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Is there an appropriate place for questions that cover a broad overview of a specific technology stack?

So I asked a question on Stack Overflow that got closed, and I wondered where the appropriate place was for it. It seemed to be too low level for Programmers, and too high level for Stack Overflow. Stack Overflow used to be an appropriate place to ask questions about higher-level topics, but it doesn't look like that's considered appropriate anymore. Is there an appropriate place for questions that cover a broad overview of a specific technology stack? Where?


I don't really care about the specific fate of my question. I really want to find the right venue for discussion of this kind of topic. It seems like it used to be okay for Stack overflow, back in the early days, but isn't anymore.

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What technology stack did you want to ask about? To what end? Have you looked at Area 51 for a suitable site? Or, possibly better, at the directory page at Stack Exchange? – David Thomas Jul 29 '11 at 18:22

The problem with these types of questions, and why you'll be hard pressed to find a place on the network for them, is that they go against the point of Stack Exchange's brand of Q&A.

What separates Stack Exchange from, say, ChaCha or is that you'll get answers to specific questions and problems from experts in their domain.

That is, you don't need to ask "where can I read about X?": just ask your questions about X directly. If Y feature doesn't make sense, ask about a specific problem you're having with it. Z not clear? Show us what you've tried and ask a question about it.

Trying to summarize the vastness of one's expertise on a subject in a single answer—whether it's to provide a link to somewhere else you can learn about it or a book recommendation or a 5,000 word treatise—is an unreasonable task and in many cases would be worthy of a book in and of itself. It's the wrong question to ask of an expert when you're trying to learn something new.

Throw us a bone when asking a question: tell us what specific problem you're trying to solve, and we'll give you a targeted answer. If you have several specific questions about a concept, that's fine: ask several questions, and let the wonder of Stack Exchange provide targeted answers for each.

That is, instead of asking "What are the parts of ASP.NET and how do they relate to each other?", do some research on part X, figure out what you don't understand about it, and ask a question or two about that. Then move onto the next part.

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I don't want a summary, but an overview -- a way to understand what the parts are and how they relate, not an example of anything you might do. I want a one-page map, not a book covering everything shallowly. I actually have, myself, about 2/3 of an answer to my question written, and was hoping to post it and community-wiki it, so there could be a really good overview, which just isn't available out there. My (partial) understanding is hard-won, by working on projects and tying together hundreds of blog posts. I was hoping to get a real overview out there, but SO is clearly not the place. – Sean McMillan Jul 29 '11 at 18:47
@Sean: Part of the problem is that the wrong close reason was chosen by the community. Well, not exactly wrong; "Off-Topic" requires that you read the FAQ for an explanation. I've changed the close reason; hopefully that clarifies things a bit. – Robert Harvey Jul 29 '11 at 18:51
@Robert: Thanks, I think... That close just went from "annoying" to "insulting". :-( – Sean McMillan Jul 29 '11 at 18:57
@Sean I'd say yeah, you're somewhat correct in that characterization: SO (and SE in general) is great for when you need specific expertise, not big picture summaries of whole technology stacks. Asking for a summary about something smaller in scope would be on-topic, though. "What does X specific feature do and how does it work?" would be fine. – user149432 Jul 29 '11 at 18:59
@Mark: The annoying thing is the Programmers is good for bigger picture things than this. It kind of falls in a "hole" between Stack Overflow and Programmers. – Sean McMillan Jul 29 '11 at 19:01
@Sean I'm a moderator on Programmers (not that it means anything other than I have some experience with the questions there), and this type of question would be too big-picture even there: there's a baseline and expectation that you've found that summary yourself and are ready to ask specific, conceptual questions about using the stack in your next project. – user149432 Jul 29 '11 at 19:05
@Mark: We must be using a different ruler ;-) I think of questions regarding specific technologies as "lower-level" than questions on patterns and practices that are technology independent. Thus, < say, mvc pattern. Either way, it's not appropriate for Programmers, because it's specific to a technology. – Sean McMillan Jul 29 '11 at 19:41
Others probably know better than me, but wouldn't what you are looking for fall into the Tag wiki? Or is that not appropriate place either? My thinking is that if broken down, you could point each to good questions about it or write ups on that particular piece. Just a thought. – Jacob Schoen Jul 29 '11 at 19:41
As an example check out the C# tag ( – Jacob Schoen Jul 29 '11 at 19:42
@Sean There's nothing about Programmers that prohibits questions specific to a particular technology. Each technology has its own set of best practices and patterns. Plenty of whiteboardy-type questions to be asked answered that aren't only focused on language-independent concepts. – Adam Lear Jul 29 '11 at 20:22
@Anna: Good to know. Is Programmers the new home for "best practices" type of questions? – Sean McMillan Jul 29 '11 at 20:38
@Sean Yep, pretty much. In a nutshell, if you're in front of a compiler writing code, ask for help on Stack Overflow. If you're in front of a whiteboard working through different approaches to a problem, come to Programmers instead. – Adam Lear Jul 29 '11 at 22:19

There's no point in asking a human to finely craft an answer just for you when a generic answer already exists. A broad overview of a subject is what encyclopedias do. The Wikipedia article covers all the terms mentioned in your question to my satisfaction.

If the subject was too obscure to rate a decent Wikipedia article, I would consider a broad, introductory question like this suitable for Stack Overflow (the question must not be so broad as to require a 10-page answer, but asking for an introductory overview is not a problem in itself).

If your question was “I've read the Wikipedia article and there's this point I don't understand” or “I've read the Wikipedia article but it doesn't cover this point”, it would be a fine question for Stack Overflow.

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