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I think that the original purpose of Programmers (originally called not-programming-related) hasn't fulfilled its purpose, and right now it functions as a duplicate of Stack Overflow. The question What's the difference between Programmers and Stack Overflow? has 4k views and is on top of the meta questions list. One main answer:

"... Stack Overflow is for when you’re front of your compiler or editor working through code issues. Programmers is for when you’re in front of a whiteboard working through higher level conceptual programming issues..."

This is only a nice theory, in practice this site (Programmers) is a redundancy, any question that I thought to ask here I could ask on Stack Overflow. The real "white board" questions are not welcome there as they are too broad and usually get downvoted and closed.

marked as duplicate by gnat, Martijn Pieters discussion May 23 '14 at 8:16

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    Have you actually used Programmers in any significant way recently? There's a vibrant community there dedicated to answering conceptual questions about software development. There's no such thing as a "real" white-board question that is off-topic, unless what you really mean are "water-cooler" questions. – Robert Harvey May 22 '14 at 21:46
  • yes, i tried with a great effort. hence the proposal. – tatigo May 22 '14 at 21:48
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    If you want to ask water cooler questions, you won't be able to ask them on either site. The reality is that both sites are much easier to moderate if you keep these two subject areas separate. It makes the scope of both sites much easier to understand and control. – Robert Harvey May 22 '14 at 21:49
  • i found that you can't ask any question on programmers that you can't ask on Stack Overflow. But by number of downvots I see that many disagree:) – tatigo May 22 '14 at 21:50
  • @RobertHarvey What's a "water-cooler" question? – Mysticial May 22 '14 at 21:51
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    @Mysticial: The kind that got asked when Programmers was Not Programming Related. Questions like "What should I name my cat?" and "Do you fart in the cubicle?" – Robert Harvey May 22 '14 at 21:52
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    @RobertHarvey Ah. Like our "bikeshed" questions. – Mysticial May 22 '14 at 21:52
  • Yes, exactly... – Robert Harvey May 22 '14 at 21:53
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    You asked a grand total of one question on Programmers. It got closed as too-broad, which I will agree is hardly a positive experience, but how do you get from there to "Programmers is a duplicate of Stack Overflow"? – Adam Lear May 22 '14 at 21:54
  • I tried to ask design questions there, nothing about cats – tatigo May 22 '14 at 21:54
  • @AdamLear, what can be asked there that can't be asked on stackoverflow? – tatigo May 22 '14 at 21:55
  • @tatigo I'm not going to rehash what's covered in great detail in several meta posts, countless discussions that happened back when Programmers launched and pivoted away from its original not-programming-related-anything-goes mission, and currently in the sites' respective help centers. SO focuses on code. Prog.SE doesn't. Here's an example (albeit old) of a question that doesn't belong on SO. Here's another. The list goes on. – Adam Lear May 22 '14 at 22:00
  • Having said all that, there isn't necessarily harm in scope overlap between two sites. We build sites for audiences, not just for topics. Prog.SE has a thriving community, and I believe you're dismissing it prematurely. – Adam Lear May 22 '14 at 22:02
  • I'm familiar with the discussions, the shift in focus is there, but i think it's no enough to have 2 sites, and confuse so many innocent users. That why the top question in programmers meta is about the difference. – tatigo May 22 '14 at 22:03
  • I think that the 2 sites can be safely merged and no one will notice the difference. – tatigo May 22 '14 at 22:04

Stack Overflow is for programming problems. Problems that an individual has during the process of designing code or doing software development where the solution is very likely to be expressed as a code change.

Programmers is for problems programmers have that don't have a software or code fix, and aren't common to other professions.

You may believe that programming problems that can't be solved using code should exist on Stack Overflow, but history bears out the fact that many, if not most, of the experts on Stack Overflow prefer a very high signal-to-noise ratio that excludes problems that can't be solved with code.

So we have both sites.

While it's true that I originally submitted Not Programming Related in order to hold even subjective questions, it has also been shown that the Stack Exchange site design does not support such use well, and so the initial pioneers of Programmers, after much tribulation, found a vector to success, and the site is thriving around a good community that benefits from the direction it has taken.

The two sites are very different. While some people comfortably live on both, they have distinctly different sets of experts, and a distinctly different mission.

If you still scratch your head at why there's two, pick the one that "speaks" to you the most, and simply hang out there all the time. There's no need to force yourself to understand and participate in both communities if you don't see the purpose for both. Stick with what you know.

  • I agree to "stick with what you know", I was hoping the programmers will give me the opportunity to ask "open", broad questions. – tatigo May 22 '14 at 22:11
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    @tatigo: That's what message boards, fora, chat rooms and mailing lists are for. No Stack Exchange Q&A, bar the metae, is intended to invite discussions. – Lightness Races with Monica May 22 '14 at 22:13

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