My main concerns are as follows:

a) we have a dedicated http://mathematica.stackexchange.com stack for them - if they are asked here, they are unlikely to get much attention, they are hard to find and they can't get domain-specific tags,


If your question is not specifically on-topic for Super User, it may be on topic for another Stack Exchange site.

While I get the basic idea that Mathematica is a piece of software, it's also a programming language by itself, a development framework, an IDE etc. - also, I can see no obvious way in which Mathematica is a "super user" tool; for me, it's clearly a developer tool.


and it is not about …

programming and software development,

(side note) is there any place better than https://superuser.com/help/on-topic (meta topic maybe?) in describing what's on-topic and off-topic on SU?

Examples from https://superuser.com/questions/tagged/mathematica?sort=newest&pagesize=50 of what I (my own personal opinion) consider on-topic and off-topic on SU:

on-topic (all of them are concerning very broad scope - configuration, general usage etc):

No sound in Mathematica under Linux

How do you cycle through windows in Mathematica 7?

Wolfram Mathematica 9 can't start

off-topic (all 3 are IMO programming questions - because they are answered with code):

Differential equations with Mathematica

ExampleData[] and Options[] in Mathematica

Draw 3D bar plot in Mathematica

Of course I consider questions about installing/configuration/platform dependence etc. on-topic here - I just don't think that actual programming usage of a software development platform is. Also, I'm aware that M.SE went RTM ca. 2012 and 2 of the "off-topic" questions are earlier than that date (and that that limits the migration possibilities for old questions also) - yet I'm trying to figure current guidelines; those questions are shown as examples only.

  • @Ramhound I am aware of that - and I'm aware of migration restrictions - yet the question is about current guidelines, not possible historical standpoints - since there was a time when all those questions were on-topic on SO, because that was the only stack in existence... edited to make that clear.
    – user201265
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 13:43
  • @Ramhound in any case, what's the correct moderative action you'd advise? should I just flag any programming-related questions >= 2012 for migration and < 2012 as off-topic? I'm asking, because I don't see how the fact that question was asked as on-topic 5 years ago makes it on-topic today - yet I've seen virtually none of the questions I consider off-topic closed.
    – user201265
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 13:54
  • We cannot migrate any questions older than 6 months and shouldn't migrate anything that is currently on topic here without the owners consent. We shouldn't migrate the on topic questions in general for the same reasons as set out in meta.superuser.com/questions/2644/…
    – Mokubai Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 15:10
  • @Mokubai when I flagged one of the questions concerning Mathematica specifics , I got I do not see how it is off topic here, it is specifically asking how to do something in a piece of software. - I don't see how this is not contradicting the and it is not about … programming and software development, part. Mathematica is a programming and software development tool - and any question that deals with programming and software development tool specifics is IMO off-topic here. Is that right?
    – user201265
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 15:41
  • @Mokubai also, I don't consider this one a duplicate of meta.superuser.com/questions/2644/… - I have asked what Mathematica questions are on-topic on SU, not whether we should migrate them or not. Migration is a tangential issue here IMO.
    – user201265
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 15:43
  • 1
    @vaxquis - Your followup question asked how they should be flagged. The problem is most of the questions tagged as Mathematica are either are on topic or not actually about Mathematica the programming language. Questions about Mathematica the program are on topic.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 16:31
  • @Ramhound even if they ask how to code a specific solution? SU is not about … programming and software development
    – user201265
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 16:38
  • Yes, for those questions asking about the programming language, or where a solution is code, it shold be closed.
    – Ramhound
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 16:45

1 Answer 1


Only one of the examples you have given are off-topic for our site in my opinion.

off-topic (all 3 are IMO programming questions - because they are answered with code):

Differential equations with Mathematica.

ExampleData[] and Options[] in Mathematica (this one)

Draw 3D bar plot in Mathematica

The other two are no different at all from the current questions that we get with Microsoft Excel and VBA. They are all trivial for anyone with even vague knowledge of the package to answer. While we might migrate the "heavier" of VBA questions we do not migrate many because it is quite common to need to know a little bit of coding to do some of the more in depth things in Excel. Even the third is borderline though, as it's almost akin to asking how to use a particular function in excel.

Should we migrate every question that can be answered with any type of code? No, because that would preclude a massive section of our audience.

None of those questions are specifically programming and software development, they are "how do I enter this in that" or "does this actually work", the fact that they might need some light knowledge of the workings of the program is not unexpected.

This is one time when the broadness and specificality of Superuser can be somewhat confusing. We don't allow programming questions, per se, but we do allow people to dip into it if necessary. That those questions might have needed it does not mean that it was originally thought by the author that they mandated it.

I would have to say that the help centre is quite clear on the matter. If it is about actually programming and software development (i.e. the heavy stuff) then it is off-topic, if it is simply about using computer hardware or software in the way it is intended then it is fine here.

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