Where on SE is the best place to ask questions about computer science history?

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    Hrm. Depending on the question, possibly nowhere: You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page. (says the FAQ.) History questions would likely be answerable, but would they be practical and based on actual problems?
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jul 7, 2011 at 18:02
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    History is practical because those who do not know it are bound to repeat it :-) Jul 7, 2011 at 18:14
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    True... but only if the questions are actually answerable and not hypothetical. :) Otherwise it's not a Q&A post, it's just a speculative discussion that doesn't belong on Stack Exchange.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jul 7, 2011 at 18:23

4 Answers 4


softwareengineering.stackexchange.com is currently probably the best place to ask those questions.

If you're really interested in the topic, there's an Area 51 proposal for an SE site for History of Computers and Computing. It's in Definition stage now, so support / interest is very valuable right now.

  • 1
    (Speaking as a Programmers mod.) Yeah, Programmers is probably it for the moment, with the caveat I mentioned above: the questions have to be concrete and answerable, not hypothetical.
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jul 7, 2011 at 18:24
  • I agree with the caveat, although I'm not sure it necessarily applies to this issue; "hypothetical history" is a bit of an oxymoron! Jul 7, 2011 at 18:31
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    I'm thinking along the lines of... "When did X happen?" is a practical question. "How did technology X come about?" is a practical question. "What was scientist X thinking in 1960 when developing Y?" is purely speculative. My choice of the word "hypothetical" may be a bit off, but I'm just going for "does it have a concrete, factual, substantiated by references answer or are we going down the speculative opinion and discussion path?".
    – Adam Lear StaffMod
    Jul 7, 2011 at 18:35
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    @Paul You'd be surprised how big a footing speculative fiction has in SE (and on Programmers.SE): "What if Microsoft hadn't made Windows?", "If Steve Jobs was 10 feet tall, would iOS have been as awesome?"
    – user149432
    Jul 7, 2011 at 18:36
  • Anna, Mark, both very good points; I was being largely tongue-in-cheek about "hypothetical history", but I hadn't considered just to what extent those things you've mentioned have gone on... Jul 7, 2011 at 18:53
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    @Paulk or the famous; what would x86 have been like if Intel had done in-house drug testing! Jul 7, 2011 at 22:23

Retrocomputing Stack Exchange.

According to Help Center,

Questions are most welcomed on


  • computing history and persons with a historic relation to computing.

Computer Science Stack Exchange does also have with 117 questions at present but I am not sure about scope specifications.

  • 1
    This should be the accepted answer.
    – vaughan
    Jan 27 at 3:24

SoftwareEngineering.SE is likely the best current place to ask such questions, with a few big caveats:

  • If it's easily answerable by a quick Wikipedia search, it's not on-topic.
  • If it's a rant disguised as a question (e.g. "Why did they put those stupid semicolons in C++ anyway?"), it's not on-topic
  • If there's no demonstrable educational value to the question for the programmer community at large, it's not on-topic

In short, check out What kind of questions should I not ask here? before asking:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here. (You are more than welcome to have such discussions in our real time web chat.) However, if your motivation is “I would like others to explain ______ to me”, then you are probably OK.

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
  • your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
  • there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
  • we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
  • it is a rant disguised as a question: “______ sucks, am I right?”

A Computer Science proposal is well on its way to beta. Please consider supporting it if you are interested in computer science; I expect that questions about the field's history will be ontopic.

Note that the current description "Proposed Q&A site for Computer Science academicians." is not the community's choice. We are trying to have it changed to something like "For students, researchers and practitioners of computer science.", so that is what you should expect.

  • 1
    The Computer Science proposal has since been approved, and this answer should be updated accordingly.
    – Stevoisiak
    Apr 16, 2017 at 0:45

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