http://programmers.stackexchange.com is probably going live this week, we are very likely to allow migration of questions from Stack Overflow to Programmers.

We have the following rules of thumb to start with

  • Does the question contain source code? Then it probably belongs on Stack Overflow. If it does not, it probably belongs on programmers.se.
  • if a question has no lasting and permanent value, it should be deleted.

So there are three outcomes: migrated, stays, or deleted.

Try to answer the following questions, with citations for specific question URLs:

  1. Which questions contain source code, but belong on programmers.se?
  2. Which questions do not contain source code, but belong on Stack Overflow?
  3. Which questions don't quite fit either place, but have "lasting and permanent value" and should be kept as-is and not deleted -- why? What specific qualities of the question make it worth keeping?

(remember: you must provide example question URLs, please.)

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    Please bear in mind that a significant number of questions might well have been reasked already. There's no point in migrating a question only to have it closed as a duplicate. Also consider the constructive question guide too. – ChrisF Dec 8 '10 at 22:53
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    @ChrisF, this is really tricky, we do not want to keep questions that do not belong on SO on SO. In some cases there may be value in migrating and merging, but if there is not value in having the question on Programmers ... then it should simply be closed / deleted on the SO side IMHO – waffles Dec 8 '10 at 22:55
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    @ChrisF: why? Either the topic is worthwhile (somewhere...) or it's not - why leave them here to confuse new users? – Shog9 Dec 8 '10 at 22:57
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    @Shog9 - If the topic was reasked on Programmers then it was truly worthwhile, but there seems little point in merging in old answers. – ChrisF Dec 8 '10 at 22:59
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    @ChrisF: only if the answers were worthless to begin with, and/or are already duplicated on P.SE. However, even then migrating and merging have some value: existing links will redirect to the new question rather than dying. – Shog9 Dec 8 '10 at 23:06
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    (And yeah, this is something folks should have considered when re-posting hugely-popular questions from SO on P.SE - if they didn't, and want to complain about their copy-pasted answers being demoted now, then they've no one to blame but themselves...) – Shog9 Dec 8 '10 at 23:08
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    Too bad we don't have the subjective tag to track all those down. – Lance Roberts Dec 8 '10 at 23:26
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    @lance too bad use of the subjective tag was itself subjective, making the tag a random chance at best – Jeff Atwood Dec 9 '10 at 0:21
  • Is it too soon to start flagging questions for migration, e.g. stackoverflow.com/questions/4401481/… ? – Ether Dec 9 '10 at 18:47
  • @Ether: We don't have a migration path yet from SO -> Programmers yet. I assume this will be the 5th path set up on SO once Programmers gets out of beta, but let's wait to flag things until the migration path is in place. Thanks. – Bill the Lizard Dec 9 '10 at 19:44
  • Can somebody explain to me how I can magically know a question is going to be closed as dupe on PSE before I migrate it? I don't like dumping SO problems on other SE sites, so if anybody could share this particular algorithm with me I'll be sure to apply it before migrating. – user1228 Dec 10 '10 at 13:55
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    @Will: more often than not if a question was duplicated on Programmers.SE, people used the exact same title. I've been able to find the appropriate duplicate on either site by doing straight title searches. – user149432 Dec 10 '10 at 18:07
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    Many tags will be interesting for the move, such as discussion and recommendation. But ultimately, no absolute rule. – MPelletier Dec 13 '10 at 22:36

Questions containing source code where the focus is on the aesthetic/entertainment value of the code - belong on P.SE

Questions without source where the focus is providing resources for a specific, programming task - belong on SO

Questions that don't quite fit in either place, but have some value worth preserving anyway

  • High-viewcount "hidden feature" or "tips and tricks" questions probably can't be killed without an outcry. Perhaps requiring an active curator for such questions could help them to become appropriate for at least one of these sites...

  • Some CodeGolf questions might fit this (I would not dare to guess which ones though). Note that while P.SE explicitly welcomes these in their FAQ, the Code Golf "community" hasn't exactly taken to it yet...

