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Per recent discussion, I drafted some updates I'd like to have in Help Center -> What topics can I ask about here, section not about...

Added text is in bold, deleted is crossed, and some links are added and changed (more details under the draft):

and it is not about...


Primary motivation for the change was to make things like in Workplace Help Center, where items listed as off-topic are linked to respective detailed meta guidance. (Frankly, Workplace's page still looks more elegant and easier to read to me - ideas on how to further improve ours are welcome)

I also replaced straight links to Workplace and Stack Overflow with "safer" references to [help/on-topic] pages of these sites.

Also please pay attention that "career advice" link has changed from older FAQ post to a newer one. (I felt fairly safe doing this since older FAQ is linked near the top in references section in newer one but I may be wrong)

Per discussion in comments, "what book you should read next" was deleted. In exchange I inserted "education" into an item about career advice - as far as I can tell, this covers books and makes a closer match to linked meta guidance and to respective predefined close reason

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    Do you think that the line item "what book you should read next" can just go away? We explicitly call out what to learn next and where to find "other resource"s, which a book is. It's not a huge deal, but it's one less line for people to read that's already covered. – Thomas Owens Mar 17 '15 at 21:20
  • @ThomasOwens I need some time to chew this, but at first glance it looks like a good idea. This item might be just a remainder from ancient times when questions it covers deserved a separate, explicit mention – gnat Mar 17 '15 at 21:24
  • What you should do next in a personal, broad, life sense is generally off-topic from what I can tell. – World Engineer Mar 17 '15 at 21:46
  • @WorldEngineer is this covered in "personal lifestyle, including relationships and non-programming activities"? Granted, we don't get much of that anymore, but I feel it's worth keeping – gnat Mar 17 '15 at 21:51
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    @ThomasOwens (or WorldEngineer or another mod), do you think you could toss a community wiki version of the current text in an answer so that those of us who are interested in it could try different variations on the text? – user40980 Mar 17 '15 at 23:21
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    @MichaelT I dumped the entire contents of the page into the answer below. I incorporated gnat's changes, but I also did apply my suggestion of removing "what book you should read next". – Thomas Owens Mar 17 '15 at 23:26
  • @ThomasOwens in revision 2, "next book" item was traded for "an education" inserted into career advice. I also added an explanation of why I edited it that way – gnat Mar 18 '15 at 7:40
  • I think I updated the community wiki answer version with your changes. Can you double check that everything is OK? It would be easier for me (or another mod) if we had a post that we could just copy and paste into the page, markdown and all, and not break anything. – Thomas Owens Mar 18 '15 at 8:53
  • @ThomasOwens your merge looks correct. Also you are right, it would be easier, so I will edit further updates, if any, into that CW draft instead of here. Side note I was tempted to additionally make that "something squishy..." change I proposed a while ago, but decided to wait for April 1st to integrate :) – gnat Mar 18 '15 at 9:11
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Programmers Stack Exchange is a Q&A site for professionals and students in software development and related fields who are interested in getting expert answers on conceptual questions about software development.

If you have a question about...

  • software requirements
  • software architecture and design
  • algorithm and data structure concepts
  • quality assurance and testing
  • development methodologies and processes
  • software configuration management
  • software engineering management
  • software licensing

and it is not about...

...then you're in the right place to ask your question!

Subjective questions are allowed, but subjective does not mean "anything goes". Please keep it professional. If this is a question you'd be uncomfortable discussing with your colleagues in a work environment, it's probably not appropriate here, either. For more information about subjective questions, please see the Help Center page about what not to ask as well as the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and Real Questions Have Answers blog posts for details and examples.

Please make sure that your question is not too broad or strongly rooted in opinions. We should be able to answer your questions in the equivalent of a few pages of text and graphics and provide references to support claims. If you have questions that warrant an extended discussion, feel free to come to chat.

Before asking, look around to see if your question has been asked. If you see similar questions, be sure to check out their answers and differentiate your question from other, related questions. It’s also OK to ask and answer your own question.

If your question is not specifically on-topic for Programmers Stack Exchange, it may be on topic for another Stack Exchange site. If no site currently exists that will accept your question, you may commit to or propose a new side at Area51, the place where new Stack Exchange communities are created.

For more details, please see our curated FAQ on Meta Programmers Stack Exchange.

