I recently asked the following question:

Criteria for selecting language for first programming course

This was written partially in response to the closing of this question


in part to test the boundaries of what is allowed on CS.SE and what is not allowed.

From a CS educator's perspective, there is no SE site that can provide me answers to questions about CS education, but this SE seems closest. Programming is one of the fundamental topics taught in CS, but it seems that most questions about programming are off-topic. There are many questions debating this issue, for example

Are programming questions in scope on CS.SE?
Programming questions

SE sites like StackOverflow and Programmers.SE already exist to deal with issues relating to programmers, but these sites are not concerned with computer science education.

Where can I ask my question? Is it on-topic here? If not, where is a good place to ask. Is Academia.SE one such place?

  • $\begingroup$ There's Academia too. Do you know if they've had similar discussions? $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' May 20 '12 at 19:25
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles: Academic seems to be about Life in Academia, Life as a Grad Student and so forth, not specific questions about curriculum in one specific academic discipline. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke May 20 '12 at 19:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Gilles, they often reject questions which are too specific to an area in my experience, i.e. if the question is only makes sense for CS then it is probably more a CS question than an academic question. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh May 20 '12 at 20:10
  • $\begingroup$ I partly agree with Raphael, I thin he has a valid point that often these question about what is the best language turn out to be a bad subjective question. On the other hand, I think there can be also good subjective questions about them, like yours where users can answer it based on their teaching experience and cons and pros of each choice. Sometimes we forget that not all subjective questions are bad. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh May 20 '12 at 20:21
  • $\begingroup$ I personally like your question, but as I know SE sites are Q&A not discussion forum. $\endgroup$ – user742 May 21 '12 at 11:06
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    $\begingroup$ @SaeedAmiri: How is the question a discussion question? It has a clear question and has received mostly clear answers. (Okay, I admit that there are quite a few comments.) $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke May 21 '12 at 11:42
  • $\begingroup$ @Dave, Any discussion can be arrived from some clear questions: Java or .Net? it's clear question. But as you know definition of discussion is: "The action or process of talking about something, typically in order to reach a decision or to exchange ideas.". Your question exactly fits for discussion, you looking for some idea or opinion, to find what is the best in your criteria. there isn't unique answer to your question. actually it's open ended, 10 years later I can answer with new point of view completely in contrast with my current opinion. $\endgroup$ – user742 May 21 '12 at 12:03
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    $\begingroup$ My question does not ask for the best criteria, just for criteria. It may be open, but the number of different criteria is surely relatively small. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke May 21 '12 at 12:09
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't said you asked for best options, you asked for some options, I said you will take best of them, may be I'm wrong, but I think this situation is kind of offline discussion, answers are highly depended to answerer taste, and their environment and experience. This isn't a logical decision. [on the face of any answer you can see some sort of logic, but underneath of all of them there are taste, experiences, ...] $\endgroup$ – user742 May 21 '12 at 12:25

I like the new question. You did a good job extracting out the essence that allows to discuss a CS-specific education problem relatively objectively.

The question you reacted to, however, was too specific and not related to education in a broader sense (at least not by the OP). It also asked only for opinions.

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe I should have done a worse job, so that we can better explore where the boundary lies. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke May 21 '12 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ @DaveClarke: I am not sure there is a clear-cut boundary. Not one we can get a consensus for, that is. Anyway, we narrowed it down. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Mod May 21 '12 at 7:56

In my opinion this question is open ended once, and doesn't fit in Q&A format of SE sites, sure this SE site could be different, though.

See the question state now, and tell me which of the answers could be an accepted answer (after a week with 11 answers)?

Update: As mentioned by Kaveh in comments, in this thread, subjective questions are allowed to be asked in some SE sites, but subjective questions which doesn't have exactly one accepted answer still is not suitable, actually best choice was making this questions as community wiki, but currently we don't have community wiki. So in my opinion because this question doesn't have a unique answer, and we can't mark any of answers as accepted once, seems it's not suitable for site. But still seems it's better to ask a feature to support such a good questions in site. But what should be feature I don't have any idea, except reusing community wiki.

