If an answer is for a question tagged with a technology (e.g. c#, jquery,sql-server-2008) then the person or organisations with an account that "owns" that tag can mark that answer as being "approved".
The account is paid for per year,upvotes on question or answer, per answer, per question with that tag asked on stackoverflow with that tag or any equation of them. The owners could buy awards to assign to answers. there are many was to do that and the powers that be would need to look into that obviously.
There could be a discount if there is a bounty on the question (maybe over a certain level) - to encourage some more accepts and give users another potential kick back from giving up a bounty.
For opensource technologies you could make it a free account.
The sponsoring could just be another logo around the area of the username of the person answering (maybe the tag with a green tick). you could do more but i don't think you would need a link to the site or anything.
I think there could be benifits everyone:
- Some indicator (even if only occasional) that this was an approved approach to the problem.
- Questions and answers may be more likely to be read by experts who represent the technology.
- Bonus points or badge for owner approval? - it would certainly be something I would be proud of (though never get).
- Its encouraging the use of their technologies
- Encouraging user interaction
- Improving the technologies use? - Is that valid?
- If someone representing the company answers the question then they need to have a real user to post the answer and the tradition on SO seems to be open about that sort of thing
- Helps encourage library of questions and answers
- $ ;-)
In response to the points about using the system as is:
- Creating a user name that reflects their affiliation, eg. "John Smith (Acme Corp)"
- I dont like the idea of corporate accounts, who knows who the actual person is acting on behalf of that account that day. Also it would be uncontrolled so hard for users to tell real from fake accounts
- Providing their own "approved" answers to relevant questions
- so then they are competing with everyday users.. the "official" answer is bound to get the rep and accept over every day users even if the answer is not as good
- Commenting on answers that answer a question well
- this hides the approved status in a comment and also there are no gravatars on comments nor any guarantee that a comment is visible
- Adding their own tag to questions related to their technologies (provided sufficient rep)
- this would be a tag on the question not the answer and would be a spurious duplication of information that would have to be maintained. also anyone could use this tag once created.
- Creating their own Gravatar with their logo and a green tick or other embellishment
- anyone can create any gravitar and spoofing is easy, without a framework this IHMO would not stand for anything.
I don't want to encourage organisations gaming stackoverflow and providing an accepted way of interacting with the community is better than them cowboying their own imprint onto the site.
This offers organisations a way to make life easier for their less experienced users while also recognising those who have knowledge and skills with their technologies helping to develop their use.
Should it be paid or free? that I don't know. But I think if it was done right it could generate some revenue. As a user I don't think it would matter to me.. maybe free would bring better results I don't know. I am all for supporting the use of opensource technologies though and would like to see them able to do it for free.