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I've been pondering these proposed changes to the site's name and scope for the past few weeks. This was, you'll recall, instigated by Ana's response to Rachel's proposal for a new name for this site..

Why are we changing anything again?

The purpose of that name-change request was explicitly to end the confusion over what this site is about. Ana's request was that y'all do a thorough review of your scope at the same time, for exactly the same reason. Because, let's face it: when you gotta have a chatbot running to catch all the folks who erroneously recommend your site, there's some pretty widespread misunderstandings as to what your site is about... To put a stop to that, we need a clear, succinct definition:

Above all else, the scope needs to be simple. Seriously. No more than four bullets, no multi-line comma-separated lists, no gerrymandering - it needs to be easy for any new visitor who bothers to read and even mildly pays attention to what they're reading to know what they can and cannot ask about here. Eliminate ambiguity for a first time poster once and for all.

...because, remember, that was the whole point of doing anything at all. If we can't do it right, there's no point in doing it.

The proposed changes are not exactly succinct. They're... the sort of laundry-lists that make folks who already know what the site is about feel good, but don't do anything to help or hinder the folks coming here confused. You want to establish a path of least resistance that isn't asking a sketchy question and seeing if it sticks - if I make it past the home page, through the signup process, past the tour, and get to the Ask page, I'm probably going to ask a question regardless of what text you throw at me... Folks tend to build up momentum as they make decisions; you don't want to wait until the last possible moment to tell 'em they're in the wrong place.

What I think you're asking for

That said, there's a lot of good stuff mixed into that proposal, if you take the time to dig a bit. After talking to folks in chat a couple of weeks ago (and then another two hours talking with Ana today while she patiently guided me through it), I came away with this as the structure of the proposal:

Name

Software Engineering

Description / tour tagline

question and answer site for people directly involved in the Software Development Lifecycle who care about writing, shipping, and maintaining code responsibly.

On-topic

  • software architecture and design
  • algorithms and data structures
  • quality assurance and testing
  • configuration, build and release management

Off-topic

  • troubleshooting or debugging code
  • requests for code
  • what to read, learn, buy or use.
  • legal advice

That's short. I could theoretically paste that entire quote into a comment, and still have room to reply to someone by name and properly cite its source.

More importantly, it's short enough that it might actually get read by the hundreds of folks who clearly aren't reading anything here today. Which was, again, the entire point.

Note that I dropped a few things. That's ok; you don't need to exhaustively document every possible topic that falls under the umbrella "Software Engineering" - the ultimate source of truth is what's actually on the site. If someone comes in from Google because there's a question about Agile they're interested in, it won't matter that it's not explicitly called out in the docs. On the other hand, eliminating requirements and methodologies from that list also lets you avoid having to qualify those topics with a paragraph about where to stick broad, opinionated discussion questions.

What this site is really about

I love the idea of a site about software engineering, especially one created as the evolution of this site: it fits the spirit of what y'all are doing, gives you a name and a topic you can communicate with pride, and even resolves an old, old dispute in a less depressing fashion.

But none of that matters. What's important here is whether y'all actually believe this reflects what you're doing. Remember, the goal was to clear up all those cringe-worthy misconceptions... Not to create a whole pile of new ones. So I ask of you,

  1. Does anything in the quote above strike you as incorrect?
  2. Does the quote above reflect the site you know and love?
  3. Is the quote above something you'd feel comfortable giving to someone unfamiliar with the site, by way of an introduction?

Thank you for your time.

