I've decided to check this site out since it was tweeted by the great Jeff Atwood himself. The first question I saw was "Advice on making ruby code more ruby-like", which is the kind of question I see all the time on Stack Overflow.

So what is the difference between the questions on SO and the questions here? It seems to me there is enough overlap between the two that the difference is not clear, and I may not be alone in feeling this. So far this site seems redundant.


Did you not read the FAQ at all?

As I said on Twitter, this site is about asking

Does this code make my ass look fat?

In other words, general broad-spectrum subjective feedback about blocks of code you've written.

Stated another way, on Stack Overflow it would be

Why doesn't this code compile?

Whereas here it is

Why is my code so ugly?

I hope it is immediately obvious why the latter form would get closed instantly on Stack Overflow.

  • 21
    \$\begingroup\$ @Jeff Atwood: "Does this code make my ass look fat?" Perfect tl;dr for the faq. \$\endgroup\$ – bob-the-destroyer Jan 30 '11 at 1:52
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Maybe I'm just dumb, but I'd never considered that tiny 'faq' link at the bottom of the page. I'd assumed like chat/podcast/data/legal/whatever that it was a generic SE faq rather than a site specific one. \$\endgroup\$ – Roddy Feb 2 '11 at 10:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ @roddy faq is linked at the top, on the sidebar during question asking, and it is pushed via topbar notification to new users.. it's all over the place. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Atwood Feb 2 '11 at 11:21
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @Jeff I read the FAQ and after reading the first section, found my way to this question. The question "How is this different from SO?" and or "Why doesn't this fix in a tag on SO?" was very present in my mind and not answered by the first section or so of the FAQ. Maybe it should be edited to make the subjective/objective distinction a little clearer. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Bingham Feb 8 '11 at 22:34
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @daniel if you think "does this code make my ass look fat?" questions belong on Stack Overflow, you have a very dangerous misconception about what goes on there.. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Atwood Feb 9 '11 at 4:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jeff You misunderstand me. Upon reading the FAQ, I could not differentiate Code Review from SO. Reading the FAQ didn't answer my question "Why doesn't this belong on SO?" Reading your answer did. I'm suggesting you take some of your answer and put it in the FAQ. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Bingham Feb 9 '11 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jeff Also, how on Earth is the idea of Code Review taking place on SO "a dangerous misconception"? Sure, I get it that you want SO to be about questions with single, objective and concrete answers. But there are questions that can be asked about improving code that are not "Why is my code ugly?" They have concrete, objective answers. For example, "What can I do to make this code more efficient?" Many answers. But they are objective and they are concrete. There is gray area here. \$\endgroup\$ – Daniel Bingham Feb 9 '11 at 17:01
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @dan in code review, you don't have a problem necessarily -- that's the crux of it. You just want people to look at your code in a very general sense.. just because. On Stack Overflow there HAS TO BE A PROBLEM. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Atwood Feb 9 '11 at 17:35

Stack Overflow is for fixing broken code, while Code Review is for making working code "better". At least, that's how I'd differentiate between the two.

  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ It might be because I'm not a native english-speaking person, but $this answer here is just way way better than Jeffs (sorry buddy!). Clear, simple and direct. Thanks for that! \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Nov 28 '11 at 15:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I liked this answer too. \$\endgroup\$ – Shiplu Mokaddim Feb 1 '12 at 10:27

Stack Overflow hates . We don't.



The first question I saw was "Advice on making ruby code more ruby-like", which is the kind of question I see all the time on Stack Overflow.

I'm quite sure that that question would get closed as "not a real question" on Stack Overflow, for these reasons:

  • Stack Overflow questions are supposed to be about specific problems. "What can be improved about this code?" is not a specific question.
  • They should contain the shortest runnable code sample which demonstrates that problem. Posting large code samples without any indication where the problem is, is usually frowned upon.
  • Stack Overflow questions should have specific answer where there is one clear best answer. The question "What can be improved about this code" has virtually an infinite number of distinct answers which are all equally valid.

Besides the difference in missions and allowable questions (Stack Overflow helps you fix non-working code; Code Review helps you improve already working code), the two communities have different practices as well.

  • Stack Overflow prefers generic questions of general interest. Code Review prefers to see your code just as you wrote it, with all details that might be relevant to the review.

  • On Code Review, everything about the posted code is reviewable. Therefore, the code in the question must be preserved verbatim, including aspects that have no effect on functionality, such as whitespace, naming, and comments.

  • Code Reviewer answers may focus on a different issue than what the question asks. For example, the question might ask about how to write comments on a complex regular expression, but one of the answers might point out a performance problem instead.

  • On Code Review, there may be no single right answer. Answers may disagree. It's even acceptable for one user to post multiple answers (focusing on different aspects of the code or proposing different solutions to an issue).

  • Don't expect an instant answer. Code Review works at a slower pace, both because we are a smaller community and because it takes time to write a good code review.


I've just asked a Perl coding question here that I would be embarrassed to put on SO. Seems to be SO is good for 'how it works' questions, whereas CR is for 'how it codes / reads / looks'.

I'm delighted, by the way, that CR has come into existence. Thanks for taking the time!

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for your delightedness (and mine too) \$\endgroup\$ – Anonymous Nov 28 '11 at 15:16

I agree there's a slight difference in focus, but they're close enough that I think separating them into separate sites would diminishe their audiences.

Just a personal take: I'm browsing Code Review today, but I'll probably rarely come back unless I have a really specific question that I somehow feel would get better answers here. I'm an active Stack Overflow user but I don't have time to increase the number of Stack Exchange sites I look at.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Stumbled across this site and immediately signed up simply so I could search the meta for this question. This answer is exactly how I feel about codereview.se. Also, the FAQ doesn't make it clear what the difference is between codereview and stackoverflow. In fact, some of the points in the FAQ relate better to the format for stackoverflow, such as focusing on an actual problem and avoiding things that are opinion-based. I initially miss-took the FAQ as a generic FAQ for Stack Exchange. \$\endgroup\$ – Ellesedil Oct 9 '13 at 18:55

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .