We want to inject some discipline into programmers.stackexchange.com.

One of the ways we hope to achieve this is by merging the Developer Testing: Unit Testing site proposal***** into programmers.se.

We believe that the Developer Testing proposal, as stated:

  1. would be actively harmful as a standalone site, in that it would negatively draw traffic from a larger covering site into a niche site
  2. covers topics that are already perfectly valid and allowed and exist in large quantities on stackoverflow.com and programmers.se (compare to web app questions on superuser, which were explicitly disallowed, yet kept coming up)
  3. can be folded into a re-disciplined programmers.se for a much broader audience and thus an overall more productive and useful treatment of the topic, versus a niche site

We invite those interested in this site proposal (or programmer.se) to answer: do you agree that the developer testing site proposal should be merged into a re-disciplined programmers.se or another general programmer site?

In your answer, please provide evidence to support your position, either yea or nay.

* among others; Joel mentions a few more in his blog post

  • 1
    As an aside, the question was posed to Programmers.SE users (all 6 of them that bother to go to the Meta site, at least), and some feedback was provided about each of the proposed merges Joel mentioned.
    – user149432
    Sep 23 '10 at 22:15
  • 5
    I have a better idea: why don't you merge Unit Testing with Programmers and then merge everything back into ... wait for it ... StackOverflow.
    – JohnIdol
    Sep 24 '10 at 22:44
  • I don't think The Stack Exchange model is a good model for discussion or Polls; and empirical evidence bears that out. However; if we're going to have the latter, I agree that it should be controlled as tightly as possible, otherwise you'll get "What Lingerie should I buy for my wife|girlfriend|computer as a programmer?" and we all know where that road leads. Sep 28 '10 at 4:03
  • 1
    Folding it into Programmers seems like a lazy, or at least inappropriate, solution to the problem. The questions on Programmers are nothing of the How-To or technical sort. Sure, you could do it, but it doesn't seem to make sense. It doesn't sem different than combining Programmers with Game Development.
    – Mark C
    Oct 5 '10 at 6:19
  • Unless, of course, I have misunderstood the purpose of the Programmers site or the purpose will be redefined.
    – Mark C
    Oct 5 '10 at 6:29
  • Just a question, why this question is still open while that one: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/65577/… is not.. Read Robert Cartaino comment on the question.. Apr 17 '11 at 9:35

44 Answers 44


Heck Yeah!

I feel like Stack Overflow has been successful because it's such a large community of people rubbing shoulders. Big sites work better. They bring more people together, they hit critical mass faster, they're more enjoyable and there's more interesting conversation going on, so people come back again and again.

I just don't see ANY constituency clamoring for factionalism and splintering. I haven't seen ONE REQUEST for Stack Overflow to split up into multiple niche sites. None of our .NET programmers whine about the presence of smelly Ruby questions, or vice versa. Stack Overflow has become a huge hit with 3,000,000 unique programmers visiting every week simply because it is the one site that includes EVERYBODY.

That said, the Stack Overflow charter does not really cover everything that programmers do. Much of what programmers do--writing code, using development tools, etc.--is very objective. Truth is black and white. Questions have correct and incorrect answers. Everything is nice and binary. Those kind of questions are welcome at Stack Overflow.

But there's a ton of other stuff that makes up being a working programmer. Tests and design are a big part of that. Development methodologies. Working on a team. Managing your career. Those things are often a little bit more subjective. They don't exactly have correct and incorrect answers. Those are perfect topics for a site like programmers.SE.

Imagine if programmers.SE had a big infusion of questions on all these topics:

  • Software engineering
  • Software testing
  • Software Design (both UI and code design, including methods like TDD)
  • Scrum, Extreme Programming, and other teamwork methods
  • Design Patterns
  • Software Architecture
  • Software Careers

Now THAT would be one heck of an interesting site.... far more interesting than the current dumping ground of "what is your favorite programmer's food" poll questions.

Let's bring it all together in a giant, festive, delicious feast with foods from all over the world. Let's bring together everything programmers need to ask to do their jobs that isn't strictly coding. Instead of creating 20 little sites that only a few fanatics will care enough visit, let's just make one big site for everyone who is a professional programmer who wants to learn more about being a professional programmer.

