Referring to these questions as examples:

The questions are technical in nature, i.e. no significant financial component. Although this information may be useful for users of the tool, they don't directly address personal finance. Are these types of questions acceptable?

  • This question is another example. It doesn't address a personal finance issue but instead the security/risks of using a piece of software. money.stackexchange.com/questions/1128
    – brainimus
    Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 3:56
  • And being made aware of the security risks of money software is a good service of a personal finance site. It does walk a pretty fine line, but I tend to like these questions. (being a nerd myself)
    – MrChrister
    Commented Aug 5, 2010 at 23:20

4 Answers 4


I think the question as written is not appropriate. It needs to be rewritten to add privacy concerns or something related to personal finance. Here are some of my thoughts on good/bad questions related to technical data.

Bad question example:

  • What format is a QIF file?
  • How do banks generate QIF files?

Good question example:

  • Is a QIF file a safe way to transfer banking data?
  • Do I need quicken to import a QIF file?
  • Can I download my transactions online and import QIF transactions or do I have to pick an interface when using Quicken?

As I said on the main site as a comment on the question Starting over with quicken, the issue here is that the interface between Quicken and the bank's software has been mangled so that two accounts in Quicken are linked to one account in the bank. There are no money issues, no privacy issues, no security issues under consideration here. The OP apparently wants to continue using the facilities provided; all he need to find out is "How do I fix the settings so that all transactions appear in the same account in Quicken?" This may need fixing some of the settings in Quicken or some on the bank's web site, and this, to my mind, is a programming or interfacing issue, and not an issue for money.SE to answer. Perhaps asking it on Intuit's Quicken Users Forums will be more useful than putting it on stackoverflow.SE or something similar.

  • the root of the question I asked was how to do a particular task with the tool - the rest (ie the mangling) was context. I'm a newbie so maybe not the best at wording questions. The issue here appears to be whether questions on how to use particular financial tools are in-scope or not.
    – Duncan
    Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 22:15

I'm the asker of the starting over with quicken question. I asked it because I thought it was a "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face" per money.se 'about'. The FAQ does not cover tools, their use, and their problems in either the 'ok' or 'not' sections. Whichever way gets decided, the faq should get updated to reflect.

Note quicken is an existing tag with other questions which leads a newbie like myself to assume questions about how to use quicken are ok. There are also tags with quickbooks and excel and gnucash and ...

  • 2
    Hi Duncan. Thanks for your input. We're not debating if Quicken questions can be asked here -- they can, if there is a financial component to the question. Rather, we're debating if the strictly technical questions about such tools are on-topic. Your question is about a technical issue (data importing), without a specific financial angle. We're discussing here whether we should permit such technical questions. So far it looks like we won't. The best SE to ask such questions would be superuser.com .. and you're right, we should (and will) update the FAQ once it is clear. Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 12:48

In the case of mint.com I think it is appropriate not because we need to understand the network layers, but so we can make sense of the privacy impact of the tools.

We need to be able to choose which tools to use, and for folks on the Internet in general it can be good to know.

That said, that particular question could be refined to described WHY they want to know, otherwise it might not belong.

As for the Quicken troubleshooting, the best place for that is probably Intuit's help desk. However for better or for worse, it is a pretty common program in personal finance, and somebody here might know. I looked over that question quite a bit and I still remain torn. The part of me that wants to troubleshoot computers vs the site. But ultimately I think the question is too far out as a troubleshoot, and therefore too localized.

I think mint should stay and quicken should be closed.

  • I just added another example of a tool question in the original question above; you may want to generalize/update your opinion. Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 12:23
  • And now I am split. Mint seems answerable, while the Quicken one is a specific problem with a specific bank.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 14:21
  • 1
    @MrChrister In fact, I would suggest that another reason for closing the Quicken problem is that the question is too localized. Even though Quicken is used by many people, unless the bank in question is a big institution, it is unlikely that the solution would be useful to the general readership of money.SE Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 21:13
  • @DilipSarwate - agreed. I could imagine an answer that could globally apply to users of Quicken, but I see can't think of it specifically.
    – MrChrister
    Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 21:53

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