Once I'm well into a software project I post specific programming questions. But with new projects it's sometime hard to get going because I don't have enough knowledge to pick the right tools or take the right approach. I usually have some ideas but like to get some input from the many stack exchange experts. However these type of questions often get voted down, closed as deemed opinion based as if opinions are a dirty word. I see why a question like 'which is best programming language' are not helpful but questions such as https://stackoverflow.com/questions/33695722/whats-are-the-downsides-to-using-paypal-shopping-cart-rather-than-integrating-ow are not the same and would benefit other programmers, and surely that's one of the main objectives of stack overflow.

Stack exchange is my first port of call because of user expertise and the great ease of use of the site, and the single login for all the stack exchange sites. I don't really don't want to use other sites.


1 Answer 1



We focus on Q&A here, which discussions are somewhat antithetical to. And which are something we have not tried to work on, for various reasons.

The closest we have is chat.

Why no place for discussions? Because this is not a discussion forum.

Stack Overflow was built from the ground up as a Q&A platform. And discussions get in the way of that. Which is why they are not allowed - and the success of the platform is a testament to it being a good decision.

The problem with discussions is that they are generally based on opinion, not fact. And the kind of issues you wish to discuss are also all about the details - the subtleties and context of a specific problem domain.

Text is a poor medium for that kind of discussion. Pure and simple. These are the kinds of things you want to get several people in a room to discuss. Not do it it text.

It is a difficult problem to solve in a textual format: discussions lead to threads of discussion. One needs to track those. What happens when there is some threads reference others threads? How does it look? How does one represent all that in a way that makes sense?

Chat is probably the closest we have, but even chat is not suitable for multi party, long and intricate discussions.

  • I don't see why the question I posted is a discusision rather than a question, some of the answers may be subjective but no more so then in a specific programming question where there is more than one answer, and there normally is. I prefer text to discussions ( not that I have access in person to people who may have the answers anyway) because the details are not lost, all points can actually be answered. Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 0:22
  • 3
    And there you go. "some of the answers" - how do you choose the "best" answer from a bunch of answers that are based on opinion? How are votes on them in anything but a popularity vote? How does one objectively selects that best answer? And outside of that issue - how does one discuss answers? Bring up additional questions?
    – Oded
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 0:39
  • Here is a programming question stackoverflow.com/questions/29409184/… with multiple answers, there are multiple correct answers, the best answer depends on your 'opinion' , I don't see these answers are loess subjective then the question I linked to in my first post, I. That first question about shopping cart integration I'm not asking which is best I'm asking for a list, it's not a popularity contest Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 7:46
  • Yes. And one that has been most upvoted and even accepted. The merits of which can be chosen objectively.
    – Oded
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 9:58
  • I accepted that answer because i thought it was the best answer, but that was my opinion I wouldnt argue that my decision was totally objective and could equally give consideration to answers to my shopping cart question. you havent made clear why you consider one question can only havesubjective answers and the other question have objective answers. Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 10:10
  • Another point, on your blog you describe a design course and the advantages and disadvantages of it odedcoster.com/blog/2015/01/27/… . Clearly some of the points you list are only specific to that one instance of the course you went on but in general I think a question on the lines of 'What are the advantages of a design course for non-designers' would be useful question on a stack exchange site (doesnt need to be stack overflow) but such a question would get closed. Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 10:16
  • But be much more useful to be on stackexchange than on your blog where the only interaction is comments and you could just delete any comments you didnt like. If you dont believe stack exchange to be a good site for such questions I dont know what is, certainly mailing lists forums and blogs are not very useful as they provide very limited ways to respond. Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 10:19
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    @Paul That example (advs of a design course) would be a terrible question for any site in this network - it can't be answered, just postulated over, which obviously makes it untenable for a Q+A site. You're not going to get this one past the post I'm afraid, it's well established that SE doesn't want discursive, open-ended, opinion-based questions - the fact you don't know of a better place to ask them isn't likely to change that, I wouldn't consider that to be a strong argument for your case
    – Clive
    Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 10:55
  • @Clive you are right it wouldnt be a great question for StackExchange, but I was really using it to make the point that if it was on SE would have more worth than as a blog post. But going back to my stackoverflow.com/questions/33695722/… question I don't see why potential answers to that question are really anymore subjective than my stackoverflow.com/questions/29409184/… question Commented Nov 14, 2015 at 12:22

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