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Why was Stack Overflow forked into http://programmers.stackexchange.com/ ?
I don't understand this. I think it is stupid ;-)

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I think it's great! nuff said. –  Henrik P. Hessel Sep 29 '10 at 17:09
I agree wholeheartedly... –  Michael Kniskern Sep 29 '10 at 17:24
@Michael With whom? –  balpha Sep 29 '10 at 19:05
@balpha -- With @Henrik P. Hessel –  Michael Kniskern Sep 29 '10 at 19:17
Yeah, there are lots of people here that think programmers SE is ineffective. –  OTZ Sep 30 '10 at 2:35
I agree viscerally, it duplicates a lot of things. The distinction of P.SE vs. SO doesn't make sense to me at all. Looking at the questions asked on P.SE shows me that the users themselves aren't getting it either... –  manuel aldana Dec 15 '10 at 19:22
agree. it's stupid. –  Gordon Jan 29 '12 at 13:59

3 Answers 3

up vote 35 down vote accepted

Origin Story

If you browse questions on Meta for a bit, you'll quickly realize that there are a fair number of people who want to use SO for things that SO wasn't designed to be used for: discussions, polls, flame-wars, endless lists... And over time, this has created some amount of irritation on the site: some folks really, really want to, um, participate in questions like,

  • What's the single best way to type code?

  • Do you hurt sometimes (as a programmer)?

  • How can I get a job drawing cartoons featuring the funniest programmer joke about my favorite hidden feature in the worst language ever (on a boat)?

So rather than just stamping them out, like so many ducks putting out flaming elephants, some rose-tint-spectacled user got the idea of proposing a site for all the questions that shouldn't be asked on SO.

Programmers.SE was that site. It began with the tongue-in-cheek proposal Not Programming Related, named after the original term for what became the "Off Topic" close reason on Stack Overflow...

But quickly it became obvious to The Powers That Be that the questions posted to this anarchic paradise of freedom and love were... Not very good questions. They were popular - the site did exceedingly well, right from the start, in terms of participation - but... The idea that this site was destined to become the cesspool of SE didn't sit very well with the goals SE Inc. had in mind for their network.

So something unusual happened... The scope of the site changed, dramatically, during its public beta period.

Subjectively defining "subjective"

Ultimately, the question boiled down to this: how can we create a site that hosts the sort of good, valuable, but never-quite-accepted questions that've lived in an uneasy state of limbo on Stack Overflow since day 1. Not necessarily the "bikeshed" or "GTKY" questions that value participation over all else; honest questions from folks with real problems, questions like,

These are a terrible fit for SO, where they stand in stark contrast to the hosts of mundane or relatively obscure - but objective programming questions. But they're valuable, in that the folks asking them have a real need for the answers. If Programmers was to be something useful, then providing a welcoming host for these questions was a good start: a workable replacement for the doomed meta-tag-ghetto that had once held them on SO.

It's a small step from stuff like this to "What's your favorite programming hat?" though. A system for separating the wheat from the chaff was badly needed... And so we got The Six Subjective Guidelines, which lays out a set of criteria for determining whether or not a given question is appropriate for any site on the SE network.

And in the fires of discussion, the new definition for the site was forged, bearing little resemblance to that original, Pollyannaish proposal. Because Subjective is Serious Business, and this is a site "... for expert programmers who are interested in subjective questions on software development."

Further reading

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@Shoq - Are you going to answer number 3? ....... waiting .... –  Peter Ajtai Sep 9 '10 at 23:02
@Peter: I believe it involves trying jQuery... –  Shog9 Sep 9 '10 at 23:03
+1 for Do you hurt sometimes (as a programmer)? I'd answer that question hard. –  user149432 Sep 9 '10 at 23:05
Number three would suck so bad if it weren't for the boat... –  dmckee Sep 9 '10 at 23:49
"Do you hurt sometimes (as a programmer)?" just made my day. I love the questions that look like somebody typed them out and then realized they were on SO instead of some random other site, so they stuck "(as a programmer)" at the end to magically make it on-topic –  Michael Mrozek Sep 10 '10 at 4:56
The simile “like so many ducks putting out flaming elephants” is… umm, among the more startling concepts I've seen in a long while. –  Donal Fellows Sep 6 '11 at 12:15

The new site is so subjective questions can be discussed by programmers, or questions that aren't programming related. It's to help keep SO free from that stuff so it can be a clean technical programming Q&A site.

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So what you are saying is that Programmers.SE is the skin of evil left behind to free the race of titans from the bonds of destructiveness: youtube.com/watch?v=Ims5W5bJl9s&feature=related#t=11s –  Robert Cartaino Sep 10 '10 at 2:56
@Robert: it need not even be said. –  Michael Petrotta Sep 10 '10 at 4:18
For example I like answering subjective programming-related questions at Stack Overflow. Most of them still get asked and answered there and that trend will probably remain for some time. –  user151803 Oct 15 '10 at 17:54
@Saul, I enjoy some of those questions also, but they're not appropriate for Stack Overflow. It dimishes (weakens) it's effectiveness as a Q & A site. –  Lance Roberts Oct 15 '10 at 18:10
@Lance: I think appropriateness is somewhat subjective. The point is that you can't dismiss a question by citing value opinions and claiming objectivity at the same time; it's inconsistent. From my point of view the effectiveness of Stack Overflow stems from the collective power of the community. Splitting a community splits it's power. Hence regulation should be aimed at creating a balanced unity, not separation. –  user151803 Oct 15 '10 at 18:57
I think that Stack Overflow is so big (700,000 daily visits) that is has sort of gain the right to have a subjective place for the community to be, a place to ask things that do not formally belong to SO, but the community is SO big it really needs that kind of place –  bangoker Oct 16 '10 at 7:34

Nothing was forked.

  • StackOverflow is about programming. e.g.: "How to add 2 and 2 with jQuery?"
  • NotProgrammingRelated is about programmers. e.g.: "Why do people want to do everything with jQuery?"
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"Try to realize the truth" "What truth?" "There is no fork." –  Piskvor Sep 14 '10 at 12:51

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