Re: Stackexchange Q&A Site for the Pi


23 posts
by iandotkelly » Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:51 pm
I think that a Stackexchange Q&A site for hardware and software development on the Pi would be useful. It takes a while to get one of these going, so I have made a proposal for one now.

If you want to support (or not support) this proposal - you can do so at:

http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/37041/raspberry-pi-hardware-and-software?referrer=XCWIBNXW4MLdMlwCbl6l_Q2
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by Michael » Sun Dec 04, 2011 5:57 pm
While it is a nice idea, we already have the general FAQs (in the header), Forum FAQs and popular topic stickies in the General sub-forum, and the wiki. I\'m not sure we actually need another Q&A resource - particularly one on another site.
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by iandotkelly » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:15 pm
Stackoverflow (http://stackoverflow.com/) is a massively successful Q&A site for general programming questions, one which has become a resource for many developers, and is a top site for Google searches about programming topics. The format is now being applied to other areas.

It is not intended to be an alternative to this forum, nor simply a general FAQ, but a resource where you can ask specific questions about implementation of hardware or software on the Pi on a site alongside the main SO forum which has hundreds of thousands of developers on it. I think that broadening the appeal of the Pi is important, and raising its profile in other areas even at the expense of losing some control
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by iandotkelly » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:20 pm
I went and checked and SO has over three-quarters of a million registered users and over 2 million questions on it.
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by obarthelemy » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:42 pm
I\'d rather keep everything in one place, especially if the alternative is some random site probably out to make a quick buck (i didn\'t register to vote, sorry).
Pi\'s site does need work, and maybe farming it out would be a good idea. I\'d rather do it in a nce orderly way than randomly.
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by liz » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:58 pm
Speaking for the Foundation, I\'m pleased to be able to say that we will be relaunching the website in the 2012 - and we\'d be much happier to keep all the information in one place. We\'re not enthusiasts for the Stackexchange idea here at Raspberry Pi, if that carries any weight.
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by markstinson » Sun Dec 04, 2011 9:18 pm
As much as I love using StackExchange, my gripe is there are too many subdomain stacks and thus posting in wrong areas. I don\'t think another Stack subdomain is necessary.

A better suggestion would be recommending folks posting in just a specific Stack -- say just stackexchange.com proper with \"raspberrypi\" tags, not superuser.com, serverfault.com, etc.

Properly tagging posts with \"raspberrypi\" will be significantly more effective (and will naturally occur.) Stack tags also also allows folks to subscribe to or filter them. Simple, efficient and ++ :-)
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by semisight » Tue Dec 06, 2011 4:24 am
[quote][b]Quote from markstinson on December 4, 2011, 21:18[/b]Properly tagging posts with \"raspberrypi\" will be significantly more effective (and will naturally occur.) Stack tags also also allows folks to subscribe to or filter them. Simple, efficient and ++ :-)[/quote]

Beat me to it. I think that this is the best way forward, and because the Pi is targeted towards kids beginning programming, a) their questions will likely be more general, and b) it would be good to expose them to stackoverflow for general questions, so they can learn how to utilize online resources. If they have any specific questions, the [s]fanatics[/s] hobbyists here will most definitely be more than happy to help.
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by Oxwivi » Tue Dec 06, 2011 8:11 am
I\'ve been an Ubuntu user for quite a while, and I must say that [url=http://askubuntu.com]Ask Ubuntu[/url], a Stack Exchange site, has been extremely useful for getting and contributing help. I\'ve also used the [url=http://ubuntuforums.org]Ubuntu Forums[/url], and I\'ve found a dedicated Q and A site is the best solution for community support.

[quote][b]Quote from liz on December 4, 2011, 18:58[/b]
Speaking for the Foundation, I\'m pleased to be able to say that we will be relaunching the website in the 2012 - and we\'d be much happier to keep all the information in one place. We\'re not enthusiasts for the Stackexchange idea here at Raspberry Pi, if that carries any weight. [/quote]

Mayhaps you can consider an open-source implementation of SE-style Q and A site in your new website? I recommend [url=http://www.osqa.net]OSQA[/url]. For the aforementioned reason, I think a dedicated Q and A site for R-Pi would be extremely helpful.
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by abishur » Tue Dec 06, 2011 2:17 pm
Isn\'t that essentially what the forums are? I mean the site already has an FAQ page and a read before posting page, and very few people bother reading them or even searching the forum before posting their questions. That seems like a lot of work to duplicate what already exists with the forums, a lot of duplicated work to implement a feature that people have had a pattern of already ignoring. But that\'s just my two cents on it, the r-pi team might like that idea ;)
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by Oxwivi » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:40 pm
Doesn\'t compare to forums. Any general support thread will have a lots of posts discussing the problem until, finally, the solution is found. When someone comes by with the same topic in mind they\'ve to plow through the entire discussion, make sense of what has been said, and then distill the solution.

