I'm not asking as a result of bitterness, I'd just really like to know what I am doing wrong per the spec.

I have only two questions on programmers SE, both of which got closed. By contrast, I am an avid user of StackOverflow proper and have never had any issues with questions being closed as off topic. I'm specifically referring to these two posts:


Specifically I have asked regarding scoring metrics for searching. Admittedly the wording is somewhat vague, but the intention was to elicit responses from an algorithmic perspective. This is specifically mentioned in the FAQ as being on topic:

[from the FAQ]

  • algorithm and data structure concepts
  • design patterns

Yet again, my second question:


I would consider at least to fit under the umbrella in the FAQ spec as:

  • freelancing and business concerns

Though I suppose I could see where subjectively it could be considered a question of relating back to the previous developer. That said, I did try to keep the wording as objective as possible to understand what the general consensus was on what was proper.

I find it worthy to note that both these questions received a couple upvotes, which would indicate to me that at least some users were interested in potential responses and felt they were constructive.

I must admit I feel uncertain about what kind of things are appropriate for Programmers SE and how the format of these questions could be improved (if at all). I admit that even while trying to be impartial I find this kind of moderation counter-productive if other people were interested in potential responses. Have I misunderstood the model?

  • 6
    No, nothing fits the format. I left Programmers because I couldn't figure it out either. Good luck.
    – Lance Roberts
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 22:02
  • @Asad - No problem. Didn't really like it myself on a second read through. Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 22:03
  • @Bart - Didn't realize there was one. Can be migrated if needed. Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 22:03
  • @LanceRoberts I'm not going to lie, it's a little disheartening to say that I must agree. I'm just trying to raise these two examples in the spirit of improvement, either my own understanding of the spec or the FAQ itself. The application of OT on Programmers SE seems to me a little arbitrary. Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 22:08
  • 1
    @DeaconDesperado Neither of your questions is specific to programming. Did you happen to read the Programmers FAQ prior to posting? We welcome "business concerns" questions, but they have to be specific to our profession...
    – yannis
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 22:10
  • 1
    @Yannis, I did... though the FAQ itself says that questions should "uniquely apply to programming," it doesn't necessarily say that these questions should be wholly unapplicable to other professions. I could see that standard being too broadly applied. (Think about people asking about ergonomic work setups or somesuch) Shouldn't this be taken to mean the practice of getting touch with previous engineers as it uniquely is applied in the programming profession? And isnt this reductum ad absurdum if others were also interested in potential answers? Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 22:16
  • @Yannis Wouldn't the second one be programmer specific? Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 22:16
  • 2
    @Asad The second one isn't really a question, "is it tactful/appropriate" is an open ended discussion. Furthermore, it's not really programmer specific, the core question is "is it appropriate to get in contact with this previous employee to get some insights into what (s)he was working on".
    – yannis
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 22:21
  • @YannisRizos Sorry, I brainfarted; I meant the other one (regarding search results) Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 22:25
  • @DeaconDesperado Well, I'm happy you at least read the FAQ, that's... rare ;) I tend to agree that we really need to do a better job clarifying what exactly we mean by "business concerns", but I haven't really managed to come up with any (good) ideas. Also, keep in mind that closure is a temporary state, sometimes all that's needed for a question to be re-opened is a couple of edits.
    – yannis
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 22:26
  • @Asad The first question is extremely vague. That's not the OP's fault, he's giving us all the info he has, but it's just not enough. Check out the comments under the question for more details.
    – yannis
    Commented Feb 19, 2013 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


The issue with the FAQ is that there is limited space to get over what we want the site to be about. We tried having a mega FAQ but that didn't work, so we pared it down. As a result some information got lost.

The "freelancing and business concerns" point should really read:

freelancing and business concerns specific to software development.

We had hoped that the "specific to software development" would be understood and not have to spelt out everywhere.

Your second question doesn't really fit under this category as it could apply to any job. As such it might be a better fit for The Workplace.

As for your first question, it is a little vague as it stands. As such it doesn't really fit the Stack Exchange model that well. If you had something a little more concrete to ask about then it would be a better fit. You seem to be at the stage where you need to discuss the design with someone (or a group of people) and discussion is not what Stack Exchange does. If you can find some people in the chat rooms you could try asking them for their input. It might give you enough of a handle to proceed and ask a more specific question (or two).

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