From what I've seen, this site seems to be all about data, but there's a stigmata about asking questions not directly related to administration of those databases.

The on-topic help page mentions Business Intelligence and Data Warehousing, but I'm talking about Data Mining, SQL Server to Crystal Reports, better ways to go about analyzing the requirements of your business in specific situations, that sort of thing. A very broad list, but in general questions that refer more to analysts than DBA or Programmers.

As an analyst, is this a good place to ask my questions about issues I'm having interacting with and analyzing my database, or should I leave this site for SO? It seems analysts are given the short end of the stick when it comes to SE in general, so is this the place for me to get answers to my questions?

ETA (Possible Questions):

  1. My company (a collection agency) is currently undergoing some growing pains regarding expansion, and the new system we brought in has some issues with linking and naming conventions. How can I familiarize myself with the various relationships in the database short of trial and error?

  2. I have a SQL statement in which I use a sub-query to pull specific information from another field. Without grouping, the data pulls perfectly, but shows the field only on a duplicated line. The subquery is:

    (Select RDate
    From RField
    Where RID = SID and
        RActive = '*' and
        RType in ('1','2') and
        RDate > DATEADD(month, DATEDIFF(month, 0, getdate())-1, 0))

    When I run the query without a grouping I get:

    RID   | RDate     | RType | SDate    | 
    1111  |(Null)     | 1     | 1/2/2015 |
    1111  | 4/16/2015 | 1     | 1/2/015  |

    I need to group this to remove the duplicate, but I would need the RDate to come before the Null value. How can I sort this before grouping it? (SQL Server 2008)

  3. Crystal Reports is a well known but (in some cases) difficult to work with tool for reporting. Is there any real performance difference using it versus connecting our Database to Excel using Microsoft Query?

  • Not sure about the third example but the first two seem fine to me. In fact, they both may have been asked previously, in some form or another (if not here, then on Stack Overflow anyway).
    – Andriy M
    Apr 29, 2016 at 7:10
  • 1
    "there's a stigmata" - can you elaborate? Where are you seeing this exactly?
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Apr 29, 2016 at 16:18

3 Answers 3


Perhaps you could detail the kind of question you are wondering about.

For instance, are you using PowerDesigner and your question is about "how do I do 'x' in PowerDesigner" then you probably won't get helpful answers.

If however, your question is about "I'm trying to model [xyz], but I'm having trouble with how [x] table relates to [y] table" then perhaps this is the place to ask.

Presumably you've already looked, but if not, please check the help for a list of things that are "on topic"

Added after you edited your question:

Questions 1 and 2 appear to be on-topic, while question 3 would likely be closed as either "too broad" or perhaps "opinion based". Questions that ask for product recommendations may also be closed as "shopping list", which is defined as:

Questions about which tool, library, product or resource you should use are off-topic here because they quickly become obsolete and often are just about the preferences of the answerer. If you have an issue with or a question about a specific tool, please revise your question to conform to that scope.

  • Would the third question REALLY be off topic as it's asking for direct speed comparisons and only presenting 2 options? It's more like "Is this more efficient than this?" rather than "Should I use this or this?".
    – Anoplexian
    Apr 28, 2016 at 21:38
  • @anoplexian - it's a grey area - I invite you to post the question and see how it goes!
    – Hannah Vernon Mod
    Apr 28, 2016 at 23:48

This site is for making the platform run and run well. If there is a question about DBMS installation, tuning or how to write a query, ETL package or mining algorithm, this is the place.

If, however, the question is which query or algorithm to implement you would find a better home at Cross Validated.

  • Although I like CV.SE, it's a lot more statistical and high end math oriented. I'm not REALLY looking for logarithms, algorithms, or Hierarchical, Linear mixed-effects modeling; I'm more looking for analytical questions with the data on hand, not applied mathematics relating to statistical data.
    – Anoplexian
    Apr 29, 2016 at 20:46


...asking questions not directly related to administration of those databases.

The name of the site has always been a bit controversial. Many of the people that regularly answer questions here would not describe themselves as a Database Administrators, but like it or not, that is the most common term used to describe database professionals. Regardless, that ship has long since sailed.

Nevertheless, the clear scope of this site is:

...for those needing expert answers to advanced database-related questions

That includes everyone whose work and experience is specialized to one or more database or database-related products, so questions from a Data Analyst certainly could be on-topic here, generally speaking.

It's not the job title of the asker that is important, it is the content and quality of the question.

General considerations

Database Administrators is a Stack Exchange Q & A site, with the usual restrictions concerning the types of questions you should avoid asking and which will likely be closed:

  • Only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems
  • No chatty, open-ended questions or discussions
  • Questions should be reasonably scoped (no book-length answers)
  • The question must be clear, with all the details needed to answer
  • Must not be primarily a matter of opinion

In addition, several broad question classes (e.g. product recommendations, licensing) have been identified as often problematic within our format. Such questions need to be carefully worded, and meet a higher bar to avoid being ignored or rejected by the community here, if they are allowed at all. See other questions in here on meta for examples.

There should be enough guidance above (including the links) for you to decide if a specific question is likely to be well-received here or not.

Specific questions

  1. How can I familiarize myself with the various relationships in the database short of trial and error?

    This is one of the types of questions that is on-topic, but needs to be worded carefully to avoid being seen as opinion-based, too broad, or a request for a particular product recommendation. For an example, see the question Visualizing Database Schema.

  2. ... a SQL statement in which I use a sub-query...

    This is just a general SQL question, without too much apparent complexity. As such, it probably should be asked on Stack Overflow with a minimal, complete, and verifiable example. More complex SQL queries, or those that require an expert answer from someone specializing in databases should be asked here.

  3. Performance difference using Crystal Reports versus Excel

    This would need to be improved to avoid being closed as too broad or opinion based. A question citing a specific example, and asking for the reasons it is slower in one than the other, or better yet how to improve the performance of a specific solution would likely be much better. Asking which is better/faster in general (without any specifics) is going to be off topic.


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