I've followed the evolution of this site for a little while now and I must say I am a little confused.

I'm looking for a single place where I can join a community of, what might commonly be called, software engineers. Some subjects commonly included in this field include project management, agile, testing and quality assurance, team work and leadership, methodologies, architecture and design, and estimation among others.

My understanding is that the main focus of StackOverflow is, literally, programming questions. Unlike this site which I think is trying to be ironic? (I understand that this site started off as a gag, but is that still the case?)

My understanding of a programming question:

  • language, syntax, and implementation
  • compiles or can be interpreted
  • definite "right" answer - it can be tested directly or builds

But where do these other subjects I mentioned above belong? Some here, some there, the only guideline being on the basis of subjectivity? This is kind of...abstract and a little hard to understand.

I think subjectivity vs. objectivity is too blurry and confusing a delineator for partitioning content across sites. Really what we're talking about is macro-software development vs. micro-software development, very similar to macroeconomics vs microeconomics. Both macro and micro perspectives are critical to understanding how to build great software, both are huge fields with specialists and experts. Both can coexist, and while there is some overlap, the perspectives are completely different enough that it makes sense to think of them as different things.

I bring this up because if this site is about macro-software development, we can rephrase the summary language a little and reasonably justify official mergers with other SE sites interested in macro-development topics. I feel that this would benefit the community as a whole much more than the confused, divided state it's in now. As it is phrased now, it's confusing who this site is for and what is actually covered here. It's for programmers, but it's not really about "programming"...?

  • 4
    +1 I am also confused about this.
    – Jonas
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 11:45
  • Waouw, you are a smart guy
    – user2567
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 13:40
  • Michael, this is an excellent point. I have been grumbling about the "imposition" of the subjective guidelines without coming up with a viable alternative myself. This is a great way to define this community. Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 15:45
  • The confusion shall rise in comming months! Commented Oct 23, 2010 at 20:42

3 Answers 3


I agree that it is about big picture software development. No question.

But that doesn't mean that we have got rid of the objective-subjective thing. There aren't objective answers to a macro level question. There are best practices and there are things that have worked for other people in a similar situation, which is what this site can bring together. But there isn't an answer that will compile, like you might find in an SO question.

The site, as I see it, is absolutely about programming - more so than SO really as it's about programming as a profession or craft, rather than the details of how to perform a particular task - but I don't see that we can expect a single definitive answer in every case or indeed in most cases. The responses have to be subjective because it is people talking about things they have learned or benefited from. So yes, I guess objective/subjective is confusing. If there is an objective answer, it's probably a question for SO.

  • I'm not suggesting that "subjectivity" be discouraged or removed from the site. I think the subjectivity guidelines are extremely helpful. Talking about "subjective programming" vs. "objective programming" is just confusing and I'm exploring whether there is a clearer way to capture the content/intent of this site.
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 22, 2010 at 13:24

My understanding is that this website is about programmers the people, not programming the task.

That's why I'm here.

  • Fair enough. I appreciate hearing your perspective, it's why I asked the question. I hope some other folks choose to share their perspectives as well.
    – Michael
    Commented Oct 8, 2010 at 23:01
  • 3
    I think it's about programmers and the task of programing, but not programming itself, in another words, it's not about the code, it's about the job, the craftsmanship.
    – Maniero
    Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 5:37
  • Bigown, yes exactly!
    – user2567
    Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 8:37
  • 2
    I really hope that this site is not about "programmers, the people" but software development. Otherwise I would like to escape quickly.
    – Jonas
    Commented Oct 12, 2010 at 11:01
  • Subjectivity refer to the specific discerning interpretations of any aspect of experiences. They are unique to the person experiencing them. It's about people.
    – user2567
    Commented Oct 12, 2010 at 11:40

Stack Overflow is for programming questions, that have straight-forward answers and directly discuss the art of programming, free of factors surrounding the programmer. Questions like: why won't this work, how to make this more efficient, how do I do ... in this programming language, ect...

This site is for matters surrounding the programmer, which tend to be rather off-topic. This site is also for discussions, not a straight-forward for Q and A.

The questions on this site may refer to programming habits, team work, communication, computers in general, or anything really as long as they tie in with programming one way or another.

There are a lot of people who don't want this to happen, and will prefer it that question still stick to programming, making the only distinction from SO is the fact that discussion is allowed, while SO is far more strict.

I like the fact that this site is more subjective (discussions), and allows for more off-topic questions, because otherwise it would just be a SO duplicate, and noone wants that.

  • 2
    None SE sites will be a discussion forum, period. This is not about like or dislike this way, a Q&A site it's about, well... Q&A. To discuss things, a forum is a better platform. Here we ask and answer about our work in general, not about our code.
    – Maniero
    Commented Oct 9, 2010 at 5:42
  • 1
    @bigown: Have you read the proposal for this site? "For expert programmers interested in discussions that are only indirectly related to programming." See Not Programming Related
    – Jonas
    Commented Oct 12, 2010 at 11:16
  • 1
    @Jonas: None SE sites is about discussions. If this site is about discussion, it need be closed.
    – Maniero
    Commented Oct 12, 2010 at 12:47

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