Technical/mathematical/implementation questions are off-topic. However, many of them are not getting closed. E.g., here are the most recent close votes I cast on the grounds the questions were technical, but none of them got closed (e.g. see screenshot below).

Update 2017-01-19: the two answers written so far point out that technical questions may be on-topic in some cases. The issue I intended to raise in this question is that off-topic technical questions are not getting closed. E.g. in the screenshot below the vast majority of the technical questions are off-topic.

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2 Answers 2


I don't think it's not possible to force people to not ask the technical questions. Once it's asked, community decides whether it's on-topic or not. Closing only because it's a technical question isn't enough. More things needs to be taken into the account before deciding.

To be clear, this proposal comes from the Science category, so scientific questions are clearly on-topic (especially socio-scientific angle), but some overlap in scope is expected.

Please note that there are over 10 sites across Stack Exchange network where Artificial Intelligence related questions can be also on-topic (such as Cross Validated, Data Science, Computer Science, CSTheory, Cognitive Sciences, Philosophy, Worldbuilding, Stack Overflow, History of Science, Robotics, GameDev and so on), so once the question is asked, it's a matter of speculation where it exactly should belong, unless it's very clear where it belongs. Otherwise claiming the ownership of some question related to AI on other non-AI site which has been asked specifically here or only because it's a technical one, it would be unwise. The point is, that this site is fully dedicated to AI, Cross Validated site has only few tags related to AI and machine learning and it focuses only on statistical techniques where the questions asked there doesn't have to be related to AI.

Therefore if the question is asking about statistical techniques, then sure, it's more on-topic at Cross Validated. Especially if you think it's off-topic here (e.g. nothing to do with AI), and on-topic there, vote to close, so after the closure it can be migrated by the moderators to another site. Similar with question specifically about data science or programming.

In summary, the level of technicality is a matter of speculation. For me as far as it doesn't consist math, asking for formulas, technical implementation or modelling, programming code, it's not a technical question. We should rather ask ourselves, whether it's off-topic here (non-AI), and on-topic somewhere else.

Related discussion: What should be on-topic, modelling or implementation, or anything else?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "Cross Validated site has only few tags related to AI and machine learning" -> CV has plenty of ML tags. In the screenshot I have shown in the question, the vast majority of them are about statistical models, such as neural networks. Do you agree that they should be closed? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 11, 2017 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ @FranckDernoncourt Some of them I voted to close, but it takes long time to close them completely, such as 2605, 2588, 2590, 2597, and so on, but for example not on 2599 (general enquiry) and the one which have already accepted UV answers, usually I tempt to ignore. $\endgroup$
    – kenorb
    Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 0:25
  • $\begingroup$ I see. One issue is that it looks like in most situations close votes expire before the question gets closed. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 12, 2017 at 1:02

Good. There has never been any actual consensus that all "technical" questions are off-topic. And at the end of the day, the community decides what is on-topic, not a bunch of ivory-tower navel-gazers here on meta. Personally I like where we're at with this. There are some technical questions, yes, but quite often they're different technical questions than the ones you see on stats or datascience or whatever. That tells me we're providing real value to the world, and that makes me happy.

If anything, I say the only action we might need to ramp us, is migrating some questions to other *.se sites, if they are clearly more suited for a different site (say, stats.se or datascience.se). I'm not entirely sure how migration works though.. can anybody nominate a question to be migrated, or what? Does that come in at a certain karma level, or is that something that only the StackExchange employees can do, or what?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ "There are some technical questions, yes, but quite often they're different technical questions than the ones you see on stats or datascience -> I disagree, most of them very much on-topic on both stats and datascience (ignoring the case where questions too broad or unclear). I agree that it is preferable to migrate vs. close. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ Just to illustrate what I'm getting at... here's a question that is very much "technical", but which I would argue is totally on-topic here, and would be only marginally on-topic at stats or datascience: ai.stackexchange.com/questions/2623/… Yes, it mentions Bayesian inference, but that doesn't make it a "data science" or "stats" question because the real meat of the question is about combining that with something that is more in the realm of GOFAI. $\endgroup$
    – mindcrime Mod
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 19:12
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    $\begingroup$ questions pertaining to GOFAI are much rarer. E.g., in the screenshot I have shown in the question, > 90% are not GOFAI and would be perfectly on-topic on stats and datascience (ignoring the case where questions too broad or unclear). $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 21:28
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    $\begingroup$ Sure, I wasn't saying anything one way or the other about the contents of the screenshot. Some of those probably could stand to be migrated. I'm just saying that - in general - we shouldn't hold to some hard-line position that "all technical questions are off-topic". I've been arguing that from the beginning and I'll keep arguing it until they ban me, or I die, etc. :-) $\endgroup$
    – mindcrime Mod
    Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 21:32
  • $\begingroup$ got it, makes sense. FYI, from meta CV: What is our stance on questions about non-statistical artificial intelligence?. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 9, 2017 at 21:34
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    $\begingroup$ If a technical question related to AI has no home on CV or DS or SO, I absolutely agree we should welcome it. About migration: only fully graduated sites can have migration paths to other sites; beta sites only have a path to their meta. Moderators can migrate any question to anywhere, so currently all requests for migration have to be submitted via custom flags. $\endgroup$
    – Ben N
    Commented Jan 10, 2017 at 18:14

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