There are some very creative SE users and contributors to Code Review that have used the Stack API to build an open source SE Chat bot that is currently being used for many things.


The top contributors of this project have graciously offered to include the Programmers chat site, The Whiteboard to their list of targets for a job that they have already written. This job will now look on Stack Overflow for comments where users are suggesting a question be a better fit on Programmers. When it finds such comments the chat bot will link them in our chat room so that we can respond more quickly.

The chat bot user will be the following user:


The benefit is clear, this will allow us to jump in and provide better guidance about cross posting before a cross post occurs, especially an off topic cross post.

If you feel that you like this feature is useful and you like it but would suggest improvements then please do so here. Conversely if you think this is annoying and stupid or a bad idea then I would like to hear from you too. We are trying this on a trial basis at this point.

Oh and a very special thank you to user SimonAndréForsberg for making this happen! :)

  • 8
    I am also interested in seeing how this goes and getting feedback on it! Feb 3, 2015 at 16:54
  • I would consider additionally tuning bot to listen comments at MSO; folks over there sometimes drop funny (and, unfortunately, quite visible) ideas about using Programmers as a "toilet bowl" for stuff that doesn't fit SO
    – gnat
    Feb 3, 2015 at 18:02
  • 2
    Hotness, and the Toilet Bowl. @Gnat's two crusades. Feb 3, 2015 at 21:07
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    @RobertHarvey you SO folks are soo far away from these issues. Far away from "hotness" because SE team carefully implemented multiple features to protect dear SO questions of being damaged from sidebar. Far from Toilet Bowl because one of these features was to offload potentially troublesome questions to smaller sites which (what a coincidence!) suffer for SO lemmings coming at them from sidebar. Programmers, Code Golf, Workplace, Code Review, UX, Software Recs...
    – gnat
    Feb 3, 2015 at 21:12
  • 1
    Can we not send it to The Whiteboard? This is a great idea, and I'm sure if anyone thought about it, there could be a lot of different bots that would be useful. But it also could just flood The Whiteboard with messages. I think a new room would be better.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Feb 4, 2015 at 10:14
  • agree with @ThomasOwens - a dedicated room ("Duga lounge"?) would be more convenient, not only because of less clutter at Whiteboard, but also (which is probably more important) because it would be easier to look for comments worth taking care of in there. Eg, yesterday I wasted about half an hour scrolling through Whiteboard only to check and pick a handful of SO comments...
    – gnat
    Feb 4, 2015 at 10:51
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    @ThomasOwens I guess what I am worried about here is that if these messages go to a dedicated room then this feature becomes immediately less useful for people who aren't actively looking for these messages. Maybe you can propose this as a separate meta question and we can each answer one side of the argument. We can let it go to a community vote?
    – maple_shaft Mod
    Feb 4, 2015 at 11:51
  • @maple_shaft That's a good idea. I won't be able to until tonight,though. Work travel leaves me with limited computer access.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Feb 4, 2015 at 11:56
  • meanwhile, I figured a DIY Duga Lounge :)
    – gnat
    Feb 4, 2015 at 22:57

2 Answers 2


Just a thought. It might be more useful to search for terms rather than only the word "programmers", so that you're more likely to only get comments referencing this site. I don't know how often programmers is mentioned on StackOverflow, but I imagine it can be quite often since it's a site based on programming.

For example, searching for the terms:

  • "for programmers"
  • "on programmers"
  • "to programmers"
  • "at programmers"
  • "try programmers"

Would pick up comments like:

  • "@KirkStevenson - Quite often, it is much easier to learn about abstract concepts (like logic) by interacting with them. You can just as easily sit down with another human being, but humans tend to be quite subjective in their understanding of the truth. Programming languages offer a (relatively) infallible source of truth with which you can interact. In that vein, and due to it's popularity, python is a perfectly reasonable choice for your instructor. (Sorry for going so far off topic of the forum here). More questions in this vein belong on programmers.stackexchange.com — dwerner 47 secs ago"

  • "I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's not about programming. You can try discussing it on programmers.stackexchange.com — Eugene Mayevski 'EldoS Corp 33 secs ago"

  • "@EugeneMayevski'EldoSCorp If it's not about programming then why direct someone to Programmers? License questions are allowed at programmers but this question wouldn't fit there either. Programmers is for Q&A, just like the rest of StackExchange. Stack Overflow Chat is the place to go for discussions. — GlenH7 1 min ago"

