Proposal: Computer Science Educators I see a lot of questions that seem very open ended to allow for opinion rather than fact. It seems to me the site will draw those type of questions rather than fact searching. How will the site handle that going forward?

  • 4
    Mathematics Educators can survive, and so I believe this proposal can too.
    – Andrew T.
    Dec 23, 2015 at 7:43
  • 1
    @AndrewT. But they probably have experts and access to decades of didactics reseach. Neither is really available for CS, or at least I don't see it in the example questions and comments on them.
    – Raphael
    Jun 11, 2016 at 8:42
  • Not all open-ended questions mean endless debates or opinionated discussions. For example asking for good practice exercise ideas. I would so love to have a place to discuss exercises, and I never came along a place for that.
    – vacip
    Dec 16, 2016 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


I agree that this site may not be the perfect fit for many of these open-ended type questions. But there are different types of open-ended questions, some of which it may be good for. For example, I feel like it could still work for "best-practice" questions, such as "best way to teach Github". The most popular answers simply get voted to the top. Would not work well for "polling" or "debate" (e.g., Java vs Python?).

And of-course, it works well for "clarification" or troubleshooting questions.

I did a quick scan through the question types and here is my rough categorization. The categories in italics are the ones I think could work well, which are roughly 60-70% of questions currently on the page.

Type of question - Number of questions:

How to explain - 3

What to teach - 8

What something means - 3

Infrastructure issues - 4

Resources - 4

Teaching issues - 2

Troubleshooting - 4

  • "how to explain" -- didactics, great! "what to teach" -- governed by officials? Offtopic. "what something means" -- --> Computer Science "Infrastructure issues" -- ontopic, if solvable. "resources" -- ontopic. "teaching issues" -- ontopic. "troubleshooting" -- depends.
    – Raphael
    Jun 11, 2016 at 8:44
  • 1
    @Raphael "what to teach" is hardly always "governed by officials". Also, curriculum designers (even when they are officials) are educators and certainly should have a place in a community like this.
    – Choirbean
    Sep 29, 2016 at 12:55
  • 1
    What to teach can definitely be a valid question. What to teach in first programming course: language or pseudo code? What to teach in a web course: pure web or frameworks? While there will always be biased answers, concrete and documented answers are still possible.
    – ecc
    Dec 2, 2016 at 10:30

Some pedagogical questions may seem like a matter of opinion, but in some cases consensus has been reached in the CS community or educational research has been conducted. For example, having a quick feedback loop for learners in their environment is extremely beneficial. So, while some educators may prefer a particular language or environment, if it does not give students quick feedback on their errors it will be less effective than an environment that does.

But certainly questions like "Is Python a good intro language?" or "Which IDE is the best for Java?" do not have clear answers and wouldn't work well here.

  • Wow, I just realized this is why I like learning Mathematica so much more than learning Java in my first years as a student. While programming in Mathematica was harder because of all the braces and whatnot, it was quick to run and return results with errors. No fiddling with Eclipse, packages, jUnit etc. I feel I spent half the time making the environment work. As a freshman student I just wanted to trial and error a lot.
    – ecc
    Dec 2, 2016 at 10:24

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