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I have a question about python naming conventions. The answer is readily available on the Python documentation, but I think it would make for a great Stack Overflow question. Is it ok to still ask it?

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If it can simply be looked up in the doc then No. –  juergen d Nov 21 '13 at 14:15
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The standard documentation is someplace that a "professional or enthusiast programmer" is already have expected to look before coming to StackOverflow. People needing such an answer should have found it (as you did) before they get to StackOverflow. –  Joshua Taylor Nov 21 '13 at 14:18
    
Something that took a lot of figuring out, possibly looking at multiple online sources, is worth a self answered question. But if it is easily findable then adding one more easily findable resource doesn't really add anything –  Richard Tingle Nov 21 '13 at 14:32
    
If it's in documentation, but really hard to find or understand, it would be good to ask and self-answer. But if it's easily google-able already? Not worth it. –  Mołot Nov 21 '13 at 14:48
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I would close such a question as primarily opinion-based, whether the "answer" is readily available or not. Unless naming conventions are mandatory and inflexible for a particular language or application, anything else is just an opinion. –  Aaron Bertrand Nov 21 '13 at 15:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The answer is readily available on the Python documentation

Then there is no need to ask a question about it. Stack Overflow does not exist to copy existing documentation.

Let's turn it around a bit. Say you asked the question. The answer would really be "well, that's explicitly stated in the documentation". Which in turn would mean your research has been insufficient, which might well see your question downvoted.

So in short, if the question doesn't really add anything that exceeds the current documentation, don't ask it.

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Well, it depends.

Documentation sometimes sucks. I'm presently thinking of the AngularJS documentation. Invariably, documentation pre-supposes that you know what it refers to. It's not generally made for the person who doesn't understand the system they're dealing with.

In the cases where the documentation does not adequately explain or cover a topic well, I fully expect people to have questions about it, and I hope they ask those questions on Stack Overflow. I think of Stack Overflow like BASF for documentation. We don't make documentation. We make documentation better.

So long as your question pertaining to documentation:

  • shows that you've read the documentation
  • explains what specific problems you have with the documentation
  • and asks a question that we can reasonably answer
  • is an otherwise acceptable programming question (not a duplicate, not too broad, not opinion based, shows you've tried something, or includes the code you have a problem with)

It's ok.

In this case, your question is about naming conventions. By and large, this is a style issue (and even where it's not, it's generally one of the things documentation gets right). Because of these factors, it is not a good question for Stack Overflow.

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The answer is readily available on the Python documentation, but I think it would make for a great Stack Overflow question.

If the answer can easily be found in the official documentation, then it wouldn't make a good Stack Overflow question. If you have to piece together a solution from several sources that you find on Google, then you might have a good question/answer to post.

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