Are there any sites like Stack Overflow where we can ask computer science and more theoretical questions? What do you guys/gals use other than this site?

EDIT: Even though I really didn't get satisfactory answers, I am closing the bounty. I have been using comp.lang.* and the guys there have been pretty helpful. But I hope Stack Overflow welcomes more theoretical and broad range of questions that may or may not have straightforward answers. I also hope I don't need to tag my questions with a vague title like 'computer-science'.


12 Answers 12


This site:

Jeff has said that the site is about programming, instead of Computer Science in general. Although Computer Science related topics are often discussed anyway. I cannot say for sure, but I think he specifically said programming so that people didn't try to include questions like hardware setup. And not to exclude theoretical Computer Science topics.

I do think that you can ask your questions here, even if it is about theoretical Computer Science and it will be well received if it is a good question. I know at least I would upvote good theoretical Computer Science questions. I have seen many past theoretical CS questions highly voted up.

It comes down to the fact that there are many capable people on this site that can probably help you with your theoretical computer science questions. And if a lot of these people like your question, then as a community it will be voted up and answered. I can't see a moderator deleting a question that is well received by the community.

Other source of info:

Other than this site, you could ask for recommendations for the topic you want to know about from professors in your Computer Science department. Or to a school that is local to where you live. Also, depending on what you're studying, a lot of times the classes (that cover your topic) in University have a forum per class.

  • 10
    I am not sure about the "well received" part. Lot of questions were mercilessly downvoted .
    – kunjaan
    Commented May 18, 2009 at 3:10
  • 1
    But what DO you use other than this site if you want your questions answered?
    – kunjaan
    Commented May 18, 2009 at 3:11
  • @kunjann: Thanks I addressed this in the bottom paragraph. Commented May 18, 2009 at 3:16
  • 3
    @kunjann: I also informed the moderator asking if he could blog about this topic, if Jeff feels that theoretical computer science question should be allowed. Hopefully we'll hear from him about it. And if he feels it's allowed then you'll probably find a better acceptance of such questions. Commented May 18, 2009 at 3:31
  • 3
    +1: Computer Science questions are already well received here. See this stackoverflow.com/questions/900273/… for example.
    – kgiannakakis
    Commented May 27, 2009 at 7:38
  • You assume your own "think" over the owners "think", even though it is explicitly forbidden.
    – hmcclungiii
    Commented May 31, 2009 at 23:10
  • @hmcclungiii: No one's "think" is explicitly forbidden in a community site. Each person can voice their opinion. If the community as a whole likes theoretical computer science questions, and they are voted up, then I can't see a moderator deleting the questions or deleting answers from smart people. Commented Jun 1, 2009 at 0:45
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    Why would CS questions be downvoted? I certainly would not downvote a CS question, nor do I see any reason to do so.
    – Jean Azzopardi
    Commented Jun 1, 2009 at 1:18
  • 1
    @Jean: lots of programmers can do their job fine without a touch of CS, so they downvote them for being useless questions. At least that's how I interpret the situation. Quite unfortunate, really. Commented Jun 7, 2010 at 18:23
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    @polygenelubricants: I agree. That's an incredibly short sighted view by the downvoters. They probably fail to realize that without theoretical CompSci they'd probably be doing something else instead of programming... like plowing fields or something. ^^
    – Baelnorn
    Commented Jun 7, 2010 at 22:30
  • 1
    As this is the highest-voted answer, I think it should now mention Computer Science and maybe Theoretical Computer Science, as these answer the question most directly.
    – Raphael
    Commented Sep 24, 2013 at 5:30

The discussion boards on Lambda the Ultimate generally have a high signal-to-noise ratio, and attract a lot of the computing-sciency crowd. You're likely to get a good response there.

Edit: Note that although it's got a functional name and a pretty large FP-oriented crowd, non-FP discussion is still quite welcome there, so long as it's theoretical enough.

  • 3
    I visit the LtU but its usually language centric.
    – kunjaan
    Commented May 18, 2009 at 3:18
  • 1
    I doubt that it's stackoverflow-like
    – hasen
    Commented May 26, 2009 at 22:55

Yes, there is a "Theoretical Computer Science" Stack Exchange site. It is intended for research-level questions. More basic questions tend to be directed to the Computer Science or Mathematics Stack Exchange as appropriate.


There is Computer Science site. It is open to all “students, researchers and practitioners of computer science.”

Important: This site is about computer science, as in the academic discipline. No, we won't fix your computer, or your code. This is the site you go to when you need the expertise of people with a computer science university degree.

See here for some necessarily imperfect attempts to clarify what that means. Our official scope description is here.


Some suggestions:

  1. C #lisp and #haskell on irc.freenode.net

  2. comp.* hierarchy
  3. Comp Sci at Reddit

That's sort of what the ACM is for.

  • 8
    I've been an ACM (and IEEE) member for a decade now, and I can't think of any service they offer that is remotely Stack Overflow-like. Is there something particular you have in mind that I may have forgotten? Commented May 29, 2009 at 20:32

It's not exactly "Stack Overflow-like", but the closest I've seen to your desire is Academic Hacker News (http://www.cs.toronto.edu/~ad/news/).

You can ask questions there, and I'm sure you'd get a response, although the traffic is not terribly great these days.

However, that being said: since CS is an academic discipline, I'd think that most people just ask their professors, or read the literature. If you're just starting out in CS, and not affiliated with a University, you might want to study a few foundational texts instead of trying a question/answer approach.

  • The site was not what I was looking for but thanks a lot. I found some amazing links. Thank you.
    – kunjaan
    Commented May 30, 2009 at 23:25
  • Glad you liked it. I know it's not terribly close to StackOverflow for CS, but it is the closest I've seen, in terms of content. Commented Jun 1, 2009 at 13:25

Check out this question that I asked in February. In the question I included everything I use. It sparked some interesting behavior (folks wanting to close it and several people favoriting it and upvoting it). Jeff Atwood himself commented on the idea.

I don't think a lot of researchers and professors "get" Stack Overflow yet and thus aren't interested at the moment (although several do like Prof. Ramsey).

You might be interested in Luis von Ahn's Academic Publications 2.0 post as it sort of relates to what you're talking about.


Ask HN maybe ?


Yep. It exists..

It's called usenet and conferences.



But it's not ready yet - link goes to Jeff's announcement post on the stackoverflow blog.

At any rate, if you wanted a community where (almost) anything goes, you’re about to get exactly what you asked for in the form of superuser.com. If your question has to do with computers, it will be allowed there.

  • It's ready now though./
    – random
    Commented Oct 22, 2009 at 4:30

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