Historical note: Both Stack Overflow and P.SE have, in the past, been far more welcoming of "fluff" questions than they now purport to be, with P.SE still struggling from a brutal change in focus from "all fluff, all the time" to "constructive-subjective". This has resulted in a fair number of very popular but off-topic questions on both sites, most of which will never be removed by community moderation. P.SE users struggling with their own identity crisis would do well to learn from the long and bitter arguments surrounding these questions on SO and, remembering that their site was originally created to diffuse such arguments, take proactive steps to put their own house in order before the floodgates open...

  • what about this one? stackoverflow.com/questions/114342/… – waffles Dec 8 '10 at 23:18
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    @waffles: that seems fairly programming-related (and also subjective, but...) - and I don't think the focus is so much on raw aesthetics as on using appearance as an indicator of something more important. I would keep it on SO. – Shog9 Dec 8 '10 at 23:21
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    I'd vote for holding off on code-golf an the assumption that the programming puzzles site will eventually see the light of day... – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Dec 8 '10 at 23:43
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    Alas! I have to agree about the need to keep the "Hidden features" genre. – dmckee --- ex-moderator kitten Dec 9 '10 at 0:00
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    I think you misunderstand the purpose of Programmers.SE, and are still using the old, anarchy-based definition. The first group are questions that don't belong anywhere—especially not on Programmers.SE—and should be deleted, and the second group are the exact type of subjective, potentially wishy-washy questions that don't belong on Stack Overflow, but do belong on Programmers.SE. – user149432 Dec 10 '10 at 17:14
  • The real question here is where the "hidden features" and similar ones should to live? SO or Pr.SE? – Maniero Dec 10 '10 at 17:22
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    @Mark: Agreed 100%. – Maniero Dec 10 '10 at 17:24
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    @Mark: Attempts to kill the first group have failed. Repeatedly. I'm not even going down that road, it ends in a thick brick wall. The only question is whether they're more in-appropriate on SO or P.SE, and I think it's safe to say that, gentrification aside, P.SE is the more accommodating site (example. – Shog9 Dec 10 '10 at 17:34
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    @Shog9: but that's a false dilemma: it's not either migrate to Programmers.SE or keep it on Stack Overflow; the other option is to delete the question. The wedding cake and best comment questions are great examples of questions that would probably do the world a favor by being deleted. – user149432 Dec 10 '10 at 17:53
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    @Shog9: Please post on meta.Pr.SE which questions should be killed. This could be a problem but not an irreparable failure. Anyway to dump the SO trash on Pr.SE is not the answer. – Maniero Dec 10 '10 at 17:56
  • @Mark: again, I'm not even going to open that can of worms. If you want to make the argument that they're too fluffy even for P.SE, you could bolster that by cleaning up some of the manually-migrated fluff on P.SE; otherwise, refresh your memory as to the history of these OT-but-entrenched questions. – Shog9 Dec 10 '10 at 18:00
  • @bigown: I've no desire to weigh in on what P.SE questions should or should not remain - that's your domain. I will use the questions that exist, open, on the site now as evidence of which questions might be migrated - actions speak louder than words. – Shog9 Dec 10 '10 at 18:03
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    @Shog9: from the question, "if a question has no lasting and permanent value, it should be deleted ." You don't need to open any can of worms. It's already been opened. What lasting or permanent value do you think the questions you want to merge to Programmers.SE have? – user149432 Dec 10 '10 at 18:04
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    @Shog9: So Pr.SE is my domain... ok. You don't wanna help to improve it, no problem you're free to pass it but please, don't help to worsen it. You can clean SO deleting bad questions but you choose clean SO trashing Pr.SE. – Maniero Dec 10 '10 at 18:12
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    @bigown: I consider many - perhaps most - of the top questions on P.SE now to have little in the way of lasting, redeeming value. For all the high-minded wording in the FAQ and elsewhere, there's an enormous "water-cooler" aspect to the site. That doesn't bother me... Heck, I understand that a lot of it is probably stuff from the early beta that you just "grandfathered in", same as on SO... But I don't see any point to keeping these - some of which are flat-out duplicates - on both sites. And if you think SO should be deleting its exceptions, why not start with your own... – Shog9 Dec 10 '10 at 19:45

Closed questions with insane votes


Which of these "have lasting and permanent value" -- and why?

