A question like this seems to me to be clearly off-topic, because, although it does reference an algorithm, it appears to only be asking if someone has already coded it.

However, my reading of https://cs.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic does not clearly articulate why the question is off topic. So, first, am I off base, and the question is really okay? And, if I am right, should the wording of the help page be modified to make this clearer?

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    $\begingroup$ Could you clarify why the phrase 'Programming questions are off-topic here, even if they're homework from a class in a computer science curriculum' on the page you reference does not explain that asking for code is off-topic? $\endgroup$
    – Discrete lizard Mod
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 21:36
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    $\begingroup$ I suppose my understanding of "programming questions" regards questions about programming, and the questioner is not proposing to do any programming. No reason has been given, but, for instance, the questioner might be looking for some code in order to better understand the algorithm. I don't think that such a use would be fairly understood as a programming question, but it still seems outside of the scope of this SE. $\endgroup$
    – Ben I.
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ "the questioner might be looking for some code in order to better understand the algorithm." In that case, the asker should be clear. See also this answer. Asking for code, specifically, would fall under the general policy is to not accept programming or 'a particular part of software', to which exceptions may be made. Also, note that it isn't clear in the referenced question what is being asked. So, I think it's too early to tell whether this specific question is ok. $\endgroup$
    – Discrete lizard Mod
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 21:57
  • $\begingroup$ agree there may not be an explicit rule against it... there are the stated rules/ guidelines and there are longheld conventions... anyway theres another site for Software Recommendations, however last heard they have a lot of requirements for requests.... $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 3:06
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    $\begingroup$ @vzn There also isn't an explicit rule against gardening questions here, but there is a description of the topic of the site, which is that it's about computer science. Regarding Software Recommendations, the reason it has a lot of requirements is that they're what make this kind of requests work, regardless of which site they're asked on. $\endgroup$ Commented May 12, 2017 at 23:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles the question is about code. highflying cs purists tend to distance themselves from mere implementations. if the group is about x then the guidelines need to state it. the questioner is correct in that our (intentionally broad) site guidelines do not explicitly forbid questions relating to code. now, there are some numerous meta policies on this topic (but not without controversy/ alternative views!) many thx to DW for providing actual documentation/ refs/ summary of these below in his answer! now questioner can begin to understand context of the policies much better :) $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 16:11

1 Answer 1


There have been a number of past discussions of this. Based on the outcomes of those discussions, my reading is that asking for implementations of an algorithm is off-topic. Others may have a different view; I don't know.

To get an sense of past discussions, you could start by taking a look at Is asking for implementation (any language) or detailed documentation/paper to implement an algorithm off-topic?. After that, you could also read Programming questions, Questions asking for materials or links, and Are questions about software to solve computer science problems on-topic?.

Members of the community with enough reputation can vote to close the question if they consider it off-topic.


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