I have seen questions of all kinds on Stack Overflow, many have something to do with sofware development but never seen an ethics tag?! Kind of weird. Is this kind of question allowed of what to do with your customers, whether to show or not a page requesting user data?


6 Answers 6


Ethics questions are always subjective, and frequently argumentative. This tends to make them inappropriate for SO...

  • 11
    I find it highly unethical for you to provide this type of answer to a question on Meta. Especially since you didn't have a picture of a unicorn. Commented Feb 16, 2010 at 21:44
  • I dunno, I've seen some pretty non-subjective ethics questions on SO that didn't have much discussion. "That's the most unethical thing we've ever seen, closed". :-p
    – ceejayoz
    Commented Feb 16, 2010 at 23:17

Even where ethical questions are not really argumentative, they still tend towards discussion. Long, detailed discussions which are ill suited to the Stack Overflow format.


There really isn't much in ethics that is strictly programming-related. There are plenty of ethical issues that affect programmers, but they tend to be more general and would apply to quite a few professions. Heck, look at the ACM code of ethics. Most of the points don't even mention computing, and the ones that do aren't specific to software development.

That, and as Shog9 points out, ethics tend to be subjective, and it's really easy to get an argument started.


My problem with questions about ethics is that ethics are, by their very nature, subjective. There is no right answer. What is right for Person A might be horrific for Person B to even think about.


Not for Stack Overflow, but it seems well-suited for Programmers. Ethics aren't purely subjective, and it's still possible to give a well-constructed answer.

  • I'm not at all sure that many ethics questions would satisfy the criteria for good subjective. We'd probably have to close most of them. Commented Jun 10, 2011 at 21:28

I'm not sure about ethics questions in general, but the particular question seems to be a useful question with useful answers.

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