This site is becoming too focused - in question type, but also language used - on software workplace issues.

Right now we have a question about the difference between junior and senior engineers.

I don't think this is really an "appropriate" workplace question, it utterly relates to programming, and not to the workplace. It should be moved to the programmers site.

I wouldn't draw attention to a one off, but I'm noticing a lot of "engineering" questions popping up here. This isn't just a site for engineers trying to navigate between SAP and Software Masters and Google. It is a site for people from all different roles.

I get the feeling that the constant rise of "engineering-focused" questions is going to effectively change this from "The Workplace" to "The Engineers Workplace". Can we migrate this question, and possibly consider some type of "white-washing" overly specific engineering questions to become more generic?

As as example of white-washing, this question makes use of agile terminology ("sprints"), which aren't used outside of software engineering. I would argue that this question should really be edited to remove all engineering specific language, unless it is obviously pertinent to the question. It is a pretty generic question, but with the terminology used it becomes both useless to a non-engineer, and implicitly makes the site more for engineering than other careers.

That would reduce the overall feel of this being a site for engineers to discuss coding, and might end up welcoming questions from more diverse careers.

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    All good points, IMHO. Dec 5, 2014 at 16:14
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    If someone asked what is the difference between inside sales and outside sales, would that also be off-topic here? How about an HR related question?
    – Andy
    Dec 5, 2014 at 17:23
  • Good points overall, but Agile methodologies are not confined to software development nowadays pm.stackexchange.com/questions/1470/… Dec 6, 2014 at 12:20
  • @Andy i'm not a moderator, so i don't have any authority ~ but i'd imagine that that inside/outside sales question (whatever that is) should be off topic, as it doesn't relate to the scope as defined as i write this.
    – bharal
    Dec 6, 2014 at 13:12
  • @Andy inside vs outside sales is a very USA specific term
    – Pepone
    Dec 7, 2014 at 12:52
  • @Pepone and relieving letters are specific to India yet those aren't closed here, so what's your point?
    – Andy
    Dec 7, 2014 at 18:16
  • @Andy well probably most of those relieving letter ones should be closed and inside vs outside is all about us law defines exempt vs non exempt which is a a legal q and b very specific to a single country
    – Pepone
    Dec 7, 2014 at 18:35
  • Agile is definately not only software based. I worked for a major insurance company until end last year, everyone from senior management team down used agile, you could see the standups around the buildings each morning. Dec 14, 2014 at 1:32
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    related: meta.workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/574/…
    – jmac
    Dec 16, 2014 at 10:28

2 Answers 2


I don't have a ton of time right now, but here is a related answer I wrote previously. I think that's still applicable.

Realistically, most questions here which are "software dev" have problems not specific to software development. The ones that are specific are generally either 1) bad questions or 2) "tell me what job/skills to take."

These can almost always be easily edited to remove the specificness of software development. In this case, it really can't, and I just closed it.

That would reduce the overall feel of this being a site for engineers to discuss coding, and might end up welcoming questions from more diverse careers.

I think part of the problem is several of the more active editors from previous times are not as active. This site is community moderated. Everyone can edit posts (if you have less than 2,000 reputation it will go to a review queue). Anyone with over 3,000 reputation can vote to close and those without it can flag to close.

Here is an example of a question like I'm describing. The core question has nothing to do with Computer Science - I just edited it to remove that part. This is possible on many questions specific to software/engineering and generally those which it is not true for should be closed.

I took a few minutes and significantly edited the second question. This is a good example of a question where the core question has nothing to do with software development and can be edited out, to focus on what is actually being asked.

  • oh, good to know. i didn't want to jump in and edit the question (for review q) to be more general without some sort of understanding that that would be the appropriate course of action.
    – bharal
    Dec 4, 2014 at 21:21
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    I endorse this approach. Almost all SE sites walk a balance between "too generic" and "too specific", but if an industry-specific question can be edited to still be about the workplace issue without being about that specific industry, that's a good edit. Software developers, plumbers, schoolteachers, and doctors (to throw out just a few) should be able to come to The Workplace for answers to their workplace questions. Dec 4, 2014 at 21:32
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    @bharal I generally leave a comment when I significantly alter the question (like this one) which are almost always received well. If you do that and want the edit to go through drop by chat and link to the post, generally a few folks are around and can fast track the treview, too :)
    – enderland
    Dec 4, 2014 at 21:59
  • +1. Here is a new question that seems to me to fall in the "can't be meaningfully generalized beyond development" category. I'd vote for migrating this. How do other people think about this? (Do we need a "belongs on another site --> programmers.SE" flag?) Dec 12, 2014 at 9:49
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    I think this is spot on, we need to guide users and find the raw (I.e. non-industry specific) question amongst what's added by the OP. You could equally argue the site is too US specific, and I've certainly had answers I've given been changed (in text AND meaning) to suit. For example I answered a UK poster on going AWOL from a job without resigning, it was changed to say it was OK as it was at-will employment, which was wrong in the UK (and the change had multiple approvers, the changer didn't have enough rep to just do it themselves). Dec 14, 2014 at 10:19
  • @StephanKolassa Please read my answer to this question. As a moderator on Programmers I have a very strong opinion about migrating questions from the Workplace. Dec 18, 2014 at 17:41

I felt that I should answer this as one of the original members of the Area51 proposal and site beta, AND as a community moderator on Programmers.

One of the key reasons that the Workplace proposal even came to be was as a result of the Programmers site trying to transform itself from Stack Overflow's garbage heap of soft, unfocused and frankly poor quality non code related questions to a site that focuses on core software development matters that have objective answers and are not focused on code or implementation. One of the hurdles of reaching this goal was that nearly half of all questions were being closed, many of those because they were career and workplace style questions that were general enough to really apply to anybody working in an office or any kind of IT project.

The hope was that a site could be built for people that had general career, workplace questions and stop the deluge of off topic questions from making it to our site. It was clearly a resounding success, now the problem is really the opposite one for this site now. Where Programmers was having a deluge of general workplace questions, now Workplace is getting a deluge of software development specific workplace questions and this is likely dissuading non developers and even more so for non IT workers.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear to start:

From the Programmers Help Center on what is Off Topic

general workplace issues, office politics, and job hunting (check out The Workplace instead)

career advice, salary, or compensation

These questions absolutely do not belong on Programmers.

With that being said, my suggestion to improve things on the Workplace fall in line with enderland's answer. We need to make a concerted editing effort to remove extraneous software development and engineering related information from questions wherever possible. This is challenging though because some of the best most applicable answers to some of these amazing questions could only be written by a software developer, for software developers.

It shouldn't be a surprise that developers and engineers vastly outnumber non IT related people on this site. This is an overall Stack Exchange problem that they have massive popularity in their flagship sites: Stack Overflow, Super User and Server Fault amongst the development community around the world, but then they struggle rather significantly to built popularity and gather experts in a user base that isn't composed of IT folk. Sites like Quora IMHO do a much better job of marketing and attracting experts in other fields.

So essentially the deeper problem at play here is one that only Stack Exchange can solve. The more specific problem this site faces is a symptom of this. In the past when the direction of the site is at odds with the general community, we tend to solve it by the community splitting out into another site, or helping to build a more specific site for such questions to belong to. Perhaps the answer is another Area 51 Proposal for a Software Development Workplace site.

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