Home | Blog | Software | Reviews and Features | Forum | Help | Donate | About us
topbanner_forum
  *

avatar image

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length
  • December 11, 2016, 04:04:28 AM
  • Proudly celebrating 10 years online.
  • Donate now to become a lifetime supporting member of the site and get a non-expiring license key for all of our programs.
  • donate

Last post Author Topic: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free  (Read 15778 times)

urlwolf

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,797
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« on: April 15, 2010, 06:13:35 AM »
We discussed before whether a stackoverflow-like site would work for DC. To summarize the thread, it seemed that (1) some people were against any score of any kind and (2) it's not clear what makes SO work, and how to import it to DC without killing the 'around the water cooler' conversation. But mostly everyone agreed that there's something working there that beats forum software.

Would it work here? Well, now is the best time to try since they just made SO's software free (and hosted to boot! I know that mouser pays quite a lot for the servers that run this forum)

Basically, they make it free (but with some hoops). This is good news  in that they see the model extending to other communities. For a contrarian vision see most comments here:
http://news.ycombina....com/item?id=1263083

Note that if we wanted a self-hosted solution, there are FOSS clones out there, see http://shapado.com/

What do you think?

wraith808

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 8,408
  • "In my dreams, I always do it right."
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2010, 07:31:15 AM »
There's also OSQA - http://www.osqa.net/.  The thing I see wrong about using a hosted version like StackExchange is that you have to propose the idea, then it seems that you have minimal control over the site.  Not sure how that's going to work- I'd think a self-hosted version would be better.

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,435
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2010, 03:10:55 PM »
I think the model works fantastically for what they use it for, for focused question+answers by experts.  But we are much more conversational here, so i'm not sure it would be a good match.. and i don't know how you could combine them.

wraith808

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 8,408
  • "In my dreams, I always do it right."
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2010, 03:47:42 PM »
I think it could be combined.  Sometimes people come for an answer to a question and don't really know where to post it, and aren't necessarily out to spur conversation; other times people come to the site to spur conversation- not necessarily for an answer.  Keep the current forum the way it is, but just like you have other subdomains, have answers.donationcoder.com (or something to that effect), and run that in this fashion for more of a Q&A.

housetier

  • Charter Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • default avatar
  • Posts: 1,321
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2010, 05:01:47 PM »
But sometimes one changes into the other: asking how to implement an Enterprise XML-Event Dispatcher Pattern Factory Framework in Powershell can lead to programming veterans to muse about the good ole times when the internets where still made of wood.

And that is precisely what I like about DC: there are still humans interacting with each other normally and freely.

While I often turn to SO for answers that other people must have asked before, I also see it as a "give me answer or give me death" sort of thing. It is focused so much. As this model works extremely well, I don't see how to combine SO and DC.

Say for example we move to have the Q&As on donationoverflow.com, and the nice discussions on good ol DC: it would need discipline (where to post this?). Even when there is a supposedly easy linking system like [DC]post-id on donationcoder[/DC], [DO]post id on donationoverflow[/DO] between those two sites, it would make work.

However! I think it is worth trying! We could have non-programming questions only: how to herd ducklings, how to make the best Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte, I have a knife and an old hose: how do I make a solar panel out of it...

So while I am skeptic I don't see the experiment as a waste of time :) 

patcito

  • Participant
  • Joined in 2010
  • *
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2010, 05:36:41 PM »
Hi all, I'm one of the dev of Shapado. You can install it on your own server indeed but you can also have a free hosted version, creating a site take just a few seconds and is free plus no need to propose an idea or anything like that   8) http://shapado.com/groups/new (you need to login first).

If you need any help, tell me, I'm available on IRC too (#shapado on freenode).

Cheers,

Pat

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,435
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2010, 05:43:46 PM »
Shapado looks great, welcome to the site Pat  :up:

Perry Mowbray

  • N.A.N.Y. Organizer
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,817
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2010, 06:35:36 PM »
I think the model works fantastically for what they use it for, for focused question+answers by experts.  But we are much more conversational here, so i'm not sure it would be a good match.. and i don't know how you could combine them.

