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I'm trying to get some insight into why this question about the pronunciation of Kruskal's algorithm is off topic.

Are pronunciation questions not welcome on SO?

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How is someone's surname unique to the programming field? @pep –  random Mar 14 '12 at 3:42
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Pronunciation is a weirdly regional thing... I've been places where they pronounce pepsi "coke"! –  Shog9 Mar 14 '12 at 3:55
    
We all know you correctly pronounce it as "soft drink" you bird feeder @shog9 –  random Mar 14 '12 at 3:57
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That's crap, @random - any right-thinking drinker knows it's "soda pop". –  Shog9 Mar 14 '12 at 3:58
    
README –  Matt Ball Mar 14 '12 at 4:06
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No, really, though important as it might be for you, do you honestly (honestly!) think that pronouncing the name wrong will affect your code? No? Ok, so it has nothing to do with programming. And if you have to tell this to someone, you can always spell it out. I hope someone won't ever judge my programming skill on how I pronounce a guy's name (nor anything, for all that matters...Hell, we in Italy pronounce "MySQL" wrong, or "italianized", but that doesn't mean the queries will be easily injected). I bet you will pronounce Fibonacci wrong: so I must say your code is horrible, sir. –  Damien Pirsy Mar 14 '12 at 6:26

3 Answers 3

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Are pronunciation questions not welcome on SO?

That question seems to have answered itself, don't you think? To reiterate: no, pronounciation questions are not remotely on-topic on SO. To quote the FAQ:

What kind of questions can I ask here?

Stack Overflow is for professional and enthusiast programmers, people who write code because they love it. We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers...

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession ...then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

The pronunciation of any word — regardless of the word's relevance to programming — does not fall into this category.

To quote the FAQ just a little bit more:

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

'Nuff said.


OP question:

Guys, I understand your point that this is not a question about solving a programming problem. But do you really not think that pronunciation questions are useful for programmers?

My response:

not on Stack Overflow. SO has evolved to be, first and foremost, about solving programming problems, not about "being useful to programmers."

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The pronunciation of any word — regardless of the word's relevance to programming — does not fall into this category. How did you come to that conclusion? I would think that the question is "practical, answerable, and unique to the programming profession".. –  pepsi Mar 14 '12 at 3:39
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@pepsi How is it unique to the programming profession? Isn't it a question that potentially every native English speaker can answer? Do programmers have a unique pronunciation for "Kruskal"? I know all the secret handshakes, but... ;P –  Yannis Mar 14 '12 at 3:41
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Well then, that just ate up a bunch of my close votes for the day. Too bad it'll probably cost me the reps. Some of the [pronunciation]-tagged questions are good ones, though, so look out if anyone decides to go on a closing spree. –  Rob Hruska Mar 14 '12 at 3:41
    
Over 60 days with at least +3 on that pronunciation answer, @RobHruska you've won the retroactive lottery and will keep your rep. After taxes. –  random Mar 14 '12 at 3:47
    
@YannisRizos I've heard it pronounced in more than one way. It's not uncommon to pronounce the names of people with the same names to differently. Programmers will have heard the pronunciation of 'Kruskal' in the context of the algorithm, which is important. If I asked my neighbor whose friend was named Bob Kruskal, it may not be the same pronunciation. –  pepsi Mar 14 '12 at 3:56
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@pepsi (1) having an objectively correct answer is not a sufficient condition for a question to be on-topic. I could ask "How many cylinders are there in a V-8 automobile engine" but you can bet that won't fly on SO. (2) I don't see how that helps your case. This is not a "programming problem" in the sense of "I'm trying to do XYZ with code but I am having problems doing so." –  Matt Ball Mar 14 '12 at 4:01
    
@pepsi Programmers will have heard the pronunciation of 'Kruskal' in the context of the algorithm, which is important. Well, almost every programmer has heard Dijkstra's name in a programming context, but I highly doubt that programmers who aren't fluent in Dutch have any idea of how Edsger Wybe Dijkstra is pronounced. And how about Bjarne Stroustrup? –  Yannis Mar 14 '12 at 4:04
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"I must solve this problem. Wait, what's this? An algorithm? Fantastic! Precisely what I've been looking for. But... (removes sunglasses, lowers voice) My God... how is it pronounced? Now I'll -never- be able to solve this problem." –  Rob Hruska Mar 14 '12 at 4:07
    
@YannisRizos But there are one or two common pronunciations that you can use and not get funny looks from your peers. And that seems like useful information to be on SO.. –  pepsi Mar 14 '12 at 4:08
    
Guys, I understand your point that this is not a question about solving a programming problem. But do you really not think that pronunciation questions are useful for programmers? –  pepsi Mar 14 '12 at 4:10
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@pepsi not on Stack Overflow. SO has evolved to be, first and foremost, about solving programming problems, not about "being useful to programmers." –  Matt Ball Mar 14 '12 at 4:11
    
@pepsi - They're interesting, but probably not useful. If there's a pronunciation disparity when a couple co-workers are discussing something, they'll figure out what each other are talking about in, like, four seconds, and move on with the actual task at hand. If it's between two people on the Internet, well... tough to have a pronunciation problem there. –  Rob Hruska Mar 14 '12 at 4:11
    
@MДΓΓБДLL I think you hit the nail on the head with that. Want to put it in your answer? –  pepsi Mar 14 '12 at 4:20

"Pronunciation (phonetics and phonology, dialectology)" is generally specified as on-topic question in The English Language and Usage Stack Exchange FAQ.

You may check if your specific case fits there:

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The English Language and Usage Stack Exchange is for linguists, etymologists, and (serious) English language enthusiasts. Questions on the following topics are welcomed here:

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In addition to what MДΓΓ БДLL said, most potential questions about pronunciation would seem to either be "general reference" (e.g. "Java") or controversial (e.g. "SQL"), with little in between.

Controversial questions just end up as "Not Constructive" with a bunch of IMHOs.

General reference questions would just clutter the site. If a question about one algorithm name / initialism / programming language is on topic, almost all would be on topic by precedent, and that'd just lead to ridiculousness. "How do you pronounce A#?", "How do you pronounce ActionScript?", "How do you pronounce Ada?" ...

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Agreed all the way. –  Matt Ball Mar 14 '12 at 3:50
    
@MДΓΓБДLL - But how do you pronounce "Agreed"? –  Rob Hruska Mar 14 '12 at 3:54
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- A g r e e d - –  Matt Ball Mar 14 '12 at 3:56

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