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Why the bias against subjective questions?

I think it's kind of silly to vote down a non-programming question when it is still highly technical in nature. This seems like a good place to have an open forum about software engineering and all aspects of the trade from requirements through testing and monitoring.

Almost always our jobs as engineers require more than just cranking out code every day. We need to think about how the code will be tested, how the code will be monitored in production, etc. Many time a little guidance for finding the right software packages to integrate into your software system is just as relevant as finding a specific API to get your code working.

Am I totally off-base here? Or am I missing the point of this site and should just find a different community?

EDIT (JH):

There is a close reason called 'Not Programming Related'.

If Jeff Atwood wanted non-programming questions, he wouldn't have put that there.

EDIT 2 (VV):

It's worth mentioning that there are many not strictly programming related questions that are upvoted and answered, many related to communication, career development, job hunting and so on. As non-programming related is so ambiguous, you might stumble upon a trigger happy 3000+ rep guy, or you might not, but that's how it is, you need a bit of luck when the question might not be directly programming related. So I think you are in the right community, unless that luck factor bothers you too much. Just search for tags "career" "testing" "interview" to see for yourself. Although on your example, testing, architecture and so on, are definitely considered by most if not all people as programming related.

EDIT 3 (DJ47):

Thanks for the answers. I guess I just need to tag my questions appropriately so that other members of the community know what exactly it is about.

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  • I am of the same opinion. The non-programming questions may be as useful as the pure coding stuff
    – andy.gurin
    Nov 9, 2008 at 20:22
  • I guess my argument is that programming is more than just code. In fact, I forgot to mention the MOST important (IMHO) aspect of programming: communication. If I had a programmer-stakeholder communication question would that be inappropriate?
    – djensen47
    Nov 9, 2008 at 20:23
  • Click on "about" at the top of the page, it says "Stack Overflow is a programming Q & A site that's free.". Note the "programming Q & A" part. Also, as Jonathan just mentioned, there is a "Not Programming Related" close option for a reason.
    – Robert Gamble
    Nov 9, 2008 at 20:27
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    This site actually has a pretty narrow focus on programming. Jeff has talked before about not allowing those types of questions and even possibly creating a seperate SO like site for them. But until then, SO isn't the place for them.
    – mmcdole
    Nov 9, 2008 at 20:30
  • SO is what its community makes it. Its founders' focus might be "programming", but that encompasses a huge area, Jeff or Joel can play with the rules to adjust what happens, but these are pretty blunt instruments.
    – RoadWarrior
    Nov 9, 2008 at 23:00
  • Closing this as not programming related is just hilarious.
    – Pim Jager
    Dec 3, 2008 at 22:20
  • "of interest to at least one other programmer somewhere" <- From the FAQ. I think people get a bit high and mighty about what qualifies as programming really. Rep inflating their heads I imagine.
    – Martin
    Dec 13, 2008 at 19:08

3 Answers 3

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I still argue that programming requires all of these things:

  • Writing code
  • Communication with customers and/or stakeholders
  • Requirements, how else do you know what to code?
  • Architecture, how do you software/code components fit together
  • Design, which are your objects, what are you going to build
  • Testing, how will it be tested
  • Monitoring, how do you know the code breaks.

But maybe what I've described is "software engineering." So why can't we make this a site not only about programming but also about "software engineering."

We're not code monkeys, we're engineers!

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  • I would agree with you on these, but not on "What's the best OS for a computer for my grandma?" -- which may have technical aspects but is definitely not the point of this forum.
    – tvanfosson
    Nov 9, 2008 at 20:32
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    All of these questions have been asked and not closed.
    – Vinko Vrsalovic StaffMod
    Nov 9, 2008 at 20:32
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I guess, because it is a site about programing.

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It's subjective. Sometimes "non programming related" questions are closed almost instantly, sometimes they stay open and can get a lot of answers.

This is one of the properties of an open community. I think this is something to be proud of (although it can be a bit annoying sometimes ;-) ).

But let us not forget, we get reputation because other people have trust in our knowledge. And reputation gives us power. If we all are smart enough to use this power wisely, this site is going to be better every day.

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