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Can we please have a ruling about Emacs questions on Stack Overflow?

I've noticed that a lot of SuperUser questions have answers involving code, and it occurred to me that most of the questions whose answers involve elisp code seem to be on StackOverflow, even when those questions are really more about customizing the behavior of emacs, rather than programming.

Then I realized that before I consciously thought about it, the emacs questions never seemed to me or anyone else to be out of place on SO, even though equivalent questions about other programs would probably be migrated to SuperUser.

So, here's the question: Why are questions about emacs customizations mostly on StackOverflow, while questions about customizing other programs (even customizations whose answers are code or even full programs) are mostly on SuperUser? And why? And should it be that way?


1 Answer 1


Simple. Questions regarding the customization of a development environment is related to developers, and therefore acceptable for SO. They add value to the working live of a developer, but have no value to a general power user who will never develop software.

SU is for general computer users. I doubt there is more then a third of the SO user-base even aware of SU, or who would ever use SU. Ideally we want them too, but the SU topic base is way to broad, and not all developers are interested in anything apart from the software they work with.

  • 3
    yes, if it's a hardcore developer tool (and surely emacs qualifies here) then it belongs on SO. Now if it was something like Notepad+, then perhaps not, as there's plenty of power user non-programmer crossover. Commented Oct 14, 2009 at 8:51
  • I'd never be able to answer questions that require more than three lines of code (unless it's copy pastable), so definitely SO
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Oct 14, 2009 at 9:09
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    @Ivo: emacs is programmed with lisp. Definitely SO.
    – perbert
    Commented Oct 14, 2009 at 13:16
  • So, emacs customization questions go on SO because emacs is generally a development environment, and not necessarily because the answers involve code? Also, does that mean that questions about customizing, for example, gnus or org-mode, should go on SU? Commented Oct 14, 2009 at 16:30
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    It depends. I am not familiar with either so cannot say. However if it involves a developer, and it affect his working environment, it has it's place on SO. Commented Oct 15, 2009 at 7:29
  • FYI, at the time this was written, the OP was an SU mod.
    – Pops
    Commented Aug 24, 2012 at 14:56

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