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    I like it. Still want to keep the coffee cup. – candied_orange Jul 21 '16 at 4:52
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    I like it, better than the slowly growing list in the other post :) The tag line still reads as a bit funny to me though, like the wording is a bit off. Maybe because the prefix is missing? Maybe something more like : Software Engineering Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for those involved in the Software Development Lifecycle, and who care about writing, shipping, and maintaining code responsibly. – Rachel Jul 21 '16 at 13:31
  • Yeah, I'm already anticipating having to slice and dice that sentence to work it into the various "audience description" fields; guess I got a bit too enthusiastic with the prefix ;-) – Shog9 Jul 21 '16 at 13:34
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    Do people coming from forum environments even know what the phrase "off-topic" means? In other news, you really were serious about the four bullet points, weren't you? A bit disappointed, I was kinda hoping for a bit more guidance for new users. If the amount of text is really the brick-wall limiting factor, I would have preferred that we limited it to what they can't ask about, as these on-topics don't really capture the flavor we're after. Have we given up on the interstitial page? – Robert Harvey Jul 21 '16 at 14:08
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    I was serious about everything, @Robert. Y'all have been asking for this for years; if we're gonna put the work in to do it, we should take it seriously. Short and to the point is critical here if you want to make an impact. – Shog9 Jul 21 '16 at 14:12
  • What if we put the "what you can ask about" in the "on-topic" Help Center article, and "what you can't ask about" in the interstitial page? There are only six bullets in our "on-topic," not eight, and our "off-topic" is a single, short paragraph; it doesn't contain any bullets at all. – Robert Harvey Jul 21 '16 at 14:32
  • The Systems Development Life Cycle wikipedia page describes our scope completely. Perhaps we should just link to that. – Robert Harvey Jul 21 '16 at 14:56
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    @Rachel: The list in that other post isn't growing at all. It hasn't changed in weeks. – Robert Harvey Jul 21 '16 at 14:58
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    @Shog9: Can we drop the debate about Help/On-Topic? It's mod editable, and new users never read that page anyway. Can we focus on the interstitial? – Robert Harvey Jul 21 '16 at 15:04
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    Gotta be honest, @Robert - I'm not sold on the utility of an interstitial here. The biggest value for that page on Stack Overflow is the folks finding duplicates via that search box; that's unlikely to be as valuable here, at least in the very near future. We saw very little benefit from it on Server Fault. In any case, if we're gonna test the idea here, we should do it separately from the rest of these changes. Tour is my focus here; folks actually get redirected to that after signup, which is a pretty good place to catch them before they're determined to ask a question. – Shog9 Jul 21 '16 at 15:08
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    As long as Tour has a short blurb about what you can't do here, I'm happy with whatever else you folks come up with, even if all I can get is the phrase "except for code troubleshooting" in the mission statement. In other news, knowing that you folks were targeting Tour in the first place would have cleared up a lot of confusion. – Robert Harvey Jul 21 '16 at 15:17
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    Tour is where I hope to see the most benefit here, @Robert. As I said, it gets shown early, to the folks most often stumbling on the current descriptions of the site. Folks who are already stumbling see /help/on-topic, and that's useful too... But by then, some damage is already done. To be clear, whatever y'all finally agree on should be consistent across the site, and that includes any changes we make to /ask on down the line... But let's start off with a focus on what folks see first: name, description, short lists. – Shog9 Jul 21 '16 at 15:32
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    @Rachel: As long as we get "but not code troubleshooting" at the very top of the Tour page, that's all I really care about. I think that's all the weight the top of the page can handle. I don't think new users look at those bullets (they're too far down the page), so if I had a preference, I'd rather they be as specific as possible while still brief, so that we can point back to them and say "we already told you this was off-topic," but it's just a preference, now that I know which page is being targeted for the changes. – Robert Harvey Jul 21 '16 at 15:51
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    @Shog9 A former Prog.SE member brought up a good point: "If bikeshedding the number of bullet points is what the SE is looking for on meta and unclosed bikeshedding on the main site, please say so so that the community can appropriately adjust to what is actually expected of us." – user22815 Jul 22 '16 at 17:16
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I Love It

In short, our scope does in fact have a few small edge cases that are well established but relatively uncommon (Eg. software license questions from the perspective of a software engineer, some overlap with Project Management) however is it terribly important that we complicate and confuse?

This is the problem when the community is a group of Experts and Engineers at the same time. The Engineer in us is over analyzing the living hell out of our scope statement and making it far more complicated than it needs to be. The Expert in us is building a tool that is designed as a reference guide for experts, at the expense of intuitiveness and usability for newcomers.

The scope statement is not primarily supposed to be a definitive reference guide so that we can drop hyperlinks on content from new users as proof that they screwed up. Let us put the human touch on content moderation and explain, coach and teach. Let us reference Meta discussions for long established standards and traditions where we need to.

