Other Stack Exchange websites cover a wide range of possible questions one can ask about computers:

In which case is it better to ask on retrocomputing?

Not covered somewhere else:

  • computer history (I guess most such questions wouldn't qualify on history Stack Exchange)

2 Answers 2


The key is, where are the experts?

If your question is specifically about retro hardware or software, ask here. If your question is about generic hardware or software that's useful to interact with retro hardware or software, but can also be used for many other things, ask on a site such as Super User, Stack Overflow, etc.

For example, suppose you're connecting to a 30-year-old computer over a serial line. For questions about setting up your PC, ask on SU (or Software Recommendations or Hardware Recommendations or Ask Different or … as appropriate). For questions about the 30-year-old computer side, ask here.

  • 3
    I guess you're right. I wish the experts could learn how to use tags. Apr 24, 2016 at 22:02

Software Recommendations vs Retrocomputing

Software recommendations is about exactly what it seems: recommending the appropriate software for the right purpose, like how it seems in its tour:

Ask about...

recommendations of software to accomplish a task. Good software recommendation requests have two components:

  • A purpose — a task to accomplish, a user story
  • Some objective requirements — a minimum set of features

We are not recommending users to use the right software for the right purpose. We may be about retrocomputing, but we are not about recommending the right retro solution.

Super User vs Retrocomputing

Super User is for questions about computer hardware, software, and networking questions. Though very related to this site, it has its differences such as:

  • Using mostly modern software and hardware such as Windows 8 and 10

  • Questions are primarily based on problems with the software itself, not problems about the software

  • We allow devices (which is what our site has questions mostly about)

The tour states:

Ask about...

  • Specific issues with computer software, hardware or networking
  • Real problems or questions that you’ve encountered

Our site is not as modern, thus the name retrocomputing.

Stack Overflow vs Retrocomputing

The difference should be very clear. Stack Overflow is for questions about problems you encounter in making code. Our site is in no way like that. If we were like Stack Overflow, we might as well be named Retroprogramming right?

Anyways, some major differences are that we:

  • have programming questions off-topic

  • focus more on problems with retro devices

The Stack Overflow tour states:

Ask about...

  • Specific programming problems
  • Software algorithms
  • Coding techniques
  • Software development tools

Hardware Recommendations vs Retrocomputing

Similar to Software Recommendations, Hardware Recommendations is for... well... hardware recommendations. We also do not recommend hardware for your task here. Same argument really with Software Recommendations. The Hardware Recommendations tour states:

Ask about...

  • specific hardware that would enable you to perform a certain task

If your question seems to be on-topic with one of these sites, post it there and not here. Otherwise, post them here and our community will guide you towards the right path... or site. If unsure, ask for a site recommendation at Meta Stack Exchange.

  • 4
    I don't agree with your angle here. The whole point of Retrocomputing is that here we have a higher concentration of experts on using, programming and configuring retro systems. There are already a bunch of programming questions here that haven't been deemed off-topic. The chances of getting a good answer to a retro question on SO are low if not quite zero. ; - ) Apr 26, 2016 at 23:25
  • It seems utterly bizarre to me that it is being asserted it should be off-topic to ask a question like "I'm having problems using the Semigraphics 12 mode on my CoCo. As far as I can tell I am setting up the display memory correctly, but the screen is glitched. I'm writing the following values to the GIME memory-mapped inputs: ..... Any ideas what's going wrong?" or "I want to use undocumented Disk Extended Color BASIC Spin&Catch Fire ROM routine to spin my floppy so fast it blows apart. What registers do I pass the parameters in and which registered will I need to preserve?" May 19, 2016 at 18:59

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