What if we had some sort of warning that users' questions seem off-topic, especially on MSE? It seems to me that a large majority of the blatantly off-topic questions here should be on Stack Overflow. It could work like this:

  • It's got a list of keywords, sort of like Smoke Detector but for programming.
    • Maybe programming language names and terms, such as "Ruby" and "Python" and "if statement".
  • It looks for if there are large codeblocks with a lot of what appears to be syntax.
  • It disables if the user has more than 10 reputation or so on Meta.
  • It runs when the "Post Your Question" button is pressed.
    • If the keyword condition or the codeblock condition is met and it is enabled, it displays some sort of thing like a box popping out of the posting button that has a message like "Are you sure this question is on-topic? This appears to be about programming. For questions about programming, go to Stack Overflow".

Ironic how it would trigger on this post if I had less reputation...

  • 2
    It's pretty common for people to be quoting, paraphrasing, or otherwise discussing the content of programming questions, so lots of appropriate meta questions have all of those things.
    – Servy
    May 7, 2019 at 14:23
  • 2
    Programming is only one part of off-topic questions; we also get off-topic questions that run the gamut of SE sites.
    – fbueckert
    May 7, 2019 at 14:25
  • 1
    @Servy this wouldn’t stop them from posting; it would just notify them that they’re on Meta, not SO and they could still post it if it were actually on-topic. May 7, 2019 at 14:48
  • 1
    @fbueckery this could include those too, the description in the post is only about programming just because that’s a lot more narrow and it could trigger on many of the off-topic questions. May 7, 2019 at 14:48
  • 1
    It's still a pretty wide net you'd be trying to cast. Not sure how useful it would be to even make, with the potential issue of false positives.
    – fbueckert
    May 7, 2019 at 15:00
  • I propose a banner ...
    – rene
    May 7, 2019 at 15:34
  • Simply roll a dice with 1s and 0s on it. If it lands on a 1, then mark the question off topic. It'll be right 50% of the time here.
    – user1228
    May 7, 2019 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


Like Servy says, many valid questions about code would cause false positives to such a detector and needlessly complicate posting them. And users come here with their mathematics and general software/hardware problems too.

I feel a modified Ask Question Wizard would be much more effective in discouraging users from posting blatantly off-topic questions, but some people are just too desperate for answers and will still post here.

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