Our FAQ says that "algorithm and data structure concepts" questions are on-topic on Programmers. However, we receive "migrate to Stack Overflow" flags on a lot of algorithm-related question. This tells me there's a misunderstanding somewhere.

Do we want algorithm questions? What kind of questions are those?

Clearly questions about implementing an algorithm are off-topic, but are questions asking to derive an algorithm okay? Is that "conceptual" enough?

I like the idea of coming up with examples of good questions. So, what kinds of algorithm-related questions (if any) do you want to see on Programmers?

If there's a consensus reached here, we can amend the FAQ to be more clear about the kinds of algorithm-related questions we want or don't want.

2 Answers 2


A good example could be: What algorithm is most useful on large unordered data sets where the sets change rapidly and each set may contain elements of the previous set?
A bad example could be: How do I implement Ranga-Kutta Approximation into a Database in APL?

I think that algorithm utility questions are valid, but Big O estimation probably is OT; I am not going to go one way or the other on it.


In my opinion, as soon as you go deeper than performance and pseudocode for the algorithm, it belongs to Stack Overflow. Asking about {insert algorithm here} is OK, but asking about {insert algorithm here} in {your programming language} belongs is off-topic. Questions here should generally be about libraries and programming languages at a high level, not implementation details - rarely should code ever be posted.

  • 1
    "asking about in belongs is off-topic" -- I don't follow that part. Is there a word missing?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Aug 17, 2011 at 14:14
  • @Anna I used < and > brackets...it got parsed as HTML and stripped. One sec.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Aug 17, 2011 at 14:17

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