We're an Emacs Q&A site, but there's a grey area (to me, at least) about questions on external programs that are closely related to our use of Emacs, but which are not actually Emacs. In effect, I'm referring to "helper" programs that we use only to make our experience with Emacs better.

The immediate examples that spring to mind are programs used to make interacting with email more productive. Let's say the ultimate goal is a working gnus setup: everything about the question is in pursuit of that. There are lots of blog posts about setting up gnus with offlineimap, mbsync, and dovecot, but many of those posts would be semi-unreadable to a user with minimal experience editing configuration files (or even with a fair amount -- I never figured out dovecot).

Would questions on setting up these helper programs be on-topic here? It's iffy -- hence the question. Do we:

  • Take helper-program questions here as long as they're clearly questions about getting an Emacs ecosystem set up, or
  • Send people over to stackoverflow?

Related threads:

  • This meta post from a while back argues that configuring non-Emacs programs should be off-topic.
  • Another thread (Questions where Emacs is only incidental) from the early days of the site suggested that they're borderline questions, with some folks leaning off-topic and some leaning in favor of inclusiveness on questions.
  • Imo it really depends on the question. Do you have a specific example in mind? – T. Verron Jun 29 '15 at 7:10
  • @T.Verron: to extend the email example, consider an example like "I'm trying to set up gnus with offlineimap and dovecot as suggested on site X. I'm most of the way there but am stuck on the dovecot part. How do I get dovecot working?" Strictly speaking, such a question would be about dovecot and not Emacs, but since the spirit of the question is "how to set up the Emacs tool chain to do x," it's not clear if we do (should?) take such questions here. – Dan Jun 29 '15 at 14:23
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    If the answer is the same if we remove emacs from the question (and the question still makes sense), I don't think that it is emacs-related. You can do almost (citation needed) everything with emacs, this website is not about everything. But I was asking if you had an example of an existing question... Maybe we should wait until the problem arises before worrying about it? – T. Verron Jun 29 '15 at 14:47
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    Here's an example of some external but related software: stumpwm. I think questions about getting stumpwm to talk to emacs would likely be valid. (The intersection of stumpwm users and emacs users approaches the set of stumpwm users, right?) – daveloyall Jun 29 '15 at 21:12

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