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We want to inject some discipline into

One of the ways we hope to achieve this is by merging the Developer Testing: Unit Testing site proposal* into

We believe that the Developer Testing proposal, as stated:

  1. would be actively harmful as a standalone site, in that it would negatively draw traffic from a larger covering site into a niche site
  2. covers topics that are already perfectly valid and allowed and exist in large quantities on and (compare to web app questions on superuser, which were explicitly disallowed, yet kept coming up)
  3. can be folded into a re-disciplined for a much broader audience and thus an overall more productive and useful treatment of the topic, versus a niche site

We invite those interested in this site proposal (or to answer: do you agree that the developer testing site proposal should be merged into a re-disciplined or another general programmer site?

In your answer, please provide evidence to support your position, either yea or nay.

* among others; Joel mentions a few more in his blog post

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closed as too localized by Adam Lear Nov 22 '12 at 19:01

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

As an aside, the question was posed to Programmers.SE users (all 6 of them that bother to go to the Meta site, at least), and some feedback was provided about each of the proposed merges Joel mentioned. – user149432 Sep 23 '10 at 22:15
I have a better idea: why don't you merge Unit Testing with Programmers and then merge everything back into ... wait for it ... StackOverflow. – JohnIdol Sep 24 '10 at 22:44
Folding it into Programmers seems like a lazy, or at least inappropriate, solution to the problem. The questions on Programmers are nothing of the How-To or technical sort. Sure, you could do it, but it doesn't seem to make sense. It doesn't sem different than combining Programmers with Game Development. – Mark C Oct 5 '10 at 6:19

44 Answers 44

The problem that I have with merging this in is that, while there are some potential subjective questions about unit testing, by and large, I think there can be objective answers to a lot of the questions. 3 out of 5 example on-topic questions, for instance, don't really fit the subjective mold. One other could easily be answered objectively with a minor tweak or two (and asked, perhaps as CW).

The site is, IIRC, for subjective questions about software development which makes it less of a good fit than Stack Overflow. If anything, I would say simply don't create the site and encourage people to continue asking all of these questions on Stack Overflow.

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there's no requirement that questions must be subjective on programmers -- the requirement is that the questions just don't fit well on SO. see:… – Jeff Atwood Sep 23 '10 at 22:03
@Jeff: Then maybe the programmers FAQ should be updated? Programmers - Stack Exchange is for expert programmers who are interested in subjective discussions on software development. – BenV Sep 23 '10 at 22:41

Why was "Developer Testing" even proposed? Objective questions about testing can be asked on SO, subjective questions about testing can be asked on

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I think of SO now, when there are dozens of Q&A sites (and more are coming), is a place to ask just software construction related question. Questions about requirements, software design and testing deserve separate sites. Software engineering is a much broader area than just coding. – Vanuan Sep 23 '10 at 22:33
Testing questions on SO get buried. – nportelli Sep 24 '10 at 1:09
@nportelli: Every question gets buried on SO. Nearly a million questions in a little over two years. That's what, ~60 questions per hour, every hour? Users monitor the tags upon which they feel they can offer good advice. There in lies your niche. If your question gets ignored, it's probably because the subject isn't of interest to many people. Dedicating a site to that subject is not going to help. – raven Sep 24 '10 at 2:05
Sorry, but the whole distinction between "objective" and "subjective" questions is BS. There may be stupid questions and questions that only partly touch a discipline, but questions are never "objective" just like Wikipedia articles are never "neutral". To me the whole classification looks more like SO is for general questions, and, development etc. is for more specific questions. – Jakob Sep 24 '10 at 7:32


Developer testing, at least if they are they types of questions asked in the proposal, would fit well in a disciplined Programmers.SE: it seems there'd be a high likelihood of multiple, useful, different answers. But, as raven states, if they're largely objective and don't really elicit an extended discussion, they would seem to be better fits on Stack Overflow.

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To be honest, I'm still confused on the benefit of programmers over the original StackOverflow. Same for this site. If we are going to keep programmers I recommend folding testing in.

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As Joel explained in his answer (…), as a programmer, there is much to talk about other than, In Javascript, how do I tell if a user is pressing two keys at the same time? The site can perhaps be considered a release valve for all the peripheral stuff surrounding life as a programmer, whereas SO is for solving specific programming problems. – raven Sep 24 '10 at 2:46
@lasse there will be beatings until morale improves, see… – Jeff Atwood Sep 25 '10 at 7:58

I disagree with merging. I think developer testing and unit testing should be a niche site that will attract the relatively expert crowd that doesn't usually care (or not as much) about other types of developer related questions. Yes, I'm talking specifically about myself, but also know about several others I know in the community who can speak for themselves if they wish.

