This seems to come up a bit on Programmers.SE but which site is the canonical site for general (i.e. not research oriented) algorithms questions? If we look at the Stack Overflow FAQ we are told the following:

We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • matters that are unique to the programming profession

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

Likewise, if we look at the Programmers.SE FAQ we are told the following:

This can include topics such as:

  • Software engineering
  • Developer testing
  • Algorithm and data structure concepts
  • Design patterns
  • Architecture
  • Development methodologies
  • Quality assurance
  • Software licensing
  • Freelancing and business concerns

If your question is about programming tools, please ask on Stack Overflow instead.

So it looks like there is a bit of overlap in the FAQs that need to be resolved, perhaps we can updated them to indicate a finer-grained example (for example Stack Overflow could have "a specific software algorithm implementation") of which to use on which or just remove it from one to leave the other site as the appropriate location?

  • 1
    The breakdown seems to be practical vs. conceptual, which seems clear enough to me.
    – user154510
    Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 17:44
  • Related: Where on SE to discuss Computer Science.
    – user149432
    Commented Oct 7, 2011 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


Because they cover roughly the same domain, there's always going to be some overlap on certain topics, but I think the FAQ is sufficiently clear about the distinction via the introduction to the on-topic list:

Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow is for professional and enthusiast programmers, people who write code because they love it. We feel the best Stack Overflow questions have a bit of source code in them, but if your question generally covers...


Programmers - Stack Exchange is for expert programmers who are interested in conceptual questions on software development.

This can include topics such as:

If you're working with your actual code, Stack Overflow is the better place. If you're asking about the concepts behind something, Programmers is where you want to be.

A larger issue is that there isn't really a good place to ask general, non-research level computer science questions. There's a proposal for that, but there hasn't been a lot of traction, and a few earlier attempts were closed.

So Stack Overflow and Programmers are stuck with these types of questions by default and they get split based on a somewhat unintuitive line (for computer science questions) just due to the way Programmers and Stack Overflow distinguish themselves from each other. If you keep in mind that Stack Overflow is working with code and Programmers is working on a whiteboard, it should guide where to ask any specific question.


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