I recently posted this question on programmers.SE and it was suggested that I move part of the question to meta. I was asking if there was a good forum/discussion board I could find online to talk to other programmers about culture, opinions, stories, etc.

I love Programmers.SE but lately it seems that they are enforcing the "good subjective question" policy too harshly. If they want this to be a place for Answers and not discussion, that's fine, but then I would like to find a site where I can discuss things. If this is the site to discuss things, then please think before you vote to close something and don't just vote to close something because it doesn't meet some set of rules.

A few examples are:

There were a few others I was looking at a short time ago that had some close votes, but hadn't closed yet.

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    As a side note, I noticed most of my examples got reopened... Its not that I want those specific questions reopened, its just that I want people to actually think when they close something and not just close it because it doesn't match a list of rules. – Rachel Oct 13 '10 at 13:02
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    Excellent question and good point. There are flaws in the current guidelines for subjective questions that the community needs to work out and improve upon and that should be normal during the beta phase. Unfortunately not everyone wants to do this. I think that common sense will prevail in the end. – Paddyslacker Oct 13 '10 at 14:40

This is not a discussion board. The community will close posts because they do not follow a list of rules. Those rules form the basis of a philosophy that is designed to avoid the problems that destroy traditional threaded forums. Those rules and behaviors are at the very core of building great Q&A and why this software and network exists.

Programmers DOES NOT work outside that philosophy.

Programmers.SE's purpose is to handle questions of interest to programmers which are not directly related to coding (Stack Overflow is about coding, explicitly). We recognize that those questions will tend towards more subjective subjects, so we set up a framework asking subjective questions that fall within the scope of Q&A: Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

There is still a contingent of users who believe that Programmers.SE is here solely as their playground; that the rules and philosophy somehow don't apply; that nothing is too subjective or off-topic and that craziness and anarchy should rule. That is not the case.