  • 9
    Great idea to have a site about software craftsmanship that encompasses all of those topics. But I don't think such a site can coexist with "your favorite programmer cartoon." I suggest you start a new site on Area 51, merge all related sites into it, reset the votes on questions, and build it up right. Sep 24 '10 at 0:30
  • 5
    I agree with patrick. Infusing quality topics into programmers.SE won't work, and won't be appreciated by the locals. I'm all for merging with craftsmanship related topics, but not for merging with the site for which no question is off topic. Sep 24 '10 at 0:38
  • 6
    @Patrick McElhaney: The Software Engineering proposal can very easily be the site you are describing. All of the knowledge areas defined by the IEEE's Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge (SWEBOK): software requirements, software design, software construction, software testing, software maintenance, software configuration management, software engineering management, software engineering process, software engineering tools and methods, software quality, are on-topic, while "your favorite programmer cartoon" is off-topic. Sep 24 '10 at 1:17
  • For examples of clamoring for factionalism and splintering' you don't have to look any further than the list of SE sites. The several you mentioned in your blog post are doing just that.
    – David Culp
    Sep 24 '10 at 2:35
  • 3
    @Eric - If they're serious about it being "academic" oriented, I see being orphaned by the real practioners and innovators. If it had a practical bent, maybe, but I suspect it might still devolve into endless flame wars or inanity. Any site that explicitly allows subjectivity is going to risk that. Just look at programmers.se to see how wrong it can go.
    – tvanfosson
    Sep 24 '10 at 11:09
  • 2
    I think the main problem with programmers.se is that it doesn't work. It's not a useful site. Sure, it will attract attention, and plenty of good questions and answers, but they're not on topics people hunt for. Seriously, how often do you hunt for a flamewar on VI vs. Emacs? Yes, there will be interesting points of information in that question, and yes, someone will find use in it, but how many? I fear that if you merge those other sites into programmers.se, you're basically saying "We don't take this topic seriously, so we'll stove you away with the rest". Sep 24 '10 at 15:36
  • 3
    The idea is to clean up programmers.SE. StackOverflow is the wrong platform for generating useless flamewars about vi vs. emacs.
    – Joel Spolsky StaffMod
    Sep 24 '10 at 15:56
  • Afraid I dont agree; having too large a site means that question can get lost in the ether. Having a sites dedicated to specific topics, may have less traffic, but the questions are more easily seen and are specific to a site. Sep 25 '10 at 23:52
  • @Joel Spolsky ~ If you take away the battlegrounds the war just comes into the town square. Give us programmers.se, give us SO, give us SoftwareDevelopmentIsAScienceAndARealEngineeringFieldAndWeNeedAPretentiouslyLongNameToProveIt.se and ... I think you get my point. We do need one for academics (which will be largely ignored), we need one for "vi vs emacs" (see what I did there) and we need one for "what the hell is a gem and why do I need them for Ruby". I don't see a problem with three spaces. I see a problem with fifty spaces for programmers to ask questions.
    – jcolebrand
    Sep 27 '10 at 19:56
  • 4
    @Joel: If programmers.se isn't working, it should be dropped! Don't attempt to "fix" it by merging Developer Testing. Developer testing is a good topic for a site --- there are lots of questions that can be raised, but they are not all suited for SO. Programmers.se is too much about programmers rather than developing. Sep 28 '10 at 7:18
  • Currently there is a huge amount of questions of this type already on stackoverflow. I fear if you merge it to programmers.se, then next will follow is source control questions, and then after that some other site will take the database tags away. This process will continue to eat away at topics of stackoverflow. I don't think we're talking about merging here, I think we're talking about segregating the stackoverflow community which I don't think is a good thing. Unit testing questions are perfectly accepted on stackoverflow already. Sep 28 '10 at 12:57
  • 3
    You should check your facts. It may well be that .NET programmers aren't literally complaining about Ruby programmers being in the same metaphorical room, but again and again we see complaints on MSO that people aren't getting their questions answered, and these complaints (along with the real, hard, unanswered questions statistic) are rising over time. Do you think that's because nobody on SO is actually able to answer them? Or is it more likely that they're just getting crushed under the weight of a thousand other questions?
    – Aarobot
    Sep 28 '10 at 18:42
  • 1
    Anyway, I'll reiterate my response to the "merging" blog post: Programmers are people who write code, they implement algorithms and specifications. As an engineer, I have zero interest in discussing software engineering topics with programmers. As an architect, I have zero interest in discussing software architecture with programmers. If I were a tester, I would have less-than-zero interest in discussing testing with programmers (god, can you imagine?). If you want to combine multiple professions into one community then you had damn well come up with a better definition than "programmers."
    – Aarobot
    Sep 28 '10 at 18:47
  • Software engineering consists of: Software testing, Software Design (both UI and code design, including methods like TDD), Scrum, Extreme Programming, and other teamwork methods, Design Patterns, Software Architecture, Software engineer profession. So if you insist on programmers.SE being the site for questions on topics above, you should rename it into SoftwareEngineering.StackExchange (SE.SE), not "programmers".
    – Vanuan
    Sep 30 '10 at 21:43
  • 1
    @Joel - Maybe my complains came after you posted this but I would far prefer to have Stack Overflow split up into multiple niche sites so here is your (at least) ONE REQUEST. I rarely participate on Stack Overflow because it simply has too much noise that is unrelated to the topics that interest me, and especially because people who don't have deep related experience try to answer anyway to gain reputation points and thus give bad answers. Now if you could re-architect so that a site can feel like a niche site and still be part of the whole then that might be the best of both worlds. Oct 23 '10 at 21:56

