Should this question about how to learn enough programming to communicate with programmers without learning to program have stayed on programmers?

It seems to me this question is about programming, specifically. Yes, the question could be asked about another field, but it would be another question, with totally different answers.

At this moment, the most recent question (with net positive votes) on Programmers is this one, about the advantages of proper unit tests over functional tests misnamed as unit tests. We could change it to "What do I do about a colleague who does the wrong work and misnames it as the right work?" and move it to Workplace, but it wouldn't get an answer to the question that was actually asked, because the question is about programming.

The question isn't NC, because it's open on Workplace.

The argument to migrate would have to be on the grounds that it's off-topic, but it's a question about learning certain aspects of programming (or was, before it got radically edited to be on topic for Workplace).

I first saw it on Workplace, and immediately thought "I should flag this to move to Programmers" before I noticed it was migrated from Programmers!

Edit - Yes, it was originally a request for books. It should have been changed to a general request. But otherwise my point still stands. So far no one has given me any answer that I feel even begins to explain why the question isn't about programming. Oh, wait- Rachel did, but she asserted that communicating with programmers is outside the scope of conceptual software development. I have no idea why one would assert that, but she did address the issue.

  • 1
    I really don't think that question could have ever been on topic for programmers because it really was only relevant to all careers except programmers.
    – Ryathal
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 21:22
  • if it would stay, it would likely be worth closing as a duplicate of Business/Development Liaison Wanting To Enhance Understanding In Programming: "business liaison has asked me if there are any books or resources he could use to better understand software concepts in a meaningful way..."
    – gnat
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 6:09
  • 1
    @gnat - that's a good point.
    – psr
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 17:36

3 Answers 3


Honestly, I wanted to close the question as Not Constructive. It's original form was substantially different than what it currently is on The Workplace. It was specifically a request for books/resources on communicating with professional software developers in the general sense. It was very easily off-topic (doesn't appear to fall into one of the categories mentioned in the FAQ), not constructive (list/extended discussion), and not a real question (overly broad as it covered the breath of software development), depending on how you wanted to slice it.

It had 4 close votes when it was flagged by a Workplace mod for migration. I believe all four close votes were for Not Constructive or Not a Real Question. The options were to leave it here, where it would be closed by a single vote from anyone or migrate it to a site that said they could deal with it. Since it's much easier to migrate a question before it gets closed (otherwise, I would need to reopen it and then close it as off-topic, selecting a target site) and it was already accepted by The Workplace, I migrated it over.

If there wasn't a requested migration on it, I would have closed as NC or NARQ and we might have been able to work with it to narrow the scope of the question and make it something other than a resource request question or polling for advice question.

  • 3
    I was one of those who voted to close as NC, seeing it was looking for a list of books. I commented to the OP that it was an interesting question but not suitable with the site's format, hoping that he would give a try at an edit to keep it alive. I do like that it survives (in some format) on Workplace as I think it does have value as a topic.
    – Walter
    Commented Dec 19, 2012 at 20:09

The question started out as a request for books from a non programmer. This is the version that people were voting to close and not migrate, we don't have a migration path to The Workplace. And it is off topic, by virtue of being "not a real question"/"not constructive", as most vague and open ended requests for resources are.

One of The Workplace moderators spotted the question as it was about to be closed, and flagged it, telling us that a more general "how can I improve my knowledge/skills to better communicate with my colleague" question would be on topic on their site, and if the question was to be closed here, they would have it.

  • 2
    Yes, I really meant the if in my flag to be the key. But I think it's worked out ok -- the Workplace community did a good job with the question, talked about it in chat, the OP seems to have appreciated and found useful the answers, and I think some of the answers to the more generic question are of value outside the programmers realm as well.
    – jcmeloni
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 2:04

I saw that question and had the exact same thought - that it was off-topic for the Workplace since it was about a specific industry, and that it should be on Programmers.

However when I saw it was migrated from Programmers, I asked about it in chat, and it appears a Workplace mod flagged the question with the following note:

Just a proactive note...if this is not made constructive/OT on ProgSE, and were a more general "how can I improve my knowledge/skills to better communicate with my colleague (who just happens to be a programmer, in this instance)" question, it would be OT and constructive on Workplace

I think the intention was if it got closed on Programmers as not-constructive or off-topic, it could be modified to be a more generic question that applied to the workplace in general and would be welcome on the Workplace.

But instead what happened is the question got closed and migrated to the Workplace, unmodified.

We've made some changes to the question to make it on-topic for the site, however they also invalidated some of the answers as it changed the core question being asked from being about programmers and programmer books specifically, to being about a much more general workplace issue.

I'm fine with the question as-is on the workplace, but if you guys want it back that's fine too (although you'll probably want to undo the edits we did so it goes back to being a question specific to programmers, and edit it in such a way that resolves the original reason it was closed in the first place)

To answer the actual question you asked though, no I don't think it should have stayed on Programmers.

Its initial form was asking for a list of books or resources that would help the OP communicate with programmers without actually having to learn programming, which is not-constructive by SE's standards, and the current version of the question is asking how to learn to effectively communicate with programmers without actually learning programming, which I think would be off-topic for Programmers since that is not the professional expertise of Programmers users, and I don't think it falls in the site's scope of conceptual software development.

  • 2
    As the mod you quoted, I can say with confidence that your interpretation of the intention is accurate. :)
    – jcmeloni
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 1:52

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