Should we start a Concrete5 Q&A site on Stack Exchange?

Permalink 4 users found helpful
Edit: I went ahead and created a trial-balloon site proposal: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/94596/concrete5... if it is to take off, it needs active participation of as many people as possible, so check it out!

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Concrete 5's forums are decent, but they are no match to Stack Overflow's Q&A engine. Understandably - the forum is not part of C5's core business. Stack Overflow has dozens of developers working on the engine full time.

Stack Exchange, SO's sister network featuring Q&A sites on a variety of topics, has the Area 51 process for creating new Q&A sites specific to a technology or topic:http://area51.stackexchange.com/... Because SE doesn't want to create ghost towns, they require a pretty big community to gather *before* a new proposal is allowed to even go into private beta, during which time the site is seeded with questions and answers, and its viability determined. The community that wants to form the site also largely decides what is on topic and what is an example of a good question (check out the proposal linked above).

Currently, C5 programming questions live on Stack Overflow proper. It would be cool to have a C5 Stack Exchange community, though. It would be more inclusive to all kinds of questions around C5, including use, and the system would have a lot of advantages over the current forum:

- A mature, world-class Q&A platform with excellent, commercial-quality search, ease of use, community editing, tagging...
- Easy formatting options, easy insertion of images, etc.
- The opportunity to create "canonical" entries for questions that come up frequently - that can be edited over time
- A voting system that is very helpful in gauging the quality of a contribution
- An addictive reputation system that greatly boosts contributions, and allows contributors to make a name for themselves
- A great chat product that (AFAIK) is bolted onto each Q&A site
- CC-Wiki licensed contributions (so anyone can take and republish them at any time)

Many CMS communities already have their own very successful Q&A sites there: Drupal (http://drupal.stackexchange.com/), Joomla (http://joomla.stackexchange.com/), Expression Engine (http://expressionengine.stackexchange.com/), and more.

Would it be worth starting a Concrete5 Q&A site on Stack Exchange, and outsource most Q&A there, keeping the forums for real *discussion* only?

pekka
View Replies:
MrKDilkington replied on at Permalink Reply
MrKDilkington
Hi pekka,

I like this idea.

One note though, it is "concrete5" and not "Concrete5". Are you able to update the name?
pekka replied on at Permalink Reply
pekka
Someone fixed this while I was asleep :) Which is kind of testament to the power of the engine. Anyone can edit anything (or suggest edits if you're new).
jessicadunbar replied on at Permalink Reply
jessicadunbar
Soooo Awesome! Thank you!

The guys and I discussed this last month when I was in town. How can we help promote this? Tweets, a blog post?
pekka replied on at Permalink Reply
pekka
Unfortunately, our proposal died because of lack of activity. :(

I guess it would be worth giving it a new try - but only if C5 is willing to support it with an orchestrated publicity effort (Newsletter/Facebook/Twitter etc.)
MrKDilkington replied on at Permalink Reply
MrKDilkington
@pekka

There is now a dedicated "StackOverflow" page and navigation link on concrete5.org. The link is found under Community.
https://www.concrete5.org/developers/stack-overflow...

If enough people get in the habit of using Stack Overflow, it could make a future proposal easier to pass.
jessicadunbar replied on at Permalink Reply
jessicadunbar
we're happy to support it. I'll add the link in our newsletter and do my best to spread the good word.
pekka replied on at Permalink Reply
pekka
OK, but we need the proposal to go active before that (or start a new one...). I'll write to a community manager and see whether we can get the existing one reopened for one last chance.
pekka replied on at Permalink Reply
pekka
I spoke to the CM and unfortunately, as far as site proposals go, what's dead is dead.
I can start a new proposal, but we should organize it so a couple people can seed questions right away, and your newsletter can mention it.

Would it make sense to start, say, a week or two before your next newsletter is due?
MrKDilkington replied on at Permalink Reply
MrKDilkington
@pekka

There is now a Stack Overflow link in the concrete5.org navigation under Community. The goal of this was to get people used to using Stack Overflow for certain types of questions.
https://www.concrete5.org/developers/stack-overflow...

