Let us say I have a question about an open source project that looks something like:

Hi! I am a newbie user of XYZ. So, while I was referring to XYZ's API doc, I couldn't understand what function ABC() does.

Well, obviously doubts like these get asked on SO all the time and are on-topic (see Angular; JQuery). But since this is a community targeted specifically towards FOSS, are these questions relevant here? Or are only meta-open-source (about FOSS itself) questions relevant?

3 Answers 3


This would be off topic.

Your example question is not about the SUBJECT of open source. The open source component of this question is only coincidental.


If questions are related to the documentation of a project, it doesn't matter whether the project in question is open source; the focus of the question is on programming. They should be off-topic.


I was actually contemplating this last night while looking at another FLOSS project.

I think the specific question you cite should be off-topic - there are other sites where it could be asked and answered. Indeed, a number of projects direct users to StackOverflow as their support forum.

However, SO seems to be (understandably) reluctant to become support central:

If we were to find ourselves struggling to stay relevant or active, I think there might be some value in offering our site as a central support forum for FLOSS projects. It would show support for the community, and almost certainly attract a high volume of traffic.

However, I also suspect it would be difficult to draw the line between support questions, and 'How do I use this function?' type questions.

The support posts would also quickly dwarf the number of questions related to our initial goals.

Perhaps, if no other site wants to take on that role, it might be a candidate for a new Area 51 proposal.

  • 2
    So isn't reluctant about it, they're reluctant of the types of questions that make Stack Overflow a version of customer support.
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Jun 26, 2015 at 14:17

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