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A friend of mine has been working as one of the core developers of an open source platform for many years. He has been using Stackoverflow.com regularly, but never asked or answered any questions. Therefore he doesn't have any reputation points.
Nevertheless he'd like to signal that he's available to answer questions to users, but won't be looking for new questions by himself. Is there a better way than just subscribing to tags to say: "I'm an expert on this technology, and if you have questions - please ask me."? Maybe there are ways I don't know about to achieve that goal through existing functionality.

Edit: Maybe I should have phrased the question differently. I was looking for a mechanism to signal to users of a technology that there's true expertise available at Stackoverflow.com. The open source project I meant is OpenLaszlo, and I've encouraged the community members to ask questions on Stackoverflow.com - instead of the OpenLaszlo.org forums or mailing lists.
If you compare the number of questions asked on Stackoverflow.com compared to the activity on the OpenLaszlo website and mailing lists in the past years, Stackoverflow didn't play any role for the community. We have 40 questions tagged [openlaszlo] here, and tens of thousands of messages in the OpenLaszlo.org mailing lists and forums.

If you know the key developer who have been working on the OpenLaszlo compiler, and know that they have Stackoverflow accounts, isn't there a way to ask those people directly - similar to what you'd do in the developer mailing lists?

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Am I supposed to take their word for it? Users can earn "expert" tags by answering questions in that tag. Have a look at my badges, for example. Notice that I have a gold badge for C#. –  Robert Harvey Aug 16 '12 at 16:45
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And bronze badges for C++ and even C - you're old school, my friend. @Rob –  Adam Rackis Aug 16 '12 at 17:54
    
I have to say, loosing 13 reputation points for just asking a newbie question is not very encouraging. ;-) Please enlighten me: How should I have asked this question without getting such a negative response? Does that mean I shouldn't have asked the question initially? –  r.bitter Aug 16 '12 at 18:09
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Downvotes on Meta indicate disagreement. People disagree with you, so they downvote your suggestion. There was no way you could have asked this that wouldn't have yield the same downvotes - what you're suggesting completely undermines the purpose of reputation on Stack Overflow. You're also suggesting making sweeping changes to the way questions are asked. You can't address questions here, and this suggestion has come up before and been shot down by the community. –  meagar Aug 16 '12 at 18:56
    
Thanks for the clarification, that makes sense. Only I wasn't suggesting anything here. –  r.bitter Aug 16 '12 at 19:30
    
Your question is formulated as poll so the folks are using votes that way. You could ask how to promote new technology tag to reach new users etc. –  Donaudampfschifffreizeitfahrt Dec 24 '13 at 17:13

6 Answers 6

up vote 18 down vote accepted

The user is marked as an "expert" by answering questions and earning tag badges.

In smaller tags there might not be enough questions to earn these badges but they'll still appear on the top users page for that tag.

Your friend can subscribe to an RSS feed of questions in the tags that they are interested in so that they don't have to search the site for them.

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It looks like the RSS feed is the best solution. In the case of OpenLaszlo, the key developers working on the compiler included a group of 7-8 people. All of them are well known in the community, but if they don't use their real name here on Stackoverflow, other developers won't be able to recognize them easily. Of course that will change once they start answering questions. –  r.bitter Aug 16 '12 at 17:05
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Though they could always introduce themselves. "I am one of the developers of OpenLaszlo. To solve your problem you could try...." –  Bart Aug 16 '12 at 18:02
    
@Bart Good idea, we'll try that. –  r.bitter Aug 16 '12 at 19:35

If you're asking whether there is a way for users to say "Hey, you're the expert here, please help me with my question", then no, there is no such option.

Your friend will have to actively seek out the questions and can earn a reputation in answering them. With enough reputation within a particular tag, he can earn bronze, silver or gold badges.

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Is there a way to ask those people directly? Sure--email them. Email is as direct as you can get.

SO isn't for asking a person, it's for asking the world, and that's its point. You want to go to the source, go to the source.

Heck, I get frustrated enough when someone asks a question on SO with a user tag in the question, as though it's reasonable or expected that the person in question answers.

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Right, and SO is much more readable than plain old mailing lists. –  r.bitter Aug 16 '12 at 17:09
    
@r.bitter That I'm not entirely sure about; I have pretty mixed feelings about forums v. SO v. email and I don't have a well-formulated opinion yet ;) –  Dave Newton Aug 16 '12 at 17:12

The key thing is evidence — the reputation/tag badges provide that.

There will be plenty of developers who rate themselves as good and experienced, and turn out not to be — the beauty of this system is that you can tell (usually).

Getting the reputation isn't so hard, especially if he is that good. Once he's up to just 2k or so, he'll stand out from many of the other people answering a lot of the time, especially in niche tags.

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SE sites don't work like that. There isn't a circle of experts and everyone asks them. Well, there is a circle of experts but it's not like they're there sitting, waiting for questions to be asked directly to them.

Users pose questions, and other users answer them. Your "reputation", not only in form of numbers, is earned in the field, by answering questions (or asking them) or doing other things. You don't get to be called expert just because you say you are. You have to prove it.

If your friend doesn't want to go looking around for questions, then either they get an RSS feed or no-one might know about their knowledge.

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If you are an expert in some field, just answer the questions and the reputation will follow.

If the technology is not widely present on SO, you have the option to ask self answered questions. If they are good, the reputation will also follow, but much slower, because most of your audience isn't probably yet on SO.

The only thing you should avoid is to ask your friends to register and upvote your posts. This is not allowed and there are some scripts detecting such behaviour.

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