I initially voted to close the question "How do I determine if a programming task doable during interview?" for being not about the workplace, but after a comment from Andrew Berry I retracted my vote and edited the question to generalize it and make it more on-topic for the Workplace.

However, I've gotten a lot of pushback in comments stating why they think the programming tasks should be included.

This is a software-industry-specific question, and your edit made the question more general, maybe too broad, and less answerable, IMO. How do I ask a good question? says "Tell us what you found" which suggests the question should include what the OP has already tried and which isn't working. – ChrisW

On the other hand, removing the link to the test now basically invalidates nvoigt's answer (it makes no sense now without the context of the test itself). - Brandin

The other answers also specifically refer to some details of the test. Whether including specific details is on topic or not, this collection of answers is now referring to stuff that doesn't exist. So it will be useless for future visitors. – Brandin

I'm going to awnser this question based on the information before the edit, as I personally feel it was still vital to the awnser. - Migz

My reasoning was that with the specific programming test included, it was a programming question, not a workplace question. It would also make it asking about a specific position at a specific company, which is also off-topic. All of the answers were posted after I made the edit. Additionally, pre-existing answers do not change whether a question should be edited to be made on-topic or not. Our help center specifically states that you should avoid trying to answer questions that are not about the workplace.

I stand by my edit and think it should stay as is. However, I want to get other users' opinions to either back me up or tell me I'm wrong.

  • 1
    Maybe the test shouldn't have been included, but removing it after the fact seems like it is "too late". Maybe the people who answered did so only because of that test. And maybe someone else visiting will find it a useful example. Better to cast VTC and then retract it only if OP edits it to your liking. Editing to remove someone else's info should be a last resort.
    – Brandin
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 18:22
  • I'm inclined to agree with your post here, particularly since the question the OP really seems to want to ask is "how do I make these questions better?" and all the answers seem to be answering that question, rather than the bolded question.
    – enderland
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 18:31
  • 3
    "All of the answers were posted after I made the edit." ...So they were. What the hell? It's one thing to get pushback if people already answered when you make drastic edits, even if the question is blatantly off-topic, but it's a bit weird for people to still answer based on removed details. In a situation like that the proper response in my view would be to discuss the edits in the comments or, preferably, in chat or on meta. As the comments on the question now point out, the entire post has become nonsensical. I've cast the final close vote to at least get this off the HNQ...
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 20:05
  • 1
    ... but my guess is that the damage is already done. We're 8 answers in and most of them seem to be operating under the assumption that we're on Software Engineering. I'm only seeing two answers that actually talk about the on-topic question post-edit.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 20:07
  • 1
    @Lilienthal My guess is that most of the answers were in the process of being written (or trying the programming test), and they didn't bother to update after being notified the question was updated.
    – David K
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 20:09
  • 2
    @DavidK Very likely, but the bigger problem is people answering such an obviously technical question in the first place. Even if we ignore the technical side, "Are these questions ok?" is basically the same as a resume review question, just from the employer's perspective.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 20:15
  • One small thought, re: "pre-existing answers do not change whether a question should be edited to be made on-topic" that's not true in my understanding of the meta.
    – user30031
    Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 21:08
  • 2
    Quite frankly, if someone answers an off-topic question, instead of voting to close it, they deserve the "penalty" of their answers getting invalidated.
    – Masked Man
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 8:36
  • On 2nd thoughts, maybe we can make it a "locked for historical reasons" or whatever those SO guys do for poor questions that they don't want to delete? :P
    – Masked Man
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 9:18
  • @Lilienthal The people who answered most likely saw the test details, then started to answer beffore the edit was made. You can't take back what someone already saw.
    – Brandin
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 12:44
  • @Brandin That may be true, but if you are in the middle of writing an answer when a question is edited, you are notified that the question has changed. At that point the fault is on the answerer, not the question.
    – David K
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 13:05
  • @DavidK It doesn't notify your PDF reader. I think the test was a PDF if I recall. It was probably just open in another window.
    – Brandin
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 13:23

4 Answers 4


I stand by my edit and think it should stay as is.

I agree with your edit, and the thinking behind it.

Originally it was more a "please try my test and tell me how difficult it is" question. Inviting review of a linked or included test is a bad precedent, in my opinion. It would be the same as "please review my attached resume and help me make it better". That's not a place I'd like to see The Workplace go.

  • 1
    Completely agree the question as it stands is on topic IMO the original was not. Commented Feb 24, 2017 at 22:17
  • 1
    Seemed entirely reasonable to me as well.
    – Kilisi Mod
    Commented Feb 25, 2017 at 8:46
  • 1
    The edit makes sense on its own but currently the top voted answer on the question makes no sense without having seen the test. e.g. "the test took me 5 minutes" (New visitor: what test??) or "[omit] all the pointless properties" (New visitor: what is he talking about??).
    – Brandin
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 12:46

I think an edit was clearly needed because like you said the bulk of the answers focused on the off topic content of the question and bypassed the on topic question. I also feel like you did the minimum edit that you could to refocus the problem to something that was on-topic. In a perfect world the OP would ask for feedback on the questions on a SE site more where it was on topic, and the people who critiqued the interview questions would delete their answers here and move them to the other SE site. I doubt that will happen.

I feel the best we can hope for is to have a mod place a mod message either on the question or below some answers saying that answers should focus on general strategies instead of reviewing the OP's specific questions. That should send a strong signal about what aspects of the question are on topic and allow us to keep the question open. From what I understand the messages are pretty easy to do, as a mod, and they feel appropriate in this context.

