It would be beneficial to aggregate in one location everything that is actually on topic here, particularly when topics are exceptions to "is it part of the SDLC?" as a rule of thumb.

I had thought that the purpose of defining the scope and the repeated iterations through the infamous four-bullet point exercise was to refine and codify scope, but given discussion on this answer:

@enderland I'd have to dig around to find it, but it was stated several times that the scope was being clarified, but not changed (at least without further meta discussion). We were OK with removing licensing from the list of things that were on-topic because Law and Open Source do it better. We last discussed history in 2013 and decided it was on-topic.

It seems I somehow misunderstood the point of all the meta activity (?). Which leads me to be even more confused about scope than I was before.

Can we please clarify what types of questions about topics that are not directly addressable by the otherwise simple question, "part of SDLC? or not?" that are also on topic on this site?

  • You might find this discussion interesting. Sep 23, 2016 at 3:57
  • If the only purpose of this question is to aggregate the things which are on topic on Programmers/Software Engineering in one place, then I would suggest to close it as a duplicate of this one
    – Doc Brown
    Sep 24, 2016 at 7:29
  • 1
    @DocBrown: As I understand it, this question is here to catalog the Exceptions to "This site is about the SDLC, and only about the SDLC." Officially, there aren't any exceptions. Off-the-record, we will probably still quietly (and cheerfully) accept History questions, and begrudgingly accept Licensing questions. Those are the only exceptions that I know of. Sep 24, 2016 at 17:23
  • related post at MSO referring our site: Are questions about programming history in scope for Stack Overflow?
    – gnat
    Dec 22, 2016 at 8:21

1 Answer 1


Ethics Questions

Ethics questions may be on-topic, given that direct relevance to one or more SDLC activities is provided and the question falls within the scope of this community as defined in the Help Center.

Questions that are about the law or require the expertise of a lawyer are off-topic here, but may be a suitable fit on Law Stack Exchange. Ethical questions that stray into the realm of "primarily opinion based" or "too broad" will also be closed. Anyone asking questions about ethics in software engineering should keep in mind the criteria for good subjective questions:

  • inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”
  • tend to have long, not short, answers
  • have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
  • invite sharing experiences over opinions
  • insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
  • are more than just mindless social fun

Good answers should include facts and references, including to accepted ethical theories and frameworks. Great answers would be framed with respect to one or more codes of ethics directly related to software engineering or computing.

History Questions

History questions are still on-topic, provided the op can demonstrate some relevance with an ongoing concern related to the SDLC.

Candied Orange provided some great insights:

History can be thought of as everything that isn't happening right now. That isn't what is off topic. What's off-topic is anything that ONLY has value from a historian's perspective. Simply having value from a historian's perspective doesn't make it off topic. Doesn't make it on topic either. So it would need another reason to be on topic. Doesn't matter if the OP frames it for a historian or not. So the ugly history of waterfall that led to agile is on topic. The reasoning behind Java being named after an island that exports coffee is not.

Historically (no pun intended), history questions have fared well here, provided they are interesting and not merely curiosity questions about some very obscure and random thing that can only be answered by someone that was actually there when it happened. Questions about the design of the Babbage engine are probably on-topic; questions about the color Babbage painted his engine are probably not.

Licensing Questions

Licensing questions are not part of the SDLC; they are entirely a legal concern. Law and Open-source have demonstrated a willingness to accept such questions, and can answer them better than we can.

However, I've been told that, in some cases, the Software Engineer is the one making these decisions, and so it's still a relevant concern on a Software Engineering site.

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