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Related: Create a New Stack Overflow Instance for Beginner Users and Content (MSO).

We are getting many off-topic / implementation and coding kind questions where askers appear to be aware of Stack Overflow (at 10m questions over there, who isn't) but for various reasons seem to suspect that their questions won't be well received there.

This problem seems to be relatively new. In the past, Stack Overflow was lenient about question quality and askers didn't tend to bother worrying if their quality is okay. Things seem to have changed after SE Quality Project features were rolled out at Stack Overflow and some of those who would previously ask over there, started looking to try their luck elsewhere.

Granted, they usually don't mention using Programmers as a proxy for Stack Overflow (they maybe think it's not important) but sometimes, it leaks through:

I want ask for StackOverflow but i cant becouse my one post have -3...

Can we do something to prevent... lifehacks like above from becoming popular?

Some folks (probably with Math.SE background) even invent funny theories for why they avoid Stack Overflow: 'my friends told me that "stack exchange" is undergraduate or master level, and "stack overflow" is PhD or research level. I think my question is very basic, so I asked here' (I think these theories became popular after Stack Overflow started burying very low quality questions in Triage, which cut their chances to get answers, even as hints in comments.)


Stack Overflow is much larger than us, they get about 8K questions a day average. Even amount of questions they close (800 a day) is 20 times more than total questions we get (less than 50).

Site like ours can be totally flooded by "Stack Overflow learning and training" kind attempts if this becomes widespread. I would not want this to happen. I come here to learn and contribute to Programmers topics, not to guide those who are scared or blocked by Stack Overflow.

marked as duplicate by user40980, amon, Community Sep 22 '15 at 20:34

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    This "exchange" is the undergraduate while "overflow" is the graduate level may because of the idea for Math vs MathOverflow and Physics vs PhysicsOverflow (not SE related) leaking into other domains. While I don't believe that that naming distinction needs to be fixed (nor can we do anything about it), being able to more promptly close (and delete) the debugging and blatantly off topic questions with a minimum of additional community moderation needed. – user40980 Sep 20 '15 at 19:59
  • @MichaelT that's a very good catch, author of quoted comment has accounts at Math and MO. Thing is though, until SO figured efficient ways to cut the garbage coming at them, these funny ideas didn't even pop up, people were simply throwing their stuff at SO and looked how it sticks – gnat Sep 20 '15 at 20:08
  • The undergrad vs phd thing only happened once iirc, I don't think it's representative of all the "fix my codez" askers. Do you remember any other useful quotes of their true intentions "leaking through"? – Ixrec Sep 20 '15 at 20:11
  • @Ixrec none off my head. "they maybe think it's not important" - neither do I. Initially I wasn't even going to quote this one, but changed my mind after I figured that it expresses what I observe better and clearer than long list of example off-topic / coding questions with askers having accounts at Stack Overflow – gnat Sep 20 '15 at 20:16
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    Site bit, if a user thinks that Stack Overflow is for PhD or research level, then that makes me feel very, very bad for the general quality of computing. All those grad students laboring away in php and regex land... – user40980 Sep 21 '15 at 2:26
  • I see nothing wrong with basic questions providing they're on-topic, and not duplicates. When researching for anything basic, like "how to do X in Y language" when I am very comfortable with X but just learning Y, I always look for SO links first. If there isn't a SO link to that kind of basic question, then I have a problem. It would be nice if the same existed for this site, and we didn't try to limit the site to only intermediate/advanced level questions. – Rachel Sep 21 '15 at 14:02
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    @Rachel we are getting a dozen or more "debug this code for me" questions each day. This is not about people asking hard or easy questions, but rather a fundamental misunderstanding of the scope of the site (and Stack Overflow). People thinking that Programmers.SE is an easier or softer version of Stack Overflow for the questions that lack enough information to get a good answer there - when the opposite is closer to the truth. The biggest problem with 'basic' questions is their broad nature ("what is a local variable?") rather than specific misunderstandings on the concepts at hand. – user40980 Sep 21 '15 at 15:09
  • @MichaelT Guess I've missed those ones, I almost never see ones like that... – Rachel Sep 21 '15 at 15:25
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    @Rachel I am talking about "implementation and coding kind questions", these never have been on-topic over here, not in the times of NPR nor later. No matter how scope changed, these were always a kind for Stack Overflow. FWIW my concern is not about these questions being basic, we lately are getting fair share of non-basic ones, which are nevertheless off-topic, as they are about coding, all of them worry me no matter basic or not, why their askers get here instead of SO – gnat Sep 21 '15 at 15:57
  • The fact that more than half the comments in this meta thread are us trying to explain to Rachel and alk what this question is actually about tells me it was not articulated optimally to begin with. Perhaps some editing is in order? I'd write an answer but I can't think of anything to put in it beyond "I agree, this sucks." – Ixrec Sep 21 '15 at 21:55
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    Oh, and here's what I think might be a more representative example of the facepalm-worthy first-timer comments mentioning SO: I want ask for StackOverflow but i cant becouse my one post have -3. I tried to fix it (edit), but still -3. I dont`t know what I can do more :D stackoverflow.com/questions/32562989/… – Edgaras Karka Sep 18 at 8:12 – Ixrec Sep 21 '15 at 22:09
  • @Ixrec this example is indeed less ambiguous, thanks! edited it in – gnat Sep 22 '15 at 4:44
  • recent example where asker openly admits in comments: "I fear my question will attract down votes in Stack Overflow" – gnat Dec 4 '15 at 17:58
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Can we do something to prevent... lifehacks like above from becoming popular?