On the other hand, in a QA board, the communication is limited to the comments (which cuts down on useless chatter) and you edit your question when you find new info. Everything is distilled into one post, which makes it easy for anyone to understand what\'s going on. Similarly, the answers are also edited continuously until the final solution is found and the questioner marks it as such. Others can edit the question and answer to make them easier to understand and update them. Bottom line is, they are to the point with the issues at hand. You should try out some of the Stack Exchange network\'s sites, and you\'ll understand why exactly are the effective in support.

And regarding the FAQ, the QA boards are simply better community support platform, not a solution for the readers not reading FAQ. Nothing can force them to read those. Why don\'t we just add \"did you read the FAQ?\" line to the new post page?
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by nullstring » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:49 pm
[quote][b]Quote from Oxwivi on December 6, 2011, 08:11[/b]
Mayhaps you can consider an open-source implementation of SE-style Q and A site in your new website? I recommend [url=http://www.osqa.net]OSQA[/url]. For the aforementioned reason, I think a dedicated Q and A site for R-Pi would be extremely helpful.[/quote]

Thats kind of cool. I was wondering if such a thing existed.

However, the SE-style Q&A is not a replacement for a forum. Open ended questions and topics that are rapidly developing... as with the RPI, are not well supported by this Q&A model.
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by Oxwivi » Wed Dec 07, 2011 6:55 pm
Yes, it is as you say. QA boards serve only for community support. It\'s not possible to hold discussion in them. Unless you modify them as such.
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by obarthelemy » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:04 pm
There\'s a 3rd way, with someone making the effort to moderate a forum thread, and consolidating all relevant info from answers down the line into the first ( or first 2-3) messages in the thread.
That\'s what I intend to do with the topics I started (Optimizing for Flash ram, Lightweight games, lightweight apps, and home server). Although reading a whole thread in detail, while a bit time consuming, can be very informative if people stay on topic.
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by johnbeetem » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:40 pm
[quote][b]Quote from iandotkelly on December 4, 2011, 18:20[/b]
I went and checked and SO has over three-quarters of a million registered users and over 2 million questions on it.[/quote]

2 million questions -- very impressive. How many... answers?

Please don\'t look it up for me. I\'m mostly just channeling Eeyore. But when I do Internet searches I often find exactly the question I\'m looking for -- with no answer.
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by Oxwivi » Wed Dec 07, 2011 7:56 pm
@obarthelemy How does it differ from an extended version of FAQ?

@johnbeetem That is quite unfortunate for you. In my case, however, I\'ve had plenty of times when I was directed to solved problems or, if not previously asked, my own questions attracted relevant solutions.
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by obarthelemy » Wed Dec 07, 2011 8:13 pm
Not much really. It\'s focused on a single topic, and more interactive. A FAQ is usually on generalities, and very seldom updated. You can think of it as a Live FAQ on a specific topic.
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by abishur » Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:13 pm
@Oxwivi I\'m not really disagreeing with anything you\'re saying per se. I just personally don\'t see the benefit (but fortunately for you and those who share your opinion, I\'m not in charge so it might yet happen :P ). I personally just see it as ultimately being a duplication (or consolidation however you like to look at it ;) ) of the forum and the wiki, and one more thing for people to ignore. :P
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by Oxwivi » Thu Dec 08, 2011 8:25 am
I think I pushing for a QA board a bit too hard, but...