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    I doubt there are many users here who think that nothing is off- topic. – Paddyslacker Oct 13 '10 at 14:30
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    +1 Good answer. However I feel that Programmers more and more is becoming a Forum. I run out of close-votes every day and there is to few moderators that care about the situation. And many of the questions that are closed are reopened within a day. E.g. see Do you think the “programming related movies/documentaries” question should be sanitized? – Jonas Oct 13 '10 at 14:49
  • @Jonas - it's interesting thatyou are running out of close votes every day. Do you think you could use downvotes and comments for questions that you feel could be improved, or do you really think there are more than 12 questions that are beyond redemption every day? – Paddyslacker Oct 13 '10 at 15:06
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    @Paddy: Have you seen my profile? I have used embarrassingly many downvotes. And I feel that the quality of the questions here on Programmers is very low and I consider to not visit Programmers anymore if the moderators don't do anything to the situation with low-quality and off-topic questions. – Jonas Oct 13 '10 at 15:16
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    My original question on Programmers.SE was if there was a place to go for programmer-related discussions, not necessarily programmer-related Q&A. The most upvoted answer is Programmers.SE, however it is not clear as to if Programmers.SE is a Q&A site or a place to go to discuss programmer-related topics with other programmers. I was looking for clarification with this question since I did not want to turn my other question into a Programmers.SE debate. I don't mind it being just a Q&A site, but then I want to find somewhere else that I can discuss items openly with other programmers. – Rachel Oct 13 '10 at 15:33
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    @Robert it'd be nice if there was a way to enforce what you said. Users who vote to close are constantly attacked and derided, the moderators pro tempore are extremely cautious to close and liberal with their interpretation of what's on-topic, and the few questions that do get closed are almost certainly to be opened by the anarchists you mention because they have enough reputation from ruining the site to get the vote to reopen ability. – user8 Oct 13 '10 at 16:21
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    Who has reputation from "ruining the site"? Doesn't the community award people reputation based on questions and answers being clear and useful? I vote to close questions every day when they are off-topic or unsalvageably poor and I downvote questions and answers I think are poor. Closing questions that could be improved is not the way forward in my opinion and I have used reopen votes on questions I think are valid. It's not anarchy, as Robert seems to think, it's democracy. – Paddyslacker Oct 13 '10 at 16:38
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    @Paddyslacker: Some users think that almost nothing is off-topic. They dont say it but they think in that way. Discussions, chit chat, rants, just rep gather questions are off-topic/not constructive. This kind of questions is not constructive because no other SE site would allow them. But seems some users screaming less when a on-topic but not constructive question is closed as an off-topic. I am totally favorable to improve poor questions, but few user are doing this. Some questions is condemned by definition. Democracy has rules. If people can define every rule by vote it turns into anarchy. – Maniero Oct 13 '10 at 17:25
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    @Jonas:I share your vision about Pr.SE is becoming a forum.Some few users are deliberately post poor/discussions questions and when just 5 users who think Pr.Se as a forum are reopening them.Please give feedback to moderators about our work.I personally am here to put the site on track.I'm not interested on popularity. We have few users working to make this site great while we can in beta and few user trying to misrepresent it.Majority users don't care.They just want good content. Help me to do my job. It's very difficult close some question with zero or 1 vote to close although some are ease. – Maniero Oct 13 '10 at 17:35
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    @Rachel. It's clear to me: Pr.Se is a Q&A site. Discussions is out of discussing here :-) I can't help ypu to find a good site to discuss programming stuff. All I know sucks. – Maniero Oct 13 '10 at 17:38
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    @Mark: I agree with you as I stated to Jonas and Paddyslacker. Just to clarify, moderator should be cautions. First we should let community drive the site. We should act when community fails doing it. Understand that we all trying to find the right tone to the site. This is the beta phase porpoise. Please feedback about the questions where we fail to help community. Pr.SE is a tough site because users refuse to get a consensus. – Maniero Oct 13 '10 at 17:48
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    @bigown On other sites, there's generally consensus about the overall purpose of the site, and the community can decide on individual cases; on those sites, a detached moderator is crucial. But in the case of Programmers.SE, even though there is no popular consensus on the direction of the site, you have clear guidelines from SOIS on what's allowed and what's not. I think Programmers.SE is the textbook case where diamond moderators need to be far more involved than you guys currently are. Of the three moderators, the only one I see routinely closing questions is you. – user8 Oct 13 '10 at 17:52
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    @Mark:Agreed.Just take in count that guidelines from SOIS say that the site should be community driven too.I'm trying to refine my actions on every question which I evaluate it.To do what the community wants is my goal, not for popularity but to achieve the goal of community drive. I think my job as a help hand to community, not the power to do what I want. I was attacked sometimes, I don't care. However all moderators need support too. You're doing your part.Unfortunately some very few users wants the circus way. Added to few users who not understand the nature of Q&A site, we have a problem. – Maniero Oct 13 '10 at 18:20
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    Mark Trapp: Realize that moderators can't vote to close- we can only close. The line between "on-topic" and "off-topic" here is less a line and more a wide battle field littered with the corpses of closed questions. The only firm direction we have is a set of 6 very subjective guidelines. As such, I tend to use a light touch when considering closing except in cases where it's * blatantly* off topic. Considering that diamond users can't just vote, I tend to let the community decide when it's a close call. – Fishtoaster Oct 13 '10 at 18:21
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    There is the difficult to define on/off-topic and there is difficult to define constructiveness. I use to consider the usefulness to programmers in general as a primary rule when the question is not off-topic. The 6 guidelines is not the ultimate rule. The 6 guidelines was posted to drive our decisions to avoid just fun questions, chit chat, discussions/argumentations, rants, just advocating, heat/hate answers, and noise to everybody. @Mark: BTW, I don't think the favorite quote as you flag it is not constructive. It's useful specially to newcomers on profession. of course you can disagree. – Maniero Oct 13 '10 at 18:54

Programmers.SE is still somewhere in the middle

This is one of the most controversial websites in the StackExchange network because of the large amount of subjectivity present here. Subjectivity and discussion are a bad combination for a supposedly Q&A site because there are no definite answers for questions that are asked here, so that leads to forum-like debates, arguments and flame wars.

About the policies being enforced here, you should remember that rules are made by humans only and they change over time as we learn more about the problem-domain. Seeing as we are still starting out as a community and that the site is still in beta phase, I can say that there's still a lot of room left for improvement.

I'm pretty sure Programmers.SE won't be your usual StackExchange site in the future. People having low acceptance rates here are signs of that.

  • Excellent answer, Terence. If this community is to flourish it needs to be allowed to figure out these issues during the beta phase. We should not have rules imposed from above because Joel got his knickers in a twist about "water-cooler nonsense" and decided that the very questions that were voted on in Area 51 as being great example questions of on-topic questions are somehow not good enough anymore. – Paddyslacker Oct 13 '10 at 14:59
  • needs updating: as we are still starting out as a community and that the site is still in beta phase – Tshepang Dec 29 '10 at 8:00

I was asking if there was a good forum/discussion board I could find online to talk to other programmers about culture, opinions, stories, etc.

