Introducing programmers.stackexchange.com

by Jeff Atwood

on December 17, 2010

One of the more popular Stack Exchange beta sites just came out of beta with a final public design:

programmers.stackexchange.com

Now watch closely as I read your mind.

I don't get it! What's the difference between Programmers and Stack Overflow?

I'm so glad you asked!

In a nutshell, Stack Overflow is for when you're front of your compiler or editor working through code issues. Programmers is for when you're in front of a whiteboard working through higher level conceptual programming issues. Hence the (awesome) whiteboard inspired design!

Stated another way, Stack Overflow questions almost all have actual source code in the questions or answers. It's much rarer (though certainly OK) for a Programmers question to contain source code.

Remember, these are just guidelines, not hard and fast arbitrary rules; refer to the first few paragraphs of the FAQ if you want specifics about what Programmers is for:

Programmers - Stack Exchange is for expert programmers who are interested in subjective discussions on software development.

This can include topics such as:

  • Software engineering

  • Developer testing

  • Algorithm and data structure concepts

  • Design patterns

  • Architecture

  • Development methodologies

  • Quality assurance

  • Software law

  • Freelancing and business concerns

Editorial note: the FAQ guidance has changed significantly over the years to better reflect the sorts of conceptual questions that actually work - please refer to the latest version in the help center before asking.

Although I fully supported this site when it was just a baby Area 51 site proposal, we've endured a lot of angst over it -- mainly because it veered so heavily into the realm of the subjective. It forced us to think deeply about what makes a useful subjective question, which we formalized into a set of 6 guidelines in Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. Constructive subjective questions …

  1. inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.

  2. tend to have long, not short, answers.

  3. have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.

  4. invite sharing experiences over opinions.

  5. insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.

  6. are more than just mindless social fun.

Ultimately, with a little extra discipline and moderation, I think the site turned out great. So, go forth and ask your high level, conceptual, software development questions on programmers.stackexchange.com! Just make sure they're professional and constructive, please - refer to help center for more guidance there.