I think it might be better to wait a few months before starting a new proposal.
JohntheFish replied on at Permalink Reply
JohntheFish
I am afraid I am always sceptical of new channels for for help. There are already several communication mediums that have been enthusiastically started for concrete5 and pretty much atrophied. In the course of atrophying they have spread resources and placed information in places outside the usual search scope.

My impression is that the current concrete5.org forums and howtos are not as well used or as in depth as they used to be and it would be detrimental to the community if they received even less high-level input as a consequence of a new communication (unless everything switched).

It all comes down to striking a balance between how widely to wave the flag and diluting the resources needed to support that flag waving so far as to become ineffectual.
jessicadunbar replied on at Permalink Reply
jessicadunbar
I see so many benefits.

1. typical reply times, looks like the Wordpress one (http://wordpress.stackexchange.com/) is very active and replies are typically within minutes or within the hour. The Drupal one is also fairly quick (http://drupal.stackexchange.com/) but appears to be a little slower than the Wordpress one.

2. Other communities like Wordpress appears to be supporting their StackExchange portal officially/semi-offically:
http://make.wordpress.org/support/handbook/stackexchange/...

However, looks like there's a proposal to close down their forums in favor of stack exchange
https://groups.drupal.org/node/313083...

Magento seems to have a very active developer community too.

* The system is proactive in determining duplicate questions
* The sheer popularity of the system ensures a strong community can grow, and feedback is much more immediate. It's not uncommon for a question to attract really high-quality answers within minutes of being asked. In my experience, this is much, MUCH faster than traditional forums.
Korvin replied on at Permalink Reply
Korvin
Thank you so much for doing this Pekka, I think stackoverflow for developer q/a is the right way to go so if we can get our own silo that would be amazing.

So here's my thoughts on the issue of many "communication mediums", firstly stackoverflow is not a medium for communication, it is a place to ask questions and get answers. We will not be communicating anything in there at all, people will just get their questions answered.

Take a look at this stack overflow question:
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/34305548/activate-a-topic-for-a-...

This same question was posted on our forums:
https://www.concrete5.org/community/forums/5-7-discussion/add-a-topi...

Notice that there is a VERY clear difference between the content of the questions, the stack overflow question has a lot more information and even has a bounty attached to it.

I am confident that had Daenu not posted to stackoverflow, he'd still be waiting for an answer.
Stackoverflow gave him:

* Tools to write a solid question
* Very specific requirements to follow that FORCED him to write a good question
* Proof reading by people outside of concrete5's community
* A way to assign a bounty and get a faster answer
* A community of mixed developers who are looking for developer problems to solve
* Exposure to people who do not go into our forums
* A place for that question and answer to live forever in google search results
* A path for anyone to update the answer when it's no longer valid

Now on the other hand, lets look at a different question: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/34763931/concrete-5-7-displaying...

This question does not have any code, there's no real answer to give. This question violates the rules of stackoverflow,
so it should go in our forums where we have site owners and developers willing to help other site owners and developers.


TLDR:

StackOverflow is for when:

1. You have tried to fix the problem yourself
2. You have clear code that shows what you are trying to do and what you expect should happen
3. The answer you get will be a short code snippet or a few paragraphs with deeper knowledge about core functionality

concrete5 forums are for when:

A. You have no code to show
B. You have an open ended question that requires back and forth to answer
C. You have a question about concrete5.org or concrete5 the community
D. If you're given code you won't necessarily know what to do with it
E. You want help implementing the answer
pekka replied on at Permalink Reply
pekka
Thanks for your feedback guys, glad to hear there's interest in doing this!

Great writeups @jessicadunbar and @Korvin. They echo exactly my thoughts why this might be a net benefit to the C5 community.

As to what needs to be done, spreading the word through Twitter / a Blog post would be really helpful. We still need 49 followers for the proposal, and 40 more highly voted example questions. Anyone who signs up in this phase will be able to participate in the private Beta, and shape direction the site will take.

Examples of questions that would NOT work (say, because they'd be more on topic in the forum under the separation Korvin outlines) would be great as well!

> There are already several communication mediums that have been enthusiastically started for concrete5 and pretty much atrophied. In the course of atrophying they have spread resources and placed information in places outside the usual search scope.