  • $\begingroup$ May I suggest reading this blog post about subjective questions? I think you are trying to apply what we expect from objective questions to subjective questions. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh May 27 '12 at 23:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh, good link, but see the robert cartaino's answer to similar question in comments, he said in such a situation (like Dave one), it should be community wiki, but currently community wiki is dead. At the end I asked what should we do in this situations. $\endgroup$ – user742 May 28 '12 at 5:34
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for offering an alternative opinion. It was always clear from the start that this question hovered near the boarder of what is acceptable and what is not. Compare the original question with the posted question. Clearly it is better, but clearly from your comment not obviously on topic. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke May 28 '12 at 7:32
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    $\begingroup$ It seems to me that this answer confuses "on-topic" with other characterizations of questions. Subjective, open-ended, non-constructive questions about computer science are on-topic here, right? $\endgroup$ – Patrick87 May 28 '12 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ @Patrick87, I updated the answer to write my thought, If you have different opinion about it, it's good to tell it. $\endgroup$ – user742 May 28 '12 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ My comment is sort of separate from the issue of subjective questions. My point is that bad questions can be on-topic here. It's important to remember the distinctions between reasons for closing questions. Nowhere in your answer do you argue the question is off-topic... right? $\endgroup$ – Patrick87 May 28 '12 at 13:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Patrick87, Yes I'm saying this is off-topic by current limits. also yes may be some bad questions are on-topic. $\endgroup$ – user742 May 28 '12 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ Where in your answer do you say that the subject of the question isn't part of "computer science" as defined in our (future) FAQ? $\endgroup$ – Patrick87 May 28 '12 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ The fact that CW is not used doesn't make the questions unsuitable. The problem with CW was different issue, it doesn't mean that these questions are now unsuitable because we don't make them CW. It is not the case that subjective questions "can be allowed", they are allowed. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh May 29 '12 at 2:20
  • $\begingroup$ I think Patrick's point is this: you seem to imply that subjective questions (which are not going to have an accepted answer) are off-topic, whereas off-topic has a specific meaning, i.e. the topic of the question is out of the scope of the site, and since the topic of this site is CS to say that a question is off-topic it should be a question which is not CS (or ruled out by meta discussions about the scope of the site). Being subjective doesn't imply that so the questions are on-topic. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh May 29 '12 at 2:23
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    $\begingroup$ IIUC, you are saying that a subjective question which is not going to have an accepted answer is not suitable for SE. You can have that opinion but that is not shared generally AFAIK. In fact most subjective questions will not have a unique answer that can be accepted because they are subjective! and that is completely fine. You can argue that a particular questions is not-a-real-question (NARQ) or is not-constructive (NC) but I don't think you can say that generally just because the subjective question is not going to have an accepted answer. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh May 29 '12 at 2:25
  • $\begingroup$ Now, does Dave's question fall in one of these categories? First note that the question satisfies most of the criteria for a good subjective question mention in the blog post. Let's see the closing reasons: NC: "We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion." NARQ: "It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form." They don't IMHO. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh May 29 '12 at 2:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh, Yes I think subjective questions without answer are not suitable by current limitations, because they can cause to "opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion." this is my opinion, and I said this at first, now after a week I again say this when there is 11 answers, but you can continue in this way and use try and error, but if you allow this question, you shouldn't read owner of problem name, and then think about future subjective questions. $\endgroup$ – user742 May 29 '12 at 8:10
  • $\begingroup$ And as I said, that is an opinion not shared by the rest. Having a general rule to close such questions is unreasonable in my humble opinion. There is no general ground to close subjective questions as long as they are on-topic and satisfy the conditions in the guideline to close the question. Obviously each subjective question should be judged separately to see if it satisfies the conditions listed in the great subjective questions guideline and having a single acceptable answer is not one of those conditions. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh May 29 '12 at 16:11
  • $\begingroup$ That said, there is a related practice: someone, possibly the author of the question, posts a short CW answer summarizing and linking to the other answer answers and then that answer is accepted like this. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh May 29 '12 at 16:15

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