Of course I was one of the few that tried to focus just on broad strategies. While I don't feel that is biasing my opinion here, but I thought I should mention it.

As far as whether the question is answerable or not I clearly feel like it is answerable, and believe that I've made a decent effort at answering the question. If anyone has feedback that would improve my answer, or feels like my answer failed to address something, I would welcome a comment on the answer.


I'm one of the people why posted one of the awnsers so I believe my input might be somewhat valuable.

I felt conflicted with the edit, but i didn't think it was an unjustified edit either. Nevertheless I still thought it changed the question that the individual asked. Because of this I specifically posted a disclaimer at the start of my awnser.

My awnser can certainly be used for the current question as-well. but it'd be less specific to the question's situation. Also, bits and pieced that I referd to would be less useful too.

For me it bottle down to a single thing. Was my awnser useful towards the person who asked the question? If yes, I've done my job in helping a fellow human being. If no, but it's still relevant towards the question. I will feel like I've failed.

It may go against StackExchange's policy to have awnsers that can be recycled. (it still can for a large extent) But I'm here to help people. Not to cater to the website's ideology. luckilly this goes hand in hand 99% of the time. This happens to be the 1%.

Peronsally I believed the original question to still be on-topic but simply unluckilly worded, making it harder to get to the essense of the question. Therefor i did think an edit was needed. I just don't feel that the edit that was made did it justice. As it mainly removed a lot of technical stuff (his example). I would have liked to have that part formatted so it'd seem more as an appendix or example. Regardless, opinions differ on this.

If I were to be penalized for the awnser I made because it wassnt based on the final question. Then I'd gladly take that penalty.

As a side note. I awnsered the question before the edit, but I type so slowly due to dyslexia + english not being my main language that it took a while. So once I posted, the main question changed. Hense why I placed that disclaimer nearly instantly after.

Bottomline : As long as my awnser helps someone and is related to the question. I see no problem.

  • Were you penalized for your answer? Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 13:16
  • @JoeStrazzere I was not, hense "if I were" :)
    – Migz
    Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 13:26
  • That's good. Glad to hear it. Commented Feb 27, 2017 at 14:18

Here's another perspective. as you know the definition of off-topic things in Stackexchange is clearly defined as follows

Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here.


Questions require a goal that we can address. Rather than explaining the difficulties of your situation, explain what you want to do to make it better. For more information, see this meta post. The part that was edited were fairly specific towards the company itself, it basically had the test in question included. Making it very much related to the question that was asked.


Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here.

Now, many have said that this part of the post would be off-topic. however,

  • It are NOT company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies
  • It is NOT a question that address only a specific company or position
  • It is NOT a question seeking legal advice
  • It DID provide a goal that it could have adressed (provide in-detail information about the test that he refered to when having an interview)
  • It was used as reference material for the main question can't get less on-topic than that.

So, while the chunk of information may not have been increadibly useful, it was still part of the question in the form of reference material and in my opinion on topic. I feel like some things are seen as off-topic far too fast. Also, not all workplace questions should be devoid of programming topics. The piece of information that was provided gave us insight in the difficulty of the test as it would be impossible to measure the difficulty by saying "started with easy questions first and then harder etc etc". This is why that part was an important reference to the question. Not for the questions themselves, but for the difficulty of the questions that it shows us.

The fact that many of the top voted awnsers who are STILL gaining points after the edit, shows that they contain useful information. I will also say that Erik's awnser is a total viable one. Even if the edit were to have been rolled back.

Now, if there's any information I've missed or have mis-interpreted about things being off-topic, I'd very much like to hear about it.

Personally I'd roll back the technical information, as in the test itself, but leave the edited question remain. As that part of the edit DID make it more specific.

  • if you -1 this, please tell me why? what I posted is fact based, not opinion based, so if you disagree, you should be able to say why right? :/ if you find flaws within my logic, that'd be appreciated too :/
    – Migz
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 16:44
  • Sorry, was going to respond but got pulled into a meeting. First, the company-specific close reason would apply as the question originally was. "Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors." The question began by describing the position being hired for and then asking if that test was too difficult for that position.
    – David K
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 17:33
  • Second, you list most of the close reasons but miss the most important one: Is the question asking about the workplace? The original question was asking about the difficulty of programming tasks, which is a programming question, not a workplace question. If I said I was trying to hire a translator and asked if this technical document in Japanese was too difficult to translate in an hour, would you find that question acceptable here? Just because SE generally caters to programmers doesn't change that the Workplace should not be answering programming questions.
    – David K
    Commented Feb 28, 2017 at 17:35
  • I fail to see how the question as it stands right now would make it be more or less specific towards that specific position. As it stands they are both for "interviewers" in the software engineering branch. Again, I was refering towards the test itself, not the question. As i specified should be left as you edited.
    – Migz
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 6:52
  • @DavidK For the second reason I feel like there's a grey area. There's bound to be some overlap between multiple stack exchange questions. If we were to post the same question in a different SE place it'd simply get refered back to the workplace because the essence of the question IS a workplace question. The parts that you had removed were simply a reference. Like an apendix. Also, the comparison is very unfair as translations cannot be essessed without translating it themselves. I feel like this is the part where we probably agree to disagree.
    – Migz
    Commented Mar 1, 2017 at 6:58

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