Can you give an example of a question that is welcome on SoftwareEngineering, but is off-topic on StackOverflow?

If you can't, why does this site exist?

  • 1
  • People...this is the very place to ask "meta" (self-referential) and existential questions about the forum and its place. This is a reasonably well thought out way of asking a reasonable question. We should be mature enough, dare I say introspective enough, not to be triggered by the last line of the question. If there is no place left here to ask questions that are deemed imperfect, then we should really ask what are we doing here: trying to help, or something else.
    – Bradford
    Feb 11 '21 at 21:02

This blog article by Jeff Atwood from the time when this site was called "Programmers.Stackexchange" had a core statement which is IMHO valid today:

In a nutshell, Stack Overflow is for when you’re front of your compiler or editor working through code issues. Programmers [ed: Softwareengineering] is for when you’re in front of a whiteboard working through higher level conceptual programming issues.

Since the site name was changed to Softwareengineering in 2016, and since other sites like Law.SE and Opensource.SE came into life, we narrowed the scope of this site significantly to make it actually work, but IMHO the upper statement still describes well what this site is for - for "high level, conceptual, software development questions" (citing Atwood again).

To answer your question about example questions directly: those may be hard to find, because lots of questions which are asked here on SE.SE could be seen as on-topic at SO as well. The SO community does not refuse to answer conceptual programming questions just because SE.SE exists, and they do not systematically migrate such questions over to this place, though they probably could send us a lot of questions. For example, SO today has about 30K questions tagged with "design patterns", and scanning through the latest of them I saw several which could have been asked on SE.SE instead. In the other direction, we do not answer implementation and debugging questions here, those are systematically closed and deleted on SE.SE.

Softwareengineering is a specific subtopic in Software Development, I think most people here will agree to this. However, in my experience, conceptual questions often have a bigger chance to get a more suitable answer on "Softwareengineering" than on Stackoverflow. That's because our community is more specialized to the forementioned conceptual aspects of software development than the SO community.

For example, speaking about my own motivation, since SO is flooded daily with hundreds of hardcore implementation and debugging issues, I don't like filtering out the few conceptional softwareengineering posts which are hidden in there, those posts in which I am actually interested in. I guess several of our community members share my point of view. So if one wants to get an answer to such a question from them (or maybe from me), they should better ask here, because this is the place where one can find specialists. And the number of on-topic questions which are asked, answered, and and not getting deleted here each month seems to be high enough to justify the existence of this site in parallel to SO.


You must log in to answer this question.