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Proposal: Use StackExchange to help better disperse information?
StackExchange is a great platform for providing answers to user-submitted questions, but it also has a far more useful use-case: the distribution of information.
Try this really quick to get a grasp of what I mean: look up an error message given to you by a fairly popular FOSS project, for example, Gwibber in Ubuntu. When you look up an error message of that nature (large community project + lots of documentation + different outlets for users to point to docs and fixes), it propagates search engines with those results.
Now, try to look up any Diaspora errors. More likely than not, you might get a few obscure messages on one of our mailing lists. For a starting-out podmin, developer, or enthusiast, this will simply not do.
If we use StackExchange as a service for users to freely ask technical questions, we can help not only clear up what the docs are still missing, but we can better explain how to fix things that are broken, and keep pushing out useful information for those that need it.
- Yes: 1
- Abstain: 2
- No: 2
- Block: 0
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That didn’t work out already…
Hmm…but what exactly caused Shapado to fail? Was it the lack of existing core documentation at the time, a lesser amount of podmins working with D* in need of technical information, the difficulty of setting up a production pod at the time, or something else?
I honestly think there might have been a couple of factors that caused it to not work out all that well, but I’m curious about whether the different conditions we have now would be of any benefit for user/developer/enthusiast Q&A.
Just looking at the most recent questions, it appears that many of them are not necessarily all that technical in nature, and are less about user tips for getting set up than they are about general inquiries about the project and things a non-technical user can do.
Additionally, Shapado seems to not have any sort of tagging system for questions, which IMO is a lost opportunity. It’s one big, cluttery mess in comparison to SE.
Anyway, these are just thoughts. If there’s a legitimately bad reason for having a Developer Q&A site at this point, it’d be useful to know about, and what shortcomings they have for community-driven projects.
Tags are in the exact same place as with SE, the only difference is the missing toplist on the right side and a different order of the menu items in the top menu bar, really even the menu item names are mostly the same. No wonder since Shapado aims to be an open source alternative to SE, iirc.
Why it failed? Hmm good question, at that time I guess for the same reason we’re talking on this platform now, why Diaspora failed in so many ways: Lack of involvement and explanations by the founders, pointing the community to a tool and leaving it alone. Such tools don’t work without dedicated participation of core members of the community, at least until there’s a critical mass. In my experience with Diaspora.
The reason why you see mostly user related questions is that it was linked at the sign in page for quite some time, guess it was even somewhat meant as user helpdesk. I guess it because there never was a real explanation as far as I remember.
If you want to relive something like this, I’d vote to relive the existing platform instead of building yet another userbase from ground up on a new tool, loom.io is a perfect example how hard that is. We’re like 20 people here while, in my view, Diasporas userbase still has the potential for a few hundred. Even random pads gather more (https://framapad.org/diaspora-community-users), left alone that the translation project has over 160 members, after migrating to a new platform.
Our lack aren’t tools, our lack that we have to recover from by the founders is bad communication through official channels.
Sorry if this sounds a bit harsh, no offending intended. That thoughts needed to come out of me and you asked for it
The other point I forgot: While I’m not strictly thinking that way we shouldn’t underestimate the percentage of users in our community who want to use FOSS tools only and to whoom Github over Gitorious is already a threat
StackExchange is a great Q&A platform, but I agree with Florian that we also need better official documentation. I’m also not sure what the best approach would be, would we just use a tag on StackOverflow (like Rails) or a full StackExchange site (like AskUbuntu)? At least some questions I’d expect to see probably wouldn’t fit too well on StackOverflow and would probably be better suited to our own StackExchange site or ServerFault.