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    I favor deletion for all of those except quotes or books, which I believe "have lasting and permanent value" – Jeff Atwood Dec 8 '10 at 23:15
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    @Jeff: I certainly wouldn't object... – Shog9 Dec 8 '10 at 23:23
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    I think that all or most of these may also be worth looking at. – Dori Dec 9 '10 at 8:00
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    I'd also look at locked questions, but there doesn't seem to be a "locked:1" search operator. – mmyers Dec 9 '10 at 17:08
  • All closed questions shouldn't be migrated or deleted? I think closed questions could stay on SO just for waiting another appropriated site get launched. I see no point to keep closed questions permanently on SO. I reviewed closed question with 10+ votes. For me all should be migrated to Pr.SE or be deleted except a minority which should keep on SO until more proper site is graduated. – Maniero Dec 10 '10 at 18:37
  • Duplicated questions are exceptions, of course. – Maniero Dec 10 '10 at 19:06
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    @Jeff, I'm shocked to hear that you favour deletion; not that I object in the slightest, but doesn't the fact that high-voted questions (or questions with high-voted answers) take mass votes to delete essentially codify the idea that popular questions have value? I've never agreed with that premise, but seems like migration would be the path of least resistance, conflict-wise. – Aarobot Dec 11 '10 at 18:51
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    @Jeff With over a million questions, is keeping the semi-ontopic closed questions really that much of a distraction? – TheLQ Dec 12 '10 at 1:44
  • @Jeff: it occurs to me that a reasonable measure of a question's "lasting value" may be the number of links to it from non-frivolous content. SO already provides a handy list of internal links - would it be possible to check if any of these questions have been cited by respected third-party sites? – Shog9 Dec 13 '10 at 21:13

Stay: There are a number of questions that approach programming from the computer science side. Many of these don't have source code. These questions have no business on Programmers.SE. I think they do add value to Stack Overflow, and even if there was a Math.SE-like site for CS, it would be nice to such existing questions them here.

These questions tend to hang around tags like and , but they're (unfortunately) not easy to separate from other questions that could usefully move to Programmers.SE.

Examples (strongly biaised towards my favorite topics):

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    All of those questions are on-topic and good questions for Programmers.SE. – user149432 Dec 10 '10 at 17:16
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    The last one probably belongs to IT Security. – Maniero Dec 10 '10 at 17:26
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    @Mark: I disagree on both counts. The questions are not subjective (except arguably the “why” one, but not all “why” questions are subjective and this one is on the low end), so they're off-topic as per Programmers.SE's FAQ. And they are not good questions because they would not attract good answers: from what I've seen, answers on technical topics tend to be very poor — my impression is that people turn their brain off when posting there. (That's not a criticism of Programmers.SE: I think it fills a need, but that need isn't serious answers to technical questions.) – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 10 '10 at 19:28
  • Can't these go on CS.SE? I'll admit to not being all that familiar with the scope there, but if you're saying that they're genuine CS questions then that's where they belong; otherwise, if they're not truly programming-related, they belong on Programmers.SE. The first two examples seem like P.SE questions to me; the third one, maybe CS; the fourth (polymorphism), probably P.SE, the next is a toss-up, and the last I agree belongs on IT Security. – Aarobot Dec 11 '10 at 18:55
  • @Aarobot: CS.SE is for research-level theoretical CS. None of these questions are research-level, and they're rather on the applied side. The questions are programming-related, as opposed to programmer-related, and they're technical, generally non-subjective questions. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Dec 11 '10 at 19:07
  • That's fine; only one of them is really a CS question anyway. Most of them are definitively "programmers" questions; the "applied CS" one can stay on Stack Overflow. – Aarobot Dec 11 '10 at 19:29
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    'Practical non-Turing-complete languages?' is subjective and would fit on P.Se. – Ghost User Dec 13 '10 at 14:30

I don't think making value judgements—like determining questions have "lasting value"— without taking into account what Programmers.SE is today, including its content and character, is the best way to handle the initial migration. Most of the worthwhile questions that were closed without pity, remorse, or fear on Stack Overflow have already been asked in some form or another on Programmers.SE, and have either remained open or have also been closed there without pity, remorse, or fear (but with a lot of haranguing).

