This has been discussed before, but the App Stores proposal is inching closer to fulfilling the commitment requirements and I'd like to raise the topic again just to see if anything has changed in the past year.

When I saw the App Stores proposal, my first instinct was to say that the topic should be pretty well served by Stack Overflow and Programmers for all of the questions that would be a good fit for Stack Exchange in the first place.

Programmers has a lightly used tag and the questions that do exist there seem like exactly the kind of questions that'd fit the newly proposed site. The FAQ also explicitly includes "freelance and business concerns" as a topic, which to me sounds like it would cover the less technical or implementation-related aspects of working with any app store.

I'm also on board with this post on Area 51:

If [...] the proposal is "about bridging the gap between the development and business aspects of the App development process that don't fit on other StackExchange websites.", I'd roll it into a larger proposal. "The business of development". We have a site that's essentially "The business of being a programmer" (Programmers), and I think that would have both a broader reach and a larger base of questions.

That was written a good year and a half ago and Programmers has evolved quite a bit since then. I think at this point it may well be, at least in part, a "business of development" type of site.

What do you all think? Would you welcome questions about dealing with app stores here?


Questions about the App Store inevitably lean towards "Will my app be accepted?" Only Apple knows that. Consequently any attempt to answer such a question inevitably leads to idly speculative answers like "I tried that once in my app, and it got accepted," relegating such questions to the moral equivalent of polls and highly-localized speculative opinions.

The only real reason that people direct these questions to anyone else but Apple is a consequence of the same effect that is felt at any large company like Apple or Facebook: their customer support sucks. Even if it didn't, there is a vast mountain of questions that are asked by people that are not really qualified to ask them, questions which Apple probably feels they shouldn't have to answer.

And neither should we.

I'm philosophically opposed to any range of questions that acts as a proxy for some company's customer support, if for no other reason than the company should be handling the problem themselves. Taking the pressure off by providing an alternative outlet only removes the incentive for companies like Apple to clean up their own messes, and involves outsiders who are not qualified to answer the questions properly anyway.


My comment from a recent question:

Questions of online store policies for clarification are best addressed by contacting the support for the online store. At best, we can guess, present our own interpretation, or share anecdotes - none of which are good answers in a Q&A format. The only authoritative answer can come from the store itself.

The key point in my comment is about the authoritative answer. For this I point to an answer from The halting problem - or - the fallacy of “real questions have answers”

This has an (admittedly drastically shorted) summary of:

"Real questions" don't necessarily have practical answers, but they do have authoritative ones.

For every question about app stores that I have seen (not all that exist, but all that I have seen), no one here is able to provide an authoritative answer. They are asking for interpretations of sometimes fuzzy policies written by someone else (that are then interpreted again by that agency). Any answer that we (people who don't work for the app store and are not reviewers of apps for that store) can be wrong even if it is "right".

A year ago there was a question Are App Store questions on topic on programmers?. All the same points are still valid today.


I think this is one of those topics that gets judged by the theoretical questions it might tend to draw, rather than real questions it actually does draw. The tag has a 16% close rate compared to our 50 most recent questions with a 36% close rate (not including migrations). Granted, there are probably some deleted app store questions I couldn't count, but if we judged every topic by the number of closed questions it attracts, we would have to shut down the site! We should judge topics by their good questions, not the bad ones.

I think the defining question of if an app store question is topical is:

Can someone who doesn't work at Apple, Google, Microsoft, or RIM answer this question without guessing?

I haven't been following the proposal, but I imagine the new site will need to have a similar rule. Judging by the existing pool of our app store questions, there are quite a few that fit this criteria, and they are garnering decent answers. Bad app store questions are getting closed and the good ones aren't. As MichaelT pointed out in his answer, the bad questions are appropriately being directed to the authoritative source.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't send app store questions their way once the site is up and running, but in my opinion that's more to help them build critical mass rather than the questions being a nuisance here.

  • 3
    Ah, but in this case there's no need to talk hypotheticals, the proposal Anna talks about has 37 example questions. Do you really want to see questions like "Can an app name have special characters?" (top voted question on the proposal) on Programmers?
    – yannis
    Apr 6 '13 at 3:07

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