This was just closed and I don't understand why. It says off-topic, but it is specifically about programmers and not a poll nor does it meet any of the "do not ask about"s in the FAQ, in fact in the do-ask-about's of the FAQ I would place this under "business concerns" from the description of the article.

Call me crazy, but I'm rather certain if I posted a question asking:

"Can anyone direct me to this blog I read that detailed online security, it was about how passwords are shared around every site and had a comic about a gordian knot and some xkcd about a battery and a horse"

I would get the answer with link pretty quickly, and it would serve as a reference for future programmers who couldn't remember where they saw that blog. It's specific so not a poll as book requests are, it's constructive because it will direct people in the future to a valuable article on an important topic to programmers.

So what's wrong with the linked question?

  • 1
    Regarding voting on Meta: Voting is typically used to indicate agreement/disagreement with the premise of your question. Since there's no reputation earn/loss we tend to be quite liberal with our votes (either way). Don't concern yourself with Meta downvotes, they don't mean that your question is not useful, just that people disagree that requests for a specific reference material should be on-topic.
    – yannis
    Oct 31, 2012 at 16:32
  • I Googled the phrase "how passwords are shared around every site and had a comic about a gordian knot and some xkcd about a battery and a horse", and got this, even though the comic doesn't actually have a Gordian knot in it. Took me about 30 seconds. Oct 31, 2012 at 17:19
  • @RobertHarvey I was referencing codinghorror.com/blog/2011/09/… Oct 31, 2012 at 17:52

2 Answers 2


Locating an article is not a software development problem, regardless of what the article is about. Questions that are nothing more than a request to an external resource are off topic, not only on Programmers but on Stack Exchange in general, this isn't a link sharing service.

From the FAQ:

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

Finding an article or a blog post is not a conceptual software development question. We make a small exception for canonical books, but that's the only exception, not the rule.

Further reading:

  • Your first point seems valid about not being a link sharing site. The rest however.. The "What kind of questions should I not ask here?" has absolutely no reference to the type of question I linked. The second further reading you listed quotes If there are specialized requirements or a small number of right answers, then the book question can stay. which would say the linked question should stay, and the rest of the questions relate to subjective questions which the linked question absolutely is not. Oct 31, 2012 at 16:13
  • @JimmyHoffa The "What kind of questions should I not ask here?" section assumes that your question already follows all the requirements of the previous sections. The question in question fails the very first requirement of the site, it's not a question about a software development problem. If a question fails that, there's no point in reading the rest of the FAQ. If there are specialized requirements or a small number of right answers, then the book question can stay. The operative word here is "book". The question in question is not a book question.
    – yannis
    Oct 31, 2012 at 16:16
  • There's likely prior cases you could link to back up the "Not a link sharing service" point which would make a good case as to why the question should be closed. Please link any you can find and I can select this as the answer and it can stand for the future to show the expected behavior regarding these questions. I'll even vote to close them in the future if you can point to evidence of link requests being invalid for SE as you say. Oct 31, 2012 at 16:17
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    Being about software development and not about programmers is a requirement of questions here? Then in the questions that can be asked here "freelancing and business concerns" needs to be removed from the FAQ. Oct 31, 2012 at 16:18
  • @JimmyHoffa Freelancing and business concerns are on topic provided they are about concerns that are unique to software development (check the big diagram in the FAQ). Also a question that asks about locating an article is not a question about programmers. It's a question about how to access your browser's history, or perhaps how to get some decent Google skills. Nothing relevant to programmers or software development in there, even if the article we are looking for is about programming.
    – yannis
    Oct 31, 2012 at 16:19
  • for this particular case, I would also add Let’s Play The Guessing Game to your further reading list
    – gnat
    Oct 31, 2012 at 16:43
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    @gnat Added it to the top of the list, it's actually the most relevant, thanks.
    – yannis
    Oct 31, 2012 at 16:44
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    @JimmyHoffa Check the blog post gnat mentions.
    – yannis
    Oct 31, 2012 at 16:45

It could have been closed as not constructive or even too localised, but it already had two close votes so I followed what the others had voted.

While it may be a question that interests programmers is not a question about programming or software development. It's a request to find a blog. It comes under the same rule about product/book/library/etc. requests.

Now, a question about the subject of the blog may be on topic.

  • Last time I checked book requests were allowed so long as there was a single historically significant answer, like if the dragon book or the K&R were the answer; otherwise it's deemed a poll. In this particular case it's even more tightly scoped than that though; this is a particular specific reference material so definitely can't fall under the poll clause that is the only reason book requests are tossed.. Oct 31, 2012 at 15:14
  • Also you specify "too localised" but that refers to the answer only being valuable to a single problem or person, an article about types of programmers and how they interact is valuable to most programmers. Oct 31, 2012 at 15:26

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