I like looking at old questions where I got a new upvote, and today happened across this one:


closed as being off topic.

Now look, folks, I've been a programmer and software engineer for more than 40 years. I can't think of a topic that's a lot more on-topic -- or important -- for a professional programmer than understanding the difference between functional and nonfunctional requirements.

  • 2
    The question states but what could be possible requirements? Any ideas ? The problem with that is it very open-ended and could lead to discussion. I would say that it should have been closed as not constructive instead of off-topic though.
    – Taryn
    Mar 25, 2013 at 13:10
  • I would have voted for closing as not a real question because of being to broad.
    – juergen d
    Mar 25, 2013 at 13:10
  • Or 'too localized' as it explains the functional and non functional requirements for a specific game. Mar 25, 2013 at 13:17
  • Did not see the question as it is already deleted, but maybe Programmers Stackexchange is a better place to ask this. There is also already a question about functional and non-functional requirements.
    – Uooo
    Mar 25, 2013 at 13:59
  • 2
    @w4rumy It's over 60 days old, it can't be migrated. meta.stackexchange.com/questions/156254/… Mar 25, 2013 at 14:11
  • Okay, I've now been a programmer for almost 50 years, this question is still being downvoted, and you all are still wrong. But what the hell, I get a lot of consulting work because I can come in and fix things when someone didn't understand the nonfunctional requirements. Nov 30, 2018 at 22:12
  • 1
    Why was this question downvoted so heavily?
    – Shawn Eary
    Feb 15, 2021 at 20:08
  • People were embarrassed. Feb 25, 2021 at 19:47

3 Answers 3


This is not just about whether your question is on topic for software engineers. It is also - and more importantly - about whether it is on-topic for Stack Overflow. The site's FAQ states that the following topics are considered on-topic for Stack Overflow:

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • practical, answerable problems that are unique to software development

None of these apply to the question in question. So your question may be on-topic for software engineering, but is clearly off-topic for Stack Overflow.


This question has several... issues with it.

  • Off topic: As another answerer has stated, it's not in our scope. But let's say I'm wrong about that. Why else could it be closed?
  • Not a Real Question: It's an impossibly broad question: You could come up with various requirements until you're blue.
  • Too Localized: How many people will benefit from this specific question? There's no way to generalize it; it's about a specific paper that a specific university is using for their class assignment. Outside of that group of people, no one else will find this question.
  • Not constructive: Too many possible answers, too much ability for discussion. Which one is the 'right' answer? How do we know objectively that it's right?

It also requires a link to a PDF to download even to answer. What happens when that link dies? The entire question becomes useless.


  • The question would be in the text and not in the PDF, and
  • If, somehow, the OP could make the question a larger question about functional and non functional requirements and
  • If, somehow, the OP could make a discernibly objective answer criteria

It'd probably still be off topic, but it'd be a lot closer to scope than it is currently.

As it stands,the question is so far outside of scope that even talking about it is just attracting rubber-neckers. I've deleted it. 10K users can edit it and flag it for un-deletion. We've got a lot of borderline questions we can talk about, but I just don't see this as one of them.


FAQ mentions:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

Though it was a software engineering question but not inline with FAQ, so it was correctly closed.

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