Proposal: Programming Language Design

We've currently got a lot of questions formatted as "should I/my language [...]", such as:

There are just as many "how should" and "when should" questions. A lot of these have been getting close votes, and comments suggesting that the wording be changed to something more objective. Since this seems to be a common form of question, we should probably form a policy on dealing with them now.

The main issue with "should" questions is that they're perceived to be subjective, and likely also depend on information specific to the asker's situation rather than more generally applicable, and invite binary yes/no answers. However, they can be pretty easily reworded to a question about the advantages and disadvantages of a feature, which has happened multiple times, so maybe allowing "should" along with or as a shorthand for "why or why not" (like in the first linked answer) is an option.

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    Not enough for a full answer, but to me "they can be pretty easily reworded to a question about the advantages and disadvantages of a feature" sounds if anything like we should ban "should" and possibly find a more objective shorthand to replace it--since it wouldn't kill any questions, but could motivate better answers. Commented Jan 10, 2023 at 14:43
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    I guess it depend on the question, like "Should I interpret this as X... instead of interpreting it as Y?" or, "Would it be advisable if I interpret this as X instead of Y"? (if I explain it well enough) Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 12:44
  • and sorry I did remove my answer; 🤦‍♂️ sorry Commented Jan 11, 2023 at 20:29

2 Answers 2


Asking "should" invites opinion, which invites discussion, which is a poor fit for the Stack Exchange model. Stack Overflow discovered this the hard way years ago.

Instead, ask about advantages, disadvantages, consequences etc. of a decision. This compels answers to be concrete, and shifts the tone towards listing pros and cons rather than weighing them - which should be OP's sole responsibility, off-site.


As a coworker of mine loves to say, "'should' is a funny word"

There is probably a better way to word a good "should" question - but nothing that pops on Thesaurus.com's entry for 'should' sounds like a good candidate to me

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    "What are the advantages/disadvantages of..."
    – Seggan
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 16:09
  • Every time I see the word "should" in a technical discussion, I try to interpret it in terms of RFC 2119 and see if it makes sense. ietf.org/rfc/rfc2119.txt
    – Pseudonym
    Commented Mar 1, 2023 at 0:31

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