That's a serious concern for sure. I thought about this before making the suggestion - but like others in this thread have said, the SO infrastructure so many advantages that could make this actually work *better* than the forums that it seems like it's worth a shot.

Also, in a worst case scenario, the Stack Exchange site won't be going live at all if the Beta doesn't show healthy community interest and activity. It won't be left out there to languish. (Any content created until that point we could even reintegrate into the forums thanks to the CC license.)
MrKDilkington replied on at Permalink Reply
MrKDilkington
I am in agreement with JohntheFish regarding the risk of diluting resources.

There are potential benefits though:
- It helps promote concrete5 to a new audience.
- I imagine many people view a product with a dedicated StackExchange community as being more "legitimate".
- For many, there will be a much greater incentive to answer questions on StackExchange than the concrete5 forum. Due to most StackExchange users using their accounts for getting jobs and networking. Which makes them very focused on earning StackExchange points and badges.

Currently there is an issue with the forums generally serving to answer low level and non-technical questions. The developers who have the knowledge and skill to answer more technical questions often avoid the forums. This leaves technical questions unanswered and pushes the question asker to other venues like IRC.

Considering Korvin's outline of how StackExchange question asking works, this could provide a separate outlet serving a different purpose and a different set of users.

"StackOverflow is for when:

1. You have tried to fix the problem yourself
2. You have clear code that shows what you are trying to do and what you expect should happen
3. The answer you get will be a short code snippet or a few paragraphs with deeper knowledge about core functionality

concrete5 forums are for when:

A. You have no code to show
B. You have an open ended question that requires back and forth to answer
C. You have a question about concrete5.org or concrete5 the community
D. If you're given code you won't necessarily know what to do with it
E. You want help implementing the answer"

A great majority of the questions posted on the forums would not qualify for StackExchange. They are often broad and lack specific details.

This still leaves one area unaddressed, technical questions that are suited for the concrete5 forum.
sebastienj replied on at Permalink Reply
sebastienj
i completely agree with Korvin on this. Stack force people to write a good and clear question.
Why move all developers forum to Stack and keep only editor and other funky forum on C5 ?
okapi replied on at Permalink Reply
okapi
While i tend to agree with Korvin, i'm not sure what will happen, if a question of "for" StackOverflow quality is posted in the concrete5 forums? Would a possible answer then be, sorry, we don't answer questions of this level here, please post your question on StackOverflow?
A skilled user is not necessarily a developer - getting an answer like that could draw him away from the concrete5 forums, what would also mean losing a potential supporter.
MrKDilkington replied on at Permalink Reply
MrKDilkington
@okapi

The current problem is that many skilled developers who know a lot about concrete5 avoid the forums. I think part of this has to do with many forum questions not including specific details, are not written clearly, require a lot of work to coach the question asker to provide useful information, and could be self-answered by doing a search of the forum, documentation, and tutorials. This makes answering questions much more time consuming and requires a lot of patience. Patience some don't have or have the time to invest.

The core team currently does not have enough time to work on the core and look through the forum questions to see what needs answering. This means many of the technical questions on the forum go unanswered.

There are patient and skilled developers answering questions on the forum, but there are only so many of them and they only have so much time. They can't get to all questions, which means some fall through the cracks.

If StackExchange could provide a channel for clear, well formed questions that can be more easily understood and answered. I think it could be a compliment to the forums and attract skilled developers to ask and answer questions.

As an experiment, there is no harm in trying.
okapi replied on at Permalink Reply
okapi
Ideally yes, of course it would be great to have the right place for the right question. But i'm wondering who will decide which question will go where? Basically the user will, but who will then filter out 'unsuitable' questions and will these then get rejected, and by whom?
MrKDilkington replied on at Permalink Reply
MrKDilkington
@okapi

"but who will then filter out 'unsuitable' questions and will these then get rejected, and by whom?"

If we use exchangecore's idea to create an area of concrete5.org that has StackExchange questions, we can include question guidelines for forums and for StackExchange. Something like Korvin's descriptions could be at the top of each page.

