Currently on Stack Overflow there is a question about Carbon Emacs keybindings.

It has received a (very reasonable in my estimation) vote to move to Super User, but there are already several similar questions on Stack Overflow:

Some on Super User:

And even a few on Server Fault:

What is the sense of the community on where these are best asked? Stack Overflow? Super User? Where ever the asker puts it?

At this point I make it:

  • Super User: 7
  • Stack Overflow: 4
  • Where ever posted: 1

That's a modest majority, but not much of a consensus any way, so I'll be leaving them alone until I see some more agreement.

  • 3
    Not sure really, I just use emacs for the psychiatrist.
    – user50049
    Jul 5, 2010 at 12:30

7 Answers 7


My sense is that these are questions about software configuration, and as such are probably better on Super User.

Yes, I respect that emacs configuration is performed in elisp, and that emacs is used more by programmers than others. But I'm sticking to my guns.


Simple to me, emacs belongs to computer software, so anything linked to its configuration should be on SuperUser. The fact that it is used mostly for programming has nothing to do with it. Question about Eclipse configuration should be on SU as well, as example.

If you require advanced programming to this configuration, then it should be on SO.

A more simple example is Excel. All excel questions should be on SuperUser, except when they are related to macro programming, then they should be on SO.


I agree, like URL rewriting questions between SO/SF, this is a gray area.

The more "programmery" a tool, the more likely the questions about it should be on Stack Overflow.

So ... how many non-programmers use emacs? I personally get the sense that's a pretty small audience once you rule out programmers. But then again I don't use emacs, so maybe I'm not qualified to answer.

  • If I don't know the answer, it doesn't belong on SuperUser!
    – Ivo Flipse
    Jan 18, 2010 at 11:02
  • Given that there are emacs configuration questions on SF I conclude that some IT types who don't think of themselves as programmers use it, and this agrees with my experience of IT people. But I have no idea what faction of the user base that makes up: it might be pretty small. Jan 18, 2010 at 16:43
  • I know quite a few science-types that use Emacs because of its LaTeX editing packages that are definitely not programmers.
    – D.Shawley
    Jan 19, 2010 at 14:11
  • @D.Shawley: Here meta.stackexchange.com/questions/12918/… and elsewhere you'll find me arguing passionately that LaTeX is programming. Which makes me wonder if I am be inconsistent... Jan 19, 2010 at 20:42

StackOverflow if and only if the question is directly related to Emacs Lisp code, e.g. "What's the problem with this Elisp script," or "What's the Elisp function to do blank." SuperUser for all other cases.

Saying that a question may require writing code to satisfactorily answer it is a red herring, because it doesn't matter to the questioner one way or the other. You're the one writing code, he's just going to drop whatever you give him into his .emacs, give you your 15 rep, and call it a day. And that's not programming, that's commerce.


In a way, emacs is a special case for configuration questions, since people use elisp to develop applications.

  • So, you like Stack Overflow, then? Jan 17, 2010 at 23:11
  • I think so, it is tricky when the question is just about keybindings or some such, but often the best fix to an emacs question involves writing elisp, and in those cases you would want to ask the audience of programmers who are comfortable writing elisp code, who are more likely to be on stack overflow. Jan 19, 2010 at 20:55

Stackoverflow because emacs is primarily a programming tool, and the way you customize it is with elisp.


I suspect this is a minority view and I know it is a strongly held view: if you believe the question will get a better answer on another site, then vote/suggest it be moved, otherwise leave it be. Point being to help each other out and not incite a riot toward the QCP (Question Correctness Police).

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