Seriously guys... this site has been around for years now, do we really think that years of precedent and Meta discussion can be culminated in a single easily digestible page?

All in all, not a very welcome invitation any of the proposals thus far.

I think Ana kind of freaked people out saying that we had to get this perfect the first time because we wouldn't get a second chance. That is what set us into analysis paralysis and grid lock in the first place.

I propose we go with Shog9's succinct scope statement and just see how it goes. We can always make small adjustments at a later time. The only thing I can see we should get right first chance is the site name and I think we are all in agreement with at least that much.

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    software license questions from the perspective of a software engineer I thought that we had decided to make licensing off-topic. Law has fully graduated and Open Source isn't likely to go away. They are better suited to answer these questions. – Thomas Owens Jul 21 '16 at 11:50
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    @ThomasOwens And I would support that decision but AH! Do you realize what you JUST did there? SCOPE CREEP. No not site scope, but scope of what our immediate short term goal is. Leave license OUT, then once that battle is over, our next battle is setting THAT precedent. I don't want this discussion to be distracted with that nonsense right now. – maple_shaft Jul 21 '16 at 11:58
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    If we have to update /help/on-topic anyway, shouldn't it reflect reality? The original call was to update the name, description, and on-topic page. If there are scope clarifications, thats part of updating help/on-topic. – Thomas Owens Jul 21 '16 at 12:02
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    @maple_shaft: Software Licensing is already gone. Open-Source answers those questions already, much better than we can, and Law can handle the rest. – Robert Harvey Jul 21 '16 at 14:56
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    @maple_shaft You're hitting the nail on the head, basically. "I think Ana kind of freaked people out saying that we had to get this perfect the first time because we wouldn't get a second chance." I can see how that would have been the result of my words. My bad. Getting the smallest, most effective number of words in front of users early on, so that this community can get back to teaching, coaching, and generally feeling proud of this place is absolutely the goal. – Ana Jul 21 '16 at 16:43
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    @Ana Well, I think there is a point to getting it right the first time. But it think the scope of what has to be right the first time is very limited: the name. I don't want this to be "the site formerly known as programmers". "Software Engineering" is good. It's right. It's not going to fix everything. It's going to fix the name. Just please, save the coffee cup. – candied_orange Jul 22 '16 at 3:15
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I can (and do) certainly back this solution.

I particularly like the idea of getting the site scope over in as few words as possible so that we actually stand a chance of getting people to read them.

The fact that the scope is basically a definition of the new name also helps a great deal. The current name does cause the problem that visitors think it's about the people not the process. Explaining that it's not about the people is hard.

We have tweaked the current help pages quite considerably over the years, adding and removing explanations and bullet points etc. as we attempted to get it right so I don't see it as a problem at all that we go with what Shog proposes and gauge feedback later.

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I think Robert and Thomas both make excellent points and we should heed their advice, but I would like to focus on something else.

On March 10, 2016, Rachel asked the question that set this whole thing off: (4 years later) Dear Stack Exchange: can we change our site name? On May 23, Ana answered the question. Two and a half months later, a CM finally responded.

The day after Ana answered the question, Thomas asked New Site Name and Scope Proposals (May 24). I think it was actually more like hours later, but I am going off of the date stamps on the posts.

We had four weeks to discuss this topic before a promised CM response, but it took until July 21. That is almost two months to receive any meaningful feedback from the CM team.

Actions speak louder than words. We have already discussed this topic to death. We already have community consensus.

I propose making the changes outlined in Thomas' answer (preferably with Robert's interstitial page) without additional months or years of bickering, arguing, and delays from the CM team.

The community at large already has a negative opinion of the tangible effects that the CM team provides: for reference, just take a stroll through Meta.SE at all the ignored and abandoned proposals. Or our own meta. We have some vocal users who just want some simple changes to increase quality. Be the CM that changes this perception and get this change moving.


N.B. as Durron mentions in the comments, this slow pace and the perception of poor communication has directly lead to the exodus of multiple active users who brought a lot of value to the site via community moderation and answering questions. This community needs change and quickly if it will stop the exodus and possibly even bring some users back.

