My field of expertise is relational databases. These are very complex pieces of software and some questions about these products are of the form of "why does this happen?" Two examples I remember vividly are

  • a strange installer bug
  • a question about one particular DBMSes sorting and execution being slower when allocated more memory

In both of these cases I commented and suggested they ask on the vendor's forum or mailing list as they are much more likely to get helped there.

Is this OK?

I'm thinking in future I should also suggest that they report back and answer their own question here.

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Is this OK?

Absolutely. Especially in a comment.

We're all big fans of Stack Overflow and seeing to it that as much (relevant) traffic and knowledge as possible make their way here, and stay here. The site's got a mission of being the canonical archive of Q&A, etc. etc. and most active users stand behind that mission.

However, that does never mean it's forbidden to recommend other, more suitable places where to get help with a specific issue. That would be taking the mission way too far.

Pointing to another site is, however, never a valid answer if just left on its own. Answers on Stack Overflow are expected to contain meaningful information independent from external links.

Sometimes, a question may be completely off topic on Stack Overflow; in that case, it's good to leave a helpful comment pointing to a more suitable site, and vote to close as Off Topic.

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Great. Stack Overflow does seem to become a "victim of it's own success" with people asking here first and forgetting about the more specific forums where they can get help. –  Colin 't Hart Oct 30 '12 at 18:31
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@Colin yup, definitely! Plus people start forgetting about Google, turning Stack Overflow (partly) into a giant mechanical turk where users do Google searches for other users :) –  Pëkka Oct 30 '12 at 18:31
    
And then there's the joy of finding that the top google hit for some problem is a SO question littered with "just google it" remarks... hoist by our own petard it seems. –  McCannot Oct 30 '12 at 18:58
    
@McCannot true, but there's always the second and third hits... I know it's a bizarre situation but it's not like the search results are full with links to SO. Simple stuff can and should still be Googled. –  Pëkka Oct 30 '12 at 18:59
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Yes, I was mostly remarking on the humor of the situation, and from my perspective as someone who answers questions on SO I largely agree with you. But from my perspective as someone who's encountered this a few times when googling for solutions... I sometimes wish people would link to something useful anyway. Maybe the too-lazy-to-search questioner doesn't deserve it, but it's frustrating for the people who find the question because they did search. :T –  McCannot Oct 30 '12 at 19:12
    
@McCannot yeah, I see your point. Maybe those lazy questions should be removed so they don't litter the Google index. –  Pëkka Oct 30 '12 at 21:14
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