Since vi/vim questions are considered on-topic here, it would seem fair that Emacs questions would be as well. According to the /emacs tag statistics, we already have a bunch of them, so there's no debate here.

However, what about questions on programming in Emacs Lisp? Not just asking for small code snippets, but about the understanding of the language. Some random topics, for example:

  • Variable scopes or closures.
  • Data types and type coercion.
  • namespaces.
  • an OOP system on top of elisp.
  • Calling Common Lisp in elisp code.

Argument against

These are pure programming questions. Elisp should be treated like any other language and should be dealt with on StackOverflow.

Argument for

Programming emacs in Lisp is the correct way of using the editor (in my humble and highly debatable opinion). Allowing questions about emacs but not elisp seems weird and wrong.


We already have an /elisp tag, although it's not very active.

3 Answers 3


It's the same thing as shell programming. If you're a power user scripting a common task, it's on-topic. If you're implementing a Turing machine, it's off-topic.

Questions that ask about the points you list are off-topic. However, these points may arise during the debugging of a macro. Questions about problems with a macro that is a way to accomplish a user task are on-topic, and if that requires delving into Lisp intrinsics, so be it.


This is covered by What's on topic. The short answer is no, Programming is not on topic here. Asking about emacs is fine, asking for simple emacs scripting is probably fine. I think the question goes as how much vim scripting do we allow? If people started asking about how to write vim plugins, I'd be bothered by it.


StackOverflow or Programmers would be much better suited to field questions about the understanding of Lisp - regardless of the IDE or text editor you use to write the scripts/programs.

  • 1
    This is about the built-in scripting language used to configure, customize, and automate Emacs. This is not about just using Emacs to edit Lisp source code in general. (Emacs Lisp is the specific dialect of Lisp that Emacs embeds and in which significant portions of Emacs are coded. Even regular configuration files for Emacs are usually written in it.) Sep 4, 2013 at 4:17
  • hmm, I see... I still question if this would be the correct spot for such questions. It seems these questions would be more niche than questions regarding how to fix a busted network config or something. Perhaps the SuperUser site would be better? -- There's way way too many StackExchange sites now - causing problems like this. Both SuperUser and this site could be merged - even though SU isn't necessarily *nix specific. Now we are going to split our resources and get worse quality answers imho.
    – SnakeDoc
    Sep 4, 2013 at 15:06

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