I disagree with merging. I think developer testing and unit testing should be a niche site that will attract the relatively expert crowd that doesn't usually care (or not as much) about other types of developer related questions. Yes, I'm talking specifically about myself, but also know about several others I know in the community who can speak for themselves if they wish.

By not merging it, we are giving a good one place to find answers only about these specific subjects, with the ability to have a very engaged and focused expert crowd ready to answer, and benefiting from specialized "rank" in this specific field.

It might sound superficial, but I think we're more likely to see the likes of Fowler and Feathers in a separate, unmerged developer testing site than in a broader developer or Stack Overflow site.


  • 19
    +1 Another way to look at this is: I am a developer who is seeking guidance on how to test. I have some experience with testing, but I am by no means an expert. Having a separate site for Developer Testing makes me feel more prone to seeking guidance on that site directly because I think the proper experts would gravitate towards that site. With a general programming site, I get no such feeling. Sure, I can throw up a very specific question and get some kind of answer, and on SO it generally tends to be good, but I have more confidence in a separate site to receive expert answers. My 2 cents
    – Joseph
    Sep 23 '10 at 23:16
  • 11
    What would you think if the "separate site" had 95 users and the general site had 8,000,000?
    – Joel Spolsky StaffMod
    Sep 23 '10 at 23:26
  • @Joel True enough, but the whole point is .. In fact .. To create a site to answer a specific need.
    – Trevoke
    Sep 24 '10 at 0:03
  • 15
    @Joel, well, adding 7,990,000 users that don't care about TDD wouldn't really help the 95. Sep 24 '10 at 0:46
  • 8
    @FarmBoy: Really? TDD is pretty hot in programming circles. But even if it wasn't, surely even a small percentage of the millions of users who read Stack Overflow will amount to way more than the niche of users who would dedicate their time to hanging around a site only about unit testing. That's the rub. Sep 24 '10 at 1:10
  • If Developer testing only had 95 users it would die a natural and deserved death. Just like real life. Sep 24 '10 at 3:49
  • @joel I'd think that the general site was too big and that the signal to noise ratio would not be good. We're starting to get a thousand and one variations on the same question on stackoverflow - still ridiculously useful but its going to have to evolve more
    – Murph
    Sep 24 '10 at 6:25
  • For me, developer/unit testing is an integral part of development - that's what TDD is all about: you can't separate the development into "coding" and "testing" phases. IMHO unit testing questions are answered well on SO (of course I may be biased, since I have not asked such questions so far, only answered). Judging from that, it seems that there are a lot of developers on SO who do care about unit testing. Sep 24 '10 at 8:29
  • 18
    Joel: I would rather have 95 dedicated experts - that will listed to every new question coming up, than a million who every once in a while look up at "what's new" feed and miss my question altogether. I only visit stack overflow when a google alert tells me something with my search terms happened there, for example. I would listen to the full feed on a dedicated site. Sep 24 '10 at 9:31
  • 7
    I disagree with merging, too, but I don't think a testing-only site is really sustainable. It might work as part of a software engineering site, but not the one proposed if they're serious about it being "academic." I'm not interested in academic discussions on software engineering; I'm much more interested in what works.
    – tvanfosson
    Sep 24 '10 at 11:04
  • 1
    @Joel To your point about the user base. Then the next extension of that would be to not have SO at all, and to just have a Yahoo Answers, with everything bundled into one site. I think you know where I'm going with this. I'm not saying that you're merging point isn't valid, and to be clear, you are walking a fine line here. "When does a topic warrant it's own place?" My point is simply that I believe "Developer Testing" warrants its own place, and I think if that site existed then the community there would grow and not stagnate.
    – Joseph
    Sep 24 '10 at 14:38
  • Just my two cents: when I need the advice of an expert in a given area (TDD in this case), I have the common sense to try to reach his attention, since I don't expect him to search for my question in a lot of noise (in this context, noise means questions unrelated to his area of expertise). Lately, that means that I'm using Twitter/mail/IRC to point to the SO question.
    – alexandrul
    Sep 24 '10 at 18:16
  • 1
    There is also an aspect here of "developr testing" being broader than "programming". Sure, you've got TDD, and it is a very important part of the process, but you've also got all of the other levels of testing (integration testing, scenario-based testing, automated ui testing). But you've also got things like database testing, which is something I would have a hard time fitting inside the "programming" box. What about the relationship between testing done by developers, and automated testing performed by QA? Surely folks have questions about where those boundaries are, and how to manage them
    – ckramer
    Sep 24 '10 at 19:09
  • 3
    I don't see any point in the programming site. I DO see a point in the testing site. The case of the programmer site being someplace to go for questions that are related to programming but don't fit on SO is odd to say the least. That's like trying to prove a negative. A site dedicated to TDD and other developer testing makes perfect sense. Focus. It's wanted. It's needed. Sep 28 '10 at 14:05
  • I've struggled with trying to get testing questions answered on StackOverflow before; it's too specific a question on too general a site. If you needed to know how to replace the alternator on a 1999 VW New Beetle, would you rather ask a stadium of mechanics or a room full of VW specialists? I think the community would benefit from more specific sites.
    – OwenP
    Oct 1 '10 at 21:50

