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I'm going to put this question out for people to review as I've gotten into a discussion with another member concerning the 'legitimacy' of the existence of questions regarding batch files on SO. Although, he has not made a cogent argument to date, I thought I'd put it up here for discussion.

  • Should questions regarding bat file programming be moved to SF due to their not being programming questions?

Addendum- There have been several good points made comparing batch file scripting and ?nix scripting. Are there any rational reasons for moving those questions over to SF or SU as well? And, if it is reasonable to move batch file scripting over and not ?nix, why?

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Depending on the usage, SU could be a valid option also. –  mmyers Apr 12 '10 at 21:08
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Do you think bash scripting questions should also be moved? –  nb69307 Apr 12 '10 at 21:53
    
This just led me to an idea.... combine the questions for SO and SF, putting all my followed tags on SO and everything else on SF. This would solve all literally^H^H^H^H^H^Hfiguratively everyone's problems of what noble topics belong in the loft vaults of SO and which craven questions must skulk in the dank recesses of SF. –  Jimmy Apr 12 '10 at 21:59
    
@1 2: I haven't seen that backspace gag since my days of lurking in IRC in the early 90's. –  Igby Largeman Apr 12 '10 at 22:10
    
@Charles: I wasn't sure if <strike> would actually show up in the comments –  Jimmy Apr 12 '10 at 22:24
    
@Charles - I last saw this gag today when I tried to backspace over some Unix command :) –  DVK Apr 13 '10 at 3:46
    
@Keng, basically we knew how this is going to play out. It's clear that SO will accept anything that even vaguely could be called programming no matter how simplistic. So you win (I'm the 'another member' if there's any doubt), putting a couple of CLI commands into a batch file is programming if it makes you happy. Why not drag and drop some web controls onto a design surface using Frontpage and then come and ask about the markup on SO, oh wait, that's acceptable too. There is no line on SO, someone somewhere will call it programming if it's involved anywhere in the software development world. –  Lazarus Apr 14 '10 at 20:59
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I don't want, strangely enough given my previous comment, to belittle batch/shell-script programmers. I've seen and written some immense programs, I've seen elegant code and elegant solutions. My issue was with a batch file that really was "move the turtle" but it was read and re-read, despite my trying to narrow the focus, to mean that all batch files weren't programming. I promise never to challenge anything remotely programming related as not-programming again. –  Lazarus Apr 14 '10 at 21:03
    
This is the SO question that this all relates to: stackoverflow.com/questions/2600527/… –  Lazarus Apr 14 '10 at 21:05
    
Just to make it clear, I hoped SO was going to be the place where I could ask and answer the hard questions, the ones that you really have to think about, that stretch you as a programmer/developer. The ones you won't find the answers to in 20 books on the shelves of your local bookstore, a bit like a MathOverflow but for the software world. That was just my hope and, it's clear, no-one else's. I've really no problem with simple questions, I'm happy to answer them but I do like the OP to at least have tried to find the answer before looking for help. Too much to ask? Apparently so. I'm done. –  Lazarus Apr 14 '10 at 21:11

6 Answers 6

up vote 15 down vote accepted

No, they shouldn't.

It is a programming language.

For instance, I could write a batch program which either puts my computer to sleep, hibernate, or off, depending on the time of day I run it.

Microsoft refers to batch "programming":

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc750056.aspx

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc722477.aspx

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If you have ever met an expert batch file programmer, then you would have no doubt that they are programming languages and belong here.

Yes, occasionally we'll get the "How do I move the turtle" questions of batch files, but we also get them for every other language.

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How can I move a batch of turtles? –  mmyers Apr 12 '10 at 21:36
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@mmyers: in a truck. –  Randolpho Apr 12 '10 at 21:42
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@mmyers - Very slowly. But since it's done in parallel, it's very efficient. High latency, but high throughput. –  Adam Davis Apr 12 '10 at 21:55
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Never underestimate the throughput of a station wagon filled with harddrives. –  Gnome Apr 12 '10 at 22:09
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@mmyers don't worry, there's an app for that. –  user142852 Apr 12 '10 at 22:10
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@Gnome - And what are the harddrives filled with? Turtles. And what do the turtles do? Carry station wagons full of harddrives. And what's on the harddrives? Dude. It's turtles all the way down. –  Adam Davis Apr 13 '10 at 3:20
    
How do I move a turtle via a batch file? –  DVK Apr 13 '10 at 3:47
    
@Ninefingers - yes, but the network's worse :) –  DVK Apr 13 '10 at 3:48
    
How do you define the boundary and what do you do with the "How do I move the turtle" questions? –  Lazarus Apr 14 '10 at 20:44
    
