Question for understanding

  • Sorry, and just to make it clear in the beginning, I do NOT want to start a flame war,
    but I do not understand the community policy and wanted to ask for clarification.

    Every now and then you see someone asking question which are answered as not notepad++ related. Which I, personally, understand but on the other side there are many regex questions which, seems, are to be allowed to be asked.

    So, what exactly makes a question npp relevant?


  • @Eko-palypse

    No danger of flames by asking this.

    ALL questions can be asked; if it is “not Notepad++ related” then the poster will be told so. No hard feelings (hopefully)…but this is done to avoid lengthy conversations here about “I wrote this Java code in Notepad++ and it doesn’t run my webserver correctly…who can tell me why?” This is a content question, not a question about Notepad++. Just because you can type up something with Notepad++ doesn’t make a question about that content a valid thing to ask here. Unless of course, that specific content reveals a question about how Notepad++ is treating that content (e.g. not lexing a supported language context correctly).

    HOWEVER, there is a tolerance for regular expression questions, which seems odd… I like to think of it as a “how can I manipulate my data with Notepad++” question, often posed by people that have never heard of something called a “regular expression”. In this case, these people have no idea where to turn, so this is a logical place. Help is provided, often with the hint to the poster of “now that you’ve been exposed, go off and learn a bit about this so that next time the need arises you can help yourself instead of something that you now know isn’t really specific to Notepad++ (and thus doesn’t really belong here)”.

    Often the questions that are asked take us to the areas of the oddities of the Notepad++/Boost regular expression engine…and these regex questions are TOTALLY VALID to being explored in postings on this forum. Just like the lexing question/potential-issue posed above.

    These are just my ideas about what’s appropriate, but I’m just one person here. If you or others have opinions on this, please, let’s hear them.

    By the way, this is related to why I created the baking cookies FAQ Desk entry. :-D

  • @Scott-Sumner

    Thanks for the answer.

    I do not think that I have a different opinion, but understand it so that, if someone is there,
    which wants to answer the irrelevant question, it can be done, right?

    By the way, this should not mean that I want to answer all HTML questions here now,
    not only lacking with the necessary knowledge but also with the patience. ;-)

    For the latter case, I have to say … respect.
    What some of you are doing by investing in energy and patience to help others - quite remarkable.


  • @Eko-palypse said:

    …answer the irrelevant question, it can be done, right?

    Well, it’s all about HELP here, but hopefully we avoid LENGTHY off-topic discussions. If someone asks a question and the answer is “hey, you could better solve your problem with this short Perl script” and then the script is presented, I have no problem with that; heck, maybe I even learn a new technique I never considered…

    …but then if there’s a whole bunch of back and forth postings about how to run that script, then how to change the script because the problem wasn’t specified well, etc…then THAT gets annoying, at least to me, because those questions are better asked-and-answered somewhere else. Can I “click-thru” the postings?, yea, sure, but my feeling is that nobody wants to bother with off-topic stuff.

    And if the consensus is that regex questions are best to NOT be posed here…I see the logic in that and can certainly direct posters to other sites, or at least tell them to see the FAQ Desk entry about it, instead of directly answering the question.

  • Hello, @eko-palypse, @scott-sumner, an All,

    Your question, on our Community policy, is quite a pertinent one !

    Scott said :

    HOWEVER, there is a tolerance for regular expression questions, which seems odd…

    and regarding what I said, here :

    I would say that, generally speaking, a lot of replies, involving regular expressions, are rather irrelevant, as they just concern specific data of an OP, only. Probably, I bear most of the responsibility for this fact :-((

    How to explain the current situation ?

    • I discovered Notepad++, with version v4.9.2, in May 2008

    • I, then, experimented N++ during 4 years about, listening N++ features and gestures

    • I joined the N++ Community in July 2012, first, on By that time, the new Boost regex engine with PRCE was supported, natively, in N++, since 3 months. A NEW world was before us ;-))

    • As I was already used to Unix regexes, at work ( I remember doing some regex-oriented macros with the VI editor !! ) I was quite eager to analyze all the possibilities of that modern regex engine and began to give some hints and solutions about regex S/R, from within Notepad++ !

    • And, of course, I’ve continued to reply to OP requests ( ~ 8/10 for regexes and 2/10 for others ), when we switched from to our present N++ Community forum, in July 2015

    • Note, also, that, as much as possible : I try to :

      • Indicate generic regexes, which can be used in multiple situations

      • Explore some difficult notions as recursive regexes, conditional features, the \G assertion,…

      • Find out work-arounds to some limitations of the N++ regex engine, due, either, on N++ or Boost issues

    • And, after all, regex S/R are text manipulation, aren’t they ? The exact definition of any text editor, anyway !

    All in all, I think that anyone, feeling competent on a specific subject, should post a reply, which can, really, be useful and relevant, both, for the OP and for most of us !

    Therefore, questions about languages, and scripts, for instance, should not be neglected, as a matter of principle. Finally, anyone, giving an answer, on our forum ( and, indeed, anywhere else ! ) should, as much as possible, always seek to enrich its contents !