Chat.Programmers.SE now that it is implemented.

Here's an example of a SE chat room.

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    Probably the best answer to Rachel :-) – Maniero Oct 13 '10 at 18:44
  • I think I would enjoy something like that if implemented. I'm kind of scared of the SO chat room lol – Rachel Oct 13 '10 at 19:07
  • @Rachel: It will. – Maniero Oct 13 '10 at 19:50
  • @Rachel, no need to be. It seems to have a lot of dead time (no messages in the last 13 hours, what?) To be fair, though, that's the General discussion room, which seems to be conflicting with the SO Tavern (General). – Mark C Oct 18 '10 at 21:50

I'm hoping it becomes the one stop shop for "What developers think about developing" site. A place to figure out what the collective wisdom of developers finds valuable, and (perhaps even more importantly) what appears valuable but turns out to be ineffective.

A critical component is Q&A about the Patterns and Anti-Patterns of performing software development. Questions like "Why do people do < this >?" or "Why should I avoid < that >?" are great. The subjective guidelines make sense here, they are designed to encourage answers backed up by experience and reasoning.

But certain discussion forum type questions are valuable too. Having a place where people vote on answers to Questions like "what is your opinion on < controversy >?" may actually help to clearly outline the pluses and minuses of either side, and help a visitor decide his/her own position.

Another potentially valuable question type is "What is the Best < thing > for < situation >", or "What is your < particular situation >. Good answers to the first one show where the community wisdom lies, answers to the second one paint a picture of the field. However, these are prone to multiple versions of the same short answers, making it hard to see if the community has a clear answer. I'd really like to see the ability to tag a question as 'Survey', where the writer creates the initial set of answers, anyone could suggest more alternates, but only users with sufficient rep could add them. People would vote for their best answer.

  • The question that made me think of this is how-many-hours-do-you-work? I'd really like to see the answers to this question in the form of a survey.

So my answer to this question is "Both". It should be a Q&A board that encourages discussion.

  • Explain -1, please? – AShelly Oct 14 '10 at 22:00

Programmers.SE skirts around the issue

Interesting questions on the top then come interesting answers to the questions. Discussions happen in the comments.

It's more like the Summa Theologia of programmer philosophy with footnotes.

If you're lucky enough to make it through the first and second scrutiny, you may be able to post something on this site.

P.S. Where's my platinum anarchyrulez badge?

P.P.S Just kidding, I'm not an anarchist (nor do I appreciate being called one) and contrary to some people's opinion I'm not trying to subvert the site.

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    You need to understand: this is not a playground. – Maniero Oct 13 '10 at 19:14
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    @bigown, thanks for deleting that comment, it was really unjustly critical of you and your moderating technique. – Peter Turner Oct 13 '10 at 19:52
  • What comment? – Maniero Oct 13 '10 at 20:09
  • @bigown, you mean I wasted all that angst on nothing? Oh well - I'll try to remember and repost it. – Peter Turner Oct 13 '10 at 20:11
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    @the world. Please stop deleting my eloquent posts. Remember, this is not a playground. – Peter Turner Oct 15 '10 at 13:04

It should be a little of both, IMO. Adhering to some rigid "Q&A Site" is just going to encourage cut-and-dried "towing the party line" answers (and I personally have experienced downvotes for saying the correct thing which differed from the norm). However, it shouldn't be entirely freeform like a forum. It needs to mix the two; a forum where posts are "rated", or a lenient Q&A site that encourages topical discussion.

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    Your answer getting upvotes or downvotes has nothing to do with the site operating as Q&A instead of a discussion board. – Adam Lear Jul 7 '11 at 19:25
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    I disagree. Because the site pushes itself as a place where questions have factual answers and not discussion of said answers, stating something that goes "against the grain" as far as accepted answers tends to get downvoted even when the advice is sound. It's a glorified popularity contest, in other words. – Wayne Molina Jul 7 '11 at 20:04
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    I'm not sure how posting something "against the grain" on a discussion board would attract upvotes. If it's against the grain, people disagree with it and would still downvote, no? This is a hypothetical discussion without an example or two, though. – Adam Lear Jul 7 '11 at 20:06

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