A general question from a code novice

hey all, this is not specifically a processing question, but I have found folks here to be very helpful in the past so would like to see if anyone can help me out…

I’m wondering where would be a good place to ask total newbie questions about programming related subjects in general?

I’m talking really dumb stuff like - what language am I looking at? Is there a way to write code to do x,y or z? What software do I need to edit this code?.. stuff like that.

The folks at stackexchange don’t seem to take kindly to this sort of thing… and I know stackoverflow is a bit more “open” but still it seems like I’m already supposed to present some code and ask for help with it rather than be coming from a total novice standpoint.

Maybe I’m just best off posting on quora? Other than that, I’m a bit stuck knowing where to turn!

Many thanks for any suggestions, :slight_smile:


That is a very interesting question, as are the others you have asked in this post, including the question about where to ask such questions. One such venue, for starters, might be one where creative people gather - one that attracts people with a wide variety of interests - hmmm - perhaps this one.

Quora, as you have suggested, would also be a fine place to go, especially because some of the replies might lead you to other sites that specialize in the particular topic of interest.

Regarding how to recognize a programming language from code, general familiarity with a variety of programming languages could help a person quickly narrow down the possibilities. Machines would be adept at analyzing syntax of code, and coming up with good answers, because they could delve into a huge database of samples. They could also run the sample through a set of compilers and interpreters and analyze the results for either errors or valid output. There are algorithms online for this, but I’m not sure what to recommend as the best ones. Since some programming languages are subsets of others, and most are influenced by others, some samples of code may fit several languages.

Just for fun, what language is this?:

(defun fibonacci (N)
  "Compute the N'th Fibonacci number."
  (if (or (zerop N) (= N 1))
	((F1 (fibonacci (- N 1)))
	 (F2 (fibonacci (- N 2))))
      (+ F1 F2))))

All is fair in trying to answer this question, including performing searches on portions of the code.

The source of this sample will be revealed either when someone posts a correct answer, or when it seems that sufficient time has passed.


Thank you!

Well… I did notice all the parentheses first off. A quick look around the net tells me it is likely a form of Lisp… one of the oldest programming languages, which derives its name from “List Processor”, being a language structured in the form of parenthesized lists.

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I agree, it looks like Lisp, well done!

see LISP - Functions


(LISP (indeed!) is what it is (recognizable by the plethora of nested parentheses (and defun, too.))) :slight_smile:

The source of the sample code is LISP Tutorial 1: Basic LISP Programming.

In my opinion, the Processing Foundation Forum should serve as a friendly and safe harbor, at least as a starting point, for asking such questions as the ones posed in the original post.


I agree.

I think this forum is a good place to ask questions like this.

Warm regards!


Yes, if it is unclear whether or not a particular question can be addressed here, it is safe to ask in order to get started. If we cannot answer it here, we can politely and informatively steer the questioner to a more fitting site. On the other hand, if it is a question about how to clean a linoleum floor, we might have to be a bit more firm about discouraging it, unless, of course, the ultimate goal is to make it part of a work of digital art. :grinning:

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Well it’s very encouraging to hear this for a newbie, thanks very much.

I feel free to ask dumb questions with relative impunity!

I do understand why many forums get ticked off at people asking obvious questions however… personally I try to do my best with search engines and relevant documentation before taking up people’s time that could be more profitably spent on legitimate queries.

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