Everyday I see too many development questions coming up on AE. Users are responsible for this but they are not to be blamed entirely for to any new user AE seems to be a site related to "Everything Android." So people keep asking development questions unaware of the fact that AE is only from a user's perspective and not of a developer.

Sure, we can flag / close / delete such questions. But wouldn't it be great if we could keep users from posting such questions in the first place?

Can we make users to go through a help page or add some guidelines on the "Ask a question" page, where we can highlight the point clearly telling them not to ask development questions here and ask them to check on StackOverflow.

This will save other users' time flagging them and moderators' time in reviewing them. Also it will help keep site cleaner. After all "Prevention is better that cure," isn't it?

I am not sure how valid is my suggestion and if it can actually be implemented. So that's also a part of my question here.

  • 2
    Even adding red boxes with bold text would not stop this -- most people don't even take the time to read them (that's not a raw guess, but from my experience on sites where they had such boxes). Sure we could even add a captcha there (just kidding). Some AI would be nice, analyzing the question title+text and popping up an "Isn't this a dev related Q? Shall we better post it on SO?" -- but I'm not sure whether this is currently doable without too much effort (something like the "Related" Qs I guess).
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 12:27

4 Answers 4


It's a problem all over, not just here. Not five minutes ago I voted to close a programming question on Web Applications. And how about all of the "how do I fix this non-programming Android issue" questions that have been closed on Stack Overflow? (And believe me, there have been a lot more of them than development questions here.)

There are any number of helpful hints to guide potential Askers to the right place. You probably don't remember because you've been around for a while, but there's a dialog that new users need to click through before posting that says basically: I have read what this site is about, I see it again here right in front of me, and this is the right place, so let me ask my question. There's the FAQ, of course. And the "Ask Question" page does give guidance, at least until your reputation meets a certain threshold.

The problem, and it's not limited to here, is that people don't read on the Web. The only thing that keeps sites on topic is swift, efficient, ruthless moderation when people post off-topic stuff. (Remember Usenet?) That's because people will post off-topic stuff; it can't be stopped.

Don't forget, we also have the tag, which has been left on here as kind of a "honeypot" to make it easier to find off-topic questions. (The assumption being, of course, that anyone doing development would see that tag and use it, in spite of the tag wiki excerpt explicitly saying that such questions are off-topic.) Unfortunately, the tag (which is terribly misused and abused and is in dire need of cleanup) is almost always one of the sample tags suggested and, since they're developing an application, must be the tag they want, right?

So, yes, it's annoying and I wish these people would get a clue. Don't worry about the Moderators' time, though. We don't need to waste it with simple stuff like this. Just continue to vote to close. Downvote them for wasting your time. (Enough downvotes—six, I believe—and the question drops off the front page.) If you're feeling kind, point them to the FAQ.

But you should probably resign yourself to the fact that no matter how many clues and help and speed bumps we put in front of new users (and there are quite a few), some people are going to post off-topic stuff. All we can hope to do is educate them, hopefully educate people who see their off-topic question and so won't repeat the mistake, and close them down without mercy.

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    I should probably also mention that you should have a look at Meta Stack Exchange. Stack Overflow has a magnitude greater amount of activity than here. There have been a lot of discussions on how to help new users and to ameliorate off-topic and otherwise undesirable questions.
    – ale
    Commented Dec 20, 2012 at 14:07

Couldn't a rule be added to the automated quality filter to detect (at least some) development questions?

Any question tagged can safely be rejected (as long as the rejection message doesn't tell the user the tag is what alerted the system, or they'll just remove the tag and resubmit). Similarly, a question that includes Java source code can be flagged by the quality filter. I'm sure a quick analysis of words used in existing closed-OT questions will pull out some obvious words to trigger on when used together, such as "activity" and "class".

Such a filter wouldn't catch everything, but it'd be a big win for a reasonably small outlay (considering there's already a filter for low-quality posts).

  • I don't think all posts with the development tag are off-topic. There are some decent examples that are apt here, but I'm not sure what alternative tag would better fit.... Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 10:56
  • Linking to the relevant can a tag be blacklisted question elsewhere on here.
    – GAThrawn
    Commented Jul 9, 2013 at 15:00

If it were up to me, I would have a second page displayed when a user clicked to post the question.

This page would only be displayed if they are new/have low rep/have a history of off-topic questions.

This page would alert them that some questions are off topic, and give them an option to move the question to a better site in the SE network. If they want, they can continue after completing a captcha (or something similar).

What do you think?

It could probably be removed after a few weeks of being a member, as long as they have a decent amount of rep, and now closed/deleted questions (or very little).


IMHO there is now way to hold people from posting off-topic/low-quality questions. And this is a OK because if SE would show a big disclaimer before a question could be asked, the usability would suffer.

The only way to filter out off-topic questions is afterwards, like the system does now.

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