I think the "combine them" is the holy grail part...

It's been widely discussed here that having one medium (forum) is not necessarily the best fit for all the different things that DC do. Some of the question and answer posts would definitely fit better where a subsequent viewer can jump to the best answer... or read them all if they want.

What's the best xxx get out of date so quickly sometimes.

But if it's not possible to combine, then maybe it's best to live with the restrictions to maintain our conversational tone?

urlwolf

  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,797
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2010, 11:02:46 AM »
I can imagine many phpbb and NM forums may be having this same conversation right now...

Finding the right answer in a forum takes effort. Try it on ubuntuforums, where threads hit 100 pages often... This is where I think SO model wins.

I guess the only way to test this is to actually try it.
I'll dedicate 1hr each to shapado and osqa, and report back.
But even if everything was running and ready... what do we do? Stop using the forum for a week and post only on the other SO thing? Then reconvene here and discuss the experience?

Stoic Joker

  • Honorary Member
  • Joined in 2008
  • **
  • Posts: 6,296
    • View Profile
    • www.StoicJoker.com
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2010, 11:31:44 AM »
I think the model works fantastically for what they use it for, for focused question+answers by experts.  But we are much more conversational here, so i'm not sure it would be a good match.. and i don't know how you could combine them.

I think the "combine them" is the holy grail part...

It's been widely discussed here that having one medium (forum) is not necessarily the best fit for all the different things that DC do. Some of the question and answer posts would definitely fit better where a subsequent viewer can jump to the best answer... or read them all if they want.

What's the best xxx get out of date so quickly sometimes.

But if it's not possible to combine, then maybe it's best to live with the restrictions to maintain our conversational tone?
Why not do something like Experts-Exchange.com? Question is asked->discussion ensues->answer is found - and then marked (boldly) as Accepted Answer. That post also gets a different title bar color so it's easy to scroll to if you just need a quick answer.

That's not a bad mix of the two.

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2010, 12:35:04 PM »
A lot depends on the goal of your website.

If you're seeking to create a sense of community and foster wide ranging discussions, what DoCo has right now is a very good way to go.

If you're looking to establish what's primarily an "Experts Q&A" site (where you go in, get what you need, and get out) then stackoverflow's model is probably better.

If you want to develop a community built expertise"repository" along defined subject lines, then go with a wiki.

But think it through first. Especially if it's an existing community.

FWIW, some years back I participated in a web community that switched from a "flat" forum format like we have here to something very similar to the stackoverflow thing.

What happened was that the discussions eventually began dropping off because 90% of the new membership was coming to the site simply to get free tech support and consulting. And once word got out (wrongly) that it was a "Q&A site" they got a lot of new people.

Wasn't long before the people with the real expertise began to resent constantly having their brains picked by folks who acted like it was owed to them. You would not believe the demanding tone some people adopted. One twit (who used the handle pcExpert) even went so far as to loudly complain about the occasional bits of joking around that went on. The site lost one of it's oldest and most valuable contributors when "pcExpert" flamed him for getting a little too playful with his replies. After that, the guy stopped showing up, and within a few months the rest of the "old guard" also disappeared. The site gradually folded up about a year after.

It's amazing how a simple software or format change can alter the entire social fabric of a web site.

Something to think about anyway. :'(

« Last Edit: April 16, 2010, 12:38:02 PM by 40hz »

wraith808

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2006
  • **
  • Posts: 8,408
  • "In my dreams, I always do it right."
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2010, 01:05:00 PM »
But even if everything was running and ready... what do we do? Stop using the forum for a week and post only on the other SO thing? Then reconvene here and discuss the experience?

No, I think the point of such an activity would be to see how the new software could supplement the DoCo experience, not replace it.  In many cases, people come to DoCo and ask one question and don't ever post again.  Many people, I'm sure, don't even do that... but search for an answer and don't return.  The SO site would support that kind of experience. For discussion, you'd still have the SMF forums.  Some way to link between the two would be nice... (perhaps when you create a SO question, it automagically creates a discussion topic, and has a link to it, with a reciprocal link in the topic?)

