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I am wondering why the following question has been downvoted

How to distribute code reviews workload in a small team?

Clearly, code reviews and team dynamics are not pure software engineering. But we often have accepted questions on Scrum/Agile/TDD/DDD etc

I would like to suggest that we specifically allow questions on "Working practices/project management in software development teams" under the "software development methods and practices" heading.

The linked wikipedia article is flagged for attention, very fuzzy and unclear in my view.

My feeling is that these day to day practices and procedures form a large part of what software engineering is in practice and we could call out specific examples of what "methods and practices" means.

  • It is not the number of downvotes which bothers me - it is the lack of any comments or close votes to such a number of downvotes, giving no indication about what the OP may have done wrong in the eyes of the downvoter, or what they could improve. This is IMHO extremely unsocial behaviour. If one would like to stay anonymous for their downvote, they could still write a comment suggesting some improvements; that would be still possible without revealing their vote. – Doc Brown Apr 6 at 9:24
  • Surely the downvotes are a problems regardless of motivation. They discourage answers, the question will not attract views, a site full of such questions is insular and useless to the general populace. – Ewan Apr 6 at 9:32
  • If the first downvoter had left a comment, the OP had a chance to improve their wording, which makes further downvotes less likely (and maybe even the first downvoter retracts) and give others a clue how to write better questions. Or, if the OP does not react in a reasonable amount of time, I see further downvotes perfectly justified. But no comments at all from 4 downvoters is a clear refusal of communication, and that is definitely giving the site a negative impression. – Doc Brown Apr 6 at 10:06
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There's no scope change here - what you want is already on-topic. Questions about project management (scope definition, estimation, risk management, quality management, planning, measurement and metrics, monitoring and controlling projects and processes), processes (life cycle models, process frameworks and methodologies), and practices (best practices and good practices from across the development life cycle - things like TDD, CI, pair programming, user stories, use cases, UML modeling, ArchiMate modeling, DDD, and countless others) are all on-topic already.

I think the idea of being more specific about practices came up when rewriting the help center. There are simply so many practices that it's hard to call them out and end up with something reasonable, so we didn't call any of them out.

Specifically on that question - it definitely falls into the realm of practices and is on-topic. I'm not sure why there's a down vote on it, since it seems to be a good question in its current state.