Why was "Developer Testing" even proposed? Objective questions about testing can be asked on SO, subjective questions about testing can be asked on programmers.se.

  • 1
    I think of SO now, when there are dozens of Q&A sites (and more are coming), is a place to ask just software construction related question. Questions about requirements, software design and testing deserve separate sites. Software engineering is a much broader area than just coding.
    – Vanuan
    Sep 23 '10 at 22:33
  • @Vanuan: See Joel's response: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/65439/… He is more eloquent than I.
    – raven
    Sep 24 '10 at 0:03
  • 2
    Testing questions on SO get buried.
    – nportelli
    Sep 24 '10 at 1:09
  • 30
    @nportelli: Every question gets buried on SO. Nearly a million questions in a little over two years. That's what, ~60 questions per hour, every hour? Users monitor the tags upon which they feel they can offer good advice. There in lies your niche. If your question gets ignored, it's probably because the subject isn't of interest to many people. Dedicating a site to that subject is not going to help.
    – raven
    Sep 24 '10 at 2:05
  • 3
    Sorry, but the whole distinction between "objective" and "subjective" questions is BS. There may be stupid questions and questions that only partly touch a discipline, but questions are never "objective" just like Wikipedia articles are never "neutral". To me the whole classification looks more like SO is for general questions, and programmers.se, development testing.se etc. is for more specific questions.
    – Jakob
    Sep 24 '10 at 7:32

No please don't merge Developer Testing into a more general site. I would like somewhere to go where I could ask and answer questions on TDD and BDD. I think this would get lost in the noise on a general programmers site.

  • Have you asked such questions on SO yet? There are already a lot of such questions there, and IMHO most of them got good answers. Sep 24 '10 at 8:35
  • 2
    @Péter People aren't expecting to find good TDD/BDD answers on SO, so they're not asking questions. The TDD/BDD experts aren't expecting to find many good questions on SO, so they're not seeking them out. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy. Sep 24 '10 at 12:58
  • 2
    Giving them a new site might not be the solution though, you'll attract only those that want to talk about testing, not those that when seeing a question about unit testing would answer it. If you're going to tell the TDD/BDD crowd to go to a site to get their questions asked, why not let it be SO? In any case I'm opposed to merging it into programmers.se to make that site better. Some equilibrium will happen, and it will only also make the TDD/BDD topics worse. Flamewars of NUnit vs. xUnit ensue. Sep 24 '10 at 15:39
  • @Patrick, fair enough, there probably are people who think like you describe - but whether it's the majority of developers or not can't be said without some thorough studies and statistics. Anyway, at the moment there are over 5500 unit testing questions asked on SO. I don't know your definition of a TDD expert, but it is definitely one of my interest areas, so I am looking for those questions and answering them whenever I can. Sep 25 '10 at 19:30
  • @Patrick: As another datapoint, I'm also interested in testing as it relates to development, and have participated in answering questions in the area in the past. I've no plans to add yet another SE site to the list I already deal with. Instead I'll leave it to wither on the vine and concentrate my attention elsewhere. (Say NO! to SO balkanization!) Oct 1 '10 at 20:36

I agree that "Unit Testing" is too narrow a focus for a site.

