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What's the difference between Programmers and Stack Overflow?

What is the difference between "Stack Overflow" and "Programmers" on Stack Exchange?

I know that on Stack Overflow there much much more people able to answer than here.


3 Answers 3


I posted a comment giving a link, but I'll copy the answer from there anyway
Thank you to Alpine from StackOverflow Meta for the answer.
(see https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/82988/choosing-between-stack-overflow-and-programmers-stack-exchange)

If it is related to coding, it should be on Stack Overflow.

If it's related to higher level programming concepts or is subjective (but still related to programming), it should be on Programmers.

From Introducing Programmers.StackExchange.com:

In a nutshell, Stack Overflow is for when you’re front of your compiler or editor working through code issues. Programmers is for when you’re in front of a whiteboard working through higher level conceptual programming issues.

Stated another way, Stack Overflow questions almost all have actual source code in the questions or answers. It’s much rarer (though certainly OK) for a Programmers question to contain source code.

From the Stack Overflow FAQ:

Stack Overflow is for professional and enthusiast programmers, people who write code because they love it. We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • matters that are unique to the programming profession

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

From the Programmers FAQ:

Programmers - Stack Exchange is for expert programmers who are interested in subjective questions on software development.

This can include topics such as:

  • Software engineering
  • Developer testing
  • Algorithm and data structure concepts
  • Design patterns
  • Architecture
  • Development methodologies
  • Quality assurance
  • Software law
  • Programming puzzles
  • Freelancing and business concerns

Subjective does not mean “anything goes”. Please keep it professional at all times. If this is a question you'd be uncomfortable discussing with your colleagues in a work environment, it's probably not appropriate here, either.

However, pay attention to the next bit of the FAQ, which explicitly lists the types of question that are off-topic. Programmers SE is not a free-for-all.

All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. How do we define that? Constructive subjective questions …

  • inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.
  • tend to have long, not short, answers.
  • have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.
  • invite sharing experiences over opinions.
  • insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.
  • are more than just mindless social fun.

Stack Overflow is for practical questions, this is for the more conceptual and business related concerns of programmers.

Also, this is in the FAQ on both sites.

  • 3
    don't see big difference between "practical" and "conceptual" questions... both types are asked on stackoverflow.
    – serhio
    Sep 9, 2011 at 13:04
  • Well, you might not be able to see a difference but there is one. Discussions on conceptual aspects generally end up being big, long and TL;DR. StackOverflow is kept more succinct and to the point. Sep 9, 2011 at 13:13

First you should read both Programmers FAQs and StackOverflow FAQs.

Stack Overflow is for specif programming problems, algorithms, tools, etc... have written some bugged code and can't find the bugs? Want to optimize an algorithm you wrote? SO is the place for you.

Programmers is more incentrate on general programming methodologies and design, development, software engineering, etc.

  • if you read the FAQ, algorithms are in the both lists
    – serhio
    Sep 9, 2011 at 13:07
  • In Programmers you find Algorithms Concepts, not implementation.
    – Jose Faeti
    Sep 9, 2011 at 13:08
  • 1
    How do you separate concept and implementation?
    – serhio
    Sep 9, 2011 at 13:09
  • @serhio Implementation requires code; concept is at most pseudo-code.
    – jimreed
    Sep 9, 2011 at 13:11
  • For example writing an algorithm in pseudo-code, or with paper and pen is a concept. When you actually use it in your code, you are implementing it.
    – Jose Faeti
    Sep 9, 2011 at 13:12
  • What if after you write an algorithm in pseudo-code, you then implement a compiler that interprets your pseudo-code? Oh, SNAP! You thought it was just a concept, but you really implemented it instead! If you're describing steps the code takes to do something, it's still "implementation". For "concepts" I think it would have to be something more "meta" - like discussion of Big-O, NP Completeness, etc.
    – Nate
    Sep 9, 2011 at 13:50

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