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As a contributor to an open source project, I also answer questions on the project's mailing list. Although the list archive is available in the web, there are questions that are asked more than once. As I'm not keen on repeating myself, I try to respond to these questions in a way that make it unlikely that the question will be asked another time. So if the questions indicate a gap in documentation, I update the project's wiki page. However there is also a type of questions which are valid questions but which are too specific to be included in the documentation. So...

Feature request

I would like to be able to ask questions on stackoverflow that are frequently asked elsewhere. These forwarded questions would be clearly marked to make it obvious that they are not "my own questions", i.e. things I am or have been asking myself. I'd reword the original question to make it as useful as possible.

I would be held responsible for these questions e.g. get reputation deducted if they are voted down. I don't need to gain reputation from the forwarded question, but I want to gain reputation for votes on answers to forwarded questions. The self-learner badge should obviously not be awarded on forwarded questions.

With this feature implemented, I am expecting that I would only have forward questions for a limited period of time. With a critical mass of good questions, I expect that stackoverflow would quickly become the primary place for Q&A for our community.

share|improve this question
I am aware of the following related ideas but I still want to make this new proposal: Ask questions with secondary accounts, CW questions with non-CW answers, Ask as community user – oberlies Aug 25 '12 at 19:47
Note that asking about downvotes in the comments is appropriate and those comments are usually deleted; voting is anonymous and you can't @ at anyone because of that, so the comment is considered noise. That said, downvotes on meta different used to express disagreement with a request (assuming it's not for quality reasons). – casperOne Aug 26 '12 at 13:42
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Honestly - just ask the questions. As long as they're genuine questions with genuine helpful answers and don't infringe on any copyrights, they're one of the use cases of Stack Overflow.

This network is a repository of (programming) information in Q&A form; if you're contributing toward that, it matters not who technically "owns" the question. And unless you're creating thousands of them, the rep impact is going to be pretty small anyway. What matters is the quality of the content. If you think it's good (and actually makes sense as a Q&A thread) then post it, and don't give it a second thought.

You can always add a link to the source material ("adapted from X...") for context if you think it's particularly relevant.

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The reason that we require uses to register prior to asking a question is because we hope they stick around and take ownership in that question. With the amount of views a new question can receive in a very short time, those asking questions need to be around to respond to feedback and provide clarification as necessary. This helps them get good answers, and helps people answering avoid wasting their time answering something that may drastically change later.

We can't allow some kind of 'bot user' to create a question based on the content of a forwarded e-mail, it would just defeat that purpose. Additionally, how would formatting be applied correctly? How would the e-mail be edited to meet our quality standards?

If you are going to go through all of that in order to just get a question more visible to searchers, you may as well just ask it and answer it yourself. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing that, and you should earn useful reputation if you are adding useful information to the site.

Finally, is it really your content to contribute in the first place? There's nothing wrong with asking the OP to bring the question to SO (in fact, some open source projects list SO/SU as the primary place to come to get help) .. but you can't just contribute their content for them. Asking it yourself may be asking their question, but in your own words (hopefully expanded to make sure you reach your goal of a canonical question on the topic).

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I clarified in the question that I (obviously) edit the question to make it suitable for the page. – oberlies Aug 26 '12 at 20:23

I don't see a need for such a feature.

There are several things you can do in order to get these questions up on Stack Overflow and not be concerned with reputation:

  • Ask the question, then flag for moderators to make into Community Wiki. This will mean votes will not have any effect on your account (barring badges).
  • Same as above, but ask for the question to be disassociated with your account. That will make the question "stand alone" without any connection to yourself.
  • Create a special account just for these questions.

The above options make the feature you wish for not needed.

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Option 1 forces answers into CW, preventing competition for the best answer. Option 3 allows misuse so I don't want to get near of this. – oberlies Aug 25 '12 at 19:52
@oberlies - The main objection I have is that this of very limited use. Only a very small percentage of SO users would benefit. – Oded Aug 25 '12 at 19:55
1) moderators would turn this request down, CW is not for the purpose of avoiding changes to rep, as it allows users to be dissociated from the concern of curating quality content 2) is doable but after a number of requests like this from the same user, we'd deny it, as it has the same effect as 1. Unfortunately we have to dissociate if asked (because of the cc-Wiki license), so we'd probably suspend the account if the requests were overly abused 3) is most feasible but there must be zero activity between the accounts. Note a separate account isn't permission to create low-quality content. – casperOne Aug 26 '12 at 2:46
@Oded - I appreciated the ideas (and I in fact had not considered the options including moderators before), but even for "limited use", I don't think that your three answers are good enough. Sorry! – oberlies Aug 26 '12 at 12:25
Why even bother? I mean who cares which account owns the question? Either they're useful questions or they aren't. If it's so important to mention that the questions came from elsewhere (worried about plagiarism or something) then add an attribution note. – Aarobot Aug 26 '12 at 16:28

There is a simple option that doesn't require any new features: I could add a comment to the forwarded question documenting the origin of the question, and giving my motivation for posting it on stackoverflow. For example "This question has been repeatedly asked on xyz - forwarding to stackoverflow for making a good answer available on the web."

This option has the following limitations:

  • I would get reputation for up-votes although I am only partially responsible for the question.
  • I may get a self-learner badge, although I didn't really answer my own questions.

These limitations are not a problem for me - but they might be for others: I might get accused of being a "rep whore" for asking questions I know the answer to. But probably I should be taking this risk...

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To reiterate: My motivation for asking questions on behalf of others is to get more useful Q&As on my open source project on stackoverflow. The hope is that they then reach the critical mass more quickly, and that stackoverflow becomes the primary channel for Q&A for our community. – oberlies Aug 26 '12 at 13:14
This is more than a little paranoid. If you're contributing new content as an answer (or expect others to), then it doesn't matter who first came up with the question. There are thousands, maybe millions of questions on these sites that are not even remotely original. If you want to call attention to the source, add an "Adapted from XYZ page" note at the bottom. – Aarobot Aug 26 '12 at 16:30

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