Yes, it's nearly a dupe:

I've also read Inconsistent Mod response to migrating Excel questions between Stack OverFlow & Super User.

I see a few batch file questions, meaning a question about the code itself, not how to run the application. According to the now dated posts I cited, these should be closed, but, based upon the number of VBA / PowerShell and bat file questions which do not get closed, I'm wondering if that is still relevant.

The help section doesn't explicitly state an answer (and I guess it probably can't as it can't state every "it's not about X, it's not about Y, etc."...

Is this area just a vague area? I've only been here at Super User for about 1 1/2 years but, I'd have hoped things like this would be clear.

The question which prompted my question is How to compare 2 strings in batch and determine if variable is alphabets - it currently has two close votes, but I don't think it should have any.

Is there a definitive answer, or as per the last post I cited, does it just remain a 'grey area' where we can just continue to let the community to decide (which will lead to inconsistencies IMO)? And more importantly, should this be made clear in the help section? That Super User will allow scripting questions that pertain to power user environments and system administration?

  • 12
    Scripting (as in system administration, basic automation, and similar tasks) questions are fine on SU, because scripting can be a power user kind of task. You'll rarely find them writing C. But the same languages can be used to write e.g. huge web applications, so the language alone is not enough to determine whether it's on topic. It really depends on whether the task you want to solve is reasonably related to the "power user" kinds of things for which we consider scripting to be on topic. A user asking for help with Django on SU is probably on the wrong site.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 9:13
  • 2
    I agree that the linked question should be considered on topic. There's no indication that it goes beyond what we consider on topic.
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 9:14
  • 1
    Another important thing to consider is there is often overlap between SE sites - the same question might
    – Bob
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 10:05
  • Whether or not "allowed", I find that I get better answers to scripting questions on SE, because it is more programming-oriented. As for "batch files are just lines of commands, freely editable" etc., well, programs in any language are also just lines of commands in that language, and compiling is not always necessary -- so this is a meaningless distinction. One can write very complex scripts in Powershell, for example, that rival what would be done with a programming language. I think that distinguishing by the need to compile is counter-productive.
    – Debra
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 9:15
  • @Debra, I really have to disagree that the answers are 'better'. In many cases, the answers are more than acceptable on both sites.
    – Dave
    Commented Feb 28, 2014 at 10:14

3 Answers 3


There will always be overlap in what a scope allows. Personally, I use Stack Overflow just for questions that are purely programming based, that will be compiled into a program. Batch files are just lines of commands, freely editable, and user accessible. You do not need to be a professional programmer to do batch programming.

I feel that PowerShell fits in the same boat. VBA programming could fit in both; it's a powerful language that can turn your Office document into a program, but it's also simple enough that the average user has access to it and may fiddle with it.

From the Stack Overflow Help Center:

Ask about...

Specific programming problems
Software algorithms
**Coding techniques**
**Software development tools**

Don't ask about...

**Questions you haven't tried to find an answer for (show your work!)**
Product or service recommendations or comparisons
Requests for lists of things, polls, opinions, discussions, etc.
**Anything not directly related to writing computer programs**

So, I would say those questions can be here or there. Also, on the question you linked to, a moderator already weighed in saying it's OK.

  • Yes, I totally agree - and of course common sense is used. BUT, my question is about incorrect close votes really... The point is, the help section doesn't provide any help! I don't think it can help with every point, naturally, just wondered if there should be a section about this - even if within the search
    – Dave
    Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:05
  • 3
    Well it's allowed, and I'd flag for reopening if it gets closed as off topic Commented Feb 24, 2014 at 21:07

Batch questions should be allowed

I wouldn't want to see batch questions considered off topic. That would get silly pretty quick.

For example:

How about bash questions? You can write bash scripts as well. Maybe we should only allow bash questions if they're not scripting.

What's the definition of 'not scripting'? Three or so bash commands I suppose. Or maybe a lack of conditionals. Again, hard to draw the line.

Batch is pretty similar. They're really just commands at a Windows command prompt. Same thing with PowerShell. Where do you draw the line there? You can reference .NET in PowerShell pretty easily, but you also can (and probably should) perform many user-land tasks with PowerShell. Where do you draw the line here?

What about answers? What's the difference between "you can do this with a small batch script" and "write a program yourself"? Do we disallow PowerShell answers that are over 5 lines or reference .NET assemblies?

I think Jeff's answer is close, but rather than the person I would focus on the intent.

  • Are you doing something in user-land? Ask on SU.
  • Are you managing a rack of servers/login script/domain? Ask on SF.
  • Are you in the weeds writing a tricky, complicated script? Ask on SO.

I'm going to guess that, based upon other comments that it is likely to stay on Super User. I'll use Excel as an example as to why.

You could ask a question which you're hoping to have resolved using a worksheet formulae. It turns out you can't and VBA is required (programming, regardless of complexity).

Assuming Super User stopped VBA questions (for the purpose of my example only), it would mean knowing where to ask this question is very difficult (and could even possibly lead towards more cross-site posting I assume) since the OP possibly can't predict the best way?

Or, in situations, the user will have to wait (possibly without getting any answers) while the question is voted on for it to be moved to the correct site (where then they will get a great answer I'm sure). I guess it could even result in 'poor quality' answers; for example, there could be a solution using a worksheet formula which isn't as good (speed issues, memory issues, etc.) as VBA (or vice versa). The user is now forced into this answer!

This just isn't particularly good for the OP all round. I admit we don't get paid to answer questions, etc, but, I think the majority like to answer quickly (for their own satisfaction or reputation points).

I'm hoping we can state somewhere in the help section that this site does accept scripting questions in the certain situations already outlined in the other answers (and Daniel Beck's comments on the OP).

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