I've met a question asking to debug an Excel formula without providing the necessary details: https://superuser.com/questions/1029939/excel-index-match-returning-value-that-doesnt-exist-in-the-table

According to my limited experience on Stack Overflow, these questions are closed, and I agree with it. However here we don't have reference to these type of questions in help.

How should I manage these questions? Close as off topic / too broad?


The question mentioned in the comment (Are diagnostics/troubleshooting issues on-topic and not too localized?) is about diagnostics, which is similar, but not the same as debugging.

From the Stack Overflow help center:

Questions seeking debugging help ("why isn't this code working?") must include the desired behavior, a specific problem or error and the shortest code necessary to reproduce it in the question itself. Questions without a clear problem statement are not useful to other readers.

Based on that, I'm quite sure that my example is not a useful question. I'd just like to get confirmation, and I'm not sure what the reason of closure should be.

  • Do the assertions made in the answers here properly address your concerns, or do you feel that what you're asking here is genuinely a separate issue? Jan 26, 2016 at 22:51
  • 1
    The link to the closed question simply seems to be missing a screen shot or something showing the data and an example to visualize better... I'd vote too broad if it doesn't get the needed attention "Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.". I would say vote on a post-by-post basis using a strategy of good judgment and common sense; select whichever option you feel is most appropriate when you vote to close. Jan 30, 2016 at 22:29
  • 5
    SO's focus is programming, so debugging questions are closely related. Here, not so much. Debugging can be a stretch from solving hardware and software problems. I would go mainly by whether the question can be useful for others. A readily visible problem with an Excel formula or short VBA code that others can learn from: sure. A massive amount of code with endless variables and cell references that makes no sense to anybody but the OP: no other user is going to wade through it to learn anything or see if it's relevant to their own problem.
    – fixer1234
    Jan 31, 2016 at 8:53
  • For me, that question was on topic because the focus on the question was on Excel and more importantly in this case, Excel formula. If the OP had written it in VBa (And still using Excel) then it could still be on topic at SU... There is a grey area between many SE sites, and scripting is one such area ! So, I don't think there is an answer about dealing with debugging for that reason, other than, it depends! If you're unsure, leave it! :)
    – Dave
    Feb 11, 2016 at 11:20


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