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All too often, people see this phrase in the FAQ, and read it as permission to ask their question because it is somehow tangentially related to programming, when they should be reading it as a restriction: don't ask your question unless it is on topic, and is a "practical, answerable problem that is unique to the programming profession."

Accordingly, please change the faq to look like this:

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 …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers

And it involves a:

  • practical, answerable problem that is unique to the programming profession

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

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    What do you mean by "swayed?" I won't have to argue its meaning anymore; it will be plainly stated. – user102937 Apr 4 '13 at 17:19
  • Ah, I was thinking you were hoping the new wording would prevent the "somehow tangentially related to programming" questions from coming up... I see you were just thinking about it in terms of ammo for closing bad questions. – Mike Apr 4 '13 at 17:21
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    I don't think people's motivation for writing code should determine their suitability for SO. If you love to write code, great! But I think that SO can be for you even if you do it as part of your day job but you'd rather be playing golf. So please strike the phrase: people who write code because they love it. Update: I see that's in the FAQ already, so maybe removing it will require a different request. – Caleb Apr 4 '13 at 17:39
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    I think that can be made stronger: "...but if your question is a practical, answerable one that is unique to the programming profession and generally covers: • a specific programming problem..." – jscs Apr 4 '13 at 17:40
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    Honestly, I don't see the need for the "unique to the programming profession" phrase at all. It seems to be there to include stuff we now would prefer to be asked on Programmers.SE, and at least the first 2 items in the list make it redundant (I guess it prevents "NetHack is commonly played by programmers! I can too ask this question here!". Maybe.) – Wooble Apr 4 '13 at 17:44
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    @Wooble Yes, if I remember correctly, that phrase was added because people were asking questions about keyboards and chairs. – Bill the Lizard Apr 4 '13 at 18:28
  • Such a good feature request. – George Stocker Apr 4 '13 at 18:36
  • I think this change is "too minor", too subtle to be really effective. – bfavaretto Apr 4 '13 at 19:19
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    @bfavaretto: It takes away the excuse. "I asked this question because the FAQ said I could. My question is a practical, answerable problem that is unique to the programming profession." Obviously it won't change the behavior of people who don't read, but it will give me something to point to without them retorting: "But my question is a practical, answerable problem that is unique to the programming profession." – user102937 Apr 4 '13 at 19:27
  • We'd still have to respond to people who read badly, too. I'm just unsure how much time that would save us. But thinking again, it's so cheap to implement that it's worth a try. – bfavaretto Apr 4 '13 at 19:35
  • I can't say that I oppose this change, but I'm not sure I'm convinced of its necessity. You say that "All too often, people see this phrase in the FAQ, and read it as permission to ask their question because it is somehow tangentially related to programming". Can you cite some examples of that? And then why modifying the about page would make those questions more clearly off-topic? – Cody Gray Apr 5 '13 at 4:47
  • @CodyGray - Just some examples from a quick search: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/70724/… , stackoverflow.com/questions/15062486/… , meta.stackexchange.com/questions/96845/… . There are regular fights over this wording that I've had to clean up in comments (maybe one or two every week or so), so it does cause a problem in its current form. – Brad Larson Apr 5 '13 at 15:43
  • Related. I'm always like "should I link to the FAQ? What about that last point?". While we're at it, maybe just give the whole "What kind of questions can I ask here?" a nice little refactor. – Dukeling Apr 6 '13 at 22:06
  • Wow, that...strikes me as quite an amazing interpretation. What good is the Internet if not for surprises, I suppose. Talk about reading the FAQ out of context... – Cody Gray Apr 8 '13 at 20:14