[quote][b]Quote from obarthelemy on December 7, 2011, 20:13[/b]
Not much really. It\'s focused on a single topic, and more interactive. A FAQ is usually on generalities, and very seldom updated. You can think of it as a Live FAQ on a specific topic.[/quote]

With the exception of a page with static links, that\'s what exactly a QA board similar to SE network is. It can have lots of questions covering many topics (I\'m not quite sure how you define interactive for information), and they\'re updated by the community instead of just one moderator editing and updating one huge forum post. :)

[quote][b]Quote from abishur on December 7, 2011, 22:13[/b]
I personally just see it as ultimately being a duplication (or consolidation however you like to look at it ;) ) of the forum and the wiki, and one more thing for people to ignore. :P[/quote]

That\'s exactly how SE defines itself:

[quote][b]Quote from [url=http://stackoverflow.com/about][i]About - Stack Overflow[/i][/url][/b]
What’s so special about this? Well, nothing, really. But we synthesize aspects of Wikis, Blogs, Forums, and Digg/Reddit in a way that we think is original.

[img]http://sstatic.net/askubuntu/img/venn-diagram.png[/img]
[/quote]

Again, that\'s exactly why I think it makes a great support platform. Well, I rest my case. You\'ve got to try it yourself to find why it would be an excellent addition to R-Pi website.
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by jandjorgensen » Sat May 12, 2012 10:10 pm
The advantage of a Stack Exchange site separate from a forum is 90% of what's discussed on the forums will probably not be on-topic for SE. Forums are a great discussion environment, but SE sties answer factual questions very effectively. It's easy to write it off as a duplicate resource if you haven't used a SE site before (StackOverflow is one of the best and most active), but it's really a unique environment.

Essentially, it will provide an extremely useful resource for people with questions about Raspberry Pi without hurting the discussion that takes place on the forums.
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by dstibbe » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:12 am
Very noble that Raspberry wish to keep all information on your own site. However, how will Raspberry handle Q&A? Probably by hosting their own board?

The mechanism that stackexchange uses for Q&A is in my experience far superior than waddling through all kinds of board posts where it is unclear what the "correct" answer might be (from the poster's perspective) for a given problem.

Wouldn't it actually be better for Raspberry to support one specific stackexchange board and mention that on their site as their Q&A mechanism?
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by grumpyoldgit » Wed Jun 06, 2012 11:19 am
Sounds like a great idea. No-one ever asks questions here.
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by Benjol » Thu Feb 28, 2013 1:46 pm
What problem? I see no problem.
Maybe I should share my recent experience:

I had a problem getting Scratch to talk to my brand new PiFace. Google didn't turn up much - or rather it turned up lots of 'bits' - notably links to forums where different people threw around theories of where the problem might come from (Scratch? Linux? Debian? Raspbian? Hardware?). And mostly in each forum, I had to read through all of the posts to try and work out if their question/problem was the same as mine, and then continue reading until I found what may-or-may-not have been an answer.

This is the NUMBER ONE problem with Q&A on a forum - it gets lost in the discussion.

For example, even in this thread, Liz's answer could be considered to be definitive (please say it ain't so!), but how would you know? You'd have to read through all the answers - and even then, you'd have to know the context, know who Liz is, etc...

OK, but how would Stack Exchange help?
On Stack Exchange (and the OS clones), there is a big tick mark next to the 'accepted' answer. And you land straight on it from Google. Problem solved.

Stack Exchange does have some limited scope for 'discussion' - but it is all aimed at getting the question answered. Extraneous gumph is kept to a strict minimum. Users can vote answers up and down, so the 'best' answer generally finds its way to the top of the pile.

Again, this makes it easier for someone who is totally not invested in the community to get straight to the point and maybe, just maybe, think 'hey, this is cool I'll stay around'.

Yes, but Stack Exchange...

...is a for-profit company which we don't control. They could shut us down any time.

This is true. But the only reason they've shut down any sites so far is for being not-very-successful. Which with 1 million RPs-sold-and-counting seems highly unlikely.

Mitigations:
- even when they shut a site down, the data is still made available.
- you could always go with an open source clone, they just don't do it so well...
- the discussion would still happen here, the short-and-to-the-point Q&A would be there.

Finally

Even if you're not convinced, I would really encourage you to go and sign up to one of the sites that takes your fancy (https://stackexchange.com/sites?view=grid) - start with the /about page, and just get a feel for how it all hangs together. If you're interested in the 'governance', each site has a parallel 'meta' site.

Oh, and if you're interested, one of the founders of Stack Exchange is now working on an Open Source forum platform (http://www.discourse.org/).
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