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Several years ago I interviewed with MCS and one of the interviewers asked me how I would design Amazon.com. Is that type of question appropriate on programmers.stackexchange.com?

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It's too broad. Questions asked on SE sites should be specific enough to be answerable with a single, relatively short answer (a few paragraphs or less). It's also a poll question, inviting multiple answers with different approaches.

I daresay it's too broad as an interview question as well.

  • I wouldn't say the answer necessarily needs to be short, but it certainly needs to be focused. – maple_shaft Nov 1 '13 at 16:20
  • By "relatively short," I mean definitively answerable in 30,000 characters or less (the character limit of the editor), preferably substantially less than that. – Robert Harvey Nov 1 '13 at 16:23
  • Thanks for the feedback, I will look for a more appropriate medium for this question. I think it is a really great topic! – Sean Chase Nov 1 '13 at 19:58
  • @SeanChase do consider that chat (primarily active during the work week days) would likely welcome such a question. Chat is often the right place for such broad and discussion questions. Just because the question is too broad for the Q&A site doesn't mean it isn't a good option for another part of the Stack Exchange network (aside from chat, there's also blog posts too). – user40980 Nov 2 '13 at 1:53
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From https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/215501/how-to-improve-design-ability/215507#215507

When a question that is very broad is asked, it is an attempt to see how well you are able to work through the question. Asking "How do you implement a game of Monopoly" wants you to think through the problem. How do you represent the board, the cards, the placement of the tokens, the rules for the special squares, the houses and hotels and property values...

The interviewer wants to see you work through the problem and talk about the data types being used and the like. When you hit an area where you are unfamiliar with, how you work through that part of the problem is another key point of the question.

The thing here is that questions asked in interviews are often poor P.SE questions because they have different goals. The interviewer isn't interested in the right answer as such, but rather how the interviewee thinks and works through the problem. On the other hand, on a Q&A site, we are interested in the solution rather than the process of coming to the answer (its sometimes useful, but not the focus of the site).

Interview questions by their nature are often too broad for the Q&A site format.

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