This question was just posted to SO:


The OP admits right off the bat that the question is "more of a career question", which is very clearly off-topic. But I could not match one of our off-topic reasons to this question because they are all too specific:

  • Questions about general computing hardware and software are off-topic for Stack Overflow unless they directly involve tools used primarily for programming. You may be able to get help on Super User.

  • Questions concerning problems with code you've written must describe the specific problem and include valid code to reproduce it. See SSCCE.org for guidance.

  • Questions asking for code must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved. Include attempted solutions, why they didn't work, and the expected results. See also: Stack Overflow question checklist

  • Questions on professional server, networking, or related infrastructure administration are off-topic for Stack Overflow unless they directly involve programming or programming tools. You may be able to get help on Server Fault.

  • Questions asking us to recommend or find a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.

  • This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network

  • Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)

Other can obviously be made to work for any situation, but the question was so far from on-topic that I wasn't really sure how to begin ("wha... you... can't you read?" just didn't seem to fit with the spirit of the new close reasons). Perhaps we need a more general off-topic reason, or at least some language I could copy/paste into the other reason?

As-is, I weant with "primarily opinion-based" which, in this case, seemed to fit just fine.

  • 1
    I would argue that you can just comment that SO is for coding questions but you're right it would be nice to have a stock answer with a link to an explanation Jul 17, 2013 at 16:06
  • As a side note, I nearly posted the same question about the statistics question (nowhere to put 'off topic because it's not on topic'), then selected other and remembered why that's not an option :) The new autopopulating other (I think it's new?) is really very useful, IMO.
    – Joe
    Jul 17, 2013 at 16:18
  • 2
    That example has a lot wrong with it. Mostly it's too opinion-based for any Stack Exchange site, even the Workplace (I think). Jul 17, 2013 at 16:20
  • Ah, is that the better place for it? For some reason I thought Programmers was where you post questions about coding-as-a-career.
    – Joe
    Jul 17, 2013 at 16:21
  • 1
  • @AustinHenley - Which is a duplicate of How should off-topic questions be flagged when no off-topic reason from the dialog applies?
    – JDB
    Jul 17, 2013 at 16:33
  • 1
    @BilltheLizard Yes, even Workplace. :)
    – jcmeloni
    Jul 17, 2013 at 19:06

2 Answers 2


The OP admits right off the bat that the question is "more of a career question", which is very clearly off-topic.

To be fair, that wasn't always clear to a lot of people - hence the creation of Programmers then The Workplace and finally Freelancing (twice).

So it pays to take a couple seconds and explain why that question is off-topic. As Joe notes, there's an "other" option that lets you type in just such an explanation - I would go with,

This question appears to be off-topic because it is about career choices rather than programming.

Please try to avoid using other for generic "not about programming" comments. It may be reasonably obvious in this case, but I'm seeing this used in cases where the question clearly is about programming... just using a language or platform that the close-voter isn't familiar with. If you can be bothered to read enough of the question to state what it is about and then follow that up with "which isn't programming" you give other folks something concrete to agree or disagree with... And avoid giving the impression that you stopped reading after the title.

  • People are using the "not about programming" reason because stating that the OP's question is about something else specifically (which can be almost anything) commits them to defending that specific reason for closure, and now they have to try and explain why that particular subject is off-topic to someone who is going to argue with them anyway. I know this because that's how I've felt; it's taken be some time to feel free to change that boilerplate comment to whatever I feel is appropriate, or simply delete it, if I don't want the hassle of being challenged by the OP.
    – user102937
    Jul 17, 2013 at 17:28
  • Also, "rather than programming" is phrasing that is not suggested in the boilerplate comment.
    – user102937
    Jul 17, 2013 at 17:30
  • The "rather than programming" bit isn't suggested because it's somewhat superfluous - the important bit is that you identify what you think the question is about. And yeah, it encourages arguments in borderline cases - if you post "server administration" (or "server admin rather than programming") for a WAMP question, then someone can come back and argue "but I thought programming tools were on topic here?" - which they should.
    – Shog9
    Jul 17, 2013 at 19:07

The current "Other" is pretty good as it is for this. The text that is autopopulated is:

This question appears to be off-topic because it is about

So if it is totally off topic, you can simply add "not" before about, and then add "programming" or something similar after it. Good to go, very little work required. :)

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