I believe I understand the distinction, as covered in this question: (What's the difference between Programmers and Stack Overflow?)

The question is whether this really leads to a practical distinction, or whether they just blend, or whether the division is an unnecessary division of resources.

As an example, I follow the language-lawyer, programming-language and language-design tags on SO, but they sound more like they belong here.

The result is that I have about 2800 reputation points for doing almost exactly the same thing, but split between two sites. It would be nice if they were combined somehow. For me at least the division is unhelpful.

  • 4
    I bet if you look at the questions on those tags they were created before Programmers existed. I'll also wager that (especially the language-lawyer tag) they're not of the highest quality.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 8:39
  • 3
    I think I should take the bet. Language-lawyer is 48 this month, and is dominated by high quality questions about the C/C++ standards. [Programming-languages is 49 this month, but much lower quality.]
    – david.pfx
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 10:44
  • 3
    I wasn't clear. I meant that most of the questions would predate the creation of Programmers. Indeed the earliest question is stackoverflow.com/questions/1372811/… - from September 2009. The fact that the tag exists means that people will continue to use it, even though the questions aren't really on topic for Stack Overflow any more.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 10:55
  • @ChrisF per cursory glance, language-lawyer questions look good quality to me. Agree that they are unlikely to migrate here (I certainly wouldn't want to if I was a 4-year old-timer in such a tag)
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 13:33
  • @gnat - Hmm. I've taken another look and I'm beginning to wonder if in fact [language-lawyer] is a meta tag. But we're in danger of getting sidetracked here.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 13:38
  • 1
    @ChrisF best place to sidetrack from here is at MSO: Is [language-lawyer] really an effective characterization, or a borderline meta-tag?
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 13:52
  • I just trawled through your answers on SO a bit david, and i gotta say; I don't see questions you've answered which would fit on P.SE really. Most the SO questions you've answered are C++ code implementation details and such. Maybe I'm missing something, could you list off the Q's you've handled on SO that you think could fit on P.SE also? I think you'll find the list smaller upon inspection than you're gut instinct may be telling you. Commented Mar 21, 2014 at 20:02
  • @JimmyHoffa: No, you're right. My instincts lead me to Progammers, but there are (some) questions on SO that interest me too, and it's easy to answer a few questions and build up some rep. I guess I'd rather stick to answering the more conceptual questions on both, but that divides the rep score. Which is kind of what prompted this question.
    – david.pfx
    Commented Mar 22, 2014 at 2:39
  • 2
    Related MSO post: Should Programmers.SE exist?. It provides some reasons why this site exists, although I also have some arguments listed at the bottom for why I don't think P.SE should exist. It's been downvoted though, so more meta users disagree than agree with me.
    – Rachel
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 13:34
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    @Rachel: There is a distinction that seems to be valid, but is not widely known. An infrequent visitor with a burning question to ask is almost guaranteed to not know. In practice it just has a different vibe and those in the know like it that way. Kind of cliquey.
    – david.pfx
    Commented Mar 24, 2014 at 13:49

2 Answers 2


I'm sure there's always going to be overlap - look at the issues around certain Programmers questions that could be on The Workplace. The answer is not to infer that, because some questions are in the grey area between sites, that then all questions must be in the same grey area, and merging sites is required.

I do think the "branding" between the sites needs to be more defined - SO for questions about the implementation of technology, Programmers for questions about concepts. It might be easier to define SO better - or market it as such, rather than try to define the rather more vague Programmers.

That question (difference between the two) has a really good answer, that should make it clear - and I'd say the old tags you mention should be on here, if they weren't more than a little bit grey.

  • +1 for branding -- yes I think that could be the problem. The SO brand is very widely known (Google loves it) but Programmers is not. That's reflected in lower traffic. If everyone knew that answer, it would help.
    – david.pfx
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 14:04

There's some argument for shipping those questions over here, and not just centered around the file things neatly because everything has its place manner of thinking. Stack Overflow, today, doesn't really like those kinds of questions1 and many would be happy to ship the impetus for folks to ask them over here.

But that's just it, Stack Overflow loses content, users lose rep (depending) and we're not exactly sending anything over to Programmers that offers anyone here anything to do. It's a bit too jilting of an experience for all involved in comparison with a vague net gain.

There's also the folks that ask specifically on Stack Overflow because they feel that more capable eyes will see their question. That usually doesn't work out very well, but it's easy to see how folks would conclude that it would.

There's always going to be overlap, and as Programmers has become a more focused site and community, it's gotten to the point where Programmers is the better site for certain topics that overlap, tags you mentioned being some of those topics. That's basically what has to happen for the majority of those questions to naturally end up here - just keep answering them here with the quality you've been producing - then people know this is the place to come.

There are instances where we'd basically wholesale migrate by tag - when we purposefully split a site into two - most recently turning AVP (Audio & Video Production) into Video Production, and then moving the Audio stuff over to Sound Design. That's not something we like to do unless it's clear that we positively must, and it's not like the tags on Stack Overflow create multiple disenfranchised communities that try to co-exist in the same space.

I'd say - give it a year, and you'll probably see the 'brand' this site is building become more effective at leading folks with those kinds of questions here in the first place, at which point you'll see the tags diminish on SO.

1 Well, sometimes they do, depends on how and when you ask them.

  • 2
    "That's not something we like to do unless it's clear that we positively must" -- And maybe that's a mistake in this case. I know it would be a tough job to move all the Programmers questions from SO, but I think it would be worth it if the distinction is ever to be made. Search on Google for any subject where you'd want the user to come here and you'll see why they don't.
    – pdr
    Commented Mar 25, 2014 at 16:55

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