By not merging it, we are giving a good one place to find answers only about these specific subjects, with the ability to have a very engaged and focused expert crowd ready to answer, and benefiting from specialized "rank" in this specific field.

It might sound superficial, but I think we're more likely to see the likes of Fowler and Feathers in a separate, unmerged developer testing site than in a broader developer or Stack Overflow site.


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+1 Another way to look at this is: I am a developer who is seeking guidance on how to test. I have some experience with testing, but I am by no means an expert. Having a separate site for Developer Testing makes me feel more prone to seeking guidance on that site directly because I think the proper experts would gravitate towards that site. With a general programming site, I get no such feeling. Sure, I can throw up a very specific question and get some kind of answer, and on SO it generally tends to be good, but I have more confidence in a separate site to receive expert answers. My 2 cents – Joseph Sep 23 '10 at 23:16
What would you think if the "separate site" had 95 users and the general site had 8,000,000? – Joel Spolsky Sep 23 '10 at 23:26
@Joel, well, adding 7,990,000 users that don't care about TDD wouldn't really help the 95. – Eric Wilson Sep 24 '10 at 0:46
@FarmBoy: Really? TDD is pretty hot in programming circles. But even if it wasn't, surely even a small percentage of the millions of users who read Stack Overflow will amount to way more than the niche of users who would dedicate their time to hanging around a site only about unit testing. That's the rub. – Robert Cartaino Sep 24 '10 at 1:10
Joel: I would rather have 95 dedicated experts - that will listed to every new question coming up, than a million who every once in a while look up at "what's new" feed and miss my question altogether. I only visit stack overflow when a google alert tells me something with my search terms happened there, for example. I would listen to the full feed on a dedicated site. – RoyOsherove Sep 24 '10 at 9:31
I disagree with merging, too, but I don't think a testing-only site is really sustainable. It might work as part of a software engineering site, but not the one proposed if they're serious about it being "academic." I'm not interested in academic discussions on software engineering; I'm much more interested in what works. – tvanfosson Sep 24 '10 at 11:04
@Joel To your point about the user base. Then the next extension of that would be to not have SO at all, and to just have a Yahoo Answers, with everything bundled into one site. I think you know where I'm going with this. I'm not saying that you're merging point isn't valid, and to be clear, you are walking a fine line here. "When does a topic warrant it's own place?" My point is simply that I believe "Developer Testing" warrants its own place, and I think if that site existed then the community there would grow and not stagnate. – Joseph Sep 24 '10 at 14:38
There is also an aspect here of "developr testing" being broader than "programming". Sure, you've got TDD, and it is a very important part of the process, but you've also got all of the other levels of testing (integration testing, scenario-based testing, automated ui testing). But you've also got things like database testing, which is something I would have a hard time fitting inside the "programming" box. What about the relationship between testing done by developers, and automated testing performed by QA? Surely folks have questions about where those boundaries are, and how to manage them – ckramer Sep 24 '10 at 19:09
I don't see any point in the programming site. I DO see a point in the testing site. The case of the programmer site being someplace to go for questions that are related to programming but don't fit on SO is odd to say the least. That's like trying to prove a negative. A site dedicated to TDD and other developer testing makes perfect sense. Focus. It's wanted. It's needed. – Clayton Bunyard Sep 28 '10 at 14:05

I believe that a programmers site will be a clone of SO.

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I think SO should be more about coding (i.e. software construction). The name "stack overflow" implies that.

Software requirements, software design and software testing do deserve separate sites. Or this proposal fits more general website, for example, Software Engineering proposal and should be merged with that. (since it is not "Programming") should be about programmers (not objective coding related question): their hobby, their work, their personal opinion about technologies, practices and workflows, their family, their life. Testing questions just don't fit there. Because testing is more about testers (QA engineers), not about programmers.

Do not merge Testing with Programmers.

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No, programmers shouldn't be a dumping ground for anything that isn't relevant on StackOverflow. Most of the on-topic example questions are objective and (to my knowledge) valid on Stack Overflow, so I think it should be "merged" with it.

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No please don't merge Developer Testing into a more general site. I would like somewhere to go where I could ask and answer questions on TDD and BDD. I think this would get lost in the noise on a general programmers site.

