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Saw this in the reopen queue tonight

Does Nitrous.io allow port 80?

The question is closed as off-topic/general-computing and the OP apologizes for having to post it here.

Sure enough, that is what the company directs customers to do:

From: http://help.nitrous.io/discussions/

Need some help? Ask a question on Stackoverflow with the tag nitrousio and our developers (and other developers) will reach out to help you.

newest questions tagged nitrousio - Stack Overflow

....list....

I guess no one anticipated that not all product support questions will be valid programming questions. Or maybe it is about turning support into a profit center by attracting other customers. Not sure that makes sense, though. I mean, I'd like private support tickets when I contact a service provider.

This has been addressed previously back in 2009 by Jeff Atwood in an answer to Is it okay to use Stack Overflow as the support forum for a product or project?

However, there is a newer 2012 duplicate Can I use SO as a product support community? where the answer is effectively "OK, if..."

I thought I would post this here so the community can chime in on where the limits of this kind of thing should be and enable the proper people to take care of it.

share|improve this question
    
4220 views??! WTU? oh right. :) –  Shadow Wizard Sep 3 '13 at 12:37
    
Not you, but somehow it got attention elsewhere. –  Shadow Wizard Sep 3 '13 at 12:44
    
Yeah I saw the link. Interesting. –  Paul Sep 3 '13 at 12:45
    
@JoshCaswell I did. I posted my response here –  Paul Jan 12 at 8:09

1 Answer 1

up vote 27 down vote accepted

Shamelessly stolen from Robert Cartaino and edited somewhat heavily to work as an answer rather than an email, here's our usual stance on this sort of thing.

We get a lot of requests from project teams about how they can use Stack Exchange to support their communities. Stack Exchange works really well for technical support, as long as the company not trying to outsource their entire customer support channel to Stack Exchange.

We've had the best results from following the model used by Google Android to support their developers (Android Developers: Hello Stack Overflow!). Following their example, we've put together a few guidelines about how to use Stack Exchange for community support and where the boundaries on what we can endorse should ideally be placed:

  • Stack Exchange should only be ONE of the options available. The company should have other resources for support apart from Stack Exchange. Issues like bug reporting, feature requests, generalized discussions, and specific customer support issues do not fit into our Q&A model, and will be quickly closed by the community.

  • "Seeding" common questions about a product on Stack Exchange should be avoided. Our communities are very sensitive to this type of astroturfing, and they can react very negatively when a company seems to be posting staged questions simply to get them out there on Stack Exchange. Communities expect questions to represent actual problems asked in good faith from those who are actually seeking the help.

  • While we have a very active community, there are some questions that can only be answered by one of the internal team members. The company should be prepared to jump on these quickly to establish their tag as THE place to get help with the harder questions.

  • We offer various advertising options and tag sponsorships that could help drum up interest in whatever tag the company's monitoring, so any sort of promotional activity by the company's employees that's not directly related to solving whatever problem is described in the question should also be avoided.

With all that said, occasionally this does have the side-effect of sending regular customers to Stack Overflow as well. (I'm looking at you, Facebook.) Nitrous.io is a service aimed at developers, so I would expect most questions about it to be development-related. Looking through the tag, that does appear to be the case.

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2  
Well said. So what's the bottom line, should we leave that specific question closed or reopen even if it's not 100% on topic? –  Shadow Wizard Sep 3 '13 at 6:39
1  
@ShaWizDowArd It is kinda borderline... In this case, I'd probably leave it open. I think nitrous.io is effectively a development tool and SO would normally be open to questions about using them, setting them up, etc. (Within reason, of course.) –  Anna Lear Sep 3 '13 at 6:41
    
Cheers, voted to reopen as well. –  Shadow Wizard Sep 3 '13 at 6:53

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