"StackOverflow is for when:

1. You have tried to fix the problem yourself
2. You have clear code that shows what you are trying to do and what you expect should happen
3. The answer you get will be a short code snippet or a few paragraphs with deeper knowledge about core functionality

concrete5 forums are for when:

A. You have no code to show
B. You have an open ended question that requires back and forth to answer
C. You have a question about concrete5.org or concrete5 the community
D. If you're given code you won't necessarily know what to do with it
E. You want help implementing the answer"

If users choose to ignore the guidelines and post the wrong type of question on StackExchange, these "unsuitable" questions will be rejected by StackExchange moderators and users with high reputation scores.
okapi replied on at Permalink Reply
okapi
I agree, this sounds like being practicable, while not affecting concrete5 forums in any way.
exchangecore replied on at Permalink Reply
exchangecore
Just a thought, would it be possible so that we could have a "read only" section on the forums which automatically pulls in questions posted to the Stack Exchange and links to them? This way it's made known that Concrete5 encourages questions to go on SE simply by the fact that there are links to it, additionally it provides the benefit for users who do post questions there getting the exposure of the SE community as well as the concrete5 community.

One example of this is the ProgressTalk community, which has an entire forum section that's strictly pulling in external resource feeds and republishing to their own website to help gain community exposure:http://progresstalk.com/categories/external-resource-feeds.90/...
MrKDilkington replied on at Permalink Reply
MrKDilkington
@exchangecore

I think this is an excellent idea. The StackExchange section could have a pinned message describing the distinction between the regular forum and StackExchange and how the questions are different.
okapi replied on at Permalink Reply
okapi
Definitely essential as a basic information on StackOverflow as a developer orientated platform, but...
what about the concrete5 forums then? Should there be another pin saying "don't ask too advanced questions here, go to StackOverflow instead'...?
Just wondering how this should be handled in practice.
daenu replied on at Permalink Reply
daenu
Hi there

I'm not sure if there are enough questions asked on our CMS at SO.

What I'm missing a bit in this thread is the fact that SO is having tags not only as topics but also for subjects that aren't big enough to have an own site.

If you look at the number of followers/questions our tags are having it shows that we aren't by far big enough to get our own site.

"concrete5 5.7" has 11 followers & 40 questions
"concrete" has 6 followers & 50 questions
"concrete5" has 113 followers & 395 questions

For comparison the "drupal" tag has 4.3K followers & 16.4K questions.
"joomla" has 2.3K followers & 13K questions.

So if we take the amount of questions that would fit for SO (Korvin: "A great majority of the questions posted on the forums would not qualify for StackExchange. They are often broad and lack specific details.") and the amount of questions being asked in here that wouldn't fit on SO at all, In my opinion we aren't a community big enough to have our own site on SO.
Also an editor really can't be bothered to ask code questions on SO.

The question Korvin mentioned is mine, BUT I surely wouldn't have had to go on SO if our docs were complete. I remember when working with c5 5.6 I had always an answer in here or when reading our proper docs (googling around usually led me to concrete5.org).

BTW As soon as I have some spare time (it will be next week) I'll write some docs too.

What I'm trying to say is that we should first complete our own docs, especially the developer part, and if then there is still the need of an own SO site, we could think about.

Don't forget that very often people don't invest time in Google researches nore they are reading the docs nore they are byting thru the source code. It is easier to cry "Help Me!" in the forums than googling, byting & trying around to get a solution from the CMS itself.

Also I'm agreeing with JohnTheFish that more channels aren't necessarily better to find a solution.

I personally would be happy if we'd improve our own tools to be able to write better questions (MarkDown, being able to edit other questions if enough Karma, etc)
OKDnet replied on at Permalink Reply
OKDnet
As for the numbers, while I won't argue your point, I'd just say I think maybe it's a bit of a "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" scenario. If we can somehow qualify, it will likely add fuel to the Concrete5 fire.
pekka replied on at Permalink Reply
pekka
I think a specific Stack Exchange site might work much better than the Concrete5 tag on Stack Overflow ever will.

On SO, you are limited by the extremely strict on-topicness guidelines of the whole site. Those guidelines are enforced by moderators and users that don't necessarily know anything about C5.

