In Apache Ant or GNU Make survey the asker is apparently carrying out an Ant v. Make research smackdown.

To me this looks like spam, but seems harmless. Should anything be done?

Is there a policy on canvassing the community in this way? Is it allowed?

As an aside, it seems like the OP would get more views with some language tags, rather than what's on there now...


4 Answers 4


I didn't mean this to be spam, sorry if it appeared to be or if it was otherwise unwelcome.

I have to do a research project and wanted some data from people who would have come across and used build tools. I could ask some of my friends/peers too, but most of them are not interested in software development or do not have experience with build tools.

I chose this as my area of research as the sample questions the lecturer gave us to choose from did not interest me and I thought I could do better on the assignment if I chose a altogether different subject. I became interested in Apache Ant after working with GNU Make and working on a little project to create my own cross-platform build tool, written for the JVM in Scala, Java and Groovy. (http://github.com/stpettersens/Gaudi).

I can assure you that I'm not in this for the money or to purposely spam, I'm just a Computing undergraduate with an interest in software development. I do appreciate the situation in that maybe I should have asked on the chats. If its the consensus not to canvas, I will respect that and not post any surveys again.


  • 6
    Welcome to Meta! I think it's completely understood that you don't have any evil motives with your survey, but Stack Overflow is very strict about what defines a programming question, and the consensus is that surveys don't, in fact, fit. That applies to everyone, even to advertising for Open Source projects. I'd say chat is definitely your best option. Good luck with your research!
    – Pekka
    Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 1:08
  • 6
    Thanks. You live and learn. I'll use Chat in the future. No hard feelings here. :)
    – SammySP
    Commented Nov 19, 2010 at 1:11

I flagged it as spam. Just because it's academic doesn't mean he can post a solicitation on SO. Imagine if more people did this.


If I had close votes left, I'd go with "Not a real question". If the user account were created just for posting this question, I'd consider flagging it as spam as well, but that doesn't seem to be the case here -- the user seems to be trying to participate in the community in good faith.

  • 2
    I agree. Other participation seems to be (for me at least) a key determinate in the spam/not spam question. I often see accounts that do nothing but promote a product on every answer in a certain category. I generally flag those even if the product is OSS. If they are participating in a meaningful way otherwise, I'll let it slide. Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 23:49

The format of the site is to have questions and answers. With the way he currently has it formatted, there is nothing to answer or say about it. I would say that might need to be closed and re-direct him to the chat rooms. But, he does only have 11 reputation.

His intentions may very well be good, but I would say it is not for Stack Overflow. Maybe it needs to go to programmers.stackexchange as a community wiki type of question? It should be closed as "not a real question" or "spam" as it stands on Stack Overflow.

  • 3
    I agree with this most. It's a fine question on its own, but it doesn't really fit on SO. It would work fine in the chat.
    – Pekka
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 22:45
  • 3
    I'm not sure whether or not Programmers.SE would like to have it. Actually, I'm not entirely sure just what kind of things are on topic there.
    – mmyers
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 23:15
  • @Michael "I'm not entirely sure just what kind of things are on topic there" I am not exactly sure either.
    – Troggy
    Commented Nov 18, 2010 at 23:19

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