How should we meet questions asking for macros (e.g. for Excel/OOCalc)? I have mixed feelings towards those, and hence would like to know how our community feels about this. In your answers, please elaborate on reasons why we should declare these on-topic or off-topic. Draw a clear conclusion (off- or on-topic), so voting on answers shows a clear decision made by the community.

Thanks in advance for your participation!


Integrated budgeting, planning and forecasting Spreadshit asks for (shit? oh) an Excel macro. While we found asking for plugins and the like to fit this site (see below), I feel this already borderlines asking for code (snippets), and thus might be seen different.


  • When I saw the title of this question I was going to respond with «Well what else would it be, hardware?», but after having seen the question I'd say that even if macro questions were to be on-topic here, that one wouldn't be specific enough to be answerable.
    – Caleb
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 13:34
  • @Caleb "what else would it be, hardware?" As pointed out: macros could also count as "code snippets", which are not really in the scope of this site :) Apart from that: full ack, it's not quite clear anyway. My question here stands nevertheless, be it for potential future questions coming up.
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 13:45
  • Whether or not we say that macros are acceptable, if I were looking for one, I would be asking at StackOverflow. Although one really ought not to ask for finished solutions there, without showing your attempt, there is probably a much greater probability of getting an answer, especially if it is a request for something non-standard. Which gets me thinking - I presume that we do not allow posting source code here, so the answer would have to be a URL (?)
    – Mawg
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 18:05
  • 1
    @Mawg Going with Caleb's answer, it should be potentially OK in an answer, but a no-go in a question :)
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Jan 12, 2016 at 19:03

1 Answer 1


I can see how macros would be a bit of a gray area, but I would suggest imposing this dichotomy:

  • Off topic for questions.
  • Potentially on topic for answers.

Now before you tar and feather me for two-faced insanity, allow me to explain.

Macros are either going to be so extensive they basically qualify as plugins or stand alone systems in their own right, or, well, not. The other option is that they are treated more like a bit of code.

I suggest that questions can ask for a piece of software that accomplishes a task and if there happens to be a stock macro set out there that gets the job done given the other parameters, so be it. At that point it's the answerer's problem. Don't expect my upvote, but such an answer would be valid if, as a poster, the person answering thinks it's a good solution to the problem.

Meanwhile asking directly for a macro that does X is basically a request for a code snippet. A question about how to code X might be on topic for SO, but just "code X for me" isn't really a good fit anywhere.

  • To the point! I already liked it just seeing the bullet-points. Yes, that sounds perfect to me. To give it another weight, Asking for software, get libraries in answers is remotely related, and that restriction should apply here as well: If it seems clear the OP can deal with macros, they are OK in answers (though this will mostly be the case at least when the answer also explains were to copy/paste the macro and how to call it). Also see: Is source code an acceptable answer?
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Jan 5, 2016 at 14:26
  • I think a website that accepts "code X for me" requests could be useful, as long as the request isn't excessively customized for some special case, since it makes many handy code snippets public (vs people coding their own, often not perfect solutions without sharing most of the time). Even though SO theoretically discourages it, the presence of code snippets there is mostly what makes the website so popular. Commented Jan 11, 2016 at 18:01

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