  • accepted this answer to make it sit on top and simplify access to those willing to edit – gnat Mar 18 '15 at 10:24
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    edits in rev 5 and 6 look very good to me, particularly URL change for career and education. I've seen suggestion to drop the "circles image" before and was unsure about it - but looking at rev 6, removal seems to be a good idea – gnat Mar 20 '15 at 11:51
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    @gnat Yeah. I think it started to become less useful after the scope change. – Thomas Owens Mar 20 '15 at 11:53
  • I see. This explains why change feels okay. Now that many career topics found a better home at TWP, it is natural that this aspect is deemphasized over here – gnat Mar 20 '15 at 12:01
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    @gnat Yep. Between The Workplace, the emphasis on answerable questions rather than anything subjective, and a nice list of things that are on-topic, that big chart isn't needed anymore, IMO. – Thomas Owens Mar 20 '15 at 12:03
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    by the way, one recent post at MSE made me suspect that wording about Area51 may need tuning too: Remove 'democratically' from sites' help/on-topic page (I didn't dive deep though so I can't bet on that) – gnat Mar 20 '15 at 12:08
  • would be helpful to somehow integrate answer to How do you get 20 rep to get into chat? here. My first thought was to link it under "chat room" but this is already taken by a reference to Whiteboard – gnat Mar 24 '15 at 8:46
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    @gnat Check out the new method of linking. See: "come to chat". – Thomas Owens Mar 26 '15 at 13:27
  • edit in rev 9 looks good to me, as well as wordsmithing you did in rev 3 of referred post – gnat Mar 26 '15 at 13:38
  • @gnat Thanks. If there's no objections, I think I'm going to post this tomorrow. Just want to make sure there's sufficient time to provide feedback. – Thomas Owens Mar 26 '15 at 13:39
  • sounds like a good plan, I also thought we're almost there, just need a few more eyeballs in case if something obvious was missed – gnat Mar 26 '15 at 13:41
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    @gnat I just brought up something in Chat. I may make a new Meta post about it, though. – Thomas Owens Mar 26 '15 at 13:42
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My version...

is in the history now. Otherwise, it was just taking up space and confusing possible readers.

  • @ThomasOwens I made sure to post the original, and then edit it after a few minutes so that it would show up as another revision. I am not necessarily done with it, but more thoughts take more time. – user40980 Mar 18 '15 at 1:59
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    We probably shouldn't be linking to a Beta SE site. My understanding is that is what the accepted practice is - don't link so much, don't migrate unless it's an awesome question. – Thomas Owens Mar 18 '15 at 1:59
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    Might look at doing another level of indirection then - a meta Q&A about software testing questions and other alternatives (SQA and PM are both sites that should bear mention... somehow). – user40980 Mar 18 '15 at 2:03
  • They are linked to on the "another Stack Exchange site" link at the bottom. That's a two click way of getting there: click once to see the list of every site, scroll through it, click on the site. – Thomas Owens Mar 18 '15 at 2:05
  • I was more thinking something like the "where does my git question go", but its trickier given that things are often still on topic here and I don't have an as authoritative answer as I did there. – user40980 Mar 18 '15 at 2:06
  • PM is more likely to be able to link to. I honestly don't see much of a future for the SQA site. Between SO and here, I believe they are 100% covered. – Thomas Owens Mar 18 '15 at 2:07
  • I like the "too broad or primarily opinion" paragraph, but it seems awkwardly placed. Maybe it's just me. Also, not everyone has chat access - you need reputation (100, I think) to chat. But you also need 5 to post on Meta. Really, the whole "here are two places to go to get help, but you need rep to use them" is a terrible thing. That's an SE-level problem, though. – Thomas Owens Mar 18 '15 at 11:18
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    @ThomasOwens chat access is 20 rep anywhere on the SE network. If you've got 20 rep on cooking.SE you can access our chat room. And the 5 rep for meta, well, I've got an MSE post: Meta participation privilege should require 5 rep or… something else. – user40980 Mar 18 '15 at 13:01
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    I just tried to roll your ideas into the community wiki version. Thoughts? Feel free to stomp more. – Thomas Owens Mar 19 '15 at 0:41
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    @ThomasOwens looks good. There is something that is still irking me about that diagram that doesn't fit with the times. The "just you" part I feel is an artifact of the "too localized" close reason. And the "all programmers" has been often mentioned in an attempt to justify career questions (even though that is what the "just you" was trying to point at). Those "just you" reasons are now covered in our off topic reasons of next project and career education. – user40980 Mar 19 '15 at 0:47
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    @ThomasOwens you might want to update the link to career advice. The link to meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/588 has lead to misunderstandings. Note the link to it in my version is to meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/a/6488 which is (I believe) more current and helpful. – user40980 Mar 20 '15 at 1:57
  • oh, so it was your idea to change that link. Thanks! :) – gnat Mar 20 '15 at 15:12

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