I have noticed recently several questions about "architects" and "architectures", which is just fine! Except the term "Architecture" covers a vast range of activities from deciding whether the Private Banking division should have its own IT department, to specifying the make, model and configuration of a network switch in the Springfield branch.

Many of the architecture questions would answer themselves if they used the correct terminology. For example the vague "Should an Architect specify network switches" becomes "Should an Infrastructure Architect specify network switches" which more or less answers itself.

IS it worth adding some guidelines in the FAQ to improve the quality of such questions and allow for more precise answers?

  • 3
    How can we encourage posters to be more specific about everything?
    – yannis
    Dec 8 '11 at 9:46

Network switches are probably a poor example. Programmers is a site about software development, so architecture here refers specifically to application architecture. Things like setting up an IT department or deciding on a network topology are entirely off-topic. The latter might find a home at ServerFault or SuperUser, while the former could potentially land on Answers OnStartups (though I'm not 100% sure).

This seems to come down to determining what makes a good question and applying that to the architecture topic. The same guidelines apply there as everywhere else. "What's your favourite design pattern?" is not constructive while "I have an application that does X, how should I design aspect Y and lay out the modules required?" is much better.

Are there any architecture questions you're thinking of specifically that would make good examples of questions that are too general to be meaningfully answered?

  • Precisely my point really. Infrastructure architecture is definitely within the scope of "IT Architecture", but, outside the scope of this forum. "Security Architecture" could come within the scope for a question such as "Security Architecture mandates an encryption standard not supported by .NET what can I do". My main point is that the term "Architecture" on its own covers such a wide range of activity as to be meaningless, and, yes if its on topic here it pretty much has to be Application or Technical, but it still leads to a vagueness in the questions and some confusing answers. Dec 8 '11 at 3:22
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    @JamesAnderson Ah, so you're saying we should mention we specifically mean "software architecture"? I don't think that's necessary. I think it's pretty clear in context and things that aren't related to software development are off-topic by default already. I may be wrong, though, so back to examples... does anything stand out in your mind as an example of a question that could be avoided/improved by a clarification in the FAQ?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Dec 8 '11 at 3:37

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