There are some fairly major changes coming soon to how posts are closed, you may want to read up on the details:

We will need to come up with our own list of custom off topic reasons for Programmers. These reasons will be available to close voters after they have picked the generic "off topic" one. Here's a screenshot of Meta Stack Overflow's close dialog, where the new system is already available:

The "other" option will allow a custom message, when none of the three custom reasons applies:

If you have an "off topic" reason you'd like to nominate, please post it as an answer. Some general guidelines:

  • One reason per answer, so they can be voted separately.
  • A brief comment explaining why the general category is off topic is mandatory. See the examples in the first screenshot for inspiration. If we have a good Meta discussion explaining in detail why the category doesn't work, please link to it in your comment.
  • Examples to existing closed questions that would fit your custom reason would be immensely helpful.
  • If there's already an answer with a reason similar to what you have in mind, but with a slightly different phrasing, please consider commenting on the existing answer and refining the phrasing instead of posting a new answer.

The winners:

  • 1
    per recent discussion at MSO, looks like we have like seven: 1) "Workplace" 2) "Stack Overflow" 3) "learn next" 4) "do next" 5) "read next" 6) "career advice" 7) "non-programming activities". These are explicitly listed in "not about..." section of Help Center > Asking – gnat Jun 24 '13 at 5:44
  • Do we also have to provide "off-topic reasons" for migration targets (such as migration to SO for code questions), or will those be added automatically to the list? – Bart van Ingen Schenau Jun 25 '13 at 11:53
  • @BartvanIngenSchenau No, those will be the same as they are today. The screenshot doesn't have migration targets because MSO doesn't have any. – yannis Jun 25 '13 at 11:57
  • Is there still going to be a generic off-topic reason for questions that are blatantly off topic such as "How do I change the oil on my car?" – Aaron Kurtzhals Jun 25 '13 at 18:03
  • 1
    @AaronKurtzhals Unfortunately no. This was a bit of a controversial decision, and SE said they'll keep an eye on off topic closures and might reconsider if there's a clear need for a generic off topic. There's a feature request asking for a mod only generic off topic (mod only because a user one had already been declined) but I can't say I'm optimistic about it. – yannis Jun 25 '13 at 18:09
  • I see the close reasons have changed now, but none of these are there; rather we have 5 off-topic choices already... Did the decision happen that we don't get to choose our off-topic reasons after all? Or are these going to be added later, at which point, we're going to have a huge amount of off-topic choices... could be a bit cumbersome/annoying – Jimmy Hoffa Jun 26 '13 at 7:56
  • @JimmyHoffa Moderators can update the close reasons, we can add/edit/remove/sort them at any time. There's a fixed limit of 3 custom reasons, so the list won't get long (unless we explicitly ask for it to be longer). The reasons we have now were picked by SE, mostly for the feature to not roll out empty. – yannis Jun 26 '13 at 7:58
  • Possible duplicate of Merge and replace custom close reason – gnat Nov 25 '15 at 20:30

Questions about what language, technology, or project one should take up next are off topic on Programmers, as they can only attract subjective opinions for answers. There are too many individual factors behind the question to create answers that will have lasting value. You may be able to get help on The Whiteboard, our chat room.

  • 1
    I would like to add 'project' as well: "what [language | technology | project ] ..." – Bart van Ingen Schenau Jun 25 '13 at 11:41
  • Or even which language/technology is better. – Dynamic Jun 25 '13 at 12:55
  • @Dynamic - I think that's a good suggestion for the shark vs. gorilla close reason. And yes, that one still needs to be added to the list here. – user53019 Jun 25 '13 at 12:57
  • rephrase suggestion: Career advice questions, including "What should I do next?" (book/project/language) or "How do I convince someone to do something?" are off topic because they tend to attract opinionated answers. – Aaron Kurtzhals Jun 25 '13 at 17:34
  • @AaronKurtzhals - I'm not opposed to that rephrasing and moving the elements into parenthesis. The "How do I convince ..." is a separate line of closing and deserves its own entry. – user53019 Jun 25 '13 at 17:45
  • We can't present multi-choice syntaxes to the green folks who will be posting "I don't know how to program, what language should I learn?". I filled in the blanks to make it as generally meeting all choices as possible, if you don't like my edits roll back or think about how else to phrase this stuff, but bear in mind the audience who will be suffering this message on their questions and what will be of the greatest help to them. – Jimmy Hoffa Jun 27 '13 at 18:16
  • 1
    This is now live. Enjoy, close voters! – yannis Jul 8 '13 at 3:03

Questions seeking career or education advice are off topic on Programmers. They are only meaningful to the asker and do not generate lasting value for the broader programming community. Furthermore, in most cases, any answer is going to be a subjective opinion that may not take into account all the nuances of a (your) particular circumstance.

