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):
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
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: