An often reoccurring idea that is mentioned is that maybe, if the site name was changed from "Programmers" to something else (SoftwareEngineering?) then maybe, people would stop asking off topic, too broad, or down voted questions here. (1, 2, 3, and more).

However, people rarely try backing this up with actual questions that are asked and looking at why they are closed or down voted and if their idea actually stands up to the question.

So, here's what you do. You take the newest 50 questions and list all the ones that are down voted or closed and say why your idea for a name would have prevented the user from asking that question.

This is non-binding and just an attempt to get people to think about what they are proposing.

  • 3
    A name change would also help tremendously with referrals to this site. There are many users familiar with the SE Q&A model, but not with Programmers itself, then their natural tendency would be to assume this is a Q&A site for Programmers to handle topics that don't fit into StackOverflow, and send users here to try their luck. As gnat pointed out here, "If a newcomer gets such a personal advice [on SO] from such an authoritative [high rep] user, would this "override" any automatic notice they will see on their way? You bet".
    – Rachel
    Jan 30, 2015 at 17:31
  • Also, here's some other names to consider that have been suggested in the past: The Whiteboard, SoftwareConcepts, SoftwareDesign, SoftwareTheory, Programming, Programmer's Whiteboard. Feel free to use them for an answer if you want.
    – Rachel
    Jan 30, 2015 at 17:51
  • 1
    The question though is what questions would have been discouraged with a name change. If it's none, then why change?
    – user40980
    Jan 30, 2015 at 17:53
  • 2
    I'm not very active here anymore, but on StackOverflow I frequently see comments along the line of "this is off-topic here, but try asking at Programmers.SE". Typically the referring user has no idea what this site's scope is, and the only information they are going on is A) they think they understand the SE Q&A model, and B) the site is called Programmers. A name change would help with bad referrals.
    – Rachel
    Jan 30, 2015 at 18:07
  • In addition, the name Programmers gives a very misleading impression to new users that first encounter this site. They begin their experience thinking "a Q&A site named Programmers, I can ask other programmers my questions!" and I would rather them start out thinking something like "a Q&A site named SoftwareConcepts, I can ask about my conceptual software ideas here!". There's plenty of meta posts from new users about the site name or their first impression. Frequently if they do read the FAQ, its because of the number of downvoted/closed questions.
    – Rachel
    Jan 30, 2015 at 18:09
  • 1
    @Rachel the bad referrals have been going down. Look through the list below and see if any are bad referrals. Many have only asked a question here - no other accounts. How does another name discourage those questions? If it doesn't, it doesn't help either.
    – user40980
    Jan 30, 2015 at 18:10
  • I appreciate that you're trying to get data for this, but its really hard to build data based on what someone else thinks. It's all opinion based. I went through a bunch of your links below and so far they're all from users that have other SE accountsE, most that are older than their P.SE account. Assuming the person knew exactly how to write an ideal SE question, sure the name change makes no difference. But to a person that doesn't know, and that has (often positive) experience from another SE site, they just think this is a site for Programmers and think it's OK to post their question.
    – Rachel
    Jan 30, 2015 at 18:21
  • 1
    If you want examples of new user experience, just browse meta. Or join a chat with me and I'll help you find them. To many new users, they only think twice about posting because of the number of downvoted/closed questions. If that wasn't there, you'd probably get a lot more. Ideally, the site shouldn't have many of these. It gives a very bad first impression to new users.
    – Rachel
    Jan 30, 2015 at 18:23
  • Do you believe any of those questions would not have been asked if the name was software engineering?
    – user40980
    Jan 30, 2015 at 18:23
  • Yes, however I'd like to use a different name than "Software Engineering" because it means very different things to different people. Lets use something like "Software Concepts" or "The Whiteboard". In my mind, almost every question would be appropriate for a Q&A site for Programmers because they all ask Programmers something. In contrast, if my first impression was that this was a site for conceptual software design, I would only think 4, 6, maybe 12, maybe 13a, 14, 15, and 19 were OK to ask. Keep in mind, this is based on my point of view, and others probably interpret it differently.
    – Rachel
    Jan 30, 2015 at 18:33
  • Did you want to setup a chat for us? I think this may be getting off-topic to the question itself, and I'd rather not detract from that.
    – Rachel
    Jan 30, 2015 at 18:34

3 Answers 3


Here's my opinion on the same question list as MichaelT with a name that strongly emphasizes conceptual software design, such as "The Whiteboard"

I am writing my answers from the point of view of a user whose only knowledge of this site is it is a StackExchange Q&A site titled "Programmers" or "The Whiteboard", and who doesn't have a strong grasp of what makes a good/bad question for SE.

  1. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271586/what-examples-are-there-for-mean-js and https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271584/what-cms-to-use-for-mean-js I would ask both of a Q&A site titled "Programmers". I would only ask the second of a Q&A site labeled "The Whiteboard"

  2. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271573/how-to-speed-up-the-following-matlab-code Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

  3. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271545/clarification-on-migrating-to-visual-studio-2010 Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No.

  4. Is there any harm in using amazon AWS as a development environment? Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: Yes

  5. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271541/what-do-you-do-while-youre-waiting-for-your-tests-to-run Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

  6. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271537/how-to-choose-a-framework Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: Yes

  7. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271535/compare-values-from-two-spinner-and-display-the-result-accordingly-in-android-st Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

  8. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271532/best-way-to-get-data-from-database-inside-thread-class-in-spring, https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271515/can-i-use-qtcreator-with-pyqt5 and https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271531/c-malloc-error Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

  9. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271530/univerisity-iphone-assignment-without-an-apple-mac Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

  10. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271510/code-blocks-not-opening-new-console-why-is-this-happening Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

  11. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271507/git-hangs-when-pushing Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

  12. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271497/difficulty-finding-a-recursive-starting-point-for-an-algorithm Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: Maybe.

  13. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271491/i-want-to-build-a-software-with-c-book-list-is-needed and https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271487/installment-of-python-2-7-9-and-3-4-2-recommended-learning-source Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: Yes to the first, No to the second

  14. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271490/how-to-learn-backend-development Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: Probably

  15. https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271473/best-way-to-implement-in-app-purchases Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: Yes

  16. PHP Ajax error, get 404 when type first char Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

For 10ks there are also:

  1. Does php can solve this Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

  2. For Windows developers who would like to get into the Mac OS X software development industry, what's a great way to get started? Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

  3. how to solve the problem of fault face detection in image processing Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: Yes

  4. Generous budget: what's your ideal setup? Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: Maybe

  5. recommend a British based programmer / small company that also does design, a language and requirements definition document Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

  6. What books helped you to become a better programmer Programmers: Yes; Whiteboard: No

Total: Programmers 26; Whiteboard: 7-8

Keep in mind, this is my perspective. Everyone's different. We can't say definitely "yes this would be asked" or "no this wouldn't be asked". It depends on the question asker.

The point is, a user who only knows "this is a SE Q&A site titled Programmers" will most likely have a very different assumption than a user who only knows "this is a SE Q&A site titled The Whiteboard" (or Software Concepts, or Software Design Theory, etc)

The term "Programmers" is an extremely broad term that could bring to mind a person writing code, a person designing software, a person gathering requirements, a person seeking a new job, etc. But in all cases, it brings to mind a person.

However a term like "The Whiteboard" gives a first impression of "conceptual software design", which is more likely to bring to mind designing software, considering architecture, evaluating approaches, etc. It's much more inline with what this site actually is.


Lets consider "Software Engineering"

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271586/what-examples-are-there-for-mean-js and https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271584/what-cms-to-use-for-mean-js - both software/resource recommendation questions. This is a bit of a herp derp oh look a textbox syndrome

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271573/how-to-speed-up-the-following-matlab-code a code review question. It looks just as on topic for a site named Software Engineering as it does for Programmers.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271545/clarification-on-migrating-to-visual-studio-2010 A tooling question that looks just as on topic for Software Engineering as it does for Programmers.

Is there any harm in using amazon AWS as a development environment? A question that looks just as appropriate for software engineering as programmers.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271541/what-do-you-do-while-youre-waiting-for-your-tests-to-run A polling question that misses the point of Q&A.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271537/how-to-choose-a-framework A too broad question that is just as on topic for programmers as it is for software engineering - the issue is the broad scope of it, not the topicality.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271535/compare-values-from-two-spinner-and-display-the-result-accordingly-in-android-st Someone asking how to write some code. This would be asked on Software Engineering too.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271532/best-way-to-get-data-from-database-inside-thread-class-in-spring, https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271515/can-i-use-qtcreator-with-pyqt5 and https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271531/c-malloc-error are implementation issues that have been migrated to Stack Overflow. This would likely be more common with Software Engineering.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271530/univerisity-iphone-assignment-without-an-apple-mac a rant. I suspect it would be asked on Software Engineering too.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271510/code-blocks-not-opening-new-console-why-is-this-happening a tooling question with the text "I am unable to start a project in Code Blocks :/ always getting this error" and a screen shot. This would be asked on Software Engineering too and may also suffer from the above mentioned syndrome.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271507/git-hangs-when-pushing a git command line issue that has been migrated. Again, likely still asked on Software Engineering.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271497/difficulty-finding-a-recursive-starting-point-for-an-algorithm is getting too broad votes. This isn't an issue of topicality but rather the scope of the question. It would also be asked on Software Engineering and would be too broad there too.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271491/i-want-to-build-a-software-with-c-book-list-is-needed and https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271487/installment-of-python-2-7-9-and-3-4-2-recommended-learning-source are asking for books would also be done on Software Engineering.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271490/how-to-learn-backend-development is closed as career or education advice, and would also be asked on a Software Engineering site (such questions are asked on many sites)

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271473/best-way-to-implement-in-app-purchases is a resource and code request and would, again, also be asked on a Software Engineering site.

https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/271472/php-ajax-error-get-404-when-type-first-char is a code question that we didn't migrate to SO because it was already posted there too. This would also be asked on a Software Engineering site.

For 10ks there are also:

These were asked and deleted in the past 24h and would likely have been asked no matter what the site name was.

And so, there's my list. I contend that all the problematic questions would still be asked on a Software Engineering site and changing the name would be pointless and confusing.

  • 3
    I don't like this name. Software Engineering is not the same as Programming, and such a name is too restrictive for this site's scope. I don't know where I read about it, but this answer is the closest I can find to explaining the difference right now.
    – Rachel
    Jan 30, 2015 at 17:59

I think something like "Conceptual Software Development" or something more concise with the same meaning would fit better.

When I think of "programmers" in the context of Stack Exchange, I think "I can ask about any topic specific to what programmers do compared to brick layers or other professions."

Changing the name to something that more accurately reflects the on-topic list would help. Notice that several things "that programmers do/use" are off-topic: questions about tools, code, etc. Looking at what actually is on-topic reads more like "here is a bunch of computer science stuff framed in a real-world, practical context."

  • wonder how this could help folks who already ignore 15 (fifteen) warnings shoot straight in their face. Those who "...should maybe get electrocuted if they touch their keyboard and then they still post on meta innocently asking what possibly could be wrong..."
    – gnat
    Feb 11, 2015 at 23:16
  • @gnat actually now that I read the question again, it seems that I am the one ignoring things by not linking to any questions. I'll have to edit my answer.
    – user22815
    Feb 11, 2015 at 23:30

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