JavaJones

  • Review 2.0 Designer
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 2,717
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2010, 02:01:00 PM »
The idea of adding features to the forums to perhaps help with that, e.g. "best answer" highlighting, is promising. But I worry that it will just further promote the "ask and leave" approach.

When I have advocated for additional systems or system changes in the past, it has always been with the intention of leaving the already excellent forum community intact as it is, and simply avoiding using it for things it's not good for, e.g. bug tracking and project management (hence Redmine). A wiki has also been proposed, which would be a place more to organize and store definite community knowledge, perhaps the results of discussion would go there. Of course there's manual effort involved in maintaining that.

But as for the idea of adding Q&A type features here, I think the discussions that result from anyone's questions are inevitably more worthwhile.

- Oshyan

Perry Mowbray

  • N.A.N.Y. Organizer
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,817
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2010, 12:28:33 AM »
I can't agree more. Any changes should be additional, not replacing anything.

It's a shame we can't re-mash some of our forum content that is suitable for a Q&A format into a separate area of the site that would display the initial post (question) and the highest rating answer (would require users to click a  :up: button or  :down: button to calculate the score). That would allow users who want a quick answer to jump to that (and possibly to navigate to the whole discussion later) as well as others who want to read and be part of the whole interesting thread to do so.

We do this already with the "blog": we tag a thread as bloggable and it then appears on the blog page.

It's horses for courses: choose the best tool for the job at hand.

Certainly a wiki is much better suited to presenting a knowledge base and keeping it updated: but I can't envision a way that forum results could be converted into that type of format. So it'd have to be separate, and as JJ says:
Of course there's manual effort involved in maintaining that.

In some ways we're not servicing our (new) users very well, who may come to the site from a search, and old and out-of-date information is being displayed. Not that you can keep it all up-to-date, it's just the "knowledge" type articles that need updating.

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2010, 03:45:21 AM »
Then there's the question of who you're primarily catering to.

From my perspective, people who regularly visit tech sites fall into one of the following categories:

Supplicants - those who seek an answer.
This group constitutes about three quarters of what's out there. These are the people that ask for, but don't materially participate in arriving at solutions for a variety of reasons. Seldom participate in topics other than the ones they have initiated. Tend not to remain significantly active once their questions are answered.

Sages - those who have an answer.
This group is composed of people with expertise or experiences they are willing to share with others. Reasons and motivations for participation will vary widely with this group. Usually significantly active participants, although many will self-restrict their participation to topics that fall within their area of expertise.

Symposium - those who participate in coming up with an answer.
This is the classic "Socratic approach" crowd. Often (but not necessarily) composed of people with deep knowledge in specific topic areas who are moving outside their areas of expertise in order to broaden their knowledgebase. As a result, many in this group also fall into the Sages category. Reasons and motivations for participation will vary widely with this group, although the primary motivations seem to be the "joy of discovery" and the pleasure derived from helping out.

Right now, it appears Donation Coder's active membership is heavily weighted with participants from the Symposium category.

So for me, the question becomes: what additions/changes could be made to create a better experience for the primary group while, at the same time, not ignoring everyone else?

« Last Edit: April 17, 2010, 03:49:24 AM by 40hz »

Perry Mowbray

  • N.A.N.Y. Organizer
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,817
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2010, 06:59:27 AM »
So for me, the question becomes: what additions/changes could be made to create a better experience for the primary group while, at the same time, not ignoring everyone else?

 :Thmbsup: Very much agree.

Nice descriptions by the way, they yours?

40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #16 on: April 17, 2010, 07:11:34 AM »
AFAIK they are.  ;D

Hope so anyway. I'm using them in a book I'm working on.  8)

app103

  • That scary taskbar girl
  • Global Moderator
  • Joined in 2006
  • *****
  • Posts: 5,666
    • View Profile
    • App's Apps
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #17 on: April 17, 2010, 08:23:40 AM »
My suggestion is not to try to be too many things and concentrate on doing what you already do, better.

I do not see how changing to a Q&A format (or adding one) would help that.

Take a look at what we do and what we are best known for.

The most popular section of the forum is the livingroom, which is primarily discussions around links found and shared by other members. Q&A format wouldn't work well for this.

