Most not programming related questions get closed in less than 30 minutes after they are posted. If the poster is lucky to post the question on weekend - his question might remain open until Monday. So, why is there such tag in the first place?

My understanding was, that the tag is for questions, that are not programming related, but are related to other stuff that programmers do. For example, naming their projects, configuring software, getting the right tools, career choices etc. Apparently, other high-ranked people think differently, and the questions get closed very fast.

  • 1
    You should tag this as not-programming-related... oh the irony Feb 24, 2009 at 10:27
  • 1
    Even if someone who is new asks a soft question and doesn't put a community wiki gets closed.
    – Techmaddy
    Feb 24, 2009 at 10:27
  • 1
    Moreover I saw a lot of of-course-programming-related questions tagged as not-p-related-at-all by some self-proclaimed whatever
    – Anonymous
    Feb 24, 2009 at 10:30
  • so far i would say it's pretty subjective, if it arouses the nose of other programmers, shouldnt it be left alone? or so say the SO faq page.
    – melaos
    Feb 24, 2009 at 10:32
  • Hey someone stole my idea :)
    – Shoban
    Feb 24, 2009 at 10:34
  • I wrote a Q about this that got a lot of wiki-points (stackoverflow.com/questions/384144). But now, just a few months later, I can't even begin to care. Or, rather, I care differently: stackoverflow.com/questions/560854. Now I'm trying to DO SOMETHING about the problem. Feb 24, 2009 at 11:10
  • Lieven: I was scared to add it, because I wanted at least SOME answers before it gets closed... That's what happened to my last NPR question - I added the tag myself, but I was lucky to post it on weekend... Feb 24, 2009 at 12:47
  • kai1968: it would be interesting to see some links. Do you have any? Feb 24, 2009 at 12:49
  • melaos: that's what I think, but obviously, I'm wrong... Feb 24, 2009 at 12:50
  • D.Rosenstark: When I was writing this question, your Q didn't show up in the similar questions list. I'll read what was said back then. Feb 24, 2009 at 12:51

5 Answers 5


This comes up a lot.

Now fwiw, I think certain individuals in particular are very trigger happy with respect to closing and very letter-not-spirit about the FAQ which is far too vague to be treated as such an authority. One can only imagine how these people would have revelled in the council of Nicaea. That said...

There are just a ton of questions tagged NPR presumably under the hope that this is enough to justify their existence as a vague, "fun", and blatant attempt at rep-farming. SO does not need more "What's your favourite FOO?" questions. Nor does FOO="Chocolate bar that you could eat three of when programming" make it a real question. Of course sometimes NPR is edited in to such questions to denote that they are of the type, which to my mind is something of a misuse itself because I feel NPR != does not belong on SO.

IMHO the appropriate use for NPR is to denote a question that is not directly about code or architecture - i.e. actual programming - but something related. Perhaps a business question, a question about testing, or process, or hardware. That's not to say all such questions are suitable of course.

I still strongly feel that a question which deserves to be open will stay so in the long term, because I have faith in the voting system and market forces, so I'd advise you to let the frustrations slide a little.


Umm, so people with the reputation to moderate / edit / close them can see such questions easily?

My reputation lets me re-tag something as not programming related, likewise someone else could contradict me. If the tag persists, someone else can vote to close it.

StackOverflow is soon to launch a sister site where other questions would be welcomed, voted up and help anyone doing a Google search. Until that happens, we need to stay on topic.

Subjective and broad (unspecific to solving programming issues) questions are put under a microscope, as they should be. If someone can't demonstrate an answer with code in any language (in any kind of question) .. it should be reviewed and possibly closed. Other times, fun questions where the poster clearly demonstrates that they do, indeed program some kind of a computer are accepted.

In the UNIX/Linux tag, this gets fuzzy, since often core command line utilities have accompanying functions in the C library with the same name. Hence, some of us tag, some of us edit, some of us close. It works well.

  • Most of the NPR questions CAN be answered with code. For instance, my own question about project naming - I can easily imagine someone posting code, that auto-generates the titles... would that make the question appropriate? Feb 24, 2009 at 12:40
  • Is the problem typically solved with software, all things being equal? Some topics can be expressed in programming terms, even psychology if non-blocking I/O might pertain to the human thought process. That doesn't make it programming related :) I agree, however, a lot of junk gets through NPR..
    – Tim Post
    Feb 24, 2009 at 14:38

Exactly for that.
Say you're a trigger happy non-programming-related question closer. What better way to spot new questions desperately requiring closure other than repeated refreshes on the "not-programming-related" tag?

  • It's also handy for the 'reopeners', what better way to spot the questions which are about to be closed so you know where you have to spend your 'reopen' votes ;-)
    – Treb
    Feb 24, 2009 at 10:42

The question "Why have not-programming-related tag, if all questions under this tag get closed anyway?" seems to pre-suppose that tag names are some kind of pre-built set.

In fact anyone can coin a tag, hence not-programming-related has come about because one or more users choose to add it to a question. Its as simple as that.

  • That's not what I meant. I added this tag on my own question, and it got closed. Other questions, that do not have this tag, but are not-programming-related as well - do NOT get closed... Feb 24, 2009 at 12:42

This is a growing problem. There are a couple of requests on uservoice adressing the 'closing wars', asking for changes in the way closing/reopening votes are handled. I believe that this is the wrong approach, trying to get rid of the symptoms without adressing the underlying problems.

Basically, there are two groups of higher ranking users, those that have a restrictive view (pro closing) and those that are non-restrictive (against closing). From my understanding, the pro people want to aviod SO being cluttered by off topic questions that lowers the signal to noise ration on this site, while the against people either do not see this as a problem or think that a broader range of topics makes SO more atractive.

The community needs to find a consensus on which questions should be closed. Once we have that, we can see about a technical implementation (change in the closing/reopening system). But first we need an open minded and goal oriented discussion about how the community wants to handle this.

  • This doesn't really address why this tag exists. The site operators have said on several occasions that a certain amount of off-topic activity is allowed and encouraged. It's up to the community to decide how much. The NPR tag allows users who want it to easily find that content. Mar 2, 2009 at 21:44
  • @Joel - the tag exists because someone tagged something with it. Someone could make a tag not-broccoli-related, and it would then exist. See Anthony's response below.
    – kenj0418
    Jun 4, 2009 at 22:55

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