE. This way will close P.SE. I claim to a little change, not change the whole definition, in fact I claim to stay on definition. P.SE is beginning to get wrecked. – Maniero Sep 18 '10 at 20:45
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    If P.SE die, will be sad. I don't want this. – Maniero Sep 18 '10 at 20:48
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    @bigown: you seem to forget that you too can edit that wiki... – Shog9 Sep 18 '10 at 23:00
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    OK now it is clear to me, people than dishoused us from SO now wants to dishouse us even from Programmers. Have we to do another Area51 proposal? – Wizard79 Sep 19 '10 at 14:28
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    @both: Now it's clear to me you want an "everything can" here. Did you read the rules to exist a SE site? Do you follow the SE blog? It seems you disagree with Joel, Jeff, etc. and you want a PHPBB forum here. There are SE software clones to build a community where messy is ok. P.SE definition doesn't near touch on "do anything since the word programming be present on post". I bet that any proposal claiming to a site "all the way is allowed" will be refused by SE big guys. – Maniero Sep 19 '10 at 20:15
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    @Mr. C: Now I understand, you want do whatever messy you wish and the rest of us should clean up to you. It's clear to me that P.SE is your playground. But I'm pretty sure that almost all user here like P.SE as a soft serious site, not a place to kidding. You can setup an SE software clone and you can ask "what's best time to take shower" or maybe "what color of underwear a programmer should use while coding". Whole SE isn't a place to make jokes in most answers like you did. – Maniero Sep 19 '10 at 20:23
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    @bigown, you misunderstand: I'm tired of seeing these questions asked on SO. There was a time when they might have seemed appropriate, but that's long since past - and yet, they're still asked. If P.SE provides an outlet for them, then SO benefits; otherwise, this site is useless. The core issue here is that you're able to draw some distinction between "when do you shower?" and "what are your bad habits?" while I cannot - to me, they're both extremely silly questions. If you want to be serious about lighthearted questions, well, that's your prerogative... but I don't envy you. – Shog9 Sep 20 '10 at 0:38
  • @bigown: oh, please stop to mouth rhetoric! You know that we don't just want to "allow everything". You know that we just want room for all those valuable questions banned on SO. And that now you want to ban even from Programmers. – Wizard79 Sep 20 '10 at 9:02
  • @Lorenzo: I want valuable questions too. Rare questions on P.SE aren't valuable. We disagree what is valuable. – Maniero Sep 20 '10 at 11:58
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    @Lorenzo. It's confirmed, your opinion it is "everything can because each one has your own opinion about valuable". We're trying to define what is on or off-topic. – Maniero Sep 21 '10 at 17:31

It doesn't seem like people are discussing the underlying problem -- the incentive for posting silly shit. Namely, rep and badges.

Decry "rep whoring" and "badge whoring" all you like; people are still going to do it, because it feels good. It's a pat on the back from your peers! It's a freakin' score that you can make bigger, and get a series of escalating perks for making bigger! They're validation! They're sparkly baubles handed out for something you did! They're rewards. And if you're giving out rewards for behavior that's detrimental to the community, you're doing it wrong.

If we're going to trim down the silly shit, we need to 1) clearly define what constitutes "silly shit" and 2) ruthlessly slap "Community Wiki" on anything that meets that definition. I believe this is already the de-facto use of CW; it ought to be explicit.

(I'm guessing that the important step 3) of "Deny badges for any questions or answers designated 'Community Wiki'" isn't on the table, but it really needs to be. Badges are a lesser reward than rep because they don't get you perks, but they're a reward, too. As long as you reward a behavior, you encourage a behavior.)

(I'd also like a step 4) of "Rescind rep/badges earned between somebody asking the question and it getting designated 'Community Wiki'" for the same reason, but again, I'm guessing that's not an option -- and it raises all sorts of unpleasant "You just cost me 150 rep, you humorless bastard!" flamewar vendetta possibilities, so perhaps it's for the best.)

Fun questions are, well, fun, so people are always going to ask and answer them. Hell, I like taking a break to read what my peers think are good coder jokes. But they're also the fast-path to cheap rep and shiny badges. Make the fun factor the only reward, and you'll see less of them.