I disagree with merging it into programmers.se.

I suggest that a stack exchange on "Testing" that covered unit tests, specification tests, TDD, BDD, performance testing, scalability testing, NUnit, JUnit, xUnit, XUnit, Fit, RSpec, Cucumber, MSpec, etc. would be both large enough to be useful and focused enough to work.

  • +1, thanks for the succinct post.
    – Jeff
    Sep 24 '10 at 14:25
  • Would that include testing of reaction times? Or of IQ? Or for metal fatigue? Oct 1 '10 at 20:37
  • I'm thinking of testing as it applies over the entire process of software development, including verification/validation of requirements/designs/specifications. So if "reaction times" means how fast the software in an antilock bracking system responds, then yes. If "IQ" is a way to measure the reasoning ability of an AI system, then yes. And if "metal fatigue" is a metric that comes out of a physics simulator, then yes. But if you're talking about ways of testing humans, then no.
    – Bevan
    Oct 1 '10 at 20:46

I believe that a dedicated stackexchange site for testing is a good idea. Testing is a big and wide area. In waterfall-based companies, there are full teams of testers, which should be a big enough indicator.

Besides - what kind of testing are we talking about? Unit? Integration? Component? System? End-to-end? Performance? Testing is separate from Programming, although the same people will probably do a bit of both.

  • 2
    yes, but the title is DEVELOPER TESTING. Not "Testers". Sep 24 '10 at 0:11
  • 5
    I think it makes more sense to "merge" Developer testing into an overarching "Testing" site than into SO or Programmers.se
    – Bevan
    Sep 24 '10 at 6:51

I'm against the merger with "Programmers".

I think "Developer Testing: Unit-Testing and More..." could grow by merging with other sites. There are proposals for sites that have a much narrower focus, for example Selenium, Watir and FitNesse. We could bring them all together under the umbrella of unit, automated integration and acceptance testing.

"Developer Testing..." could also be merged with a site(s) dedicated to Software Craftsmanship (I don't know if there is a proposal for it). The combined site would then include topics from SOLID principles, clean code and refactoring, many of which are related to the original niche of unit-testing. Continuous integration could also be included (CI builds can run those automated tests, right?).

The result could be a well-focused, yet bigger site than the currently-envisioned "Developer testing..."

  • The areas you list are IMHO all part of software development in general. I haven't seen any posts rejected on SO with the reason that "it relates to software development in general, not just programming". Btw by this logic, refactoring should not be part of a developer testing site, as it is a whole different activity. Sep 24 '10 at 8:36
  • @Peter Red-green-refactor concept ties unit-testing and refactoring nicely. Some code may need to be refactored before you can write good unit tests against it. Some other code may need to be covered with tests first before it can be safely refactored.
    – azheglov
    Sep 24 '10 at 16:06
  • I am aware of that. But note that TDD similarly ties unit-testing and coding nicely. If you still want to separate them onto different sites, by the same logic you should separate unit-testing and refactoring too. Sep 25 '10 at 19:33

Sounds like a plea to save Programmers.SE.

It's all about focus. SO is for focused questions and has flourished but P.SE is not and has devolved (rather quickly) to water-cooler talk. At the rate it's going it won't make it out of beta.

If DT.SE was to be merged with either site, it is a better fit to merge it with SO than with P.SE. P.SE would just drag it down with it.

The problem with merging DT.SE with SO is that SO is too big. Yeah that's right, too big. It passed critical mass long ago and is in danger of becoming a black hole that sucks everything in and crushes them together so tightly the tags are not enough to pull them apart.

Take for example nearly any question that happens to be on the front page of SE -- then look click the TAGS button and find all the tags that apply. How many do you get -- a dozen or more? The poster chose some, other users may retag -- but there is a hard limit of five tags per question.

It can be argued that by community edit of the tags, the most applicable are eventually used -- but in practice the question is answered and ignored long before that has a chance to happen. And yet when another person posts a similar question tagged differently, as it is from a different perspective, it is likely they will be referred to the first question and the second question closed before it can be answered from that different perspective.

This is what I mean by SO being too big and crushing everything together. If the question is not dead-center mainstream it is in danger of being crushed by the weight of the site before it can be given a chance at being answered.

DT is not mainstream. Yes it is gaining ground, but it's not there yet. DT.SE is the 'clamoring' of those of us interested in this niche area that want to be able to discuss it without having that crushing mass all the time.

