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I recently asked a question at the Unix & Linux SE site and so far two people suggested I ask my question on a dedicated forum — one in a comment and the other in an answer. They also made other helpful suggestions, but to recommend that I post my question to a forum seemed to go against the very existance of the Stack Exchange network.

I have some problems with that.

  1. I absolutely abhor forums, including “support” forums for Q&A. That’s why I use SE.
  2. It’s my understanding that Stack Exchange was designed to replace traditional forums for Q&A and create a collection of authoritative knowledge.

Suppose someone posts a question on SackOverflow and is greeted with: “You should ask that at forum X.” It almost sounds like “We don’t know. The smart people are over there.”

Sometimes it’s beneficial to gather information from various forums, organize it, and post it as an answer, but they’re suggesting I ask my question somewhere else in the first place.

Does anyone else take issue with this or am I just blowing it out of proportion? One thing I’m certain of: StackOverflow didn’t become successful by shipping the Q&A elsewhere.

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Your original Q&A looks like a good question to me. Maybe you should add an explicit question so people can respond to that. In short, I think you are right in asking that question where you are asking it. –  GUI Junkie Dec 4 '11 at 23:10
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Generalizing a bit, I've often seen people ask "is this a bug?" questions, when a better place for that question would be a bug report on the bug tracker for that project. I see no harm in trying to answer the question, but I also see a lot of benefit from linking the user to the appropriate bug tracker. –  Merlyn Morgan-Graham Dec 5 '11 at 1:38

5 Answers 5

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I don't see how it's inappropriate in a commment, at all. Perhaps we really don't have the answer here, and someone there really could help.

Also; sometimes (not your case, perhaps) a question is very open-ended and is more appropriate for a forum, in general.

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Neither the comment nor the answer suggested that you take your question at a forum-full-stop. They suggested that you ask your question in an openSUSE-specific forum, because your question might be too specific for the Unix & Linux SE site. That's helpful and entirely appropriate. The SE network doesn't necessarily house all the experts on the Internet.

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Since they have an opensuse tag, it seemed an appropriate place to ask. My research turned up that similar problems had been solved for older versions of the OS, driver, and flash. Since I have the latest version of each, perhaps it's just too new? "The SE network doesn't necessarily house all the experts on the Internet." Won't it be grand when it does. :) Maybe I'm just used to SO seemingly having all the answers in its domain. –  Herbert Dec 4 '11 at 22:49
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Oh, I'm not saying it was wrong for you to ask on U&L, not at all. Just that other sites may be better for this particular question. –  Michael Petrotta Dec 4 '11 at 22:56

Maybe you just abhor forums because you've never seen a real one. What's commonly declared forums are typically just bulletin boards (flat, bbcode, other annoying fluff, which seldomly attracts expertise).

Sending someone off to a forum is however super appropriate if a question requires lots of debugging back and forth, or if the topic is way too specific for SO. Then mailing lists, bug trackers, and even support boards/forums are the better alternative.

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"Maybe you just abhor forums because you've never seen a real one." - I practically grew up on forums of all types, shapes and colors, but nowadays, I admit that I do associate "forum" with bbs noise. –  Herbert Dec 4 '11 at 22:35

Certain types of questions (poll, purely subjective musing, those that require discussion, etc) don't work well under the Stack Exchange model (either because they require threads or because they break the scoring model by rewarding popularity over technical merit), so some of these comments (though not necessarily the ones directed at you) really mean "this class of questions isn't a good fit here, maybe a forum would handle it better".

That class of "try a forum" comments are entirely legit.

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I don't know about your specific instance, but sometimes a dedicated forum is the best place for help - especially when it involves specific software rather than a general programming question.

If someone says:

You should ask that at forum X.

Chances are they are trying to help you get a solution to your problem, and perhaps are familiar enough with the forum in question to feel confident that you will get help there. I wouldn't necessarily take that comment as an attempt to "shrug you off" or anything.

Check out this question of mine: TinyMCE issues with resizable content in IE8

First comment:

you shoud ask this in the tinymce forum: tinymce.com/forum

I offered a 500 rep bounty on it, and afterwards posted on the dedicated TinyMCE forum (which I never use) out of desparation. Well, it turns out there was a bug and the developer replied the next day with an actual patch! I ended up awarding the bounty to a workaround that is no longer needed (but helped at the time). I should have just taken the advice of the first comment.

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