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How much programming here?

Consider the two questions below. I'm not sure why one was closed and other not. I think both are fine; I liked Suresh's answer to the closed question, and was hoping to see more. I think this is relevant because there seems to be some consensus that Machine Learning is within bounds, and computational statistics can't be completely out of bounds, so we should expect questions on algorithms related to the field.

So what rules, loosely speaking, are in play when deciding to close such a question? I think this would be nice to advertise in the FAQ, so people can decide whether they should be headed to MetaOptimize or StackOverflow before posting such questions here.


I voted to close the first one as it seems that a question like that seems better suited for Stackoverflow. The second one should also be closed but perhaps has not caught the attention of sufficient users.

  • $\begingroup$ So what's the general rule then? They're all off limit? That seems a bit severe. $\endgroup$ – ars Jul 21 '10 at 14:48
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    $\begingroup$ I think an algorithm that requires some knowledge of data structures, programming optimizations etc needs to go to SO. In contrast, an algorithm that requires the user to choose between different statistical options needs to stay here. For example, should you choose Metropolis-Hastings vs Slice Sampling when you can do both in a specific problem context. That's my 2 cents. $\endgroup$ – svadali Jul 21 '10 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ I also think that questions that seek to leverage the experience of the users of this site and ask for suggestions to improve the performance of an algorithm in a specific problem context stays here. $\endgroup$ – svadali Jul 21 '10 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ I think I get your general idea, but it's not airtight, and we don't expect it to be. I think for the moment we ought to allow more than we disallow (speaking about this topic only) and defer decisions on what's acceptable or not once we've seen what flows in over some time. Just a thought. Thanks for responding. $\endgroup$ – ars Jul 21 '10 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ There is also the option of re-opening questions later on if we feel that they were closed incorrectly. $\endgroup$ – svadali Jul 21 '10 at 15:38
  • $\begingroup$ We have a (statistically) significant philosophical difference. :) I'm convinced this is an analog of the inclusionist/deletionist debate on Wikipedia. $\endgroup$ – ars Jul 21 '10 at 15:59

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