There is a growing list of proposals on SE of subjects that enough interest and individuality to not want to be crushed by the weight of SO, nor do they want to float away into nonsense with P.SE.

Don't merge! Please! :)

  • 7
    "Sounds like a plea to save Programmers SE". Indeed. If programmers.se isn't working, don't try to fix it by merging other sites that may work on their own. Sep 24 '10 at 7:36
  • I agree with you. I'm an avid SO follower, but I agree that SO is quite big, and that it is diffcult to find answers to specific toppics, especially with the rate new questions are coming in.
    – Riaan
    Sep 24 '10 at 8:01
  • I found the "Heck Yeah!" argument by Joel Spolsky very compelling until I read your post. I would be disappointed if DT.SE failed after being merged in.
    – Jeff
    Sep 24 '10 at 14:19
  • -1 "It passed critical mass long ago and is in danger of becoming a black hole that sucks everything in and crushes them together so tightly the tags are not enough to pull them apart." Prove it and I will return your points back. Sep 28 '10 at 9:22
  • Hey David :-/, I was kidding obviously! Anyway tags are doing an excellent job over there. Sep 28 '10 at 13:38

The problem that I have with merging this in is that, while there are some potential subjective questions about unit testing, by and large, I think there can be objective answers to a lot of the questions. 3 out of 5 example on-topic questions, for instance, don't really fit the subjective mold. One other could easily be answered objectively with a minor tweak or two (and asked, perhaps as CW).

The programmers.se site is, IIRC, for subjective questions about software development which makes it less of a good fit than Stack Overflow. If anything, I would say simply don't create the site and encourage people to continue asking all of these questions on Stack Overflow.

  • 2
    there's no requirement that questions must be subjective on programmers -- the requirement is that the questions just don't fit well on SO. see: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/12373/… Sep 23 '10 at 22:03
  • 10
    @Jeff: Then maybe the programmers FAQ should be updated? Programmers - Stack Exchange is for expert programmers who are interested in subjective discussions on software development.
    – BenV
    Sep 23 '10 at 22:41
  • @BenV: It will soon. We need discuss some points.
    – Maniero
    Sep 24 '10 at 1:19

To be honest, I'm still confused on the benefit of programmers over the original StackOverflow. Same for this site. If we are going to keep programmers I recommend folding testing in.

  • 3
    As Joel explained in his answer (meta.stackexchange.com/questions/65439/…), as a programmer, there is much to talk about other than, In Javascript, how do I tell if a user is pressing two keys at the same time? The programmers.se site can perhaps be considered a release valve for all the peripheral stuff surrounding life as a programmer, whereas SO is for solving specific programming problems.
    – raven
    Sep 24 '10 at 2:46
  • Yet programmers.se has devolved into talking about anything a programmer does, even if that is not programming related. programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/7080/… - How is that useful to anyone that is a programmer to know what everyone else could be? That's just the top question, there's tons of those in there. Programmers.se is not a good questions/answers site, it is a site that now hosts endless polls and smalltalk (and not the programming language.) Sep 24 '10 at 15:41
  • 2
    @lasse there will be beatings until programmer.se morale improves, see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/65437/… Sep 25 '10 at 7:58
  • @Lasse: And that sort of topic is discussed on the meta site, and is generally frowned on. It takes a while for a site to settle down; consider all the old Stack Overflow questions that would be immediately closed as off-topic if introduced today. Sep 27 '10 at 15:43

I think SO should be more about coding (i.e. software construction). The name "stack overflow" implies that.

Software requirements, software design and software testing do deserve separate sites. Or this proposal fits more general website, for example, Software Engineering proposal and should be merged with that.

Programmers.se (since it is not "Programming") should be about programmers (not objective coding related question): their hobby, their work, their personal opinion about technologies, practices and workflows, their family, their life. Testing questions just don't fit there. Because testing is more about testers (QA engineers), not about programmers.

Do not merge Testing with Programmers.

  • "testing is more about testers (QA engineers), not about programmers" - this post is specifically about developer testing... Sep 24 '10 at 8:32
  • IMHO software construction is a lot more than simply coding. Your classification sounds like Waterfall to me - no offense, I don't mean it negatively. I just think such a classification is not working in most of real life projects. In my project team, we discuss requirements, design, code and test - often all of these within the same day. I surely wouldn't want to go to 4 or more different sites to ask questions about these. Sep 24 '10 at 8:41
  • There are a number of programming discipline areas that are developing around making sure that sufficient testing is done by the programmer/developer not just handed off to QA. As the developer, you should know enough about your code to craft focused testing to make sure that error conditions are reported when expected, not just that the code does what it's supposed to when you get the correct inputs.
    – Jeff
    Sep 24 '10 at 14:23
  • Ok, agreed, developers do testing. But developer testing discipline fits in SO, not in Programmers.SE
    – Vanuan
    Sep 30 '10 at 21:37

You answered your own question; and the answer was no.


