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I recently had a question downvoted and voted to be closed for being 'off-topic' even though according to my interpretation of this post https://stackoverflow.com/help/on-topic my question is in fact on the topic of the third bullet point which reads, "software tools commonly used by programmers."

So, if StackOverflow isn't the place for my question, where is? I'm really trying to learn what is meant for StackOverflow and what isn't, but the question still remains: "Where do I go if not here?"

SO is the go-to website for getting questions answered about all things programming, so if I have a programming related question that isn't on topic there where am I supposed to go that has enough eyeballs and experienced programmers to give me a good answer to my questions?

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    Did you read the entire page that you linked to there about what is on-topic on SO? It specifically says this is off-topic: Questions asking us to recommend or find a book, tool, software library, tutorial or other off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. – n8te Dec 18 '19 at 6:18
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    I admit that as a person with a full time job, taking several classes, and has two children at home to provide for, I haven't had time to read every page of SO's manuals to completion. :P However, I do believe my main question still stands. If I can't ask it in SO, where do I ask it? Also, my post isn't a question to recommend me a tool, it is does a tool like this even exist? – RTHarston Dec 18 '19 at 6:22
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    Not all questions should be posted on the SE network. Have you considered your question might be one of them? – Mast Dec 18 '19 at 7:31
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    Off topic? Off site. – SecretAgentMan Dec 18 '19 at 14:24
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    Generally, noting that not getting comments for downvotes isn't going to end well. It also doesn't help that you're calling such voters immature. Asking for feedback isn't bad. Going straight on the attack, though, doesn't really give anyone any reason to actually respond. It helps if you make an effort to understand how the network functions. – fbueckert Dec 18 '19 at 15:34
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    Side question: If this is such a big problem, why vote down a question that is honestly trying to understand the problem better and how to avoid it? Now other people who need to see this won't see it and you'll just have to keep dealing with similar questions all over again in the future. – RTHarston Dec 27 '19 at 19:27
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    I share your sentiment regarding quora. One can quickly waste a lot of time their, too. And in any community there are just so many people that you can always run into some jerk. Glad I could help you! – GhostCat Dec 27 '19 at 20:24
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First, your statement:

I wanted to see if anyone has seen/heard of/used something like it

directly conflicts with a quote from that help desk link you include in your question:

Questions asking us to recommend or find a book, tool, software library, tutorial or other off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam.

The point is: you are actually looking for a forum-like discussion place. The essence of your request is an open-ended exchange of thoughts. There is nothing wrong about that, it is just something that is avoided here.

From that point of view, the answer is: reddit, or quora.

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    Thank you for not only pointing out how I was wrong (as everyone seems to love to do around here...) but then also actually answer my question. I'm not being facetious, I am actually grateful. I don't use reddit, and I haven't always got the best answers on quora, so I thought SO would be the best place to ask. Sorry for wasting everyone's time (okay, I'll admit that was a bit facetious). – RTHarston Dec 27 '19 at 19:26
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You seem to be getting hung up on this text from the help center on Stack Overflow:

if your question generally covers…software tools commonly used by programmers…then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

However, you're reading this completely wrong. That means if you're having a question regarding a specific tool that you're using (such as Visual Studio or Eclipse), then it's probably on topic. For example "Why am I not hitting this breakpoint I set in my IDE?" would be on topic. Then we get to the next part of the help page:

Some questions are still off-topic, even if they fit into one of the categories listed above...Questions asking us to recommend or find a book, tool, software library, tutorial or other off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam.

That means that while you might ask about how to use a specific tool, you can't ask for someone to recommend an alternative to that tool, you can't ask for someone to recommend extensions to that tool etc.

I believe the wording here is about as plain as can be made. You seem to not be wanting to read it that way, simply because you disagree with it (and yes, I pointed this out to you and you seem to have read the help page before asking your question here on Meta). While I understand it's frustrating to find out you can't use Stack Overflow like that, we've got good reasons for our rules. Stack Overflow is not meant to be a discussion forum: it's more like Wikipedia. We have a narrow scope, and we want high quality questions and answers.

You stated:

I admit that as a person with a full time job, taking several classes, and has two children at home to provide for, I haven't had time to read every page of SO's manuals to completion.

We don't expect you to read every single help page. But we do expect users to read The Tour when they join the site, which states "Don't ask about...Product or service recommendations or comparisons". I would also expect a new user to read the help page on asking and answering questions before asking or answering questions. And certainly I would expect them to listen to experienced users who try to guide them on what the site is for, rather than attempting to argue about it. I get that you have a life outside of Stack Overflow - most of us do too. I don't think that's a good reason to ignore our rules.

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    Thank you for expounding on that bullet point for me a bit more. I can see what you mean. I still feel the original text could explain that better, the way you did. Also, I'm not trying to ignore the rules. I'm trying to understand and explore them. Stagnation is the death of all things. Maybe it is worth considering that new users might have a point of view worth listening to from time to time, or you'll never get new users to stick around and SO will eventually wither up and die. Also, I don't remember that Tour being a thing when I signed up over five years ago. Maybe I missed it. – RTHarston Dec 27 '19 at 19:34
  • @RTHarston We do listen to users, but you have to realize by now that we've heard most of what they've had to say before, because we've been here listening. And we were all new users too. The Tour existed at least 6 years ago, as I got a badge for completing it December 17th 2013. – mason Dec 27 '19 at 19:42
  • I guess I did miss it. My bad. It is now on my list of things to do when I have the time. I'll refrain from asking questions until then so I don't mess it up again. Thanks for your time. – RTHarston Dec 27 '19 at 19:46
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I can suggest two possibilities:

  • Software Engineering. There, your question might be on topic under the quality assurance category. However, it might be off-topic because it can be classified as tool recommendation. I am not a regular user there, I would suggest to look around and see what "question asking" culture is there and if you can tune your question to fit it. I would say, that you can rewrite your question to be interesting to that audience.
  • Software Recommendation is weaker (in my mind) match; however, IDE tag there has lots of questions, and you might find something there.

The fact that you are not looking for a specific tool is of some help: it allows focusing your question on best existing practices; however, now it comes across as a tool recommendation one.

General advice: to get good answers, you want to find the right audience and ask the question it is interested in answering. So, I strongly suggest reading on-topic pages and hanging around at SE communities to get the best possible experience.

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    Thank you for actually attempting to help me out and not just shut me down. I'd give you more than one up-vote if I could. I did find both of those communities after mason voted to close my other question but I lost any desire to actually ask again after how I've been treated in the meantime. It is refreshing to see answers like yours (even if it is a bit disheartening to see no one else upvote it). – RTHarston Dec 27 '19 at 19:32
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    @RTHarston I am genuinely sorry for not the best experience, to put it mildly, you had. :( part of it certainly lies inside SE and us. – Anton Menshov Dec 27 '19 at 20:14
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    Thanks for the kind words, but I really did bring it on myself for not reading up on all the rules first. I've been meaning to for a while, but as a programming student and not a programming professional I don't actually get paid for any of the work I get help with using SO, so I find it hard to justify the time for something I so rarely use. Once I have graduated and start working in the field I'll dive right in and read everything I can find. Until then, I'll hold off an asking anything I don't know for sure is kosher. – RTHarston Dec 27 '19 at 20:19

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