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    For what it's worth, I'm not all that committed to exact wording. That's bikeshedding, and we've had enough of that already. But I do feel very strongly about telling new users what they need to do to be productive on the site, and I'm baffled that SE wants to tiptoe around that. – Robert Harvey Jul 22 '16 at 17:01
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    The slow pace of changes in most cases are a huge part of why I've basically quit participating across the board. I get told that SE staff is working on stuff instead of talking to us except it actually turns out that improvements to the existing products are clearly not prioritized in favor of releasing Stack Overflow Documentation. – durron597 Jul 22 '16 at 17:05
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Overall, I like it. The name is 100% spot-on. I think the scope statement is 90% there. I don't like dropping the two topics that are on-topic.

I think the most important thing is the site name (and, along with it, the domain name) as this is something that we need SE to do. The tour and help/on-topic page (with the tagline and description) can be refined by the community since they are mod editable, but what we have is pretty solid and very close to what we want. We are all in nearly full agreement for the site name, so I think it's time to get that ball rolling.


The proposed changes are not exactly succinct. They're... the sort of laundry-lists that make folks who already know what the site is about feel good, but don't do anything to help or hinder the folks coming here confused.

I don't know what you mean by this. The changes themselves are exhaustive: a new name, a new tag line, a much shorter /help/on-topic page that only lists the 6 core things that we are about, a request for an interstitial page that mirrors the proposed new /help/on-topic page, and a request for a new UI design that's more in line with sites like Computer Science and Electrical Engineering - cleaner, crisper, and more professional (in terms of the feelings invoked, not saying that the current design looks like it was done by amateurs).

If you really want a 4 bullet list of things on-topic, that's not going to happen. Depending on how you slice it, there are easily over a dozen subdisciplines (see Wikipedia or the IEEE Computer Society) to software engineering. If you removing the parts about coding, you still easily have 9 or 10. We got these down to 6 bullet points with links to Wikipedia pages (that at least some of us have read and agree are in line with our expectations). Between the name and 6 bullet points (as opposed to the 8 "about" and 10 "not about" now), it's much more succinct.


Regarding your proposed description/tagline and on-topic/off-topic, it's not right.

In the tagline, we aren't just for people directly involved in the SDLC. We're also for students studying the SDLC and researchers who study or write about the SDLC. We want to take a page from CS and EE and explicitly include these people.

If you want a third take on your proposed description/tagline, I'd say it's this:

question and answer site for people participating in, researching, and learning about the Software Development Lifecycle who care about writing, shipping, and maintaining software responsibly.

For the on-topic list, don't like how things were dropped. We aren't being comprehensive about what is on-topic. If we were being comprehensive, we would have over a dozen bullet points. We picked the most important things. I think that leaving out "methods and practices" and "requirements engineering" is doing ourselves a disservice.

If someone comes in from Google because there's a question about Agile they're interested in, it won't matter that it's not explicitly called out in the docs.

That's true. On the other hand, there are other sites where Agile questions get posted and accepted. There are still plenty of people who post methodology questions on Stack Overflow because of legacy questions there that aren't closed. These same topics are posted about on Project Management.

On the other hand, eliminating requirements and methodologies from that list also lets you avoid having to qualify those topics with a paragraph about where to stick broad, opinionated discussion questions.

You're just as likely to have these broad, opinionated discussion questions in architecture and design. And to some extent, build and release management. But that's not a reason to eliminate those.

In the end, I'd rather have "methods and practices" and "requirements engineering" back since it clearly defines our scope in 6 bullet points.

For the off-topic list, I think that's generally right. I think changing our name will make it clear that many of the things that we call out as off-topic now are actually off-topic. We may want to add "tool usage" (it's hit or miss - some sites allow tool questions, we decided we didn't want to) and "education and career advice"

I would like to be able to edit the /help/dont-ask page to include the off-topic things there, instead of making the /help/on-topic page too verbose.


Name

Software Engineering

Description / tour tagline

question and answer site for people participating in, researching, and learning about the Software Development Lifecycle who care about writing, shipping, and maintaining software responsibly.

