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LabVIEW is an odd little programming language: privately owned, expensive, graphical, dataflow, increasingly popular, increasingly hated... and a bit of a red-headed step-child in programming circles. However, LV has an estimated 200k+ licenses worldwide. Existing, and very mature, forums have exceeded 600k postings, and can cover very complicated subjects (though, most are mundane).

The number of LV tags currently on stackoverflow: 102.

I could start posting a lot of LV questions on SO to take advantage of the better Q&A format, deep programming experience, and massive number of eyeballs, but it feels a bit like... astroturfing. And so I'm torn.

What do people think? Should I start madly posting questions for a language that really hasn't seen much adoption in the SO world?

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As long as You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. (from FAQ) It can also be extended a little bit: "based on problems that other real users will actually face." If not, the question might be downvoted, closed or deleted. (If your questions all come from real users, you might call it "seeding" instead of "astroturfing".) – rwong Aug 2 '11 at 3:47
The R community, of course, did something similar: Is the difference in the community nature? How many users constitute a community? – Joe Zoller Aug 2 '11 at 3:57
The difference about what the R community did, though, is they picked actual, answerable questions based on real problems faced by programmers. What Jeff liked about it is all quite well-explained there, and I doubt there would be any problems with doing something similar with LabVIEW questions. – Cody Gray Aug 2 '11 at 4:04
Thanks again Cody. LV has very similar problems to what's being described in the posting about R, and a similar action was what I was thinking about. – Joe Zoller Aug 2 '11 at 4:10

No, of course not. The FAQ explains that:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face.

There's no reason to post a bunch of LabVIEW questions just to boost the number of questions with that tag. If there is an entire community of people with LabVIEW questions that is looking to get answers, give them a link to the site and have them ask questions for themselves. You (and others) can then provide answers to those questions, increasing the LabVIEW presence on the site in the natural way.

Unless you think there's a systemic problem that is preventing LabVIEW questions from being asked, then there's no real problem to solve here. The solution is getting people to post those questions, and ensuring that they get good answers so that those people keep coming back and are encouraged to "pay it forward" by answering some questions themselves.

If the reality is that LabVIEW is simply less popular among programmers than languages like C++, C#, Java, and Perl (among others) that are quite well represented here, then the current numbers seem to be an accurate reflection. There's nothing inherently wrong with tags hosting only small numbers of questions. As long as those questions represent high quality contributions, and have received accurate and useful answers, then everything is working exactly as it should. If not, then that's the problem we need to fix, and not necessarily by artificially inflating quantity.

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There's a bit of a chicken and egg problem, unfortunately. Without existing content, users tend to migrate elsewhere. The primary feature lacking is integrated image support (though, I haven't tried hard to find it...). LV is, after all, graphical code. – Joe Zoller Aug 2 '11 at 3:59
One problem that I can relate to is the need to attach non-text-based "source code" or "programs" for those other programming platforms. – rwong Aug 2 '11 at 4:02
@Joe: If that were true, the same problem would have existed for all of the programming languages. In my experience, very few users search the existing content before posting a question. (If that were true, we'd have far less dupes and far fewer people utterly incredulous in response to the closing of their question.) Also, we have built-in image support. All you have to do is click the image button on the toolbar. This has been the case for some time now. – Cody Gray Aug 2 '11 at 4:02
Thanks Cody, I appreciate the answers. – Joe Zoller Aug 2 '11 at 4:04
@rwong: LV has the ability to embed code inside the png format, which can then be posted as images. It's not perfect, but it handles a lot of cases. – Joe Zoller Aug 2 '11 at 4:05


As long as they're real questions, then niche tags are welcome here, everyone starts small.

Of course, what would really help more is madly posting answers.

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