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@Péter People aren't expecting to find good TDD/BDD answers on SO, so they're not asking questions. The TDD/BDD experts aren't expecting to find many good questions on SO, so they're not seeking them out. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy. – gitignore Sep 24 '10 at 12:58
Giving them a new site might not be the solution though, you'll attract only those that want to talk about testing, not those that when seeing a question about unit testing would answer it. If you're going to tell the TDD/BDD crowd to go to a site to get their questions asked, why not let it be SO? In any case I'm opposed to merging it into to make that site better. Some equilibrium will happen, and it will only also make the TDD/BDD topics worse. Flamewars of NUnit vs. xUnit ensue. – Lasse V. Karlsen Sep 24 '10 at 15:39

Heck Yeah!

I feel like Stack Overflow has been successful because it's such a large community of people rubbing shoulders. Big sites work better. They bring more people together, they hit critical mass faster, they're more enjoyable and there's more interesting conversation going on, so people come back again and again.

I just don't see ANY constituency clamoring for factionalism and splintering. I haven't seen ONE REQUEST for Stack Overflow to split up into multiple niche sites. None of our .NET programmers whine about the presence of smelly Ruby questions, or vice versa. Stack Overflow has become a huge hit with 3,000,000 unique programmers visiting every week simply because it is the one site that includes EVERYBODY.

That said, the Stack Overflow charter does not really cover everything that programmers do. Much of what programmers do--writing code, using development tools, etc.--is very objective. Truth is black and white. Questions have correct and incorrect answers. Everything is nice and binary. Those kind of questions are welcome at Stack Overflow.

But there's a ton of other stuff that makes up being a working programmer. Tests and design are a big part of that. Development methodologies. Working on a team. Managing your career. Those things are often a little bit more subjective. They don't exactly have correct and incorrect answers. Those are perfect topics for a site like programmers.SE.

Imagine if programmers.SE had a big infusion of questions on all these topics:

  • Software engineering
  • Software testing
  • Software Design (both UI and code design, including methods like TDD)
  • Scrum, Extreme Programming, and other teamwork methods
  • Design Patterns
  • Software Architecture
  • Software Careers

Now THAT would be one heck of an interesting site.... far more interesting than the current dumping ground of "what is your favorite programmer's food" poll questions.

Let's bring it all together in a giant, festive, delicious feast with foods from all over the world. Let's bring together everything programmers need to ask to do their jobs that isn't strictly coding. Instead of creating 20 little sites that only a few fanatics will care enough visit, let's just make one big site for everyone who is a professional programmer who wants to learn more about being a professional programmer.

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Great idea to have a site about software craftsmanship that encompasses all of those topics. But I don't think such a site can coexist with "your favorite programmer cartoon." I suggest you start a new site on Area 51, merge all related sites into it, reset the votes on questions, and build it up right. – gitignore Sep 24 '10 at 0:30
I agree with patrick. Infusing quality topics into programmers.SE won't work, and won't be appreciated by the locals. I'm all for merging with craftsmanship related topics, but not for merging with the site for which no question is off topic. – Eric Wilson Sep 24 '10 at 0:38
@Patrick McElhaney: The Software Engineering proposal can very easily be the site you are describing. All of the knowledge areas defined by the IEEE's Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK): software requirements, software design, software construction, software testing, software maintenance, software configuration management, software engineering management, software engineering process, software engineering tools and methods, software quality, are on-topic, while "your favorite programmer cartoon" is off-topic. – Eric Weilnau Sep 24 '10 at 1:17
@Eric - If they're serious about it being "academic" oriented, I see being orphaned by the real practioners and innovators. If it had a practical bent, maybe, but I suspect it might still devolve into endless flame wars or inanity. Any site that explicitly allows subjectivity is going to risk that. Just look at to see how wrong it can go. – tvanfosson Sep 24 '10 at 11:09
I think the main problem with is that it doesn't work. It's not a useful site. Sure, it will attract attention, and plenty of good questions and answers, but they're not on topics people hunt for. Seriously, how often do you hunt for a flamewar on VI vs. Emacs? Yes, there will be interesting points of information in that question, and yes, someone will find use in it, but how many? I fear that if you merge those other sites into, you're basically saying "We don't take this topic seriously, so we'll stove you away with the rest". – Lasse V. Karlsen Sep 24 '10 at 15:36
The idea is to clean up programmers.SE. StackOverflow is the wrong platform for generating useless flamewars about vi vs. emacs. – Joel Spolsky Sep 24 '10 at 15:56
@Joel: If isn't working, it should be dropped! Don't attempt to "fix" it by merging Developer Testing. Developer testing is a good topic for a site --- there are lots of questions that can be raised, but they are not all suited for SO. is too much about programmers rather than developing. – Anthony Williams Sep 28 '10 at 7:18
You should check your facts. It may well be that .NET programmers aren't literally complaining about Ruby programmers being in the same metaphorical room, but again and again we see complaints on MSO that people aren't getting their questions answered, and these complaints (along with the real, hard, unanswered questions statistic) are rising over time. Do you think that's because nobody on SO is actually able to answer them? Or is it more likely that they're just getting crushed under the weight of a thousand other questions? – Aarobot Sep 28 '10 at 18:42
Anyway, I'll reiterate my response to the "merging" blog post: Programmers are people who write code, they implement algorithms and specifications. As an engineer, I have zero interest in discussing software engineering topics with programmers. As an architect, I have zero interest in discussing software architecture with programmers. If I were a tester, I would have less-than-zero interest in discussing testing with programmers (god, can you imagine?). If you want to combine multiple professions into one community then you had damn well come up with a better definition than "programmers." – Aarobot Sep 28 '10 at 18:47
@Joel - Maybe my complains came after you posted this but I would far prefer to have Stack Overflow split up into multiple niche sites so here is your (at least) ONE REQUEST. I rarely participate on Stack Overflow because it simply has too much noise that is unrelated to the topics that interest me, and especially because people who don't have deep related experience try to answer anyway to gain reputation points and thus give bad answers. Now if you could re-architect so that a site can feel like a niche site and still be part of the whole then that might be the best of both worlds. – MikeSchinkel Oct 23 '10 at 21:56

