I'm mainly looking at this question and the list of things that are on-topic in our FAQ:

  • algorithm and data structure concepts
  • design patterns
  • developer testing
  • development methodologies
  • freelancing and business concerns
  • quality assurance
  • software architecture
  • software engineering
  • software licensing

However, our FAQ also states in the list of things that are off-topic:

implementation issues or programming tools (ask on Stack Overflow instead)

Some of the things that are on topic are supported by tools. There are tools to capture and manage requirements. There are tools for software design and architecture used to create or verify models. There are tools, such as the one in the linked to question, to support gathering measurements and metrics from software projects. There are tools to support developer testing and quality assurance in the form of CI servers. Part of software engineering is configuration management, often supported by version control systems.

Given that there are tools that support areas of professional software development that are on topic per our FAQ, does that mean that there are indeed some tool questions which belong here as opposed to Stack Overflow? If so, what can we do to make it more clear what type of tool questions belong here versus on Stack Overflow?


2 Answers 2


I see Software Engineering's role in tool questions of organizing redmine, approaches to integrate perforce with bugzilla, workflow for a git user in an svn shop... Assuming that these question realms are properly asked so as not to be subjective.

Personally, I didn't think the CLOC question was on topic for SO either.

My reasoning is that this is a support issue with the tool. There is a documented limitation and the tool itself is not behaving properly according to the follow up comment.

I have difficulty finding it at the moment, though I seem to recall a meta post from somewhere that was asking if using the SE network as a replacement for the company's own forums on support questions. I believe the SE response was mixed.

To me, this question is essentially equivalent to "My eclipse keeps running out of memory" and "Why does game XYZ lag with graphics card ABC?"

I am of the opinion that Stack Exchange is not a bug tracking system for the world, nor is it the support forums for the world.

Specifiably, for the question on CLOC support: http://sourceforge.net/projects/cloc/support and http://sourceforge.net/p/cloc/bugs/ -- this is where the question should be addressed.

  • As far as the CLOC question goes, I think "this is a bug - it should be reported on the support forums" or "this is a known bug - here's the link to the defect" is an acceptable answer. If it's a "hey, you're using this tool wrong, here's the right way" kind of thing, that's OK on some appropriate SE site.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Feb 7, 2013 at 15:53
  • the post you are referring to is what stack overflow is not on MSO, it was deleted.
    – Ryathal
    Feb 7, 2013 at 21:23
  • 1
    @Ryathal I was thinking it was on meta.gaming.SE, though it might have been somewhere else. Anyways, the real question remains (even if the question was deleted) - is stack exchange to be used as a alternative to a bug tracking and support forum for various projects?
    – user40980
    Feb 7, 2013 at 21:29
  • @MichaelT stack exchange is not a bug tracker or tech support for things that aren't stack exchange, pointing users the the correct location to seek help is a nice thing to do with comments though if you happen to know where to point them.
    – Ryathal
    Feb 7, 2013 at 21:43

Tool questions are entirely off topic, unless the tool is not directly related to the question at hand or the question is about a class of tools and the questions is otherwise acceptable. For example a question like "why is version control considered mandatory for software development?" is fine.

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