"...the requirement is that the questions just don't fit well on SO."

Developer Testing:

"We believe that the Developer Testing proposal, as stated... covers topics that are already perfectly valid and allowed and exist in large quantities on stackoverflow.com..."(1)

Besides, the two are logically distinct. Developer Testing questions already fit on Stack Overflow, programmers.stackexchange.com questions, by definition, don't. If you're trying to figure out what to do with dt, it should stay with Stack Overflow. Trying to merge it with programmers.stackexchange.com is just going to mix oil and water in the same bucket.

If the community isn't actively trying to keep programmers.stackexchange.com to the content it was created for, and you're unhappy with the type of content that it generates - then get rid of it altogether. The community will find somewhere else.

(1) note, I'm purposely excluding the "and programmers.se" from that last quote, because a tag count presents a clear view of the opposite.



Developer testing, at least if they are they types of questions asked in the proposal, would fit well in a disciplined Programmers.SE: it seems there'd be a high likelihood of multiple, useful, different answers. But, as raven states, if they're largely objective and don't really elicit an extended discussion, they would seem to be better fits on Stack Overflow.


Hmm... so you propose folding the developer testing into the beta site that is about subjective programmer questions to make it more disciplined and then how does this exactly differ from SO? Seems to me that a merged programmers/dev testing site itself would draw traffic away from SO.

At that point, why bother with fielding another site at all and instead just lump those two together with SO and use tags to separate things out. I personally ignore certain tags now on SO and am interested in certain tags. If I cared about dev testing, I'd add that tag to the list of tags I like.

It seemed to me at the time I committed to the dev testing site that there was a real benefit in having a separate site for dev testing but honestly now that I think about it, I wonder if that's true.

Just my two cents.


Sure the "Developer Testing : Unit Testing and more…" SE should not be too narrow in topic, but "programmers" is too general. As already suggested "Software Engineering" may be a better merge candidate. I'd prefer to keep "Testing" as specific topic but not limited to one kind of testing -- for instance it should sure include usability testing and user studies with prototypes. If you do not limit testing to automatic testing frameworks, the topic is large AND specific enough.


No, please don't. At least if it has to be merged with the main Stack Overflow. I still think developer testing deserves a site for itself. I didn't even notice Stack Overflow had testing questions until I searched. I'd have thought they'd be off-topic.


Unit Testing, TDD, BDD and all the available frameworks make up a good sum of knowledge and should be represented by a dedicated site to learn and talk about it.

So NO, don't merge them.


No, programmers shouldn't be a dumping ground for anything that isn't relevant on StackOverflow. Most of the on-topic example questions are objective and (to my knowledge) valid on Stack Overflow, so I think it should be "merged" with it.


having thought more about it, I'm quite annoyed by the fact that the dev testing site has gone through ALL the deliberation and community commitment phases, and now, AFTER it has passed the "should that even be a site" phase, you pull the rug from under it, breaking your own community rules, and not letting it stand on its own two feet.

If you don't trust the community, why let it vote and commit in the first place? let sites grow organically. the crappy ones will die off. the good ones will remain. by sticking your hands every 5 minutes into the life of a site, you are killing any willingness from the community to take part in any future games you may want to hold, in the knowledge that you may just break the rules after all is done, just because.

if you do not respect your own rules, why should the community trust you?