Software reviews: How do you pick a best answer to that? Does it even sound like that makes any sense? Again, Q&A is unsuitable.

Coding snacks: That's not Q&A either.

About the only thing the Q&A format might work well with is the "what's the best?" section. But the biggest problem we currently have with that section is outdated information, which a change to a Q&A format will not prevent or solve. You'll just end up with the same outdated information in Q&A format rather than a regular forum format. I think periodic discussions and transferring the info to a wiki, locking the threads, and repeating the discus/lock/update wiki process periodically, might be the best way to go about fixing that. But that is best discussed on a thread of its own and not here in this one.

And I think if you added general non-programming, non-software related Q&A to the site, you risk turning DC into Yahoo Answers, and I really wouldn't be too happy with a bunch of questions like this popping up on DC:

http://answers.yahoo...0060824054232AApWfr2
http://answers.yahoo...0080820174408AAZkbcG

And I seriously doubt that is what we want to be known for, so why go down that road?


40hz

  • Supporting Member
  • Joined in 2007
  • **
  • Posts: 11,768
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #18 on: April 17, 2010, 09:21:48 AM »
Take a look at what we do and what we are best known for.

The most popular section of the forum is the livingroom, which is primarily discussions around links found and shared by other members.

+1 on that.

From what I've seen, the DC forums are unique both in quality and feel. Spend a little time on other forums (including the ones hosted by the 'biggies' such as Microsoft) and you'll quickly learn to appreciate just how unique DC's 'uniqueness' is.

-----------

rubyslip3.jpg

               WITCH

But that's not what's worrying me
-- it's how to do it.

These things must be done delicately
...or you hurt the spell.



« Last Edit: April 17, 2010, 09:25:23 AM by 40hz »

nudone

  • Cody's Creator
  • Columnist
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 4,117
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #19 on: April 17, 2010, 11:10:21 AM »
(i also like the definitions 40hz has devised.)

I wasn't sure how i felt at first about the o.p. but after reading through the comments i'm just left wondering why would we want to change DC - or even add to it. we run the risk of spreading things too thin and losing the whole community - i don't live anywhere else online except DC - i can't bare the thought of it collapsing under the weight (and attitudes) of people seeking questions that couldn't care one jot about who is providing the answers.

if you think it will work - try it - alongside the current forum. but just try to imagine coming here and finding the activity on the forum almost dead in a year or two from now - it sounds like that could well happen, with a domino like effect of members leaving.

of course, i appreciate that it's not forced to happen. perhaps people just wanting answers in the Q & A section would filter through to the forum - but how many? it sounds like an extremely small minority would bother.

maybe DC has the ability to embrace and expand to become lots of things - it just seems to be that special areas on the net can be delicate and quickly wither when their core lifeforce decides the place isn't that special anymore.

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,435
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #20 on: April 17, 2010, 11:27:32 AM »
let's agree that there is great value provided by Q&A sites, about software and about lot's of things.

but for all of the reasons people have pointed out, it just doesn't seem to me a great match for DC in terms of temperament.  it's hard to see a way it could be done that wouldn't spread DC too thin in terms of divided attentions.

we already have a lot of things going on, and i think unless there is something that we think we are in a unique position to do, there's no reason we shouldn't let another community implement it and all happily encourage them.  i think there is value in staying small(ish) and focused(ish).

that's not to say it wouldn't be smart to try to think of new ways we can expose content that is already hidden deep within the bowls of DC, somewhat in the ways that the blog and newsletters do.

it would be interesting to try to think of a way a Q&A type system could be used simply as a view into our (or another) content.  i'm thinking about a Q&A site like stackoverflow/Shapado where there was NO original content allowed to be posted as a reply.. but only (commented) links to other sites (and previous questioners) and hints about how the question might be phrased better.  In this sense it would be more like a community-driven meta search engine. an advantage would be that it wouldn't fragment information.. it would simply direct people to original content on other sites.  though i guess this is fraught with it's own difficulties if the original content goes offline, etc.


