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So I ran into a question where someone asked if we could give him feedback about his new PHP MVC framework. I couldn't decide whether to close it or not. On one hand, SO seems like a good place to ask something like that, but on the other, it's not really a "question", and doesn't have any correct answers. I ended up voting to close it as "Not a real question". Was that right? Should we allow such "give me feedback on my framework/application" questions?

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3 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

This was asked a while back on SO itself concerning "code reviews" and it received positive feedback. I actually posted a Code Review question myself and it turned out well. I received some very good critiques and took that advice towards building a better DAL.

As long as there isn't a super massive chunk of code and the author of the post is pretty clear about what areas he is looking for critiques on, I don't see a problem with it.

Edit: Here is the actual topic I posted. Code Review: ADO.NET Data Access Utility Class (VB) (yes, there is what you might consider a super massive chunk of code in there).

Edit 2: If the author of the post doesn't make it look like he is putting any decent effort into his question (such as being clear about what he is looking for help on or what specific areas to look at), then it is unlikely to receive much feedback from the community except close votes. In the cases of pure author laziness, I would probably vote to close myself. But if it looks like someone actually put a concerted effort into getting some useful feedback from the community, try it out and see how you can help the author.

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I think that last paragraph is key: if you're essentially asking a question about a particular method or construct you're unsure about, that's fine; not so much with the "trawl through pages of my code looking for problems" posts. –  Shog9 Jul 2 '09 at 20:29
    
Shog9: My thoughts exactly. Nobody is going to bother looking through your code and giving you tips or revision ideas if you don't give them an idea about what areas you are concerned about. –  TheTXI Jul 2 '09 at 20:31
    
Well that's the thing. I wouldn't have closed it if he had posted a piece of his code, but he just gave a link to the framework and asked for feedback... –  musicfreak Jul 2 '09 at 20:34
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musicfreak: That's when you have to use your judgement. If it looks like the author didn't put any effort into their question, they aren't going to get any effort from the community either. If all he posted was a link and saying "give me some feedback" I would have probably voted to close as well. I would say use my answer here as a standard for what should pass a "code review question" smell test. –  TheTXI Jul 2 '09 at 20:36
    
Alright, thanks. :) –  musicfreak Jul 2 '09 at 20:40
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I think it depends on how abstract it is.

If they are describing their framework in a manner that is abstract and COULD be applied to other questions, but it isn't SO abstract as to be useless, then yes, we can offer guidance on their framework.

If it is so specific that they write out 500 lines of code, and ask us to look through it, then no, SO isn't the place for that.

EDIT

I've rethought it, "Give Me Feedback" isn't really a StackOverflow relevant question because it doesn't reflect a well thought out question. If you can specify the single part, function, class or algorithm that you aren't sure of, the you are indicating that you have done your best. If you are simply saying "Here's what I did, what do you think?" then that is something that should be taken up internally in a code review. SO is for questions which can be broadly applicable, and although this person may make some common mistakes, they aren't going to come up in a google Bing search, so they aren't adding value.

If the user says "I've created a framework X, and this part Y could have been implemented in three ways and I chose A, but I'm wondering if B or C could have been better, given my framework, what do you think??" That would be acceptable, because it shows that the person has attempted to highlight the specific area that they need guidance on, rather than a catch-all "do my review for me".

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StackOverflow makes a great mechanism for code reviews, but the quality out is only going to be comparable to the quality in (in this case, the question itself). For something like a code review, it may be best to keep the content under scrutiny down to a minimum (instead of asking to review a whole framework, have them review your DAL class, or a particular subroutine, etc.). The more stuff that needs to be sifted through, the more time it is going to take, the the less likely you will find a lot of people willing to spend that much time looking through it. –  TheTXI Jul 2 '09 at 20:44
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I could see spinning this out into its own site. I found http://cr.opensolaris.org/ but did not find other dedicated code-review sites.

In trying to learn F#, I'm wanting to find out if my short programs are idiomatic. But "short" is a relative term, and SO is not designed for uploading or reviewing source code (other than brief excerpts).

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