Is it ok to create public repos on git or svn to help illustrate answers for questions where the answer requires many steps?

I had a look for questions relating to this. e.g.

The answers on these are old, and i wondered if the thinking is still the same - i.e., dont link to external code repos to use as an appendix of information for an answer.

In this question (Simplemembership - adding email field and use as login-name) the OP had asked a question relating to multiple files. It took a lot longer to type out the detailed change list than create a project with git that walked through the steps, and even then I missed a step.

A git without the steps is, I would think, useless in terms of answering the question. But a list of detailed steps along with a git is a lot easier for people to follow.

  • 7
    Are questions which require this kind of complex answer a good fit for SO?
    – hayd
    May 14, 2013 at 17:29
  • 1
    @hayden. Indeed - not something I am qualified to answer.
    – Andy Brown
    May 14, 2013 at 17:53

1 Answer 1


These definitely don't belong on Stack Overflow. If you can't ask a question without linking to your entire project's source code, you're question isn't suited for a Q/A site; what you're looking for is a programmer who is willing to come debug your code for free. For Stack Overflow, we need a short self-contained example which reproduces your problem.

Try to remember that the goal of Stack Overflow isn't to help you; it's to provide canonical answers to problems in our field. Performing a one-on-one debugging session for your codebase doesn't help anybody but you, and it certainly won't help future users.

Similarly, answers requiring such a massive code-dump as to necessitate linking to an external repository are a very good indication that the question isn't a good for for Stack Overflow, for the above reasons. Answers which are little more than links to external sites are already frowned upon.

  • I like that. So with questions like that should we ignore them, answer them quickly, flag them ... ?
    – Andy Brown
    May 14, 2013 at 18:47
  • 1
    I usually flag them as "too localized", as they focus on a very narrow problem in a very specific code-base.
    – user229044
    May 14, 2013 at 18:48
  • 1
    @AndyBrown Close them, or flag for closure if you don't have the rep. If there is not enough information to answer the question in the question itself (without following any linked content) then it's incomplete, which makes it "not a real question". Such questions also have a high probability of being "too localized". Choose which you feel is more appropriate in context. Answers that cannot answer the question without relying on linked content are also "not an answer" and should be flagged as well.
    – Servy
    May 14, 2013 at 18:49
  • @meagar This meta question is specifically referring to answers with such links, rather than questions. It shouldn't be a huge change, but could you adapt the post to address that (or address both).
    – Servy
    May 14, 2013 at 18:50
  • @Meager. Would it be better to point these to Code Review as per meta.stackexchange.com/questions/129841/…?
    – Andy Brown
    May 15, 2013 at 11:27

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