# Vim questions: do they belong to Stack Overflow or Super User?

Where do Vim questions belong? It seems pretty clear to me that they belong on Stack Overflow, because:

1. Vim is predominately used by programmers.
2. It's already clear that IDE-related questions go on SO. Vim is clearly an IDE.
3. The configuration language for Vim (VimL) is itself a Turing-complete programming language. You can also embed Ruby, Perl and Lisp directly in it. Setting up a mapping for even simple things often involves functions, conditionals, string concatenation, :eval and :execute.
4. "Searching" in Vim uses regular expressions. There is no such thing as non-regular expression search/replace in Vim. Any question that asks about searching automatically becomes a programming question, if you consider a regular expression programming (I do).
5. Given the target audiences of Stack Overflow vs. Super User, I'd have to imagine that you're going to get much better answers to Vim questions on Stack Overflow than on Super User.

See recent examples of questions being (unfairly in my opinion) marked as "belongs on Super User":

It'd be nice to have consensus on this. In my opinion, even simple "How do I do X in Vim?" questions are useful to any programmer who uses (or wants to start using) Vim to program. Perhaps the person posting the question should get to decide which site these kinds of questions go to.

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where does this stand now, with all the different sites? There's also a proposal for a vi and clones site that was closed, but an emacs proposal is making headway. very confused... –  Robert S Ciaccio Dec 16 '10 at 16:19

In my opinion, it belongs on Stack Overflow. Vi/m is basically a programmer's editor, and configuring it is essentially programming.

Further, Emacs questions usually don't get flack for these kinds of queries.

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Yep, definitely SO material. –  RedBlueThing Oct 14 '09 at 23:06
Agreed. Also see my answer here regarding Emacs: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/25785/… –  Diago Oct 15 '09 at 7:28
Note: vim is still computer software that can be used by power users. Vim questions are (and will forever be) on topic for Super User and can be posted there. (Disclaimer: I'm a SU mod) –  slhck Nov 10 '13 at 13:58

I have used mostly gvim (and vim via ssh) for almost all my editing needs for almost 10 years. IMHO, some gvim/vim/vi questions definitely belong on SO. For example,

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1562507/is-it-possible-to-have-a-vim-syntax-file-command-span-multiple-lines

and

On the other hand,

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1537975/whats-your-vim-environment-like-closed

is about colorschemes and such and I think rightly belongs on SU. Finally, questions such as

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1562886/managing-different-versions-of-vim-in-unix-closed definitely belongs on SF.

Therefore, a judgment call needs to be made by posters (and those who can vote to close questions) on a case-by-case basis.

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Wholeheartedly agree. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Sep 20 '11 at 9:59

+1 for SO. It's a programmable programmers editor as such most questions about it are relevant to programmers. We find visual studio customization and questions available on SO, why not vim?

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I'd love to see those VS questions removed from SO, that's why. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Sep 20 '11 at 9:57

The Stack Overflow FAQ page states:

What kind of questions can I ask here?

if your question generally covers …

• […]
• software tools commonly used by programmers
• […]

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

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All this programmer's bias... tsk.

vim is used for more than just programming.

It's a general tool for computer users, usually power users. Isn't that precisely SU's remit?

If nothing else, SO is about programming languages; that doesn't automatically mean that everything else, all the tools, you need in order to write computer programs — editors, keyboard, a chair, food, long hair — automatically fall under the same umbrella.

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+1 for "long hair" –  Brandon Apr 4 '12 at 7:07
As @Rich mentions, Stack Overflow specifically seeks to cover questions about "software tools commonly used by programmers." It doesn't matter that vim is also used by unix-y fiction authors. Even by the "general software is off-topic" rule, it excepts tools "primarily" used for programming, which I'd argue vim (and VS) both fall under. Even within natural language editing, I'd wager the majority of files edited are related to a software project or programming task. –  matthias Sep 24 '13 at 21:02

I voted to move the question about how to delete the first word on a line, even though I answered it. The reason is because there was no clear connection between the question and a programming task. The fact that a program is used in programming does not therefore qualify any question about it as a programming question. For something like Visual Studio there is probably greater latitude precisely because it's a more focused tool. VIM, like TextMate or TextPad, is first and foremost a text editor, though so unless the question is clearly related to programming, I think the question belongs elsewhere.

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I have a hard time believing that anyone who isn't a programmer would stand the learning curve for using Vim. –  Steve Rowe Oct 15 '09 at 7:14
I learned vi because I had no other choice. I was a sysadmin at the time. Also, just because you are a programmer, it doesn't follow that every question you ask is programming-related. The question has to stand on its own as appropriate for the forum. Who the author is should make no difference. –  tvanfosson Oct 15 '09 at 12:41
Vim is no less focused on / targeted toward programmers and programming than Visual Studio. –  Brian Carper Oct 15 '09 at 23:55
Yeah, like I'd use Visual Studio as a text editor. Here's a direct quote from the VIM online site: "Vim is a highly configurable text editor built to enable efficient text editing. It is an improved version of the vi editor distributed with most UNIX systems." I've used vi/vim for 20+ years. I think I know what it is. –  tvanfosson Oct 16 '09 at 10:23
@Steve: They're called "System Administrators" (i.e., *cough* super users) and they do more in life than writing computer programs (even if they're doing some pretty hardcore configuration). –  Lightness Races in Orbit Sep 20 '11 at 9:58

If the question was:

1. Was well written
2. Gave some context as to why the user wanted to know the command.
3. And didn't just say, "Give me the answer" without providing some things the user has tried

Then it ought to stay open and stay on Stack Overflow.

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... so if it's a poorly phrased qustion or they don't give the whole picture then that's an OK reason to throw it to SF/SU to let them deal with it? –  Mark Henderson Oct 14 '09 at 23:55
No; it ought to be closed and stay on Stack Overflow. I know you were trying to make a point, but there were other options than the one you mentioned. –  George Stocker Oct 15 '09 at 0:20
This answer is lame. How do these reasons differ from the reasons given for any question? I would downvote you if I wasted enough time on meta to do so! –  Matt Joiner Feb 17 '11 at 11:55
@Matt As opposed to wasting time on meta by commenting? It would have been far faster for you to downvote the answer. :-) –  George Stocker Sep 20 '11 at 16:27
@GeorgeStocker: Wasted enough time to get enough rep on here to downvote... –  Matt Joiner Sep 21 '11 at 10:51

I was going to ask a question and found this one which is related, so I make a proposal as an answer:

In my opinion, VIM is not a tool used only by programmers, and its design concept introduces a whole world of questions and things to discuss about, not necessarily related to programming. At the same time, although it may fit inside the Super User scope, I think that discussions about vim can be as specific (if not more) as many other topics which have their own site.

Therefore, I think that VIM is a wide enough topic to deserve its own site, and vote for its creation.

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Why the downvote? –  Carles Sala Jul 3 '13 at 8:00

A side note: This thread as been opened on Unix.SE: http://meta.unix.stackexchange.com/questions/309/are-questions-about-vi-vim-and-other-clones-on-topic-here/

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There is also askubuntu.com/questions/tagged/vim and a semi-related meta post meta.askubuntu.com/questions/47/… –  richq Jan 5 '11 at 23:06
Rahhh. This scattering is a real plague. :( –  Luc Hermitte Jan 5 '11 at 23:15
Vim is fairly extreme. There are questions scattered across superuser.com, askubuntu.com, unix.stackexchange.com, and stackoverflow.com - and I just discovered programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/vim –  richq Jan 6 '11 at 0:36