I was just wondering why generally non-programming questions get many responses and votes on SO.

  • 7
    Oh, the irony...
    – Welbog
    Jan 8, 2010 at 12:52
  • 6
    Just watch, eventually, meta will be more popular than stackoverflow. Jan 8, 2010 at 13:41
  • @gaspar - haha, this is genius
    – Matt
    Jan 8, 2010 at 15:12
  • @Peter: Eventually? Hell, I already spend more time here than the other 3 combined. More fun.
    – John Rudy
    Jan 8, 2010 at 15:31

5 Answers 5


It's called Parkinson's Law of Triviality:

The concept is presented in C. Northcote Parkinson's spoof of management, Parkinson's Law. Parkinson dramatizes his Law of Triviality with a committee's deliberations on a nuclear power plant, contrasting it to deliberation on a bicycle shed. A nuclear reactor is used as example because it is so vastly expensive and complicated that average people cannot understand it, so they assume that those working on it understand it. Even those with strong opinions often withhold them for fear of being shown to be insufficiently informed. On the other hand, everyone understands a bicycle shed (or thinks he or she does), so building one can result in endless discussions because everyone involved wants to add his or her touch and show that they have contributed. While discussing the bikeshed, debate emerges over whether the best choice of roofing is aluminium, asbestos, or galvanized iron, rather than whether the shed is a good idea or not.

  • 2
    An previous boss of mine used to talk about "colour of the box" meetings/discussions - everyone has an opinion on the colour of the box the software comes in (or used to!)
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jan 8, 2010 at 14:27
  • 1
    @ChrisF: our product meetings are very quiet when we talk about features. But the product name? Now that's a meeting!
    – user27414
    Jan 8, 2010 at 15:41

Non-programming questions don't require any kind of technical expertise. Anyone on SO is qualified to answer these questions, so far more people than usual participate.


Because there's a much lower entry level for these questions. Everybody has an opinion, everybody loves to argue and you don't need any technical knowledge to do it.


We love to argue over stuff that doesn't really affect us..


Because you get to say stuff you don't really mean or know anything about :)

On the serious side: the questions that you classify as "non programming related" might actually be software related.

Such topics get more answers and opinions because the question does not pertain to a specific language/product/technology.

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