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I am looking for feedback on the idea of editing questions to include links to a 3rd party documentation wiki for the purposes of capturing the question and answer in a reference format.

Basically Stack Overflow is by far the best Q&A forum for programming related questions, but not always the best "documentation", reference or tutorial source. The idea is to include a link or tag in the footer of the question to aid in and link to a 3rd party documentation Wiki where the Q&A could be reformatted into reference documentation.

There would be two links, one explaining why the link is there, the other link would be to the documentation that is updated with the Q&A - kind of like for more information link.

If editing the message text is inappropriate then it could also be done in the comments.

I've written up a more detailed first pass at the idea. Would like to find a way that is a win for the community.

Clarification: I was actually suggesting adding a pseudo-tag into the message text, or the comments. I agree that using the actual question tags is a bad idea. The advantage of using the question body is that the links can be changed and updated as necessary. Putting them in the comments is permanent.

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Instead of using SO tags to categorize questions, especially rejection, can you do that on the wiki side of things? There's no need for a [delphi-docwiki-complete] tag, as including a link to the wiki page anywhere (question body, answer body, comment on either) implies that. –  Gnome Mar 26 '10 at 22:24
Right @Gnome. I specifically did not want to use the tags, but to use text and link in the question body. –  Jim McKeeth Mar 27 '10 at 5:04

6 Answers 6

I still don't agree with putting this information in the question itself.

If you object to using a comment (even with the solution to your concerns that I detail in comments here) then I suggest you add a new answer, set to wiki, with the link information and a short sentence describing the effort and link to here so others may review the effort before deciding it's spam.

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I've got to go with John Saunders here. Although I applaud your idea and effort, nothing of what you're proposing requires these links (or "pseudo-tags"). Everything could theoretically done on a tabular sheet of paper that includes the question number and a couple of checkboxes ("rejected", "candidate", etc.) I'm not suggesting you do it this way; just that your plan doesn't require any editing done on the SO side of things.

You could provide your community with things like bookmarklets or Greasemonkey scripts ("submit this question to the DocWiki") or the like, but editing the question or putting those comments in would be pretty much advertising, how worthy the cause might be.

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Totally seconded. The endeavour at hand looks great and is really to be applauded - I'm not saying anything against your project @Jim. But opening SO's data pool to external links of some kind (or allowing members of external sites to add tags, or "see more" links pointing to their sites) would open a can of worms. Because if you allow it to one site, you'll have a hard time denying it to others, inviting all sorts of quarrels in the long run. Better do this nicely on your Wiki's end by maintaining a table of SO questions and their "Wiki status". The data dump and the CC license will guarantee –  Pëkka Mar 27 '10 at 10:58
that SO will never be able to "take away" the content from your community - you can frequently copy, and if needed, re-distribute the content. –  Pëkka Mar 27 '10 at 11:00

Remember that you don't control the tags. Just about anyone can and will tag anything as completed or rejected.

If you really want to do this, I would just pick one tag - something easy like, oh, I don't know, DELPHI and just pull the rss feed for that tag into your own site or the DocWiki site where users there can follow it. That's good for everybody, because it also put qualified eyes on more delphi questions.

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I'm thinking that might be the best way to do things: pull the stuff via RSS and insert into some external task management system where people classify the topics and mark them as completed when something's been written. This way, we get the intended input and tracking of stuff that should be written into the Wiki, we can easily do filtering to see exactly what needs to be done, and there'd be no disruption on SO - seems to be the best of both worlds. –  Michael Madsen Mar 27 '10 at 4:06
Yes Joel, that is why I don't want to do it in the question tags, but instead by injecting a link in the question body (at the foot). This would be a pseud-tag and link to more information. I think @Michael's suggestion is a good one, to inject all the questions with a Delphi tag into a task management system. I still think there would be value in including the link to the Doc Wiki page in the question so people can "read more about it" –  Jim McKeeth Mar 27 '10 at 5:01

Please don't pollute SO with content that's really part of your wiki. Can you imagine if thousands of people did the same?

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I am suggesting basically linking it to a "more information" page, which would actually increase the value of the question. –  Jim McKeeth Mar 27 '10 at 4:58
@Jim: again, "Can you imagine if thousands of people did the same?" –  John Saunders Mar 27 '10 at 5:14
I go with Jim's idea. –  Yogi Yang 007 Mar 29 '10 at 5:54

Hey Jim, maybe a mock up of a question with an answer would help getting the idea of what it would look like (blending in, obtrusive,...).
I personally would prefer the link in the message, as the comment can end up at the bottom or even hidden.
Also, as this is intended mainly for the Delphi community, where everybody tends to complain about the documentation (or lack of), I don't think those interested in the questions would object.

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My main concern with a link in the message are new users, who suddenly see something like "Rejected for Docwiki". This could be confusing and possibly misinterpreted as "This is a bad question", even with the link. That might happen for comments as well, but I think it'll be easier to properly describe it without having it interfere too much with the question text. –  Michael Madsen Mar 26 '10 at 21:43
I was thinking about this today, and we could probably skip the rejected stats. It could either be a "candidate" or "complete" neither of which would likely be confused with being a negative. –  Jim McKeeth Mar 27 '10 at 4:57

I'd prefer this be done in comments.

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I was thinking about the comments, but the problem with that is comments are permanent. So if the processing status changes, then the old comment will be "stuck" there unless the original author deletes it, but they may forget to come back. If it was done in the question body then it can be changed as necessary by anyone who can edit it. –  Jim McKeeth Mar 27 '10 at 4:56
@Jim - You should create a new user just for the documentation effort and let everyone that needs to add such information to the question access that account. They can add comments using this account, and if an older comment needs to be modified, it can be deleted and a new one added. Further, this account user page can link to the effort, and be named for the effort, such as "Delphi Wiki" –  Adam Davis Mar 27 '10 at 13:19

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