On-topic

  • methods and practices
  • requirements
  • architecture and design
  • algorithms and data structures
  • quality assurance and testing
  • configuration, build and release management

Off-topic

  • troubleshooting or debugging code
  • how to use specific tools
  • requests for code
  • what to read, learn, buy or use
  • legal advice

Plus, it still fits into a comment:

Software Engineering Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people participating in, researching, or learning about the SDLC who care about writing, shipping, and maintaining software responsibly. Questions about methods and practices, requirements, architecture, design, algorithms and data structures, quality assurance, and configuration, build, and release management are on-topic. We don't accept questions about debugging code, using specific tools, things to read, learn, or use, education or career advice, or legal advice.

There are 59 characters left. I also added ".stackexchange.com/help/on-topic" to the box and still had 26 characters left. As long as we don't have a stupid long domain name, we can link to our site's help/on-topic page in any comment.

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    I'll be honest, my eyes start to glaze over on that last paragraph :) I actually like the shorter lists by Shog better than the longer ones here. I think that we won't need those extra off-topic bullets once we're no longer called Programmers, or the few cases we do get questions will be much more manageable than now. And for the extra on-topic bullets, I think that can be covered by saying we're about the SLDC in general. The bullets themselves can be ambiguous to those that don't know the technical definition, and I don't think need an explicit mention in the on-topic list. – Rachel Jul 21 '16 at 13:26
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    @Rachel That last paragraph is shorter than your comment, you know. I do agree that the name change will help a lot, but I also think that being more explicit and linking to the Wikipedia articles on the different topics will help clarify to anyone who is still confused. – Thomas Owens Jul 21 '16 at 13:44
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    @Rachel: Ambiguity is what got us into this mess in the first place. – Robert Harvey Jul 21 '16 at 14:05
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    Software Engineering - as you've noted for years - is an incredibly broad, diverse set of disciplines, @Thomas. Fortunately, you don't need to list them all out; implying their acceptability is what the name is for. The tag line, the bullet lists... Those should support the name and clarify misconceptions, not define. Y'all needed these massive lists because the name was ambiguous, but fixing that is our primary goal here; if you still think you need them, then maybe "Software Engineering" is the wrong name? – Shog9 Jul 21 '16 at 14:29
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    Do you need them? Or... is it just hard to let go? Does "methods and practices" accurately describe what y'all do here? Because, while I don't deny that some methodology questions have a place, I also feel that it strongly hints at the sorts of questions y'all have spent a good long while (and a tremendous amount of effort) trying to discourage; if it's not sending the right message, get rid of it. – Shog9 Jul 21 '16 at 14:55
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    So don't get rid of the topic. Just don't advertise it. You wouldn't put "writing code" in the on-topic list, right? Even though there are plenty of questions about writing code asked and answered here, it sends the wrong message. Let's stop sending the wrong message. – Shog9 Jul 21 '16 at 15:04
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    @Shog9 But we want to advertise it. Again: what is the problem if our /help/on-topic page has 6 bullets instead of 4? I pointed out several sites that have more than 4 bullet points. We, as a community, generally like the list of 6 things. Why is this an issue? – Thomas Owens Jul 21 '16 at 15:06
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    Why do you want to advertise it? I probably just have a huge blind spot here, or perhaps prejudice... But it strikes me as somewhat akin to Skeptics wanting to put religion as the first topic in their help center. Yes, it's something they cover... In certain specific ways... But those kinda require more explanation than they'll ever be worth. – Shog9 Jul 21 '16 at 15:27
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    @Ana Yes, we want to stop the participation that we don't want. We want to highlight the participation that we do want. And we want questions about methods and requirements here. We aren't a software design site, even those most of our questions are about design and architecture. – Thomas Owens Jul 21 '16 at 16:01
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    @ThomasOwens We want the same thing. The issue is it's a trade off between being clear and being broad, and the top two bullets increase broadness while decreasing clarity. The new people you want showing up and asking stuff here will see the on-topic page and existing posts and understand implicitly that questions about requirements and methodologies belong here. Alternately, the folks who you probably would prefer not post here may not even know what those two top bullets mean, which is exactly why they'll ask their question anyway, as means of finding out. – Ana Jul 21 '16 at 17:09
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    @Ana: Then here they are: * Software, * Development, * Life, * Cycle. I'm still a bit mystified why it has to be four. It's not like the software can't handle the load (we have seven there right now). For those who don't understand what that term means, they can read this and look at this picture. – Robert Harvey Jul 21 '16 at 17:15
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    @Ana Again, why 4? Why not 6? Right now, we have 18 bullets on the on-topic page. On the tour page, we have 7 on-topic and 8 off-topic. We're talking about reducing the /help/on-topic page to 6 bullets and the tour page to 6 on-topic and 4 off-topic bullets. That's a reduction of 12 bullets on /help/on-topic and 3 on tour. We, the most dedicated folks in the community, came up with our bullet points. Please, feel free to drop in The Whiteboard or make a new chat room, but I honestly don't see the issue. Let us have our bullet points, give us the name that everyone agrees is better. – Thomas Owens Jul 21 '16 at 17:19
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    @Ana: Seriously, we just need the name change. The Tour page is mod-editable, and we can make that work. The name change is the only thing we can't do ourselves. Oh, and make sure CandiedOrange gets to keep his coffee cup. – Robert Harvey Jul 21 '16 at 17:24
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    If I could upvote Thomas' answer eleven times, I would, because his answer goes to eleven. Give us two more bullet points, which is still far less than we currently have. Why argue over little stuff? This site needs this change or it will die more than it already has. Trust me, the old group of core contributors and user-moderators are watching these meta posts at arm's length, casually eating popcorn, and watching the CEs delay and ignore what has to be done. Just f-ing do it already. Who knows, maybe veteran users will come back if we can make this change in less than three years. – user22815 Jul 22 '16 at 4:39
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The goal of the participants on Programmers has always been the same: to have a high-quality Q&A. I think we all agree on what that means; we want to attract professionals to the site, help people with their software design questions, and promote a high level of discourse. I believe that the way to do that is to present a site to the public that embodies that level of discourse.