I think a dedicated test oriented dev site has loads of value. Please do not merge the two.

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I believe that a dedicated stackexchange site for testing is a good idea. Testing is a big and wide area. In waterfall-based companies, there are full teams of testers, which should be a big enough indicator.

Besides - what kind of testing are we talking about? Unit? Integration? Component? System? End-to-end? Performance? Testing is separate from Programming, although the same people will probably do a bit of both.

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yes, but the title is DEVELOPER TESTING. Not "Testers". – Jeff Atwood Sep 24 '10 at 0:11
I think it makes more sense to "merge" Developer testing into an overarching "Testing" site than into SO or – Bevan Sep 24 '10 at 6:51

Hmm... so you propose folding the developer testing into the beta site that is about subjective programmer questions to make it more disciplined and then how does this exactly differ from SO? Seems to me that a merged programmers/dev testing site itself would draw traffic away from SO.

At that point, why bother with fielding another site at all and instead just lump those two together with SO and use tags to separate things out. I personally ignore certain tags now on SO and am interested in certain tags. If I cared about dev testing, I'd add that tag to the list of tags I like.

It seemed to me at the time I committed to the dev testing site that there was a real benefit in having a separate site for dev testing but honestly now that I think about it, I wonder if that's true.

Just my two cents.

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I think that the merger would be fine. The outcome of either site is dependent upon us, the community. If we don't want it to become a clone of SO, then we will need to make sure that it doesn't. The site will benefit most with an active community, so if the programmers site will be more active, then I'm for the merger.

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I'm against the merger with "Programmers".

I think "Developer Testing: Unit-Testing and More..." could grow by merging with other sites. There are proposals for sites that have a much narrower focus, for example Selenium, Watir and FitNesse. We could bring them all together under the umbrella of unit, automated integration and acceptance testing.

"Developer Testing..." could also be merged with a site(s) dedicated to Software Craftsmanship (I don't know if there is a proposal for it). The combined site would then include topics from SOLID principles, clean code and refactoring, many of which are related to the original niche of unit-testing. Continuous integration could also be included (CI builds can run those automated tests, right?).

The result could be a well-focused, yet bigger site than the currently-envisioned "Developer testing..."

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Sounds like a plea to save Programmers.SE.

It's all about focus. SO is for focused questions and has flourished but P.SE is not and has devolved (rather quickly) to water-cooler talk. At the rate it's going it won't make it out of beta.

If DT.SE was to be merged with either site, it is a better fit to merge it with SO than with P.SE. P.SE would just drag it down with it.

The problem with merging DT.SE with SO is that SO is too big. Yeah that's right, too big. It passed critical mass long ago and is in danger of becoming a black hole that sucks everything in and crushes them together so tightly the tags are not enough to pull them apart.

Take for example nearly any question that happens to be on the front page of SE -- then look click the TAGS button and find all the tags that apply. How many do you get -- a dozen or more? The poster chose some, other users may retag -- but there is a hard limit of five tags per question.