  • I'm wondering if the career/professional development related questions can be linked to The Workplace as a suggestion (preferably The Workplace's help page about what is on topic there)? Or would that be equivalent to having a migration path to a beta site (which isn't done)? – Thomas Owens Jun 24 '13 at 14:07
  • @ThomasOwens - I pondered mixing Workplace into the answer but didn't because it's beta and didn't know what I would be trampling upon... :-) – user53019 Jun 24 '13 at 14:13
  • I think I prefer your first version. I don't like the opening sentence in this, it reads like we are telling people we don't want their questions because they are too difficult to answer. – yannis Jul 8 '13 at 2:26
  • @YannisRizos - tweaked as you suggested. Might be a bit less friendly to newbies now, but I tried to mollify that by pointing out that random strangers on the internets don't know all the particulars of their issue. – user53019 Jul 8 '13 at 2:33
  • @GlenH7 Thanks. I moved things around a bit to match the other reasons' phrasing. Hopefully, I didn't completely screw up and this is still parsable. – yannis Jul 8 '13 at 3:01
  • 1
    This is now live. Enjoy, close voters! – yannis Jul 8 '13 at 3:03

Pitting two large choices against each other doesn't fit the Q&A format well. This question is begging for debate as opposed to information, and the answers will not stand up over time as the choices change. Both options are likely good and bad, try to reformulate this question to as for a solution to your problem and you may get more beneficial responses. For further details why questions like this generate poor quality content read this blog post by StackExchange's co-founder.


I think you should consider adopting one of Stack Overflow's custom reasons:

Questions asking us to recommend a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Programmers as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.

This is (sort of) covered under Too Broad, so I understand if you don't want to use up one of your three slots for this, but it's proven to be very useful on Stack Overflow to call that out specifically.

  • This is what I was aiming for with my resource requests off topic one below, but this wording is a little cleaner – Jimmy Hoffa Jun 28 '13 at 19:57
  • 2
    This is now live. Enjoy, close voters! – yannis Jul 8 '13 at 3:03

This question: https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/202875/which-technologies-will-most-affect-financial-services-over-the-next-decade

just made me remember another good reason we constantly close stuff, folks asking for a technical crystal ball.

This question is asking for pure speculation, of which no one can be provably correct, incorrect, or informative in any way at the present moment. This site has a focus on gathering authoritative content, unfortunately for this question no such content is currently possible.


This is an attempt to begin a discussion, however this is not a discussion forum. This site is for providing authoritative answers to specific questions. Feel free to join The Whiteboard chatroom if you wish to participate in discussion.

  • this describes not constructive, not off topic – Ryathal Jun 25 '13 at 17:48
  • @Ryathal Will not constructive still be a close reason after the overhaul is finished? – Jimmy Hoffa Jun 25 '13 at 17:50
  • sort of, there are going to be 3 reasons replacing not constructive and not a real question, "primarily opinion based" is the closest fit to this, but really this sounds good for its own separate reason not under off topic. – Ryathal Jun 25 '13 at 17:56
  • @Ryathal we don't get to choose new close reasons that aren't under off topic though, and opinion based is a bit of a stretch; open-ended discussion questions can be based completely in an objectively measurable domain – Jimmy Hoffa Jun 25 '13 at 17:57

This site is for questions and answers regarding programming specific concepts and activities. Questions that aren't specific to programming or won't be relevant or useful to professional programmers are off topic.


Questions that are not unique to the programming profession are off-topic for Programmers. This question either applies to any profession (try Workplace) or requires expertise in another profession (such as law/business/marketing) for an expert answer.

  • I don't like that this makes it seem as though things about the programming profession are on topic where 99% of them are not. – Jimmy Hoffa Jun 25 '13 at 17:55

I suggest that the existing close reason

Questions seeking career advice or help with office politics are off-topic here unless they're specific to the programming profession. If people in other professions face similar problems, ask about it on The Workplace Stack Exchange.

Should be changed to

Questions seeking career advice or help with office politics are off-topic here. For a question about office politics, ask about it on The Workplace Stack Exchange.

Points being

  1. My understanding is that career advice and office politics are off-topic here, regardless of whether the career or politics are specific to software development or the programming profession.
  2. Career advice is off-topic on The Workplace.
  • I believe that existing close reason is one of our "custom" reasons that is going to be changed out once a mod chooses to edit the custom reasons. So while your suggestion may not take its place, the current phrasing will go away. – user53019 Jul 8 '13 at 2:38

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