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I am giving an overview to non-technical recruiters on such topics of computers, servers and the programming disciplines in the industry. The idea is to give them an overview so they can begin to place the right candidates with the right jobs and have a basic understanding of the technologies.

Can I tell them that Stack Overflow is a place for them to ask questions such as "Can {Technology X} be used with {Platform Y}?" if they need clarifications?

The FAQ states that "only programmers" and the elusive enthusiast programmers can ask questions, which I read logically as "no."

Is this situation different and allowed, or does the FAQ need modifying?

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SO is for programming related problem. I think any questions having to do with technology x's compatability with platform y would get closed.

I'm not positive about your question (in terms of x and y, please give an example of what you mean) but I think that these people should be using Super User instead of Stack Overflow.

Super User is more for:

  • computer hardware
  • computer software
  • personal and home computer networking

Stack Overflow's questions (straight from the FAQ) should have to do with:

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession

If you were to ask a question similar to that (more code related, not just a plain question "if these work together") it MIGHT actually meet Stack Overflow (or Programmers on that note).

When you said Technology X be used with Platform Y, I thought you meant code's compatibility with certain OS's or something like that, but if the question is about the compatibility between two programming languages: Don't just ask if these work together. Do some research first, and if you ever run into any problems, Stack Overflow would be the place to go (for code!)

I'm not to familiar with Programmers, but you could review the FAQ, read some questions and check if your question is appropriate for that website.

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Say they need to ask, "Can Ruby be used with .Net?" Where someone would reply, no Ruby is Java related and .Net uses C#/VB. Or maybe would an IT person be expected to know Powershell? THe thought is can a non technical user find answers to questions which may not be divinable using search engines or wikipedia. Those questions are really things we as developers take for granted as obvious but not obvious to the non programmer. – OmegaMan Jan 11 '12 at 15:11
@OmegaMan - "Can Ruby be used with .Net?" does not fall within any of the listed criteria (it is not a specific programming problem, and definitely not practical). – Oded Jan 11 '12 at 15:18
@OmegaMan Like Oded said, this question by itself does not meet SE's requirements, it should be typed in on google. But say Ruby be used with .Net did work together, but you can into some problems with le code, then feel free to ask on SO. – Gabe Jan 11 '12 at 15:21

If the question is on topic, is not a duplicate and falls within the FAQ guidelines, anyone can ask it.

The problem with non-technical people asking such questions is that when clarification will be asked for, they will not be able to provide technical answers.

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Absolutely; I think that explains why the site is said to be for "professional and enthusiast programmers". – Andrew Barber Jan 11 '12 at 15:53

Your example questions "Does X work with Y" are offtopic no matter who asks them because they don't refer to a specific problem the asker is facing. "I'm setting up a something server, and was thinking of using X and writing the rest in Y, would that work?" is possibly ontopic.

I think your recruiters would be well served by READING Stack Overflow and Programmers, as well as SEARCHING them.

  • Say they want to know if X and Y really get used together or a candidate is just throwing random buzzwords onto the resume. Do a search in the X tag for Y and vice versa. Tons of information to be learned there.
  • Or perhaps they wonder whether some accomplishment or another really is impressive (created a new WordPress site for the project that was live in just three weeks!). Some searching is likely to turn up the truth.
  • They can also settle things like "What does the programmer comnunity think of an employer who is still using Source Safe?" or "How important is X to developers in the job market?"

They could also (after reading for a while to understand where the on/off topic borders are) answer questions in the career-ish tags on Programmers, and even ask from time to time. They would need to tread carefully, but I can see it would be a very valuable resource for a recruiter who isn't technical, but needs to place people who are.

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