  • "Not particularly, no. SO is not really made for getting inspiration for a project, perhaps a re-wording of your question would work on Programmers SE. — Elizion 1 min ago"

  • "@Elizion - project suggestions are off topic for Programmers. Stack Overflow Chat is the best place to ask questions like this. — GlenH7 1 min ago"

  • "Unless you have a specific programming question, conceptual/design questions are better suited for programmers.stackexchange.com — tnw 28 secs ago"

  • "@tnw - this wouldn't be a good fit on Programmers either. It will be closed quickly and likely heavily downvoted. — GlenH7 1 min ago"

  • "@tnw: This question would never pass muster on Programmers. — Robert Harvey ♦ 1 min ago"

  • "This is more about computer science theory and asymptotic analysis. It's more appropriate for Programmers SE. — franklin 18 secs ago"

and not:

  • "Is there a way I can change the default behaviour? is a terrible idea. Anyone who uses your assembly or new programmers will have no idea why a method that has always worked one way, now works another way. Instead write your own extension method ToScientificFloat() and/or ToScientificInt(). Now when people see this method, they instantly know it's doing something that is not default behavior. — Erik Philips 1 min ago"

  • "Well, not only will the HTML editors complain, but browsers will render it in unexpected ways. OP wants to know why, and I'm generally happier working with programmers who ask why instead of blindly going "you just can't, ok?" — ceejayoz 1 min ago"

  • "Thanks for all the input. What I hear J an David saying is "Just be careful and write the code right the first time." Maybe you guys are better programmers than me, but I don't like walking a tightrope without a net. I make mistakes. And I like to catch them before ship my code. — RobertFrank 2 mins ago"

  • "Note that it is a good idea to drop the inline from static inline: With static the compiler already knows that the given function is only ever used in the given translation unit and can make a better choice about inlining it than the programmer who adds the inline to the definition. Too much inlining hurts performance as much as too little inlining, and most programmers who add the inline keyword do not know or test whether inlining that function will indeed speed things up. Of course, if your tests(!) show that static inline is faster than static, go ahead and use it :-) — cmaster 1 min ago"

  • "This question is not a good format for Stack Overflow. This is intended to be a site for answering specific programming related questions, to help programmers solve their issues. It is not a discussion site to discuss perceived shortcomings with available software. — mason 55 secs ago"

I wouldn't expect it to completely keep false positives from showing, I imagine there will be the occasional comment that contains the phrase "for programmers" that isn't talking about this site, but I think it would cut out what looks like a third of the comments that are unrelated.

Note: I saw this posted earlier, which brings up some more 'rules' to add I think:

Hiya, this is an interesting question and the answers will be useful... but as you guessed, sadly it's not a good fit for Stack Overflow, where we prefer questions with a specific, right answer (rather than discussions about which tool might be better). In the past, such questions have led to debate, and flamewars and that tends to tear the community apart :( But you may yet find a better home for your question. Try the "programmers' stack exchange site: programmers.stackexchange.com — Taryn East 1 min

First, add the word "the" into the possible phrases (e.g. "try the programmers", "on the programmers", "at the programmers").

Second, if possible, remove punctuation from around the word "programmers" if it appears. That way people can't get around the script by adding quotes into their comments.

An alternative would be instead of only looking for terms that would make the comment likely to be referencing the site, to look for terms that would make it likely to not be referencing the site, meaning the comment could be ignored. I'm not sure that I'm seeing any common terms that would work for that though.

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    I think it is a good improvement that shouldnt take significant effort. Maybe also, "try programmers"... Eg. I think if you try programmers you might get a better answer.
    – maple_shaft Mod
    Feb 4, 2015 at 11:54
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    @maple_shaft how about "unfiltered" messages to go to Duga lounge while filtered go to Whiteboard? that way we could also control if heuristics could be improved / extended if it misses some stuff that would be better to catch
    – gnat
    Feb 4, 2015 at 15:29
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    @gnat I like that idea.
    – Iron Man
    Feb 4, 2015 at 15:40
  • The FOTAT ("for/on/to/at/try") filter is now applied on the bot. Feb 7, 2015 at 21:22

A filter that might remove some additional false positives is to remove things where the comment contains a link to a question or an answer (or help page?).

For example this one.

Such links are not likely to be someone saying "go post there" but rather the cross site dup style "this has been beaten to death on multiple sites in the past."

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    With the suggestions of the other answer now incorporated, you should see less of this kind as well. Feb 7, 2015 at 21:21

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