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Is it OK to ask a question that is (for example1) only related to a product's internals or API's usage (hereafter named "subject") while it is possibly better2 suited in the product/API/tool's mailinglist, issue tracker or forum (hereafter named "target")? Or in other words, should one (I) ask such question at target rather than here?

In my opinion this is a difficult situation. Here are some considerations (pro/con, unordered):

  • You probably encounter experts for the subject on target
  • When asking on target it might be discarded because the maintainer(s) think it does not fit the product's goal or intention
  • Asking it here might add no value to the community (might the same question at target add more value to that community?).
  • Asking it on SE might bring up a different view and new ideas or other approaches and ...
  • ... here you might get broader answers (or no answer at all ;)
  • Posting it here feels more detached/impartial.
  • It might cause discussion about cross posting on external sites?

1 if necessary, I'll try to add some examples
2 what is better? This might depend on personal attitude, of course

Please request further explanation of my question if it is not clear enough.

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1  
"I expect anwers like "first ask at target, if you're not happy with the result, ask here"." Why would you expect that? A question either fits the Q&A format, or not. That's not related to whether one can find answers elsewhere. An issue tracker is not an alternative to any SE site. –  Arjan Jan 6 '13 at 12:17
    
You're right. Further it might be suggestive. I remove that line. –  try-catch-finally Jan 6 '13 at 12:23

2 Answers 2

while it is possibly better suited in the product/API/tool's mailinglist, issue tracker or forum

Forget about all that. We frankly don't care about any other site. The simple question is: does the question fit within the SE Q&A you're targeting? If so, ask away. If not, then don't. It's as simple as that.

We're not a forum, we're not an issue tracker, we're not the primary support platform for issues with any product/technology.

But if you have a question which would fit within the strict guidelines of the Q&A as outlined within the FAQ, it's perfectly fine to ask it here.

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Several open source projects have directed their community to ask questions related to general knowledge and use of (libraries, tools, etc) on Stack Overflow in order to give the knowledge more exposure.

Recently, I reached out (as a Stack Overflow moderator) to an open source project called Phalcon PHP. Their primary means of community support is a Google group, which makes finding specific information rather difficult. I offered help to direct some types of questions to Stack Overflow, they accepted and it was a success.

They offer the following guidance on their support page:

Stack Overflow

If you are familiar or prefer Stack Overflow, there is a phalcon tag that you can use to search or to tag your query. Please note:

  • Stack Overflow is not dedicated to support Phalcon Please do not raise new bugs there. Please use the issue tracker in Github for that
  • Please do not ask for feature requests there. Please use the issue tracker in Github for that
  • Make sure you include the "phalcon" tag with your question
  • Make sure you mention "Phalcon" in the question

There is also a chat room set up in Stack Overflow for informal discussion.

Another open source project, Synergy did something similar a while back, except most of their questions are better suited for Super User. I used it as an example when reaching out to Phalcon.

The guidelines are pretty simple. Limit your questions to actual problems that you face which are defined as on topic according to our FAQ and you should be fine. Depending on policies (and how involved with Stack Overflow the project's developers are) you can also ping their mailing list or group to alert people of the question, just be sure to note their posting etiquette.

Put more simply, as long as a question is on topic, shows a bit of effort and is answerable, we're happy to have it.

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Thank you for your answer, it complemented Bart's answer. "Their primary means of community support is a Google group, which makes finding specific information rather difficult." - I 100% agree. –  try-catch-finally Jan 6 '13 at 17:07
    
@try-catch-finally I'm rather stumped as to why Google hasn't made groups suck less for searchers and researchers, it's something they could easily improve. I suppose it's just not important enough in their grand business scheme to bother with. Still, of all the things Google does just 'to do it' you'd think that could be one, no? Oh well. –  Tim Post Jan 6 '13 at 23:11

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