Let me know if my question is too close of a duplicate with What's the difference between Programmers and Stack Overflow? but I really don't think it is.

I am asking about a very particular section of the FAQ:

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Programmers — Stack Exchange is a site for professional programmers who are interested in getting expert answers on conceptual questions about software development. If you have a question about...

  • algorithm and data structure concepts
  • design patterns


Stack Overflow has directly in there FAQ also:

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Stack Overflow is for professional and enthusiast programmers, people who write code because they love it. We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm


I understand the question about the difference says Stack Overflow often has code where Programmers often does not. However in the scope of algorithm's, data structures, and design patterns, which are all on-topic in Stack Overflow with associated tags and all, there's frequently no code involved in SO for these particular topics because they address more generalized problems.

Also the aforementioned question about differences says programmers often can have code in the questions, so whether code is there or not seems to be a false indicator of differentiating an answer from SO vs programmers as both sites are on-topic with code or without.

(why is tl;dr always at the end?) so to sum up my question:

Can someone delineate the distinction between when an algorithm/data structures/design patterns question belongs on SO vs when it belongs on Programmers? Should a note be made in the FAQ detailing this delineation? If no distinction can be made, should one of the sites have it removed or suggest people go to the other for that matter?

  • 6
    You know what? It doesn't matter. If it's a good question, we'll find a home for it, if it's not, who cares?
    – yannis
    Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 16:55
  • @YannisRizos I'm trying to figure out how to objectively tell questions that belong on Programmers here, maybe I'm not that bright but I've read the FAQ several times and still find myself unable to tell which questions belong on programmers and which one's don't. Just trying to figure this out so I can hopefully help to keep programmers clean as I really appreciate programmers for the depth of knowledge this community has. Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 16:58
  • 3
    I think your question hits the nail on the head: Sometimes it's impossible to tell if a question is more appropriate for Stack Overflow or Programmers, and what I'm saying is that it doesn't matter. There's no clear line, and usually when we (the mods) are called to examine questions that fit either site, we (almost) always let them stay at the site they were originally asked.
    – yannis
    Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 17:03
  • 2
    @JimmyHoffa With 80+ StackExchange sites and counting, there is bound to be some overlap. You could ask a question about Agile project management here or on the PM site, it is possible to be on topic at both places. Also you could ask a question about a good database schema design here or on DBA, the real question is which audience do you feel would do a better job of answering your question quickly and correctly?
    – maple_shaft Mod
    Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 17:11
  • 1
    Related (on MSO): Which computer science / programming Stack Exchange do I post in?
    – yannis
    Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 17:35

1 Answer 1


Programmers and Stack Overflow overlap in expertise, it's not uncommon for questions to fit both sites. It's not always clear if a question is more conceptual (Programmers) than technical (Stack Overflow) and there are questions that sit right on the fence. When questions overlap significantly we tend to let them stay at the site they were originally asked, it's a simple enough solution.

I don't think we need to change the FAQ of either site, and since you're asking this in the interest of keeping Programmers as clean as possible I'd like to encourage you to examine whether a question is a good question before examining whether it fits our FAQ. Only after you decide it's a good question you should start wondering whether it's more suitable for us or Stack Overflow (or any other site). If you can't decide, chances are that it's one of those that fit either site, in which case it's in our interest to keep it here, Stack Overflow gets 5.8K questions per day, we get 35.

And it's not just Stack Overflow, here's a brief list of Stack Exchange sites we overlap with:

  • 35?? Wow, I guess I never noticed how few it really is. Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 17:25
  • 1
    @JimmyHoffa It's not a small number (you can find additional statistics for all sites here), Stack Overflow is gigantic, no other Stack Exchange site can compare with it.
    – yannis
    Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 17:30
  • +1 for technical vs conceptual. Commented Oct 23, 2012 at 7:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .