I strongly agree with this statement. I personally really like using SO to find answers to my programming questions (at least for things unrelated to Julia). I especially like that answers are upvoted and sorted accordingly. And when I want to figure out how to do something, I don’t like sorting through extraneous discussion.
Having said that, it seems like every Julia-related SO question I find is outdated, so I rely on Discourse to find answers.
I rarely ask/answer questions on SO/Discourse, though, so I can’t comment much on how that process compares between the two.
Yes, that’s precisely the crux of the matter. Stack Overflow is 100% geared for future readers (and pageviews) and solves the issue of the present asker as a side-effect. Discourse here is geared for the present asker, and leaves behind a trail for future readers as a side-effect.
It’d be interesting to see if we can help bridge that gap a bit. For example, it’s pretty easy to see which topics are frequent google search hits. I wonder if we should try to “clean up” or update some of those threads… I wonder how we could do that without removing the fodder that made it a prominent search result in the first place.
It’s also worth noting that I try to update my old StackOverflow answers whenever someone alerts me to their outdatedness through a comment there. Commenting is a great way of brining attention to the old cruft on StackOverflow, but doesn’t work as nicely here.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it could become a standard practice for the Discourse community to discuss a question for a period, work out a solution, then post the clean question on SO with the clean solution once it’s been worked out. That way, Discourse could retain its utility for the present asker, and then it could be paid forward to the future readers through SO posts that are optimally served there.
I assume that if there are updated SO questions and answers, they will quickly become featured over outdated Discourse discussions?
for an equivalent number of visits, I would say yes, but when a discourse thread has many views and many exchanges while a similar question on SO has only a couple of votes, then as far as I can tell (not a scientific evaluation, just a feeling based on experience) discourse will rank higher. Discourse threads do not get outdated particularly “quickly” because they receive visits and as long as they rank high in searches, they will receive visits. The problem may be mitigated over time as old pre- Julia 1 answers fade into the search engine’s memory.
I try to do that whenever I see a stale answer on SO, but the thing is that some discourse users do not particularly like SO and cannot be expected to do this (they do not like the point system and the occasionally toxic atmosphere).
Yeah, I’ve been told by a handful of people that I’m … unique … in my tolerance for getting raked across the coals on SO. But I think I mentioned earlier, I view it pretty impersonally. Putting a question up there that follow the site guidelines and are on topic takes some practice, and it’s not much different than figuring out the syntax for a piece of programming. Grumpy mods on the other side of the screen vetoing me aren’t too much worse than all the red error text I see most of the day anyway
Sure, but it also takes some effort to craft a question, which does not go to zero even with a lot of practice.
I dislike SO because the expected payoff / effort ratio is so low. For nontrivial questions, what often happens is that people cannot give a definite answer, but nevertheless can provide helpful suggestions or clarifying questions (“why are you doing this?”) that point me in the right direction. It happens a lot here, but my impression is that the structure of SO discourages replies like that, so no one replies.
On SO, you can have such discussions in the comments underneath question and answer posts. This way, the question can crystallize a bit to help those who come across it later. I think this feature does a good job of enabling helpful discussion while making the content future readers are concerned with bubble to the top.
Commenting is a privilege that requires 50 points, which isn’t too tough to achieve.
The real payoff to composing a well-crafted question and answer, besides getting an answer to your question, is that you’re writing supplemental documentation that will help the community. It’s genuinely an open source contribution.
For an actionable suggestion, here’s a blurb to append to the Usage tag description.
Questions and discussion about using Julia. If you are new to Julia or have questions regarding your first program please use the First Steps subcategory and for performance related questions use the Performance subcategory. If your goal is to have an informal discussion with other Julia users and get a quality answer quickly, this is the right place! If you would like to compose a question optimally suited to help those who might have the same question in the future, consider posting on Stack Overflow with the [julia] tag.
I think something along these lines would serve as a solution to the question I posed initially.
Agreed. In many ways it’s better if we strive hard to make this the welcoming place for everything Julia and leave stack overflow for its audience whoever they are. If they don’t include many Julia people, then hey this is the place to ask julia questions. And if they do contain many julia people then people can already go over there. I just don’t see what benefit the Julia community would gain by discouraging participation here in any way.
If anything maybe we should do the opposite, and send people here rather then to SO. Like @dlakelan mentioned lets have this be THE place to be for questions and answers related to Julia. Then it wont just be an answer, it will grow the community, it will give people resources they can use in the future and might simultaneously make them feel welcomed and motivate them to stay here and participate.
This feature isn’t super relevant for us, given the distributed nature of the Julia Community. This is geared towards corporations with open source software (which one could argue Julia Computing falls under, but that’s a separate discussion).