The phrase "what language" in a title tends to be followed by one of:

  1. "is this?" (code snippet)
  2. "should I use for X?"
  3. "is X programmed in?"

See "what language", "what languages"

I'd argue that

  • (1) does not demonstrate minimal understanding, or even a problem
  • (2) is opinion-based
  • (3) is a weird combination: does not demonstrate a specific problem in an off-site resource

But, before I flag most of the ~400 (eventually), are these questions on-topic?

  • I suggest changing your search to "what language is" rather than "what language". There are far fewer results (71 vs 300~) and it's probably closer to the type of question you refer to here.
    – JonW
    Jan 6, 2014 at 12:04
  • Low effort, lack of minimal understanding or primary opinion based. Jan 6, 2014 at 12:05
  • @JonW I just did some searching, and to account for only "what language is/does/should/to" doesn't capture nearly all of the possible ways to ask those questions. Which is your point, I know, but restricting the search by adding a verb reduces the possible benefit of such a search.
    – Trojan
    Jan 6, 2014 at 12:18
  • Well point 2 of your list is certainly off-topic, but points 1 and 3 are slightly different questions so I wouldn't group all those posts under the same search. By splitting the search out you'll be able to deal with both type of questions separately - close off any 'what language should I...' questions but (depending on what people on this question say) perhaps deal with the 'what language is...' questions differently.
    – JonW
    Jan 6, 2014 at 12:21

2 Answers 2


Assuming that programming language is a tool to get particular job done, questions asking to recommend a language match the canned close reason:

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...

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These are three completely different categories of questions.

What language is this code snippet written in?

Meh. I have a hard time seeing how these questions can be useful, and this is coming from a staunch defender of story identification questions on literature-type sites. They're extremely rare on SO. What is it, 10 questions out of a couple of millions? Why are we wasting time on this?

What language should I use?

Primarily opinion-based unless there's some very very strong constraint.

What language is X programmed in?

Off-topic — it's about X, not about programming.


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