On a SE site of our own, we could work out for ourselves what is on topic and what isn't. Chances are we are going to be slightly more lenient than SO, allow good questions that focus on non-programming aspects of the system that would likely be closed as off-topic on SO (usage, customization, configuration...) and generally be less harsh than SO has to be with its 10,000+ new questions every day.
daenu replied on at Permalink Reply
daenu
Please don't missunderstand me. I am not against a concrete5 SO site at all! I'm just doing a bit the "devils advocate...." and saying that if the docs were ready, me personally I wouldn't have to go to the IRC or SO that often though.

And I totally agree that on a SO site we could make the rules and it would be better than any tag will ever be.
pekka replied on at Permalink Reply
pekka
Right. That's certainly a fair point!
Korvin replied on at Permalink Reply
Korvin
Those numbers are a feedback loop, if we have a link in the header saying "Developer Support" that goes to a stackoverflow tag, I'd bet we would get a lot more questions. It's just a matter of putting some effort into building that community.

In terms of documentation, I agree we should continue to work on documentation but I disagree that we need to halt any other community activities until that is resolved. Part of what made v6 documentation more "complete" is that we had a lot of questions and answers developer or not in the forums. Encouraging more of that can only help.

On the question of multiple avenues of communication, IMHO that is a red herring. Stack overflow is not a way to communicate, it's a platform for asking and answering questions.

I think part of the misunderstanding here is that forums are for discussion while stack overflow is for answers. We have tools to make a discussion forum work as an answer platform, but we have no way to restrict extra discussion or prevent the thread from running off onto a different topic.
When I search google for an answer and find a result on concrete5.org, I end up having to wade through tons of discussion to find a suitable answer. Stackoverflow doesn't have this issue because stackoverflow doesn't allow discussion. For that reason any time I'm googling for an answer to ANYTHING and I see a stackexchange site, I go there instead of any other resource.
MrKDilkington replied on at Permalink Reply
MrKDilkington
I agree with Korvin that just by having a StackExchange concrete5 community, it would likely attract developers and drive more technical questions and answers. The worst thing that could happen is we don't make it to the next stage or we do get our own community and it isn't active enough to be sustained. It could potentially be a benefit too, so it seems worth trying even as an experiment.

If we don't get enough followers and questions to move into the next phase, then I think we should look into creating a StackOverflow page under the Community navigation link. On this page we could link to existing StackOverflow concrete5 related tags and include information that describes what StackOverflow is, is not, and what it is suited for. This could address the issue of diluting the concrete5 communication channels.
MrKDilkington replied on at Permalink Reply
MrKDilkington
For anyone who hasn't followed the concrete5 StackExchange community proposal, please do. After you follow the proposal, you will have 5 votes that you can use to upvote any existing questions. You will also have the ability to write 5 example StackExchange style questions.
http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/94596/concrete5?referrer=...

We need:
30 more followers
39 more questions with a score of 10 or more

Following can be done by anyone, users, designers, and developers.
WillemAnchor replied on at Permalink Reply
WillemAnchor
We can use some more enthusiasts.
27 more folowers,
36 more questions with 10 upvotes
MrKDilkington replied on at Permalink Reply
MrKDilkington
If you haven't followed this proposal, please sign up.

We need:
24 more followers
36 more questions with a score of 10 or more
http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/94596/concrete5?referrer=...
ramonleenders replied on at Permalink Reply
ramonleenders
And of course vote for questions that are below a 10, no point in having questions with 11, 12, ...20 points for example!
A3020 replied on at Permalink Reply
A3020
Check
daenu replied on at Permalink Reply
daenu
Hey all you decent concrete5 developers out there!
We'd really love to have our own SO site, so please go to
http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/94596/concrete5...
and do the following:
1. Click on the orange button "Follow"
2. Post up to 5 questions you'd ask on the concrete5 SO-site
3. Upvote 5 questions that haven't got 10 upvotes

Please use your 5 votes on questions with less then 10 votes!!

Thank you very much!
We still need 20 more followers & 35 more questions with a score of 10 or more
WillemAnchor replied on at Permalink Reply
WillemAnchor
Yes, we need you !

Please sign up and vote for questions that have LESS than 10 votes.

http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/94596/concrete5?tab=votes...