  • it actually has 4 downvotes currently – Ewan Apr 5 at 10:27
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    @Ewan Wow. That's a lot of unnecessary down voting. I honestly have no clue wtf is going on there. – Thomas Owens Apr 5 at 11:43
  • I can't read voters minds but one part of the question looks somewhat troublesome: "I am not sure how to start" (see Where to start?) – gnat Apr 5 at 12:51
  • @gnat Down votes (or up votes or close votes or delete votes) should not be cast simply based on the inclusion of specific words or phrases. Instead, time needs to be spent to read the full question and consider if it's a good fit. This particular question isn't that lengthy. – Thomas Owens Apr 5 at 12:55
  • that's for sure, have words trigger votes is the wrong way. What I meant to say is said phrase tends to indicate an insufficient effort of asker and some site regulars possibly scrutinized the rest of the question after seeing it and decided that this is the case – gnat Apr 5 at 13:04
  • @gnat I just don't understand how someone who reads the question from start to end can come to the conclusion that it is worthy of a down vote. The problem is small enough and specific enough that not knowing where to start isn't a problem. Often, "where do I start" may be indicative of a question that is too broad - those questions aren't necessarily worthy of down votes either, but closure and edits via requests for clarification in the comments (down votes would become appropriate if the asker does not respond to requests for clarification). – Thomas Owens Apr 5 at 13:12
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    To be fair, the example question is not a great one. It is a "where to start" question, essentially asking for some free consulting. It is the moral equivalent of an icanhazcodez question on Stack Overflow. The "soul-sucking" comment in the middle doesn't help. Look at the answers that were posted; they are laundry-lists of the most general nature, a classic signal that the question is under-specified. – Robert Harvey Apr 5 at 15:09
  • To chime in on my own question, I always try to have a final phrase in bold to specify what the actual meat of the question is and the rest is context. The "Soul-sucking" comment is important context because it is one of the reasons why I am asking this question: The current process hurts my morale. As for "where to start", it's 3 words in a paragraph. I think my practice of bolding what the actual question is at the end means that these 3 words are not to be considered in the "specificity" test, since they are not in the final question, but more as part of the context to guide the answerer. – Jad S Apr 6 at 4:03
  • As for the specificity of the final question I understand it can be seen as too broad. But given that unlike coding questions, questions of practice/process may see a lack of consensus and it's in the interest of the community to see those different answers laid out, how would you ask a question to which you know there are multiple possible answers? – Jad S Apr 6 at 4:07
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    @JadS: "how would you ask a question to which you know there are multiple possible answers?" – Exactly like you did, but on a site that allows such questions. (Reddit comes to mind, others exist.) – Jörg W Mittag Apr 6 at 7:47
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    @Jorg I am suggesting we change the rules to specifically allow this type of question – Ewan Apr 6 at 9:29
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    @Ewan: That is not at all clear from your question. In your question, you ask about expanding the scope of Software Engineering to include Project Management and Team Management. That is superfluous, since those topics are already within the scope. The comment by Jad S was asking about questions that have multiple possible answers (i.e. list questions) and questions where there is a lack of consenus on the answers (i.e. opinion polls). Both of those are always off-topic, regardless of scope, not just on this site, but in fact pretty much all Stack Exchange sites. – Jörg W Mittag Apr 6 at 9:42
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    These questions are interesting, they are important, they deserve to be asked and discussed, they deserve to have a home, but Stack Exchange quite simply isn't that home. In fact, the UX of Stack Exchange was specifically designed for the type of questions that are allowed here, and it turns out that this design is actively hostile to the type of questions Jad S asks about in the comment. So, why would you want to ask a discussion question on a site whose UX is actively hostile to discussions when there are discussion sites whose UX is specifically conducive to discussions? – Jörg W Mittag Apr 6 at 9:45
  • Because you don't want a discussion. You want a set of opinions which are ranked by popularity – Ewan Apr 6 at 9:56
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    @Ewan: There are polling sites, too, then use one of those. Opinions are off-topic on Stack Exchange, and lists are off-topic on Stack Exchange. And again, we are discussing two completely different things here. In your question, you ask about including Project Management and Team Management in the scope of Software Engineering. That is unnecessary, since they already within the scope of Software Engineering. In your comments, you talk about fundamentally changing the basis that the entire Stack Exchange network is built upon. That is something very different from what you ask in your question. If that is your … – Jörg W Mittag Apr 7 at 6:18
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Software engineering certainly does include development processes incl. code review. I don't think anyone would think the subject matter of the question you linked would be off topic.

As such, I do agree that the software engineering aspects of “working practices/project management” are perfectly on topic. However, questions are not on topic if:

  • they are about project management which just happens to involve developers.
  • they are about work issues that just happen to involve developers.

Questions cannot be on topic just because the people are programmers, developers, or software engineers. The problem posed in the question must rather be about a software engineering topic.

The question you linked received some downvotes, but that is not an indicator of topicality. As of the time of writing, it also attracted no close votes. While I'd say the subject matter of the question is on topic, it is also a bit unclear and possibly too broad. “Would be happy to hear suggestions […] and what the best way to get there is” sounds like a poll question, see also: Why was my question closed as "Too Broad?"

  • my feeling is that it might not have received downvotes if the help center specifically called out questions of this nature to be on topic. The "must be software engineering topic, not about software engineers" is too vague for practical application – Ewan Apr 5 at 10:26
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    I'd say that most work issues are off-topic. But most project management of software-intensive or of the software side of a project are on-topic simply because the economies of managing software projects are vastly different than the economies of managing hardware or service projects. Project management is a software engineering topic, as long as it's the project management of a software or software-intensive project. – Thomas Owens Apr 5 at 11:45

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