Recently https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/21280/what-are-the-essential-things-i-should-know-about-the-mac-closed was close as off-topic: Questions on Programmers are expected to be about subjective issues in software development, within the scope defined in the faq.

The question could be summed up as "I'm a programmer who is new to the Mac: What does a programmer need to know about programming when using Mac OS?"

This isn't a purely subjective question, but it's as subjective as many others are, and there isn't just one right answer, so it seems appropriate for Pr.SE (roughly — inappropriate for SO and about programmers == appropriate for Pr.SE?). It is also very much in scope according to the FAQ: Developer tools and techniques

I know that it was closed by long-standing members of this community, but I thought I'd ask since it seems like a pretty good question to me (and where else would it be more appropriate?)


If that's what the question and its answers essentially were, you'd be correct in saying it's on topic because it deals with a developer's tools.

But that's not what the question is, and the answers only mention in passing Mac OS X's development capability. Explaining what the command key does and where the Applications folder is doesn't make a professional programmer better at his job, but they do help someone new to a Mac in general.

In reality, a question like "What are the essential things I should know about Mac?" is essentially asking, "Can someone read my mind and link every question I might find useful on Apple.SE?"

The Stack Exchange system only works when people ask pointed questions that are directly related to the Stack Exchange they are on because they attract the knowledge and experience of experts on the topic. A person interested in learning more about specific things on a Mac should avail themselves of Apple.SE and ask questions there.

Using the "as a programmer" qualifier to make any question on topic (among other cheese methods) has been discussed several times here, on the Stack Overflow blog, and on Meta Stack Overflow.

Suffice it to say, Programmers.SE does not suffer from a lack of good questions such that we need to be a general-purpose question and answer site like Yahoo! Answers or Quora; where the only thing that you need to do is add the keyword "programmer" or the phrase "as a programmer" and ask an broad, easy-to-answer question to be on topic. There are literally dozens of specialized Stack Exchange sites that cover the topics more appropriately.

  • Thanks for the posting the background on this issue that I was unaware of. This link seems most relevant: meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/288/…. I guess it's subjective, but I would say this case passes the test for what is a worthy "as a programmer" question in the highest rated answer there. Using an OS "as a programmer" has unique issues that are helpful to be addressed somewhere.
    – Nicole
    Nov 28 '10 at 6:29
  • Excellent answer.
    – Walter
    Nov 28 '10 at 14:50

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