Consequently migrate (or close) all implementation specific questions to Stack Overflow, that's what it is for. (And let the guys over there handle any "quality" related issues, if any ... - they do, trust me ;-))

Other off-topic questions should be closed.

  • that's what I always did in the past and that's what worked well back then but that's also what seems to be broken recently. Don't know if you noticed but that exactly means askers can use Programmers as training area / preview tool / trampoline for questions they wanted but were afraid to ask at SO. (there was no problem with this in the past since nobody was afraid to ask at SO) – gnat Sep 21 '15 at 18:07
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    Much of the "fix this code" questions that we get would get closed on Stack Overflow as unclear; typo; or failing to include the problem, current output, and expected output along with the minimal amount of code to reproduce the issue. That we are able to migrate to Stack Overflow is contingent on making sure that he maintain a low reject rate (its currently 9%). If we were to send all the crap that is asked here that looks like debugging, it could easily go to 50% reject rate - and that would make our mods sad. – user40980 Sep 21 '15 at 18:08
  • If you are sure that what you call "crap" gets closed why not just close it yourself, leaving a (generic) comment on how to ask/improve? – alk Sep 21 '15 at 18:13
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    (We currently migrate on average about two questions a day to Stack Overflow. The poor quality debugging questions that are asked here i.stack.imgur.com/Qf04b.png would get closed on Stack Overflow, its a problem that rears its head each September - Migrating Crap to SO. Really, Programmers?)). – user40980 Sep 21 '15 at 18:15
  • We are here to help. Helping sometimes brings up unpleasant task like sorting "crap". Touch it, comment on it, and last, not least push it into the right direction, weather it's the bit-bucket or whereever is up to us, the ones knowing (at least a bit) better. – alk Sep 21 '15 at 18:21
  • Btw: I added the emphasis on "consequently" by intention. "Consequence" is an educational pattern to the ones perceiving it ... ;-) – alk Sep 21 '15 at 18:33
  • Perhaps it's time for communications @ SE? :-) "Noone answers my seroius question. What should I do?" :-) @Micheal5 – alk Sep 21 '15 at 18:41
  • "I come here to learn and contribute to Programmers topics, not to guide those who are scared or blocked by Stack Overflow." FWIW I don't mind guiding them at appropriate site - I made 25,000 close reviews at SO. It's just that I come to Programmers for other things – gnat Sep 21 '15 at 18:43
  • @gnat: Not sure whom you are quoting, however: Live is taking and giving, isn't it? – alk Sep 21 '15 at 18:47
  • I am quoting self, from this very question. I don't mind taking and giving Programmers topics at Programmers, SO topics at SO. I didn't even mind helping a bit with SO migrations from here in the past, when these were infrequent. Nowadays SO wannabes pollute site more and more, and tend to obscure Programmers topics – gnat Sep 21 '15 at 18:50
  • @gnat: 1st off, sry I missed to re-find your question's last sentence. 2ndly I agree on that it's not that easy to make onceself unpopular while taking care to do a good job. 3rdly I bow my head in front of 25k reviews. 4thly: Take care! :-) – alk Sep 21 '15 at 19:00
  • "Nowadays SO wannabes pollute site more and more, and tend to obscure Programmers topics" this even more raises the need to migrate/close the questions. If those then (typically at SO) get closed and/or massively downvoted might finally educate the users. – alk Sep 21 '15 at 19:16
  • @MichaelT: "it could easily go to 50% reject rate - and that would make our mods sad." Then why not , if getting rejected, immediately close them? – alk Sep 21 '15 at 19:18
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    @alk that's what we are currently doing. Though it should be noted that many times the people who are active in casting close votes are out of them at this point in the day (I've been out of close votes for four hours). That's a whole 'nother ball of wax. In this post, gnat is trying to address the source - why do we keep getting off topic debugging questions here? – user40980 Sep 21 '15 at 19:22
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    Er no. The first rule of migration is "don't migrate crap". Migration should only be for good quality questions that are off topic here. Poor qualify off topic questions should just be closed. – ChrisF Sep 21 '15 at 21:38

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