Those of us who are left on Programmers who still care about these things believe that the single most important thing that will achieve those goals is to get bad questions off the front page. Bad questions take time away from the participants that could otherwise be used to answer real questions, and they turn away the professionals who are the people we really want here.

The name change is something that we can apparently all agree on, and we should do that. I have concerns about the rest, especially if Stack Exchange is going to make the name change conditional on the other changes they have proposed.

Removing bad questions from the front page is onerous: it requires 5 close votes and 3 delete votes over several hours. That's too much time and too many people. If the question is clearly off-topic and cannot be salvaged, rapid removal should be the prevailing policy, and I'm open to better ways to make that happen.

However, the best bad question is the one that is never asked. Therefore, educating new users is paramount, and the way that I think you do that is to tell new users what they cannot do on the site. Which do you supposed is more frustrating for everyone: being told you can't ask your question here before or after you ask it?

There are three groups of people who visit Programmers:

  1. Neophytes who want help fixing their broken code
  2. People looking for general advice on a wide range of subjects having little to do with software engineering
  3. People with legitimate questions who don't understand the site scope.

The only hope for groups 1 and 2 is to get a statement in front of those people about what kinds of questions they cannot ask, as closely as possible to the act of asking it. I believe that should happen either in an interstitial page with an "I agree" checkbox, or prominently on the Ask Question page. It doesn't have to be a huge wall of text; it can be as simple as this:

We don't do code troubleshooting here, so if your question is about how to fix your broken code or how to use your programming tools, ask it on Stack Overflow, making sure that you provide a minimal, complete, and verifiable example.

Please make sure that your question is directly related to the Systems Development Life Cycle. Avoid peripheral issues such as product recommendations, career or education advice, product support or legal matters.

For group 3, we believe that the site's scope description should be:

  1. Clear,
  2. Concise, and
  3. Complete.

The Scope Description appears in the Tour Page and the Help Center's "What kinds of questions can I ask here" page. Stack Exchange wants us to limit our scope description to four bullets. Since a clear, concise and complete summary of the SDLC cannot be adequately described in four bullets, I suggest a single bullet:

It is my impression that SE is trying to make the bullets as simple as possible in order to not confuse new users. But if a new user can't figure out what we mean by "Questions directly related to the Systems Development Life Cycle," we probably don't want them on the site.