@Bchappell - 1) What boundary? 2) You answer them and move on. –  Adam Davis Apr 14 '10 at 21:41
    
Why refuse any question? "How do I program my PVR to record a series?" or "How do I program a route into my sat-nav?" or "How do you solve a sudoku puzzle?" Anything procedural could be taken as 'programming', there is a boundary, it's very fuzzy at the moment, very, very fuzzy. One side is good, the other side is just noise and in the middle is "How can I write a batch file to display the time?" –  Lazarus Apr 14 '10 at 22:12
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@bchappell - Oh, that. We define those boundaries one close vote at a time. –  Adam Davis Apr 15 '10 at 3:52
    
@Pollyanna, very, very nice answer. Made me smile, thank you. –  Lazarus Apr 15 '10 at 22:36

Is "batch" Turing complete? Is so, if is OK on Stack Overflow. (Compare with shell scripting and LaTeX.)

I might get better answers on Server Fault, but that is another question.

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Turing completeness is not a requirement for languages asked about on SO. –  Igby Largeman Apr 12 '10 at 21:18
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People even ask about HTML on SO. –  mmyers Apr 12 '10 at 21:22
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If Turing completeness is a requirement, we can exclude SQL questions for starters. –  nb69307 Apr 12 '10 at 21:52
    
@Neil - stackoverflow.com/questions/314864/… –  Adam Davis Apr 12 '10 at 22:02
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@Pollyanna T-SQL != SQL –  nb69307 Apr 12 '10 at 22:10
    
@Neil - Ah, you are an SQL purist huh? Which commonly used SQL databases don't implement non standard SQL features that could be considered making SQL Turing complete, hmmmm? –  Adam Davis Apr 12 '10 at 22:25
    
@Pollyanna Yes, I am a purist. SQL is an internationally standardised declarative language that partially implements the relational calculus. T-SQL is a proprietary, non-standard procedural programming language invented by Sybase and extended by Microsoft. The fact that both their names contain the contain the sequence "SQL" proves nothing. –  nb69307 Apr 12 '10 at 22:36
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Turing completeness is not necessary, but it is sufficient. Or at least very nearly so... –  dmckee Apr 13 '10 at 0:16

Depends on le context. If it is "how do I drive make" with this shell script or how can I do something programming related then yes, SO. If it is "how do I back up my server on a rolling basis" then, well, serverfault.

I'm a programmer and I use shell scripts sometimes (us of a penguin persuasion don't call them batch files). But then, I'm not a real programmer. I detest emacs, can't use ed to save my life and I've never yet deflected photons using butterflies.

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I think very few people have used ed to save their lives. –  mmyers Apr 12 '10 at 22:09
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@mmyers - I've used it to save my client's data, and many bothans died to bring him that data. Does that count? –  Adam Davis Apr 12 '10 at 22:26
    
@mmyers I always think of it as vim, but with only the beep mode. I like vim though. –  user142852 Apr 12 '10 at 22:41
    
Am I the only one who read Ninefingers's comment in their head as "bleep mode" and started wondering how a prophanity-laced mode could be turned on in vim? –  DVK Apr 13 '10 at 3:50
    
@DVK tehehe I never thought of it that way... hmmmm... d'you think it calls the system's beep function to cover up the swearing of new users? –  user142852 Apr 13 '10 at 23:17

If I need help with the batch files of my daily build, you want to send me to Server Fault?

It's SO!

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Can you tell me how to make "copy *.bat *.txt" into a .bat file? Want to send me to SF or SO? –  Lazarus Apr 14 '10 at 20:48
    
@bch: to SU: "How do I use an editor?" –  Ladybug Killer Apr 14 '10 at 20:56
    
LOL However, doesn't a that level of batch file, just a list of sequential commands that can equally be executed from the CLI, qualify as programming? If not, where does it go from "How to use an editor?" to programming? –  Lazarus Apr 14 '10 at 22:20
    
@bch: If someone does not know, how to list a sequence of CLI commands (i.e. he does not know batch files), then it is a basic programming question. No question is too easy for SO, so it goes to SO. But I doubt this person will ever get a good programmer. –  Ladybug Killer Apr 15 '10 at 6:59

Directing someone to another location should be based on the goal, not the tools. Now I do find ".bat" files not even close to a programming language, it is a part of the command shell and its automation features does allows some form of Fisher Price logic, so I say that it belongs on SO if its not to script policy templates. It belongs to SF if it does (for policies are mostly implemented on a network).

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