Stack Overflow seems to be for questions of the form "How do I do this specific programming task?"; whereas I want to ask a question of the form "How do I design a system that has this functionality?".

Such questions usually have several different good answers, and don't seem to fall into the "well-defined programming question" category. Should I post such questions on Stack Overflow, or is there a better place for that?

Related questions:

Which site for database design questions?


4 Answers 4


I've seen sufficiently specific software architecture questions get a good response on Stack Overflow, which is as it should be.

Veer too much into the nebulous and overly general and your questions may not fare as well, which is also as it should be.

  • 1
    +1 For the nebulous and overly general - AstronautOverflow?
    – MarkJ
    Mar 8, 2010 at 12:13
  • @dmckee So would asking for a critique on class design for a project be welcome on SO as long as it is written and explained well? Dec 28, 2015 at 8:41

I asked a similar question recently, which was closed as an exact duplicate. I got redirected here, and to one other question.

The best of the answers that I've read give me these hints:

The issue is not so much one of subjectivity, but of answerability. A good question is one that encourages a good answer. Maybe more than one good answer. Questions that are worded wrong can be hard to answer.

The Programmer's area seems to focus more on conceptual questions than SO does. I'm going to spend more time over there, to see if design questions get different treatment over there. I wonder how newbie askers get redirected over there.

Answers to design questions can direct people to where they can read up on design techniques instead of outlining the technique. Example: There's a certain class of questions about SQL table design where directing them to the "Class Table Inheritance" tag works well, judging by the responses.

i have learned to stay away from questions that the asker thinks is technical, but I think is one of design. Many questions of this ilk are rat-holes.


Visit software enginnering stack exchange

As mentioned in their help/asking section:

What topics can I ask about here?

Software Engineering Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professionals, academics, and students working within the systems development life cycle.

If you have a question about...

software development methods and practices requirements, architecture, and design quality assurance and testing configuration management, build, release, and deployment ...then you're probably in the right place to ask your question.


Head over to Programmers

  • Can you give some qualifications for when this is or is not appropriate? Apr 2, 2016 at 22:46
  • 1
    No need to down vote. Please read the OP. Programmers StackExchange is appropriate for, for example the OPs specifications. For more info, check the help section over there programmers.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic Down voting without useful comments helps absolutely no one. Apr 2, 2016 at 22:49
  • 1
    Downvoting, even without any comment at all, is helpful to everyone who might read the answer; that's why the feature exists. Among other functions, it is useful to signal an answer that lacks important information, or that is much less helpful than an existing answer with the same approach. Both apply here. Apr 4, 2016 at 0:12
  • 1
    It's difficult to really appreciate a downvoting when the question has no definitive answer, or the answer is a matter of debate. Is there a definitive answer?
    – didierc
    Sep 4, 2017 at 11:51

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