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I don't want to start a religious war or anything, but I do have questions about a few languages. I have a project that was originally done in Java and was about 75% complete, but now it has to be redone, the conditions are quite different than they were 4-5 years ago when the previous code was written.

While I've been doing research, I'd like to get some background on the different languages at this point so I have a good idea what I can focus on and what I can (likely) ignore.

I see, in the FAQ, that open ended questions like this are discouraged. But I don't know of other programming forums that aren't focused on a specific language.

So are there appropriate ways to ask such a question? (Actually it's several questions about C++, Python, Perl, Java and cross platform stuff.)


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Why not give us an example? – Shog9 Apr 11 '11 at 1:32
Mandarin is a good start since China owns everything already – random Apr 11 '11 at 1:34
There's even a little-used language-comparisons tag for such questions. – hippietrail Aug 8 '12 at 9:43
up vote 4 down vote accepted

If you phrase your question well, provide a lot of context about your project and its challenges, and stay away from "I've heard MUMPS is better than anything else" kinds of arguments, then give a shot.

Programmers is for subjective questions, but a simple "What language is better for web applications" will get shut down so fast (not that you've indicated that you'll write this kind of question). Context, context, context, and read the FAQ.

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I take it by "phrase your question well," you mean to ask specific questions and not set it up as asking which is the best language, but focus more on the advantages or disadvantages of each language for this task? – Tango Apr 11 '11 at 1:49
@Tango: exactly, with an emphasis on "for this task", describing that task in detail, and where you see your challenges arising. – Michael Petrotta Apr 11 '11 at 1:50

I think I would ask a question like

I need to write a program that does X, Y, and Z. How do languages A, B, and C compare to each other in regards to this task?

Hopefully a question of that form would be considered constructive and attract useful answers.

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Yes - the three most important things about this type of question are context, context and context. – ChrisF Apr 11 '11 at 14:33

SEARCH for similar questions first, be specific in what information you are looking for comparisons in, avoid judgement words like "better," and flag for moderator attention, asking to have the question be made a wiki.

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