    Best Regards,


  • @guy038

    maybe 2 or more additional bbs categories would be a nice feature if everyone agrees, allowing to bring more stack overflow kind of topics here in a more sorted manner.

    one called “regex related” or similar
    one called “coding related” or similar

    then, as the ammount of categories grow, it would be a perfect bbs addition, if every user could select the categories of their interest, making it possible to see “unread posts of interest” within these categories only instead of “unread” of all categories.

    this avoids that users who share no interested in those (deselected) categories will not be bombarded with all of them, even if they have the habit of reading almost all “unread” posts from time to time (like me, you, and i guess almost everyone of the long term locals 😉)

  • @Meta-Chuh

    That would be great but very often people don’t know how to categorize such a question, so I’m not sure how questions get put in the right bins… :-(

    Reference above where I droned on and on about… :

    …often posed by people that have never heard of something called a “regular expression”. In this case, these people have no idea where…

    I do know that this would help save me time because I could easily filter out all these “plugin admin / plugin manager” questions that I have absolutely no interest in, for the short term. :-)

  • I don’t think we need more categories, because there’s already so much overlap between “General Discussion” and “Help Wanted” that I think more categories would muddy things more, rather than helping compartmentalize.

    My thoughts on helping with regular expressions or with PythonScript/LuaScript/NppExec: I think that helping people use the automation-features of the tool is different than answering random coding or HTML questions.

    • Regular expressions are built into the application, and are a useful tool for manipulating text and textually-represented data: it’s something that they could do manually inside Notepad++ doing all the select/copy/paste/type by hand, but it’s much more convenient to do it using a regex. Since that’s one of the features that sets Notepad++ apart from, oh say notepad.exe, I think giving help on the first regex question or two, and sometimes diving into the subtleties, will help someone learn how to better use Notepad++ (and thus help them to like it more) – and my willingness to continue to help a particular individual with regex is directly proportional to how well they seem to be taking the advice, and whether they seem to be making an effort or whether they’re just asking us to do their job for them.
    • Automation scripts (Python, Lua, macros, etc) are another area where I’ll give a first-level help: once again, such scripts are useful for manipulating the Notepad++ interface that helps relieve the tedium, or helps customize the look-and-feel of Notepad++. I think those are useful things to give people initial pointers on.
    • In some cases, I will write up a standalone Perl program that solves their problem (or at least the task they described). I do this mostly as an effort to show that, no matter how much I like Notepad++ as a text editor, it’s sometimes easier to accomplish a task in another tool – and giving them an idea where to look to do future tasks like that. But really, for such tangential answers, it usually depends on how much time I have, what mood I’m in, whether their problem interests me, and how simple-but-understandable I think I can make the program (or, on a rare occasion when I think it’s someone who isn’t here to learn but to mooch, I’ll make it as obfuscated as I can, so that I can be technically helpful without making it a gimme).

    And that was more than I intended to say on that. :-)

  • @Scott-Sumner

    very often people don’t know how to categorize such a question

    i completely agree, i also see this almost every day at stackoverflow/stackexchange
    therefor a customized “unread but filtered” option, if such thing exists as a plugin for this bbs, would be so cool … mainly because sometimes i’m simply too stubborn not to read something that’s marked as “unread” 😄


    there’s already so much overlap between “General Discussion” and “Help Wanted”

    also completely agreed, would this be better if those 2 categories would have a more descriptive name ?
    if yes, what could the title be ?

    when I think it’s someone who isn’t here to learn but to mooch, I’ll make it as obfuscated as I can


    And that was more than I intended to say on that

    it’s refreshing to me, there are few threads that look as brain storming as this one.
    maybe it’s because @Eko-palypse started off something completely different and thinkworthy and all replies so far are from long term locals with high knowledge and a passion for np++

  • Actually, it was exactly this kind of discussion that I wanted to start and
    I was particularly interested in the thoughts of the “old hands”,
    as they probably shaped the current posting culture.

    I understand that a forum to a software product like N++ can’t/won’t answer a question about cookie baking ;-)
    but most software products always have interfaces too other software areas and
    therefore it is relatively difficult for newbies like me to see the “borders” and therefore my initial question for clarification.

    I want to thank all of you for helping clarifying.


  • @Eko-palypse said:

    therefore it is relatively difficult for newbies like me to see the “borders” and therefore my initial question for clarification.

    I say don’t be timid about anything, just GO AHEAD AND ASK …whatever the question may be. If it is off-topic, you’ll be given some minimal pointers about it and sent on your way. :-)

    But certainly nobody’s gonna get mad about it…

  • All
    I’ve sat back and considered all that has been said thus far and I mostly agree with the sentiments portrayed. I AM the “new kid on the block” (7 months) so from my perspective I am still “finding my feet” with regards the “ethos” of this community. I was initially surprised that it does NOT have a “rulebook” as such on what is permissible here, then I considered that this community is a “living thing”, it becomes whatever the users want.

    In terms of the original question, what is permissible and what isn’t, especially with regards to regular expressions? I too was unsure on when it is, and when it isn’t. As of now I’m still not sure. From my point of view I consider ANY question here to be permissible if it’s using NPP as the environment.

    One statement I wholeheartedly agree with, is Scott’s one in regards the attempt to nurture and inform the OP, so that they don’t just get a solution to their immediate problem but guidance on how they might better themselves. Sadly that isn’t one that seems to be accepted by some OP’s, good on you @Peter-Jones for your recent discourse on that subject.

    At the end of the day, my philosophy is that we can either elect to help out the OP, or if we feel we are being “used as a free bus service” (hop on and off at will) we can step aside and let someone else. It’s all about respect (2 way street) and not flaming those who (sometimes unbeknown to themselves) overstep those invisible lines.


  • @Eko-palypse
    you don’t seem to be the default one question pass-by newbie anyways.
    more like a future regular, considering your interest in more than just your own np++ needs.

    you looked like a regular from your first day on, so you basically never were a newbie ;-)
    more like someone who was there from the beginning, knows all non written rules, conduct codes of regulars, and you just posted again 7 months ago after a long long vacation

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