Should questions about computer programming terminology be addressed on Stack Overflow, or should they be addressed elsewhere (i. e., on Super User, English Language & Usage, or Programmers?)

For example, where would the following question fit?

Does 'written in itself' usually refer to self-hosting compilers, or to self-interpreters?

The FAQ of each of these sites does not clearly explain where such questions should be addressed.

  • 3
    You have an example of such a question?
    – Bart
    Aug 8, 2012 at 17:26
  • 2
    We do have a few terminology questions on Programmers, if your question is about a programming term and its not trivial (i.e. answered by Wikipedia or a vocabulary), feel free to ask ;) But please go through the list of existing questions, it might have been asked before.
    – yannis
    Aug 8, 2012 at 17:29
  • InRe: the example question. What in the world makes you think it should be exclusive? Aug 8, 2012 at 17:35
  • Can you explain the abbreviation "InRe"? Aug 8, 2012 at 17:38
  • I think programming terminology would be mainly of interest to programmers, but not necessarily exclusive to that profession. Aug 8, 2012 at 17:39
  • 1
    @AndersonGreen: InRe -- With Respect to.
    – user102937
    Aug 8, 2012 at 17:41
  • 1
    @RobertHarvey How on earth do you get With Respect to from InRe? (The "In" is what confuses me.) Aug 8, 2012 at 18:04
  • 1
    @BlackVegetable: By looking at the context/usage. See also en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_re
    – user102937
    Aug 8, 2012 at 18:04
  • @RobertHarvey Thank you, I hadn't considered it was a Latin abbreviation, doh! Aug 8, 2012 at 18:08
  • @AndersonGreen It is (or at least used to be) a customary usage on office memorandums. Probably I should have know better than to use it in an international forum like this. Sorry for the confusion. Aug 8, 2012 at 18:11

1 Answer 1


English Language & Usage is the closest possibility. Vocabulary questions are off-topic on both SO and Programmers.

Your example question describes a concept, not necessarily vocabulary. For the record, the answer to your example question is "yes." See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-hosting

To summarize, the SE network is not a dictionary, but so long as your question is on-topic, questions about concepts are perfectly acceptable.

  • 2
    However, I'm concerned that such questions on English Language and Usage would be closed as "too localized", since they are mainly of interest to programmers, and not the general public. Aug 8, 2012 at 17:29
  • Is the exclusion of vocabulary questions specifically stated anywhere, or is it a subjective interpretation of the rules? I haven't found this rule anywhere in the FAQ (so far.) Aug 8, 2012 at 17:36
  • 1
    There is some guidance here and here and here
    – user102937
    Aug 8, 2012 at 17:40
  • 1
    I'm becoming worried about this kind of "content-first, community-second" taxonomical rigor across the SE network. It's significantly less likely that someone on English.SE will be able to answer a question about software terminology. It's debatable whether jargon and neologisms, which don't even exist in the English dictionary, belong on English.SE. Can't we please just leave questions where they are most likely to receive good answers? Nov 5, 2012 at 5:55
  • @ReiMiyasaka I agree: I think it's very unlikely that programming terminology would be familiar to most English.SE users. Jul 30, 2013 at 18:28

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