That is, it's been the general understanding that beta sites don't get migration paths, so if a question has been closed on another SE/Trilogy site but would be a good question to ask on a beta SE site, it needed to be re-asked; and that's what people did. Programmers.SE was especially good at that.

So, if one uses the list of questions from the insane votes query, the current questions on Programmers.SE, and the guidelines for Programmers.SE:

Should be migrated, then merged

Should be deleted

These questions don't have objective answers, fail most—if not all—of the criteria for a good subjective question, and similar questions have been closed on Programmers.SE:

Should be migrated unconditionally


  • (*) - Should've been closed on Programmers.SE too, but it's remained open, so it might as well be merged
  • (**) - The spirit of the question mimics several other questions on Programmers.SE, but I couldn't find an exact duplicate.
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    Perfect! This is my understanding. – Maniero Dec 10 '10 at 18:04
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    The ones that should be merged, I'm pretty sure would have to be merged by migrating and then merging. So I don't think we need that category; migrate them, they'll get closed as dupes, and that will alert a moderator to merge them. There's still going to be a problem with massively-duplicated answers, but... oh well. – Aarobot Dec 11 '10 at 18:57
  • @Aarobot right, I thought that was implied. The last question doesn't have a merge target (yet?). Updated my answer. – user149432 Dec 12 '10 at 0:42
  • It was implied; what I'm basically getting at is that I don't think there's an appreciable difference between "migrated then merged" and "migrated unconditionally" from the perspective of an SO/MSO user. If it gets migrated, and it's a dupe, then the community there will handle it and it will either get deleted or merged or both. – Aarobot Dec 12 '10 at 0:47
  • @Aarobot not to an MSO/SO user, but to the people performing the work (SOIS and secondarily, the mods on Programmers.SE). If the questions aren't merged at the time of migration there's a significant likelihood that the questions will remain open for a long period of time. Programmers.SE does not have the community infrastructure to bat down crappy questions and duplicates with any amount of speed. The difference between the first group (migrate, then merge) and third (migrate unconditionally) is that SOIS should leave the third group up to the community to decide, but not the first. – user149432 Dec 12 '10 at 0:54
  • Fair enough, I certainly agree that questions tend to stay open longer there. I don't think duplicates are as... er... controversial as off-topic or not-constructive closures, but I guess the moderators will end up having to do the merges anyway so they might as well do them in advance. – Aarobot Dec 12 '10 at 1:00
  • I'm for letting those three questions live. They all provide hilariousness and value, even if not exactly within the defined boundaries of the sites. – Pekka Dec 14 '10 at 0:13
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    This should also be migrated: stackoverflow.com/questions/2680046/… – George Stocker Dec 14 '10 at 5:23

Questions whose answers have source code should stay, right?. "How do I ...?" might be source code free but belong on SO still.

I think entire tags should be considered for migration/deletion - [career-advice] is an obvious one, but perhaps [optimization], [language-agnostic] and the like are also likely markers.

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    the presence of source code isn't a perfect test, just a good starting point. So code alone doesn't mean a question belongs on SO, but it increases the chances that it does. – Jeff Atwood Dec 8 '10 at 23:32

Don't waste time migrating this kind of question. They will be closed:

These question are too localized on any current SE site.

The first one would be ok on an India.PSE/SO.

The second one is too localized AND pure noise.


Probably it would be better to wait to migrate code golf question to PSE. Code golf and programming puzzles proposal is going to beta phase soon. Or that proposal should be closed.


Pretty much all of questions tagged polls are also eligible for migration to Programmers.

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