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Some testers asks programming questions here when their code throws an exception or performs in a way they did not expect.

As questions on programming they are often considered off-topic.

However, I would consider them on-topic because they relate to a very important skill of a tester: defect isolation. They could be use to teach testers: reading logs, stacktraces, understanding specification (API documentation), debugging and connecting all those sources together. I followed this approach for this question.

So, maybe we should not downvote nor close such questions?

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We are not in danger of being overwhelmed by more traffic. However, I think the trick will be how the questions are answered. For example, if someone is using an API the wrong way, it will be tempting to answer, "You need to swap the second and third arguments in that first method", rather than, "Have you considered checking the documentation to ensure you're calling the method with the right arguments?" The second answer recommends a practice that will be more useful in the long term. However, the first is more immediately useful to the questioner, is more likely the be marked as the "right answer", and (I think) is more likely to receive up-votes.

Of course, in some cases it isn't obvious what's wrong with the code, and in that case, the only way to answer is with diagnostic questions.

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I disagree and was going to post a question on meta here about this. I do not see programming questions related to test automation as off topic. I see these types of question as being the future lifeblood of the forum in general.

Espcially considering the lack of questions being asked, I think discouraging these questions will hurt the use of the site.

  • I agree they are more on-topic, although my justification was different, i.e., they relate to testing because they can teach testers how to isolate defects, independently whether those defects are in their or others code. – dzieciou Jan 22 '13 at 17:22

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