It can be argued that by community edit of the tags, the most applicable are eventually used -- but in practice the question is answered and ignored long before that has a chance to happen. And yet when another person posts a similar question tagged differently, as it is from a different perspective, it is likely they will be referred to the first question and the second question closed before it can be answered from that different perspective.

This is what I mean by SO being too big and crushing everything together. If the question is not dead-center mainstream it is in danger of being crushed by the weight of the site before it can be given a chance at being answered.

DT is not mainstream. Yes it is gaining ground, but it's not there yet. DT.SE is the 'clamoring' of those of us interested in this niche area that want to be able to discuss it without having that crushing mass all the time.

There is a growing list of proposals on SE of subjects that enough interest and individuality to not want to be crushed by the weight of SO, nor do they want to float away into nonsense with P.SE.

Don't merge! Please! :)

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"Sounds like a plea to save Programmers SE". Indeed. If isn't working, don't try to fix it by merging other sites that may work on their own. – Anthony Williams Sep 24 '10 at 7:36

Unit Testing, TDD, BDD and all the available frameworks make up a good sum of knowledge and should be represented by a dedicated site to learn and talk about it.

So NO, don't merge them.

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No, please don't. At least if it has to be merged with the main Stack Overflow. I still think developer testing deserves a site for itself. I didn't even notice Stack Overflow had testing questions until I searched. I'd have thought they'd be off-topic.

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No. I've never seen… Why is it separate from Stack Overflow? (Kidding, I'll have a look...)

But a decent place to ask about TDD, BDD and XYZ would be great. It keeps me from getting answers like "dunno what you're writing readable testcases for, anyways..."

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NO, don't merge them. Testing is a big enough and important topic that deserves its own area. I agree with some of the comments about programmers.SE. What's the point? that's what stack overflow is!

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Right, shut down instead. – jayarjo Sep 24 '10 at 8:28

Yes, merge them.

I frequent both StackOverflow and Programmers.StackExchange - I believe any questions on developer testing or unit testing can be and should be covered by both sites. If we're concerned about questions getting asked on both sites and then simply getting referred to the other, we can simply explicitly state that these types of questions should be asked on Programmers.StackExchange.

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You answered your own question; and the answer was no.

"...the requirement is that the questions just don't fit well on SO."

Developer Testing:

"We believe that the Developer Testing proposal, as stated... covers topics that are already perfectly valid and allowed and exist in large quantities on"(1)

Besides, the two are logically distinct. Developer Testing questions already fit on Stack Overflow, questions, by definition, don't. If you're trying to figure out what to do with dt, it should stay with Stack Overflow. Trying to merge it with is just going to mix oil and water in the same bucket.

If the community isn't actively trying to keep to the content it was created for, and you're unhappy with the type of content that it generates - then get rid of it altogether. The community will find somewhere else.

(1) note, I'm purposely excluding the "and" from that last quote, because a tag count presents a clear view of the opposite.

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I agree that "Unit Testing" is too narrow a focus for a site.

I disagree with merging it into

I suggest that a stack exchange on "Testing" that covered unit tests, specification tests, TDD, BDD, performance testing, scalability testing, NUnit, JUnit, xUnit, XUnit, Fit, RSpec, Cucumber, MSpec, etc. would be both large enough to be useful and focused enough to work.

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Sure the "Developer Testing : Unit Testing and more…" SE should not be too narrow in topic, but "programmers" is too general. As already suggested "Software Engineering" may be a better merge candidate. I'd prefer to keep "Testing" as specific topic but not limited to one kind of testing -- for instance it should sure include usability testing and user studies with prototypes. If you do not limit testing to automatic testing frameworks, the topic is large AND specific enough.

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Unit testing, as many of the other topics, currently has a live and big community of people discussing. For example, you can see the TDD mailing list on Yahoo that is very much alive.

If it is to be merged, I, like many others on the specific mailing lists, will never get the benefit of a really good site for these questions because signal-to-noise ratio is more important to me.

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Personally I believe that testing is a separate topic. Not every programmer tests the code after he/she writes it. Testing and unit testing is whole new culture. It has it's own specifics. In our company testers are isolated from programmers. Each one of them do different jobs. So I'm against any kind of merge.

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I have to agree with (some of) the others here that Developer Testing does not belong merged with but could be merged with Stack Overflow. So NO, please do not merge them.

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Please do not merge the two sites.

I understand the call to merge testing into programming, but I don't think that most people who know how big and specialized testing is would agree with the merge with a more generalized site.

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Yes Merge them.

I looked at the unit test questions on SO and I would have to say that:

A. There appears to be a fair amount of unit testing questions on SO.

B. They are questions that I would get value out of.

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