After my lie down, I posted this question on SO. As I suspected would happen, it got moved to programmers. Unfortunately, the kind of people I'm interested in getting answers from (litb,skeet et al - the top SO programmers in their respective disciplines) don't frequent Programmers much. So my question is, where to ask somewhat non-specific questions of high-powered users?
If it's so important for you to reach Jon Skeet and Johannes Schaub, why don't you just cut out the man in the middle and contact them directly?
- Jon Skeet's profile has an e-mail address you can use to contact him;
- Johannes Schaub's profile links to his blog - I'll let you figure out the rest.
Surely an expert such as yourself should not feel any hesitancy to do this; experts speak to each other privately all the time. You need not route all communication through Stack Overflow.
When you ask a question on a public site, anybody can see it and anybody can answer it. Your content also becomes subject to that site's rules and standards. Them's the breaks. In this case, it wasn't appropriate for Stack Overflow and got migrated to Programmers - another public site where individual members are all free to choose what they read and answer.
Maybe the people you are trying to reach don't frequent that site, but that is where the subject you wanted to discuss is considered on topic (and rather borderline at that). If the normal channels on which you might try to reach certain people are not appropriate for a particular purpose, then find one that is appropriate, or accept the fact that perhaps the people you are seeking don't want to be bothered with those kinds of questions.
So my question is, where to ask somewhat non-specific questions of high-powered users?
Chat perhaps? IRC? A private email list that you maintain and only invite high-powered users to?
Certainly not SO - you might get high-powered users to weigh in, but are just as (if not more) likely to get responses from new users, or bored users, or new, bored users...
You lament in a comment somewhere that you would have been fine asking a (community-wiki) form of this question in the past. But this is debatable; in the very early days of the site, traffic was low enough that [some] folks were [a bit] more tolerant of discussion/poll fare, and there was a period of time when the Community Wiki compromise let some such questions pass... But neither of these were devoid of controversy - indeed, it's far more probable that your question would simply have been repeatedly closed, re-opened, closed, re-opened... Until one or both sides ran out of steam (or a moderator intervened).
And you'd still get the C# kids answering in amazement that anyone could function without a debugger.
So my answer is, nowhere on SE.
Questions like that will be quickly and without exception moved to programmers.SE. There's probably no way to word that question in a way that would make it suitable on SO.
But I guess you could always invite the Skeets and Litbs of the world in a short off-topic comment on SO, if those are whose opinions you want to hear? They might be inclined to follow up on it, especially coming from a fellow veteran.
It seems to me that Programmers is precisely that place.
Your complaint is that that particular site is not frequented by many of the recognized experts who regularly contribute to Stack Overflow. That's perfectly valid, of course; it's an easily verifiable fact.
But what strikes me as interesting is your next comment:
(and who can blame them?)
You seem to be implying that there are numerous problems with the Programmers site that make it sensible for these expert users not to frequent it, and since it's otherwise identical to Stack Overflow, those problems must be content-related.
And that brings us full-circle: You're requesting a place to ask questions that you yourself deem to sufficiently explain why expert programmers wouldn't be terribly interested in spending time on a site that contains them. That seems like a pretty good reason why such questions don't belong on SO, and it's hard to imagine why whichever site we decided they did belong on wouldn't already be (or at least, very quickly become) plagued by the exact same problems that you think afflict Programmers.
The questions asked and topics discussed on Programmers are of an undeniably different nature than those asked on Stack Overflow. If those questions are "uninteresting" to expert programmers, thus explaining why they're not equally regular contributors to the other site that hosts them, then why should we allow those questions to be asked on Stack Overflow? It seems that they would just clutter up the site with content that expert users don't really want to see and have no interest in contributing to.
About the only thing you can do is leave a comment for the particular users whom you'd like to see answer your question, directing them to the question posted on Programmers, and asking them to contribute their opinions. There's no guarantee that they'll do this, of course, but it's always an option.
Edit: In response to the second part of your question, questions that have been migrated to another site are clearly labeled as having been migrated from the original site, including a link back to the question as it was asked on that original site. It's a big banner with an arrow, just like shows up on a closed question. It's very unlikely that anyone will think the question was asked there in the first place.
There is no way to really ask
some people in particular.
Remember SO is a community. And experts are everyone (potentially :D)
Well, I'm not an expert, so probably not qualified to answer your original question, but I can explain my reaction to your question, which could shed some light on the problem:
For a start, the 'provocative' title had the predictable effect of provoking people, which directly contributed to it getting closed after being migrated Programmers. It also made it seem that the question was near 90% rhetorical. You failed to define exactly what you meant by 'experienced', but in the context of your question, it almost seems like your definition of experienced would be "someone who doesn't use a debugger (like me)".
No promises, but I'm guessing that something phrased like this might have had more chances of surviving (on Programmers, not on SO).
Reasons to use a debugger
I have observed over on Stack Overflow that many developers seem to rely heavily on the debugger. This intrigues me, because I haven't been using one for years. With experience, I've found that there are many better ways to resolve problems (example a, example b, example c).
Am I the only one? If you are an 'experienced' developer (say 10+ years), do you still regularly use a debugger, and is it in preference to the other options outlined above, or other reasons I haven't thought of? Maybe it depends on what technology you're using, and what kind of program you're developing?
Sorry if this is 'too' subjective. Please help me improve if it's the case, I'm new here!
Or, alternatively, you could ask the opposite question: "reasons not to use a debugger", it sounds like you've got some good answers!
Anyone can chip in with a contribution here. And even when you think a question is tailor-made for a particular person, they can also choose not to contribute - maybe they're tired that day or just have better things to do than answer questions.
So far so obvious, but where I'm going with that is: If you want to guarantee answers from certain people or even just a certain calibre of person then that sounds more like looking for a consulting agreement with someone than posting to a community.