Tried to ask a question about the differences between a certain tablet and a desktop computer, for purposes of a certain software. I see differences, and need to understand the source of these differences, so I can later go and fix the code on my own. Didn't go well.

Fixing the code is under the purview of SO, optimizing the code is CR... is SU the right place to ask why there is a difference in the first place? Or to ask how does this hardware impact the implementation of the OS?

Were my would-be answerers a bit over-zealous in asking for proprietary code that I don't own anymore but still need to support, or are such questions out of scope for SU? If so, is there somewhere besides the tour that explains the scope of SU in a little more detail, and gives me more specific information about where to ask a question like the above?

  • "How does this tablet affect the running of this software?" is about as specific as I would want to get, but really I want "How is this specific tablet different from a desktop or laptop computer, given the same OS and software versions?" I need to be able to make sure my little code can work at all on said specific tablet, and then know the differences so I can figure out how to overcome them myself. If I wanted to ask "How do I make this little code work on specific tablet?", it would both violate NDA and my sensibilities... but I would do that on SO, but after I understood specific tablet
    – CWilson
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 20:27
  • @Ramhound I am confused. Are you saying that if I ask the specific question here in Meta, it will be answered in Meta? That is not my experience across SE, but this question is about how SU works specifically. Perhaps hardware/software questions are answered in Meta here. If so, please post that as an answer, I will mark it as such, then I will ask the specific question in MetaSU instead.
    – CWilson
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 23:28
  • @Ramhound Or are you concerned that I don't know the specific tablet, and can't provide information about it? Of course I have the specs of my client's tablet, but that is off topic for this Meta question. Or are you saying that questions like this about some kinds of tablets would be on topic at SU, but questions like this involving other kinds of tablets would not be on topic?
    – CWilson
    Commented Aug 6, 2016 at 23:28
  • @Ramhound I am having a hard time with the grammar/spelling (no judgement), but I think you are saying: "Unless I know the exact question, I won't know if it is on topic." Are there no rules or guidelines for what is on topic at SuperUser, other than what I find at superuser.com/help/on-topic? I am concerned that you might be saying that: "We decide what questions are on topic on a case by case basis, and so I won't be able to give you guidelines until you tell me the exact question, so I can pass judgement on it." That can't be true, so would you please restate your comment?
    – CWilson
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 0:27
  • You want to know if your question, you want to ask, is on topic. When I asked what your question was going to be, you indicated you can't do that, and what your describe here would be your question. My grammar is fine, I see no mistakes, that would make it unreadable. Since I am not willing to go into any more detail I will just walk away, and just delete my previous comments. If you ask the question at Superuser, be prepared to provide specifics, otherwise it will be difficult to answer. I and others will ask for specifics, have answers you can provide, to our questions.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 0:29
  • @Ramhound Understood. Thank you for trying your best.
    – CWilson
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 0:32
  • If your question is as vague as the one you're offering here, then it would be closed as either too broad or unclear what you're asking
    – random Mod
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 3:15

2 Answers 2


As is - it's unclear what the question is. And without testable or at least sharable examples it's pretty hard to ask a clear question.

You can certainly ask a question in the context of the software if you're willing to mention it.

"I'm trying to run the retroencrombulator application on a desktop and a tablet. For some reason the tablet version shows a more condensed, useful UI, while the desktop application looks like a bit of a mess. add screenshots of UI, specifications of systems and so on How do I use the tablet UI on a desktop?" or vice versa would work.

So, you have a specific problem, and an end goal. This works.

Maybe just maybe you might be able to get away with asking how to detect whether a system is a tablet or desktop and/or how to fake it.

As is, though, there's not enough information to tell if it would be a good question.

  • Thank you. That is not what I expected from SU. On SO, a good on topic question is a clear problem statement, a desired outcome, and effort documented, all relating to programming. I expected something closer to CR, Travel, or Workplace here. I wanted information, so I could make my own decision, not have someone tell me how to fix my code. I am starting to understand a little better what SU isn't... but your example seems entirely within the SO scope. If this is the case, how do SU and SO differ? Or, what Is SU?
    – CWilson
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 4:00
  • 1
    @CWilson - Software and Hardware questions require more specific details to answer. You should have an actual problem your trying to solve, or something you are actually trying to understand, the more specific you are the best answers you will receive to the question you ask. There are many ways to skin a cat with a programming question. Your last couple questions are not that clear.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Aug 7, 2016 at 11:02

I say, "Sure."

Sometimes, you can ask a question in multiple different ways. How you ask the question can determine whether the question feels most appropriate for one site than another.

Asking questions about hardware, and how it interacts with code (or how different hardware performs in a specific situation) is more appropriate for SU than the other sites mentioned. Asking how to code for a specific piece of hardware may be more appropriate for SO. Both ways of asking a question may seek the same knowledge, but one question may be more appropriate for one site than the other. CR may have its own guidelines.

In general, you're best to try to be a bit careful. Give the idea (which board is best?) some thought, which I see you did. When making your question, try to tailor it so the question seems very focused, targeting the audience of the site that the question is going to be made on.

However, don't worry too much about it. If the moderators determine your question is high quality, but misplaced, they can migrate the question. Overall, people on these sites seem to be happier about seeing a well-written question than worrying about whether the site's target audience is the better choice than one of the other target audiences from a rather similar-ish Stack Exchange site. So, don't strees out too much about whether your decision is "perfect". If you have a question, please feel comfortable and free to ask away.

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