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

Can we consider removing the word "expert" from our site description?

I've seen a few meta question that quote our FAQ description, and I feel it gives the wrong impression of who this site is for. This is a great site for all programmers, not just expert ones. I am a fairly new programmer myself, and I have benefited greatly from this site. I wish that other programmers, of any skill level, be given the same opportunity, and not get scared away thinking this site is for experts only.

We could even replace it with something else if you want: professional, dedicated, passionate, career, serious, etc. There are a great many words I feel would better define this site than "expert"

Edit

Just to clarify, I was thinking the current line makes it sound like this entire site is only for expert programmers. I was hoping we could re-word it to make it clear that this is a site for any programmer who is looking for some expert answers, not just for expert programmers.

Something along the lines of "P.SE is a site for programmers who are interested in getting expert answers on conceptual questions about software development"

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I think the new version, "P.SE is a site for programmers who are interested in getting expert answers on conceptual questions about software development" could work, but as part of a larger improvement to the FAQ. I've created a new question about that.


To remove the focus on experts in our site FAQ is to lose what's special about Stack Exchange:

What’s special about Stack Exchange?

You wouldn’t shout out a calculus question in a football stadium, right? You’d go to the math department of a university. That’s why instead of allowing questions on any topic, we have brought together separate communities of experts on very specific topics.

We don’t open a site until we’re sure there’s a critical mass of experts ready to participate. If you can’t find a Stack Exchange site on your subject of expertise, we have a place called Area 51 where you can propose one.

All questions on Stack Exchange are expected to be objective and have concrete answers; we’re not a place for conversation, opinions, or socializing. We also expect questions to represent real problems, not just imponderables, hypotheticals, or requests for opinions.

Stack Exchange’s focus on professional communities and this “Just the facts, Ma’am” ethos results in over 90% of questions getting great answers, often stunningly quickly.

The reason Stack Exchange is such a valuable resoure to people learning a field is because it attracts experts: we want them to pay it forward and help others who don't know what they know. Everyone can ask a question, not everyone can provide an expert answer.

We do that by making sure, as much as we possibly can, that experts are not wasting their time by coming here. That the questions would be interesting and substantial to answer. We don't do that by lowering the bar for questions here or asking questions that are low-hanging fruit for novice programmers.

Anyone can ask a question, but they do so keeping in mind the audience for the site—the people waiting in the wings ready to answer questions—are expert programmers. There are other sites on the web, like Quora or Yahoo! Answers, where people can get help from just anyone.

  • Thats fine, but I was thinking the site description made it sound like the site is only for expert programmers, not for new, junior, casual, etc programmers – Rachel Oct 13 '11 at 1:50
  • @Rachel I agree it could be improved, and I like the new formulation you added. But I think we should make the change as part of a larger cleanup of the FAQ. – user8 Oct 13 '11 at 20:01
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Surely you want an answer from an expert - not just any jobbing programmer who happens along - that way you'll know that you are getting the benefit of real experience solving real problems over a long period of time.

If you had a medical problem would you rather get a diagnosis from someone with a passing interest in medicine or a fully trained and qualified doctor?

There's nothing stopping the non-expert asking questions (actually there's nothing stopping them answering them either), but they should be the sort of questions that makes an expert go "hmm, that's interesting".

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    Its true you want experts answering questions, but the site description makes it sound like the site is only for expert programmers, and I feel this is a great site for all programmers. – Rachel Oct 13 '11 at 1:49
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    @Rachel Hmm - Perhaps we need to say something along the lines of "expert questions and answers" so we are tying the "expert" to the posts rather than the users. – ChrisF Oct 13 '11 at 11:09
  • Yes, that's a much better description of what I was trying to suggest. I'm actually going to edit my question because I think I may not have been clear enough. – Rachel Oct 13 '11 at 13:21
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    People want useful answers, they don't care if they're from "experts" or high-school freshmen. At the end of the day, this emphasis on "experts" is an exercise is navel-gazing and does little or nothing to make programmers.se a better site. – mindcrime Oct 22 '11 at 2:14
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Non-experts are welcome on SE sites in general in-so-far as they are willing to play along and do their best to live up to the standards set by the experts and learn from them.

  • This means either asking good questions or at least cooperating with having their questions edited into shape as defined by that sites community.

  • This means providing good answers of the type and quality that experts would want to receive on their own questions.

SE sites are wide open to participation at very low rep levels, but the focus is always on what is best for experts. Everybody else is expected to work up towards those standards of excellence in whatever the field.

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If this site were a code snippet and you used that tag line you'd have

SetSite("Programmers.SE", "For Expert Programmers");

procedure SE.SetSite(ASiteName, AWhoIsSiteFor);
begin
   SE.SiteName := ASiteName;
   SE.WhoIsSiteFor := AWhoIsSiteFor;
end;

and that's kind of a fallacy, what it should be is

SetSite("Programmers.SE", "For All Programmers", "Expert Answers", "Expert Level Questions");

procedure SE.SetSite(ASiteName, AWhoIsSiteFor, AExpectedAnswerQuality, AExpectedQuestionQuality);
begin
   SE.SiteName := ASiteName;
   SE.WhoIsSiteFor := AWhoIsSiteFor;
   SE.ExpectedAnswerQuality := AExpectedAnswerQuality;
   SE.ExpectedQuestionQuality := AExpectedQuestionQuality;
end;

Anyway I think this part of the FAQ generation is a tad neglected, the HealthCareIT site started out by saying "For Expert Linguists" yesterday. However, expert questions are the only ones which need to be asked and expert answers are the only ones who need to be given but any given programmer doesn't need to be both an expert answerer and an expert asker to participate.

  • I like the metaphor – Justin Ohms Jan 28 '14 at 16:50

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