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I am trying to choose between various platforms/languages to begin coding a major application. I would like to draw on the experience and knowledge of those at StackExchange to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of various options and more importantly to discover potential new options about which I currently know nothing.

I am having difficulty figuring out how to pose my question in a way that will not simply get marked as "Not constructive". I read Gorilla vs. Shark, and it seems like my question could easily be seen as falling into that category.

On one hand, my question has no single answer. Any pro or con about any platform (if well-explained) would prove helpful to me. On the other hand, I do have a need to answer this question, as I have to choose a platform. Furthermore, I have specific requirements for what my application must do, so I think that an all-out language war can be avoided.

Can someone provide advice for how to pose this question safely? If StackOverflow is the wrong place for this, is there another StackExchange site which would be a better fit?

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Go to chat, or just leave the SE network entirely. The network is, by design, not meant to cover every possible type of remotely programming related question. – Servy Jan 14 '13 at 20:08
@LanceRoberts This doesn't belong on programmers... – Servy Jan 14 '13 at 20:10
@Servy, I don't think it's possible for anyone in the known universe to determine posts that belong on programmers, it's the Stack Exchange paradox. – Lance Roberts Jan 14 '13 at 20:11
@LanceRoberts - Absolutely does not belong on Programmers. – Oded Jan 14 '13 at 20:11
@LanceRoberts - The Programmers FAQ is very detailed. – Oded Jan 14 '13 at 20:12
@WesleyMurch, I was 3 or 4k, but pulled my account, as I couldn't not find any deterministic way of figuring out what questions belonged there. It definitely didn't end up as it was originally designed. – Lance Roberts Jan 14 '13 at 20:12
Yannis always knows @Lance. He's watching you... :-). – ben is uǝq backwards Jan 14 '13 at 20:13
@LanceRoberts It's easy; assume it doesn't belong unless you have reason to believe otherwise, as opposed to the other way around. Or, if you know you have no idea, just don't comment at all. – Servy Jan 14 '13 at 20:13
@LanceRoberts - Yes, it is very different from what was originally designed. Turns out that being the dumping ground for anything Stack Overflow though was off-topic was not a good strategy for a new Q&A site. So the focus changed. – Oded Jan 14 '13 at 20:17
@Servy, I was here when they were figuring out Programmers, and tried my best to help there, even after they changed the entire idea from what was planned. I feel I can make the comments I'd like to about it, even if they are ultimately not going to fix the problem. – Lance Roberts Jan 14 '13 at 20:17

In short - you can't.

This kind of question is certainly a Gorilla vs Shark question and is completely unsuitable as a question on any SE site.

The only exception I can think of is the objective comparison of specific features.

share|improve this answer
Well, there's always chat, if you consider that an option. – Servy Jan 14 '13 at 20:11
@Servy - Sure, though I meant the main sites. – Oded Jan 14 '13 at 20:11
What do you mean by "the subjective comparison of specific features"? Can you give an example? – Chase medallion Jan 14 '13 at 22:16
@Chasemedallion - I mean very specific, small features that one can answer objectively about. Say - generics in Java vs .NET. – Oded Jan 14 '13 at 22:19
-1, sometimes constructive questions can be worked out of this type of problem. This doesn't sound like one of those situations but it's important to stress why it's problematic with more precision than it's like G v. S. – djechlin May 14 '13 at 15:15

How to ask this type of question well is covered in detail in Gorilla v. Shark. I'm quoting an abridged version because I need to point out that this post includes how to ask such questions well, not just advice on not to do that, so enjoy this sample and I refer you to the full post.

Google+ versus Facebook?

This is marginally more credible [...]

What is it about the UX of Facebook that made it more successful than Google+?

Slightly better. [...]

What’s the single aspect of the UX most responsible for Facebook’s success versus Google+?

All we’ve done here is prevent the answers from becoming multi-point essays [...]

Are Google+ Circles better UX for sharing among friends than Facebook Groups?

Hey, now we’re actually getting somewhere! We’ve scoped to a particular feature under the umbrella of UX. It’s not perfect, but it is a potentially salvageable question. [...]

Regarding your question:

On one hand, my question has no single answer.

Uh, red flag.

Any pro or con about any platform (if well-explained) would prove helpful to me.

Abort abort abort abort. There are many things that will prove helpful to you. Various blog posts and other research you can do will prove helpful. Stack Overflow may not be able to help you.

On the other hand, I do have a need to answer this question, as I have to choose a platform.

Well, that's what you're paid the big bucks to figure out. Many problems you may have Stack Overflow can help you solve but that's not to say this is one of them.

Furthermore, I have specific requirements for what my application must do, so I think that an all-out language war can be avoided.

Still reeks of shopping list question. It takes more than specific requirements. It takes a specific problem. And a technological problem, more reminiscent of "I don't know how to do this in this technology, is it possible?" than the more business problem of "I don't know which to pick."

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I don't think you're actually asking for a language comparison. If you asked "What frameworks are a good match for this problem?" then there is no explicit comparison.

However, the problem remains that your question is still far too broad. Normally, people are constrained by their own (or their team's) language knowledge, existing systems they need to work with, or by other factors (price, license, development environment, reliability, etc. etc.).

If you can accurately describe your intentions and constraints, then I suspect the range of useful answers could be fairly small, and this could be a reasonable question.

Another way around the problem might be to talk explicitly in terms of features. "How do I go about implementing high performance distributed messaging in C++ or Python?" Seems like a reasonable question to me.

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Asking what framework to use is effectively a shopping question; it's asking for a list of things, that is unless the question specifies the known options and asks for the best, in which case it has the problem that the OP admitted to. Taking out the list of options from the OP doesn't make the question any more appropriate. – Servy Jan 14 '13 at 20:55
@Servy - I disagree. My point is that a suitably constrained question of this sort is fine. "How do I do concurrency in Python?" Technically a list. Answer: Use threads, use subprocess, or use celery - pros and cons of each follow. A useful question, a useful answer. – ire_and_curses Jan 14 '13 at 22:11
But that's not the question that he has. The answer he's looking for is which language to use. Your example specifies a given language. – Servy Jan 14 '13 at 22:12
@Servy - I think the questioner isn't clear on what question he has. He has posed the meta question in completely general terms. I find it unlikely that the true question he needs to ask is as unconstrained as is implied here. – ire_and_curses Jan 14 '13 at 22:14
See also the discussion here. – ire_and_curses Jan 14 '13 at 23:00

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