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    +1 -- Couldn't agree more on the rep and badge stuff. However CW is intended only for collaborative efforts. – Wizard79 Sep 21 '10 at 15:41
  • @Lorenzo: Yeah, I know that's what it's MEANT for. But a mechanism like what I just described is needed so badly that it's how CW often gets used. – BlairHippo Sep 21 '10 at 15:43
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    Community Wiki is not the solution: it was applied mercilessly on Stack Overflow, and the stupid, silly questions are still by far the most popular questions on it. The reason Programmers.SE was created was based on the hope that all of those questions could be closed and migrated here. The real solution is to down-vote, close, and lock off-topic, stupid stuff like there was no tomorrow. – user8 Sep 21 '10 at 16:31
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    But any of that, even religiously marking things as community wiki, requires community support. But there is a growing contingency of people who get upset and resort to childish maneuvers like name-calling, down-vote revenge, opening the same topics over and over again crying censorship and every other manner of bad word when some amount of order is applied. So it really doesn't matter what set of normative rules you come up with on how the site should be policed, the community, which you need to enforce these rules, is routinely and consistently rejecting it. – user8 Sep 21 '10 at 16:34
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    @Mark: If CW isn't the solution, fair enough. But my fundamental point still stands: if you incentivize silly stuff, you'll GET silly stuff. This is true ... everywhere. And between badges and rep, SE sites incentivize silly stuff. Heavily. – BlairHippo Sep 21 '10 at 16:43
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    @BlairHippo: on the other SE sites, what's on-topic and what's off-topic has broad community consensus, so even with a certain portion of the population constantly going against the grain, they're able to suppress it to the dregs of SE society. Even though they are the most popular questions, the sheer number of long-tail questions overwhelm them. However, Programmers.SE is in the unique position of being the site for the dregs (at least in its initial formulation). How do you govern the ungovernable? – user8 Sep 21 '10 at 16:46
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    @Mark: I don't know. But handing out cookies for being ungovernable doesn't help. It's a structural deficiency in the SE model. – BlairHippo Sep 21 '10 at 16:52
  • @BlairHippo: Silly stuff is cool. Dumb stuff, not so much! – SamB Sep 22 '10 at 22:07

Programmers.SE has the potential to become the first place to look for best practices and theory about the programming profession. This will happen as long as we continue to get good questions and good answers to those questions. Eliminating the noise will help but isn't essential.


Personally, I just don't want to see deletionists get to programmers.SE like they did stackoverflow. Yeah, there are a bunch of crappy questions, but they can be ignored. Keep SO the well-controlled area for questions within a defined set of rules. Let programmers.SE cut loose a little bit!

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    We're Coming ............................................................................................................................................ BRAINS! – bmargulies Sep 24 '10 at 22:58

I don't know that this needs to be the sludge-pool of SO.

There are a pile of questions that are programmer-related that are Frequently Asked on SO, but aren't about programming. That's - IMO - what this site is about.

Also, I have always disagreed with the anti-discussion stance of the Official People on SO. Discussion is very valuable, and there needs to be a place for it.

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    One thing to keep in mind is that Programmers.SE, as it was defined in the proposal, is for the banal questions that are currently at the heart of its bad rap. As Shog9 said in the quote I posted, if we start to redefine the purpose of Programmers.SE, it only means yet another proposal will be created to house them. – user8 Sep 16 '10 at 21:20
  • What needs to be better defined? Specific things. I don't participate on definition and commitment phases. I think the proposal lacks more off-topic questions. And about the answers? We know that some things can and other can't, but there are many other things in gray zone yet. – Maniero Sep 17 '10 at 20:27
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    A lot of SO users asked to have only "strictly programming related" questions on SO. And a lot of good questions have been closed there. Therefore we had to do this "Great Schism". – Wizard Sep 18 '10 at 12:18

I think it will happen organically. We're still in public beta, and it's obvious that there's a difference of opinion (confusion even) about the purpose of Programmers.SE.

Once, as Shog9 says, we have our own set of rules and standards, (perhaps including a rule that forbids not-programming-related questions) then the wheat may be easier to sort from the chaff, and our reputation may improve.


Joel's post has encouraged me to come back and revisit my original answer.

I didn't want Programmers to be ALL (or even mostly) polls/best-foo-for-programmers questions. But I do think the popularity of some of these type of (more relevant) polls that have existed on SO for some time (comic/t-shirt/music to code to) fit well here.

I do believe we need some way of restricting the number of these types of questions. I don't really want to see a proposal for a 3rd no-holds-barred, truly-anything-goes SE site for people who code, but I could imagine it being one possible way to resolve this.


So what if it's an "ocean of jokes and polls"! I'm lovin' it!

  • 1
    Probably you're happy, P.SE is receiving a lot of joke water to make the ocean. I'm not so happy. I'm not alone. – Maniero Sep 17 '10 at 20:30

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