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    this was voted down likely by someone who prefers current party line to "focus on pleasing question askers..." – gnat Jul 22 '16 at 15:43
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    For those of you who are downvoting, there's clearly something here you disagree with. While you're certainly in no way obligated to explain your downvotes here or anywhere else, this is a meta site. The purpose of meta sites is discussion, and it might be useful if you articulated your concerns. I can only imagine that you fundamentally disagree with the premise of my answer, unless you don't like my tone. Either way, it would be nice to know. – Robert Harvey Jul 22 '16 at 16:37
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    Since you asked, "Those of us who are left on Programmers who still care about these things have one singular goal: to get bad questions off the front page." If that's your only goal for being here, and not either a) getting help for on-topic problems here or b) making this the best possible resource for stuff that's on-topic, you're here for the wrong reasons and I strongly suggest you consider maybe taking a break to gain some perspective. Shog9 addressed the other parts of your response: your formulation has been, and still is, too long and nobody will read it. – Evan Jul 22 '16 at 17:13
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    @Evan: Thanks for you feedback. a) and b) are indeed the goals I am interested in; getting bad questions off the front page is just the way that I believe that will be accomplished. I'll edit my answer to be clearer. – Robert Harvey Jul 22 '16 at 17:15
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    @Evan: As to the length of my formulation, it's now down to a single bullet point with 9 words in it, and a cautionary banner with 72 words in it. I really don't know how I can make it any shorter than that. – Robert Harvey Jul 22 '16 at 17:23
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    @Evan you'll be surprised but whole big feature has been implemented with the "only goal" to get rid of bad questions at Stack Overflow (Triage). And if you think of it this very site name change we discuss also has that "only goal" to get rid of bad questions. If these weren't the problem we'd keep current name of Programmers because it apparently doesn't present a problem for askers of ~30K good questions – gnat Jul 22 '16 at 17:43
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    @Evan I don't have the time I used to be able to spend on P.SE which means my time here is pretty limited. When, as it was when I started writing this comment, 4/5 of the last questions are blatantly off topic? It is really demoralizing and frustrating to come and read high quality content about the SDLC. Shrug. To me, quality is far more important than quantity. – enderland Jul 22 '16 at 18:05
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    I can only imagine what the types of people that P.SE would love to attract think - imagine you are an expert in software development and come here to answer questions about it. Your first glimpse of the site is the last 5 questions, two of which are trivial implementation questions. Another isn't related to the SDLC. The fourth is "tell me what the future of tool X is" and finally, luckily, one of the five relates to an actual, SDLC problem. If you were that person would you stick around? Would you be interested? I doubt it. – enderland Jul 22 '16 at 18:08
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    @enderland Remember, this entire exercise is based on the premise that changing the site's name will immediately make it clear what's on topic here and largely miitigate any issues with people coming here thinking this is the place to ask off-topic questions. If changing the name isn't going to do that, this was all a waste of everyone's time. As Shog9 pointed out, the wall of text makes you people feel better, but does nothing to solve the core problem. – Evan Jul 22 '16 at 18:13
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    You kinda bury the lede here: "There are three groups of people who visit Programmers" - this is your audience, this is who you're writing for, this is why changes to guidance and branding matter, if they are to matter at all. These people are not you. They don't have half a decade of history on this site. Understanding what brings them here and what creates the misconceptions they labor under when asking is critical to success. Otherwise, like the boxer, they'll hear what they want to hear and disregard the rest.... – Shog9 Jul 22 '16 at 18:23
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    @Evan The main reason I abandoned this site is because mitigating of the overwhelmingly tremendous number of terrible questions is the only meaningful way to improve site quality, and I got sick of doing that all day instead of answering on-topic questions. That's an impossible fight to win without any help from SE, and SE made it very obvious that they have no desire to help win it, and I'm pretty sure that's why most of the other former core contributors to this site are also "taking a break". I have no idea why Robert's still here. – Ixrec Jul 23 '16 at 11:29

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