Case studies for successful service (project) based software development businesses without constant overtime from its employees was recently closed as off topic.

However I believe that the question is on topic. It relates to business issues as defined in the FAQ and it is specifically related to case studies for successful software development businesses.

This question is materially different than other general questions about forced overtime as the steps, procedures, and policies that would apply to a successful software development would not necessarily apply to other businesses.

Is this question truly off topic? If not can it be reopened. If it is, how can it be improved to make it more on topic. While the accepted answer does not specifically list any case studies the accuracy of the predication was uncanny and I believe that it was helpful to me and I hope that it might be helpful to others that find themselves in a similar situation.

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    related: The Workplace is now in the commitment phase "Do you have a question about your career or your workplace that isn't really about software development or being a programmer? Have you tried asking it on Programmers only to have it get closed because it's not on-topic here?..."
    – gnat
    Mar 26, 2012 at 7:15
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    I still don't understand why people use the voting system on questions to answer a question instead of voting based on the idea behind the question. If someone doesn't understand why a question was closed, we want to encourage them to ask why it got closed and how they can improve it, not discourage them.
    – Rachel
    Mar 26, 2012 at 13:56
  • @Rachel That's how it's supposed to work. That said, the system is not without flaws, Meta voting is a bit fuzzy (for example I upvoted this particular question), however people shouldn't be taking votes (up or down) personally in any case. Every feedback mechanism we may come up with will have to include negative feedback, people should be fully prepared to deal with it and clearly understand that the feedback relates to the content of their posts and not on them. I'd be all for a better mechanism, but of the various suggestions I've happened upon, none convinced me that it would be better.
    – yannis
    Mar 26, 2012 at 14:07

3 Answers 3


The question was identified as a closure candidate (#54) in the recent structured cleanup of the [career] tag. It received no attention from the community during the two week period of the cleanup and it was closed a few hours after the cleanup ended. I should have left a comment pointing to the cleanup Meta question when I closed it, sorry about that.

As for why it's off topic: From our FAQ:

Please make sure your question uniquely applies to programmers in general:

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Although the question is on a business concern, it doesn't require the unique expertise of software developers, it falls in the "all careers" part of the diagram. You may state in the question text that you want answers that are specific to software development companies but the actual parameters of the question aren't unique to software development companies, but apply to all service oriented businesses.

I do not see how it could be rewritten to be on topic, but I'm open to suggestions. For further details on why we decided to close career related questions that were open for quite a long time, please read the [career] cleanup proposal and the linked Meta discussions.


As Yannis stated in his answer, the question was closed because it could apply to more than just programmers.

As for your second request about how it could be modified to be reopened,

  • First of all you'd have to edit the question so that it applies to just programmers, or uniquely to programmers. As it currently stands, the question could apply to more than just programmers so is considered off-topic for the site.

  • Second, it should be a question that can be best answered by a programmer, and not be better answered by another profession such as a HR manager.

  • And third, the question should be fairly specific and asking for a single answer, not one that asks for a list of opinions/answers. For example, asking "How can a software company increase its productivity without increasing developer hours" would probably get closed as too broad to be answerable.

A possible way to rephrase the question would be to start by saying you know there are many studies related to work-life balance and productivity, but you are looking specifically for a study that looks into how the number of hours affects the work-life balance and productivity of heavily intellectual jobs such as software development.

I would upvote such a question since I would find the answers relevant to my job, however this might still be seen as some as not specific enough to programmers, who might close it. You can always check in chat to find out if your question would be on/off topic before posting it.

Since the top-voted and accepted answer to the existing question is related to the effects of the increase in developer hours, and not to any particular case studies, you would probably have better luck making a new question than revising your existing one, which would invalidate the top voted answer.

And as a final option, you could check if your question would be on-topic at Productivity.SE and ask there


I would like to point out that the top voted and accepted answer included mention of the high ratio of productivity between more talented and less talented programmers. Though many Workplaces have more and less talented people, programming has an unusually high productivity ratio, and that fact was vital to the answer to the question being what is was.

Is that high skill to low skill productivity ration uniquely high for programmers, such that it fits perfectly in the famous Venn diagram from the FAQ? No, but fairly close. And if we really demand perfect adherence to that diagram we basically need to exclude all questions with any real world or business component to the question, since the real world doesn't fit in that diagram.

Also, knowledge of the skill level productivity ratio for programmers isn't widespread outside the programming community. So programmers actually are among the most expert of those one might consult. In point of fact, the answers successfully predicted what would (and eventually did) happen in that situation. So programmers were expert enough. Would a random business executive from a Workplace or Productivity site do as well? I'm dubious. Yet the question was closed as off-topic.

If anyone wants to join me in voting to re-open ping me in chat. It's too hard to get enough people that I want to waste my vote before we have enough.

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