To the right of the "Ask Question" box, the message

Is your question about Stack Overflow or the Stack Exchange engine that powers the Stack Exchange network?

is plain as day. However, it seems like at least a few times a night, someone misinterprets it, or plows through it like a stop sign in a school zone.

Should this message be more explicit, with an additional "Do not post your programming problems here" with a link to SO?

I don't mind flagging these posts, but preempting these users might save everyone some time.

  • 3
    Maybe we should start asking these people how or why they missed it. I don't see any other way of getting inside their heads. Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 9:23
  • @Cody I was just thinking that, too.
    – jonsca
    Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 9:24
  • 1
    The 3 out of the last 5 questions that have been off topic are proving my point.
    – jonsca
    Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 9:45

4 Answers 4


Users who ask here questions that should be asked on Stack Overflow are users with a low reputation, lower than 100; this means they are users with a low participation in SE sites.
A warning message probably passes unobserved, since the users can still enter the question they want to ask. They probably see everything that is not pertinent with the "task" they are going to do (i.e. asking a question) a distraction.

It could help if the shown message contained the link to Stack Overflow, and it were not possible to write the question before X seconds; it could be implemented for users with low reputation and no question asked, or a high number of questions closed as off-topic (which includes the case the user asked a question that was closed as off-topic).
As for being effective in any case, that is something not assured; there would be users that would keep asking questions for Stack Overflow here.


The problem is that these users don't read. You can't solve that problem by adding more text for them to read, no matter how much more clear or explicit it might be.

When these same people plow through stop signs in school zones, we ticket them. We don't waste a bunch of time trying to figure out how to improve our stop signs. They're already obvious enough, and there wouldn't really be much of an improvement if we added "STOP! NOW! YES, EVEN YOU!" and flashing lights. So go ahead and put away your <blink> tags.

  • How about if we make a rebus out of it?
    – jonsca
    Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 9:18
  • 3
    Users that do read would be confused by a sentence like "Stack Exchange engine that powers the Stack Exchange network". You might as well post a message in Hebrew.
    – Andomar
    Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 9:30
  • 1
    @Andomar: Why? I read things, and that's perfectly clear to me. I can't read Hebrew at all, though. Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 9:30
  • 1
    @Andomar What should it say so it's clear to everyone, then?
    – jonsca
    Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 9:33
  • "We don't waste a bunch of time trying to figure out how to improve our stop signs" - sure?
    – AakashM
    Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 16:05
  • @AakashM: Not entirely sure, no: Designing a Stop Sign Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 9:32

A short glance on the site should tell those users that they are on the wrong site. They should notice that there are no other programming questions here, but for some reason they don't.

I don't think a better message would stop those users, they just seem to write their question into the first text field they find. I'm pretty sure they don't read that message on the right, or anything else on Meta.SO before asking here.

I would not be against adding a short text advising the users to post programming questions elsewhere, but I don't think it will significantly reduce those questions here on meta.


This post is in fun, don't take it too seriously. May be we can do something like this.

Add a question Answer this: Which programming language does your question belong to? above the Title text box on meta. With the options, .NET, Java, Other and This is not programming related. Refer screenshot #1.

Users have to pick one of the options and if they select This is not programming related, they are good. If they select anything else, we can throw the error message shown in screenshot #2.


#1: Sample question to answer before posting a question on meta.


#2: Error message if the question is programming related.

Error message

  • I like your error message!
    – jonsca
    Commented Aug 2, 2011 at 16:48

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