I recently read through the "What topics can I ask about here?" and find the current guidelines either impractical in a sense that they do not really gear towards an optimization in potentially derived benefit to the community, or are overly strictly interpreted.

My question is: Are those guidelines open to revision if there is enough demand from the community?

On one hand the question format "What programming language should I use?" is discouraged, which I understand to some degree, given the language wars that most often subsequently erupt. But I asked a derivative of such question and worded the question as "Is R being replaced by Python at quant desks?". And some suggested it pretty much invited debate rather than stating facts.

I believe that a lot of useful answers to questions contain a combination of facts, opinions, empirical evidence, knowledge derived from experience. It is almost impossible to leave out subjective content because it would preclude any sharing of experiences which are by definition subjective.

Why are we so against learning from others about their opinions and experiences? As long as useless in-fights are regulated/suppressed I find questions like "Which programming language do you use in a high frequency trading environment in 2015" extremely useful because it invites the direct and targeted sharing of domain knowledge. And I find it extremely counterproductive to constantly discourage debate. Debate is part of the process to find the best answer. Why do people debate? Because they seek the best consensus solution to a problem. That is exactly what this site should be about: Industry professionals have questions and others jump in and try to help and in the process there will be disagreement and as long as people back up their opinions and suggestions with facts and domain knowledge and without becoming personal this process should be favored over a "here is XYX = exp(abc + bcd)^2 - 2.35225*R, go and solve your issue" type of approach. At least that is my opinion.

My point is: I find it unproductive to get hung up on "rules" and "guidelines", and rather wish we can again focus on what produces value and learning experience to those who contribute to this forum. I used the term "hung up on" on purpose because I am all in to adhere to guidelines and guidelines are important. But as soon as they become the deciding factor for everything without judging the actual merit, guidelines become an idol.

I want to suggest to seriously question and consider a revision of the current guidelines because I believe with a willingness for constant change and overhaul we will stay up-to-date and focused on actually serving the community rather than worshipping couple rules and guidelines.


1 Answer 1


The guidelines are certainly open for discussion. Suggestions are welcome! We're still in beta but when and if we leave the beta phase improvements and clarifications might be done. For example, I believe the rules for StackOverflow have been changed in the past.

I agree with most of your post and I hope and believe this community can have healthy debates on topics that do not have a clear answer. I encourage any form of healthy debate relevant for Quantitative Finance professionals that can increase knowledge within the community. Unfortunately, this requires some monitoring by the community as this can dissolve into unhealthy discussion were arguments are often repeated but never heard or where related but different issues are introduced without ever answering the original question. So the guidelines serve to warn users and tell them on occasional intervention: "We don't judge this to be a good use of community time so please don't do this, but if you still want to: take it to Meta." This monitoring requires some effort and that is the community has to pay for having quality material. As a member of the community I'll gladly pay that price.

"And thirdly, the code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules." In my opinion they should inform users on what we expect from them but not much more. As a moderator I've never had to rely on how the rules are exactly written to judge on an issue (and I'm happy to see that this meta doesn't contain too many complaints).

For your question in particular: the debate has been civil but such a multifaceted issue will probably not get a definitive answer. In the comments a number of related issues already have been introduced. Resolving all of those will not happen but as long as the debate increases knowledge and doesn't become too contentious I believe it is good to have.

  • $\begingroup$ Am I understanding your post correctly in that you suggest a plain question and answer format in the regular QuantFin section, discouraging discussion or disagreement and refer users to the Meta section in case there is an open ended question to be asked? If that is the case then I disagree because most questions are open ended in nature, most questions do not have black and white answers and debate and intelligent discourse is what gets people thinking and provides true and lasting value, imho, to the community. Please correct if I misunderstood you. $\endgroup$
    – Matt Wolf
    May 28, 2015 at 0:05
  • $\begingroup$ I'm afraid so, to clarify: all quantitative finance content should go to the main site, open ended or not. However, as noted some questions are outside our scope, e.g. too basic or a better fit on maths or stats. In those cases, following the rules, the community might close the question and some members of the community might object. If that's the case those that object can raise it here on Meta and argue why questions of this type should be on Quant.SE and that we have to change the scope. $\endgroup$
    – Bob Jansen Mod
    May 28, 2015 at 6:16
  • $\begingroup$ That is exactly why I took the time to raise this issue here on Meta. I think a question like "which language to choose for an implementation of issue xyz at my quant desk?" very much adds value to the person asking as well as to everyone else. What rubs me the wrong way is certain individuals who have a clear incentive to "hype" a tool like R (because they earn their livelihood with it) and who take issue with questions like this and shoot down adverse opinions but when being asked to argue why they think the way they do they disappear and reject to add any value whatsoever. $\endgroup$
    – Matt Wolf
    May 28, 2015 at 8:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ...I do not think that such attitude is conducive to the community spirit nor does it add value to others. We are here to share thoughts and help out so that we get our work done but also in order to broaden our horizons and consider new tools and quant related methods and implementations. If a good and civil debate adds to the learning experience then such questions very much, imho, belong into the main section of QuantFinance. $\endgroup$
    – Matt Wolf
    May 28, 2015 at 8:31

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