What is the difference between grep -e and grep -E option? was recently migrated from Stack Overflow and I'm wondering why. The SO FAQ clearly states that software tools commonly used by programmers is a valid post for SO.

Is there a point of clarification that should be added/addressed in the FAQ?

As a footnote, it seems that the whole Stack Exchange network is just meta categorization and there's no real reason that this question could not exist on both sites.


I cast the 5th close vote, and I admit it was a borderline call. I didn't think the question should be closed or migrated by the community to SU (where it wouldn't have been quite as good a fit as on either SO or U&L), so I decided to move it to the place where I thought it had the best chance of staying permanently. I could have just wiped the close votes, but there's no guarantee that it wouldn't have been closed later when no moderators were paying attention.

  • How do you wipe the close votes close/reopen ? – user147520 Oct 10 '12 at 20:01
  • @iain I assume by casting the last close vote, and reopening the question immediately after it. – Bart Oct 10 '12 at 20:03
  • @Iain Yes, that's right. Just close for any non-migratory reason and reopen. – Bill the Lizard Oct 10 '12 at 20:05

There's a significant bloc on SO that strives to make it purely programming problems. People have even asked if IDE questions are appropriate there.

That question could have stayed on SO along with the other two-thousand plus questions about grep.

That said, Unix.SE is a better fit.

While SO covers "Software tools commonly used by programmers", Unix.SE covers "Applications packaged in *nix distributions." Questions about what grep options do are better suited to the latter stack.

I wouldn't have migrated it, but it's not an incorrect migration, and shouldn't cause any problems.

  • 2
    The "problem" I've had with this is that it strips people of reputation. The poster had <200 rep on SO before the question was migrated and would be fairly close to that level if it would have stayed in SO. The magic 200 rep is important for users of SE. I would absolutely hate having to get up to 100 rep for each SE site I use just to be able to upvote good (but not perfect) answers. – hafichuk Oct 10 '12 at 19:52
  • @hafichuk Rep dilution is definitely a problem, but one that hasn't been given much weight by SE so far. If you think ambiguous migrations are a problem, consider the generally policy of making all rules changes effective retroactively. Question upvotes switched from +10 to +5 and suddenly people saw thousands of points wiped out. I feel your pain, but the powers that be don't appear to. – blahdiblah Oct 10 '12 at 21:36

There's nothing wrong with the question on Unix & Linux, we wouldn't have given it a second thought if it had been asked there. But there's nothing wrong with this question on Stack Overflow either: grep is one of the commands in unix shell programming. Unix shell programming is on-topic on both Stack Overflow and Unix & Linux. That is what makes the question on-topic, not “software tools commonly used by programmers”, which is not the case: that bit means tools that are rarely used by non-programmers, not tools that programmers use often, otherwise all computer questions would be on-topic.

That specific question was apparently more from a user perspective than from a programmer perspective; if there had been a context with a script using grep, the question would probably not have had votes to migrate.

I would have left the question on SO, but U&L is a slightly better fit. There's no harm done anyway.

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