Now that there's a migration path from Stack Overflow to here, should we be more strict about what's off topic?

I know there's this old question about what the FAQ should contain, but the current FAQ doesn't have the what's not allowed list that the Super User one or Web Applications one does.

So, should we have an "off topic" list and what should it contain?

A couple of things spring to mind straight away:

  1. Office environment questions - such as questions about office chairs and desks. These apply to any office worker and aren't unique to developers.
  2. Office politics questions - these are clearly going to be very subjective and will usually fall foul of the 6 guidelines for quality subjective questions anyway.


I need to chase up the ability edit the "what's not allowed" section. If it's not going to be forthcoming any time soon I'll go ahead and edit it into the section I can edit.

As all the answers seem to have pretty much universal approval from all those who voted, they're all in.

  • Yes, let's go to improve this issue on FAQ.
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 0:37
  • Agree - absolutely!
    – Walter
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:03
  • 1
    Can't we edit the "What kind of questions should I not ask here?" section of FAQ?
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:04
  • @bigown - that was the idea - but I wanted to get agreement on what we should include.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:11
  • 1
    What about Code Golf? The only question I've seen is one migrated from SO, and that seems way to code specific for PSE.
    – Walter
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:13
  • 1
    @Walter - code golf is currently allowed according to the FAQ, but there's an Area 51 proposal for a specific site. The question has also been raised on MSO
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:14
  • I tried to edit that section but we mods can't. Probably just admins. I will have to ask for them.
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:14
  • About Code golf: Follow meta.stackexchange.com/questions/73332/… and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/73373/…
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:16
  • @bigown - oh I see. There's the edit button under the "what's allowed" section, but not the "what's not allowed". A MSO question is called for then - meta.stackexchange.com/questions/73381/…
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:18
  • @bigown: You're too slow, @ChrisF stolen your question on MSO :-D just kidding
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 15:04
  • Given the answers I see below, it might be a shorter list if you give examples of questions that are allowed. Commented Jan 11, 2011 at 23:09
  • What were the off-topic questions from the Area51 proposal process?
    – Ken Bloom
    Commented Jan 12, 2011 at 1:49
  • @Ken - you can check at area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/3352?phase=definition. However, the focus of the site has shifted since then.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Jan 12, 2011 at 8:50
  • I like the idea but I am afraid no one will read it : * (
    – zhenka
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 21:44

10 Answers 10


"What language should I learn next?"

As the answer is always "it depends on what you want to do" these are either too localised or not constructive.


We need something like:

If your question is about …

Networking, servers, or maintaining other people's PCs and contains no source code, ask on Server Fault.

General computer software or hardware troubleshooting, ask on Super User.

Specific programming problem, software algorithms, coding, ask on Stack Overflow.

  • I think that's a good idea, but I would still want a list of questions that are Off-Topic.
    – Walter
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:10
  • The problem with your first line is that it could direct home users to Server Fault - which is not what we want. Just copy the tag line from Server Fault.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:11
  • I mean, not exactly this text, just a general idea. Our FAQ lacks this kind of notice/tip about off-topic questions.
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 28, 2010 at 14:56

"What salary/wage should I ask for?" Always too localized.


"Looking for job in X city/country" is also another one.


Any question that would apply equally to accountants, or CAD designers, or legal assistants, or....

  • 1
    Yes, it's good addition.
    – Maniero
    Commented Dec 31, 2010 at 0:46

Which technology is better? questions are usually bad. (Java/C#, Eclipse/Netbeans, iPhone/Android).


"Help me with my resume".

I don't think we're here to critique resumes and most of those end up being not very programming-centric. There are also better sites out there for that sort of thing. They can already be closed, but it'd be nice to have a spelled-out guideline to point people to.

I've added the following to our FAQ under the off-topic questions section:

Please critique my resumé. (Unless you have a specific question about a software development part of your resume. Questions about resumé formatting and style are always off-topic.)

  • 1
    Good suggestion - Edit it in.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 13:32
  • @ChrisF Would love to, but I've no idea how. Would you mind? Or point me in the right direction? :)
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 13:34
  • Go to the FAQ and you should see an "edit" link just above the "What kind of questions should I not ask here?" section
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 13:35
  • @ChrisF Oh man, I completely missed it. Thanks!
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 13:38
  • Great job, nice addition.
    – Walter
    Commented Feb 10, 2011 at 18:57
  • These are already covered by the existing FAQ, but since there's been a rash of questions like this lately, I've updated the site-specific FAQ as well. Both "not constructive" and "off-topic" close reasons could apply, although I'm partial to off-topic myself. "Give me ideas" are not a conceptual software development questions, they attract answers that equally valid (items on a list), often do not meet guidelines for good subjective questions, and are often too localized.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Commented Sep 19, 2011 at 1:40

How do I do [X] with [language Y]?

Where can I find documentation for [library Z]?

  • Vim vs Emacs vs IDE (too much has been said already)

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