Perry Mowbray

  • N.A.N.Y. Organizer
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,817
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #21 on: April 18, 2010, 04:39:16 AM »
I think, mouser, that's pretty much in the ball park I was thinking.

I'm sure we all agree that we don't want to do something in addition or instead of what we're doing now. And as App says, we should concentrate on doing what we're doing now and do it better. Q&A doesn't work for every thread, but it does for some. Maybe we can think or repackaging other types of threads in other ways? In another thread we'd talked about coding snack summaries, etc.

But is there some way to expose the current content in new ways to new people? Mind you, as nudone says, how many would be attracted to the shortened form and how many would navigate through to the original is something we don't know. But I don't see how we'd loose if we re-mashed some posts into other pages of the site (like the blog) and people bounce into there, find an answer and bounce out again?

What are the web stats for the blog page? How does it rank for the initial page loaded? i.e. I'm wondering if it's being used as a launch into the site?

Are these stats interesting: http://www.alexa.com...fo/donationcoder.com ??


Hope so anyway. I'm using them in a book I'm working on.  8)

sounds interesting...
« Last Edit: April 18, 2010, 04:51:10 AM by Perry Mowbray »

Perry Mowbray

  • N.A.N.Y. Organizer
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,817
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #22 on: April 18, 2010, 04:49:43 AM »
About the only thing the Q&A format might work well with is the "what's the best?" section. But the biggest problem we currently have with that section is outdated information, which a change to a Q&A format will not prevent or solve. You'll just end up with the same outdated information in Q&A format rather than a regular forum format. I think periodic discussions and transferring the info to a wiki, locking the threads, and repeating the discus/lock/update wiki process periodically, might be the best way to go about fixing that. But that is best discussed on a thread of its own and not here in this one.

True, but also any opinionated question as well. Lots of questions, "how do I", "what should I do" get answered by different people with different opinions. That'd also work (I think).

Is there a non-manual way to do a wiki from forum material? Otherwise you're heading toward a more CMS aren't you?

And I think if you added general non-programming, non-software related Q&A to the site, you risk turning DC into Yahoo Answers, and I really wouldn't be too happy with a bunch of questions like this popping up on DC:

http://answers.yahoo...0060824054232AApWfr2
http://answers.yahoo...0080820174408AAZkbcG

And I seriously doubt that is what we want to be known for, so why go down that road?

Agree: definitely not a answers type thing... but we do have non-computer threads in the living room that we don't delete  :-\

Those questions, BTW, I'd hate to see here too  :)

mouser

  • First Author
  • Administrator
  • Joined in 2005
  • *****
  • Posts: 36,435
    • View Profile
    • Mouser's Software Zone on DonationCoder.com
    • Read more about this member.
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #23 on: April 18, 2010, 05:15:56 AM »
Quote
Is there a non-manual way to do a wiki from forum material? Otherwise you're heading toward a more CMS aren't you?

This is getting into a topic of deep importance for the web that i think is ripe for some big thinking, and there are some very tricky issues that don't have obvious solutions.  There is a huge degree of overlap between things like a wiki, a forum, a q&a thing, a blog, and a cms, and it's extremely hard to figure out a way to combine the features without fracturing information and ending up with duplicated content everywhere..  There is just so much overlap in functionality.  Both blogs and wikis that have lots of comments start to become like second-class forums.  Forums which try to provide articles and stable content become like second-class blogs and wikis.  I think it's possible that one way the web may move forward into the future is a much more robust and pervasive way to have different "views" into an information source.. That is -- a way to have a site like DC that can be "viewed" and interacted with, as if it was a Q&A site, a blog, a forum, or a wiki, without fracturing and duplicating content.

Perry Mowbray

  • N.A.N.Y. Organizer
  • Charter Member
  • Joined in 2005
  • ***
  • Posts: 1,817
    • View Profile
    • Donate to Member
Re: stackoverflow-like site for DC. Would it work? Now free
« Reply #24 on: April 18, 2010, 07:34:44 AM »
a way to have a site like DC that can be "viewed" and interacted with, as if it was a Q&A site, a blog, a forum, or a wiki, without fracturing and duplicating content.

That sounds like a great idea!!  :D I'll take two...