My question Who is developing Wake? (10k link) was closed as unclear what I'm asking. In addition, one user posted a comment on my question saying, "recommended reading: Why we're not customer support for [your favorite company]."

I disagree with both reasons for closing my question and would appreciate it if the closers' reasoning could be made more clear to me. I'm active around the SE network, but not much on Software Engineering, so I might not understand Software Engineering's specific community standards, and if that's the case, I would appreciate it if what I did poorly could be explained to me so I can write better questions in the future.

First, I don't think my question is unclear. In my question, I ask:

Which company, organization or person is developing [Wake]? Have they made any announcements about why they decided to create Wake?

I believe my question makes it clear that I want to learn two things:

  1. Who is creating Wakelang
  2. Whether the creators have publicly said anything clarifying why they are creating the language.

Both of these are, in my opinion, unambiguous and answerable with objective responses. "Who is creating Wakelang?" asks for a specific company, organization, or person, and "Whether the developers have made any announcements" asks for either a link to a relevant blog post or press release or an indication that it's difficult to find any such information. Is my understanding correct, or are there other reasons my question is unclear that I'm missing?

Secondly, I disagree with the comment directing me to Why we're not customer support for [your favorite company] (although I will admit that I am less confident in my reasoning about this comment then I am about whether my question is clear). I think what the comment is getting at is that Software Engineering isn't the right place to ask for information that would be better obtained from the developers of the language I'm asking about, and asking who is developing a language is an example of such a question.

I disagree with that, though. I think that understanding who is developing a language is important to understanding the language. For example, C and C++ are not developed by single companies. Instead, non-profit organizations write and update the languages' standards, and then multiple for-profit and OSS organizations implement their own compilers. Someone who does not understand that about C and C++ will not understand some very important concepts, such as how to write portable code or why some code examples that rely on implementation-specific behavior don't work on their compilers.

As a result, I would argue that asking who is developing a language is, at the least, on-topic at Software Engineering.

I also disagree that this is a question that I should only ask the developer of Wake instead of on Software Engineering for three reasons. First, as I just discussed, I think knowing who develops a language is something that is of general interest to programmers. Second, as I mention in my question, I was having trouble identifying who the developer was! I'm not able to ask a question of someone if I don't know who they are. Third, I'm not asking for support for the language per say. Instead, I'm asking for some background on it. I agree that if I wanted to understand how to use the language, that would be a much better question for the Wake developer (or at least SO).

As for asking why the developer created Wake, I deliberately phrased my question as

Have [the developers] made any announcements about why they decided to create Wake?

So if the developers haven't made any announcements that are easy to find, "No," would be an acceptable answer, and one that I wouldn't have to ask the developer to receive.

Do my arguments make sense? If so, can my question please be reopened? If not, can you please let me know why my question still goes against Software Engineering's standards so I can avoid these mistakes in the future?

  • 9
    The name is misleading... this is not a Q&A site for or about Programmers or Programmer Things. It's a Q&A about conceptual software design, the kind of stuff you'd ask yourself at the whiteboard stage of the design process. And I have no idea why they voted to close it as "unclear" instead of "off-topic".... it seems like a pretty clear question to me.
    – Rachel
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 19:34
  • 5
    Maybe someday we'll get the name changed to "Software Design and Concepts." Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 19:46
  • 6
    +1 for asking for clarification here in meta instead of a lengthy comment thread in main.
    – user53019
    Commented Feb 18, 2015 at 19:47
  • Possible duplicate of Question got closed citing that it requests for "customer support"
    – gnat
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 9:16

2 Answers 2


To me, it seems like this is a very simple "please find me my information" request. It's best suited for a search engine. In fact, you don't even need one. From the Wake homepage, click on the "View on GitHub" link to go to the project's GitHub page. From there, you can click on the user's name to go to the creator's profile, which links to the Wake website as his URL and has an email address.

More generally, there are a few problems with the question:

  • It's a resource request. Resource requests don't require human knowledge or expertise. It isn't that hard to find the resource. It doesn't take my knowledge, skills, or expertise as a software engineer to answer your question. We want those harder questions that can be backed up by references or resources, but aren't just links or recycling of those resources.
  • It's not about a problem. What problem are you trying to solve? We want questions about the problems you are experiencing because chatty, open-ended questions aren't generally useful to the broader community.
  • Only a select few people can answer your direct questions. We aren't in a position to guess what these developers were thinking - only they can.

While Thomas' answer accurately addresses your concerns, I do want to add one caveat.

Questions asking about programming history, while marginally off-topic, may escape close votes if they are interesting. Furthermore, history is history: it already happened, and if a question can be accurately and effectively answered, that answer should not change unless new information is unearthed. Given that software development is not exactly a secret profession, most of these questions are either objectively answerable, or the information is lost to the mists of time. There is not much in-between there.

Questions asking about programming current events most certainly will be closed as off-topic. Asking "who develops this" can change: it is voiced in the present tense. A visitor from Google finding the question a year from now might not get accurate information in the future.

Furthermore, the answer to your question is not interesting or useful in and of itself. I honestly do not care if Bjarne Stroustrup or Mickey Mouse invented C++. It was invented, and I can use it. If you want to know "why was C++ designed to support feature X" that is again marginally off-topic, but might yield an answer that is interesting and relevant to my day to day coding. There are many examples of questions like that avoiding closure and even being upvoted despite technically being off-topic. They provide value even if only a little bit.

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