I've heard a number of people say Julia is not mainstream because it doesn't have many stackoverflow questions answered but they don't know about discourse

I’ve heard a number of people say Julia is not mainstream because it doesn’t have many stackoverflow questions answered.
I’ve noticed a number of people say things like this and got the impression that they don’t know about this site and that most Julia questions are asked and answered here. Based on a quick and rough count from the last 24 hours it looks like the ratio of questions is ~ 7:1 Discourse:SO.

I just thought I’d mention this in case anyone thinks this impression should be countered and has ideas of how to do so.

Perhaps Julia is still not “mainstream” but anyways I think its a bit underestimated because of lack of knowledge of this forum and the assumption that things would be on SO.

I’m very new so my opinion is not important-- just a thought.

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I wanted to mention something related as well, and this post is a good opportunity. You mentioned that the ratio is about 7:1 on Discourse:SO. I think that the ratio of Slack:Discourse is about 100:1 if not more. And this I really believe is hurting the Julia community and makes “googling” Julia much harder than it should be. Discourse still has a permanent nature, and thus it isn’t a big deal if questions are answered here or in SO. But Slack is a different story…

Problem is, I am not even sure how to initiate a discussion about this, or what to do alternatively, given that the Slack is so good, but everything is lost after a week…

(EDIT: I’ve encountered this problem while teaching my physics course that uses Julia)

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The community tried to get rid of #helpdesk in Slack and I actually would agree for this reason, but many disagreed, so I think we still use a lot of Slack even though all the answers would soon vanish in the history after being posted…

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I feel often in doubt where to ask too. On one side asking on SO would “benefit” the community, as it would make Julia looks more popular.
But in the last few months/years I am starting hating SO (and stack exchange sites more in general), with lot of trolls whose primary enjoyment seems to close legit questions, not just my questions …
I find this forum much more welcoming.
However, an other plus for SO is that it is much better indexed by Google.

Sorry for my poor English, I am on a mobile . trying to convince a baby to fall sleep haha…

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@sylvaticus I assume that every instance of the word “slack” you typed, actually means “stack overflow”, right? It definitely seems that way.

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I completely agree. I’ve found StackOverflow to be a useful tool, but I have consistently been much happier with the human interactions I’ve had here on Discourse than on StackOverflow. As a result, I’d much rather spend my minutes helping out here.

I’ve also noticed helpful Discourse posts coming up in my google search results for various Julia issues, so I’m somewhat hopeful that we can continue to make this a nice alternative to SO.

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This is inaccurate. The Julia tag on StackOverflow doesn’t have many questions asked. The ratio of unanswered questions is remarkably low, compared to tags of the same volume, and way lower compared to the top tags. If you want some numbers, see for example

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For me, I like discourse better than SO or Reddit. I have actually stopped visiting a lot of the stack exchange websites (StackOverflow, Math.SE, and MathOverFlow were some of my most visited websites). I don’t know if its just me, but these websites just don’t seem to be as active anymore.

I also agree that #helpdesk needs to be moved over to Discourse somehow. There are so many good, clever solutions that are lost daily to the Slack void. What about an interim solution? Does Slack have addons? Can we make an addon to “post” a Slack thread as a Discourse thread by some automatic facility?

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Yes, sure… corrected… thank you.

I don’t know why Slack is so popular. I came there once and I totally lost. I love Discourse most.

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One day soon we will have a solution to the Slack hole :slight_smile: [Slack archiving tool is in progress but a lot of work]

My long term prediction is that slack will die off as we overwhelm the capacity of the platform and be replaced by Zulip or some other one.

I also think that SO will catch up to discourse. We have been growing that community for the better part of 1.5 years and it’s been going great so far (we also fight the trolls head on!)

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Looking into this, we might be able to find one.

One thing I found surprising is that some people said they prefer Slack’s hiding feature because they’d rather not have their “embarrassing” questions visible for longer. I don’t know why somebody would be ashamed to ask something on a forum where no real names are enforced and given that everybody shares the experience that it’s hard in the beginning and gets easier only with time and practice.

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I tend to use slack more nowadays because it seems the answer time is shorter. I have the impression that a lot of contributors hang out on slack and can answer questions right away. It also feel less formal than here. Maybe a new sub-category in “Usage” would help, something like “Quick questions” or “Fix my bug” since “Usage” seems to contain a lot of higher level discussions.

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I agree getting permanence and googlability should be high priorities. If slack just moved to Discourse or SO the answer time would be as short.

I also wonder about comparative advantage. It seems like there are Julia world experts spending a fair amount of time answering beginner questions by people like me. This seems extremely inefficient. Better to have them writing packages and documentation and courses, no? More intermediate people could answer most of the questions. Again, just a thought (speaking of saying embarssing things).

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That is actually great. Few months ago I didn’t know much about Julia, now I now much more, and I can sometimes answer other’s questions. Trying to understand the questions and answering them is an excellent way to learn (if you teach any discipline you already know that). Probably that keeps the world experts motivated in checking out the forums, I am sure they also learn things from other questions from time to time.

Also, questions from beginners many times give ideas on how the language and the documentation might be improved.

Edit: Furthermore, Julia has the peculiarity that the distance from the user to the developer and the inners of the language is very, very short. This is different from other languages, and maybe that is why there is this integration between the language developers and the users in general. It is a great property of this language.

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This is a tough one, while you and I may not be embarrassed, the reality is that there are folks who would be. The burden is on us to create a welcoming and inclusive community.

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The burden is on us to create a welcoming and inclusive community.

That is true, but at the same time this idea doesn’t really give any concrete direction to go in, because there’s almost nothing that everybody likes. So it doesn’t necessarily help not trying something when you find someone who disagrees with that particular idea. Given the large amount of work that goes into something like the helpdesk channel, I think it’s valid to ask whether making the benefits of that accessible for the widest possible audience and over longer time spans than now, is valuable enough to accept that not all of the current participants on Slack would migrate to whatever a different option would be. Also there could be a bias towards keeping existing structures, because the people currently present probably are selected for liking the status quo, while there might hypothetically be a lot of people not participating because they don’t.

I for one like the casual Slack experience, but it is unfortunate that many hours of answering Makie questions have disappeared into the abyss.

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i purposely never answer questions on slack precisely because my answers won’t be permanent, and i will hence have to keep answering the same question over and over. HUGE waste of time. if i see a question i can answer, i tell the questioner to re-post on discourse, stackoverflow, or github, and then answer it there. i wish other julia developers did the same, so they could spend more of their time developing!

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There’s a Zulip #helpdesk now which is technically permanent. I’m not sure if it is very searchable at the moment though.