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    because it's non-deterministic, like multithreaded programming -- we believe many of the people who committed to this site did it before programmers.se existed and had no other outlet for their subjective testing questions. The landscape changed. Sep 25 '10 at 0:40
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    Jeff - up to 12 hours ago, I didn't even realize programmes se exists. and it sounds like a clone of stackoverflow to me. like it does not need to exist at all - but I'm fine with letting it live on its own, because if it does, than the community actually decides what works and what doesn't. even if the landscape changed, I think you're not being a good parent by questioning the existence of a site already through all the stages. your inconsistency is what will eventually turn off people who are willing to play by your rules. Sep 25 '10 at 7:25
  • I have ot even question whether you guys will even listen to the results of this question. if the community says "no" who's to say you still won't do it anyway? Sep 25 '10 at 7:28
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    @roy part of being a good parent is teaching your "children" to play nicely with each other. And if your "children" throw a tantrum because they don't want to play with the other "children".. Sep 25 '10 at 7:55
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    Jeff - if a parent promises something, what message do they send if they keep breaking that promise? Sep 25 '10 at 17:03
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    @roy ultimately, ignorance of the other sites in our network -- just like ignorance of the law, is not a valid defense. I support kicking this proposal back to the definition phase as a site for QA/TESTERS but as in the title of DEVELOPER TESTING, I cannot and will not support this kind of factionalism -- sorry. Sep 26 '10 at 2:30
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    @Jeff: does that mean you've already decided? either the community says "yes" to the merger, or you kill the site off completely? Sep 26 '10 at 21:00
  • @Jeff why do you see it as "factionalism"? Sep 27 '10 at 13:44
  • @Jeff Atwood ~ I support testing.se
    – jcolebrand
    Sep 27 '10 at 20:05
  • Is there really a point with this pointless "community decides" discussion, when @Jeff has already decided on what is going to be the decision.
    – tugga
    Sep 28 '10 at 2:21

I think a dedicated test oriented dev site has loads of value. Please do not merge the two.



Unit testing, as many of the other topics, currently has a live and big community of people discussing. For example, you can see the TDD mailing list on Yahoo that is very much alive.

If it is to be merged, I, like many others on the specific mailing lists, will never get the benefit of a really good site for these questions because signal-to-noise ratio is more important to me.


Yes Merge them.

I looked at the unit test questions on SO and I would have to say that:

A. There appears to be a fair amount of unit testing questions on SO.

B. They are questions that I would get value out of.


I think it would be reasonable for such a site to be merged into a different, more serious site about software craftsmanship and the like, but I don't think Programmers.se qualifies for that.


If you want the real answer to this question, just ask the folks over at MathOverflow.com, arguably the most successful, highly-focused specialty site in the SE community.

What they will tell you is they made a concerted effort to attract a large number (around 500) of very smart people in Math, by promising them that the non-graduate-level math people would not be allowed on the site. And they succeeded in spades.

Today they continue their tradition of aggressively kicking off questions that do not meet their exacting standards. Judging from the high quality of the questions and answers on the site, I'd say it works.

So no, I don't believe you should merge the two sites. That will only result in diluting them both. Instead, the focus should be on attracting those testing professionals to the Developer Testing site that would make it the MathOverflow of software testing.

  • mathoverflow is tiny; it's about 1/100th the size of Server Fault, which is less than 1/10th the size of Stack Overflow. Given the highly rarified subject matter, that's to be expected, but I hardly think "how should developers test" is equivalent to fields medal mathematics work. Sep 28 '10 at 8:29
  • So your solution is to fold a site that won't stand on its own into a site that lacks discipline? It sounds like chalk and cheese to me.
    – user102937
    Sep 28 '10 at 14:54
  • @Jeff: If the site won't stand on its own, there's no point in going further with it, whatever the special interest group's hissy fit says. (And if P.SE is highly unfocussed then perhaps it should go too; that'd be your call though.) Oct 1 '10 at 20:48

I believe that a programmers site will be a clone of SO.


I think that the merger would be fine. The outcome of either site is dependent upon us, the community. If we don't want it to become a clone of SO, then we will need to make sure that it doesn't. The site will benefit most with an active community, so if the programmers site will be more active, then I'm for the merger.


NO, don't merge them. Testing is a big enough and important topic that deserves its own area. I agree with some of the comments about programmers.SE. What's the point? that's what stack overflow is!

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    Right, shut down programmers.se instead.
    – jayarjo
    Sep 24 '10 at 8:28

Yes, merge them.

I frequent both StackOverflow and Programmers.StackExchange - I believe any questions on developer testing or unit testing can be and should be covered by both sites. If we're concerned about questions getting asked on both sites and then simply getting referred to the other, we can simply explicitly state that these types of questions should be asked on Programmers.StackExchange.


No. I've never seen programmers.se… Why is it separate from Stack Overflow? (Kidding, I'll have a look...)

But a decent place to ask about TDD, BDD and XYZ would be great. It keeps me from getting answers like "dunno what you're writing readable testcases for, anyways..."


Personally I believe that testing is a separate topic. Not every programmer tests the code after he/she writes it. Testing and unit testing is whole new culture. It has it's own specifics. In our company testers are isolated from programmers. Each one of them do different jobs. So I'm against any kind of merge.

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