This has always been a problem with Facebook questions but it's much more pronounced now that SO is the official home of Facebook developer support. Looking at the newest questions list on facebook.stackoverflow.com, about half of the questions on the first page have been downvoted and given votes to close as off topic - most of which are totally on topic for folks who are doing Facebook development. It would seem that people are voting on these Facebook questions without having an understanding of what aspects of Facebook are developer-facing vs. user-facing.

Here are a few examples of things that were closed (several others have pending votes to close)... I'm not saying that these are all great questions but they are certainly the types of things that should be expected on the only official Facebook developer support channel.

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    Would you mind including a few examples of questions you think were closed inappropriately? – Jeremy Banks Aug 27 '11 at 4:30
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    @Jeremy - see my edit – Robert Levy Aug 27 '11 at 4:44
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    None of them are concrete programming questions. Why should they be kept open? – BalusC Aug 27 '11 at 4:48
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    I was afraid something like this would happen. We've just opened the floodgates so expect a lot of new facebook developers rushing in who doesn't know the culture of Stack Overflow. Unfortunately, a lot of people didn't read the memo. – Jeff Mercado Aug 27 '11 at 4:49
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    @Jeff - from the other perspective, I think it's more a matter of SO rushing it without accounting for the culture of the Facebook developer forums that it's taken the place of. These are two very very differnt communities. Though I suppose at least there is consistency in that developers asking Facebook related questions will continue to be unlikely to get good answers. – Robert Levy Aug 27 '11 at 4:56
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    @Robert: Unfortunately, the problem lies on both sides of the fence (which I was trying to say). Those who don't understand how Stack Overflow works will ask "forum-y" questions (which was how FB's old way of doing things worked). People here who doesn't keep up with the blogs or meta will be unaware of this surge of questions, treating all non-SO-like questions as they normally would while not being more welcoming to the newer crowd. This unfortunately hurts the UX for them. – Jeff Mercado Aug 27 '11 at 5:38
  • This is probably part of the reason: "As of today, there are 1,252 open bugs in Bugzilla (up 26 from last week)". developers.facebook.com/blog/post/547 – bkaid Aug 27 '11 at 7:20
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    @jeff At least one problem is that there is no memo. At least, the memo that there is doesn't say anything about limiting your questions to programming-related ones. Facebook has positioned Facebook.SO as replacing the support forums. See other related discussions on Meta. – Cody Gray Aug 27 '11 at 23:49

The only one of those that seems to have been closed inappropriately is How can you ban a user from Application Discussion Board?, which was closed because people didn't realize that he was asking how to do it programatically. All of the others deserved to be closed, either because of the quality of the question or because it's not on-topic.

The ordinary rules of Stack Overflow still apply; questions about Facebook's policies are not questions about how to program, even if they are relevant to programmers.

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    where should such policy questions go? they used to go into the facebook developer forums which SO has replaced. – Robert Levy Aug 27 '11 at 4:52
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    @Robert - going off of facebook developer support, probably the facebook developers group? Most definitively not Facebook Stack Overflow in any case. – Kevin Montrose Aug 27 '11 at 5:31
  • even the question you link nowhere mentions doing it programmatically. – bkaid Aug 27 '11 at 7:00
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    @OffBySome: He says he's trying to use the graph API, but can't find the appropriate call for his type of page. It's an unclear and poorly-asked question, but it might be on-topic. – Jeremy Banks Aug 27 '11 at 7:03
  • @jeremy I'm curious why you think that "an unclear and poorly-asked question" (of your own reasoning) should not be closed? – Cody Gray Aug 27 '11 at 23:54
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    @CodyGray: It probably should be, but it's at least salvageable as a real question, and I've been feeling sympathetic toward confused new users today. – Jeremy Banks Aug 27 '11 at 23:56
  • @jeremy Huh, sympathetic towards confused new users? That's new, we may never agree on that one. At any rate, make sure that you edit the question and provide those improvements before re-opening. – Cody Gray Aug 27 '11 at 23:57
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    @CodyGray: I'll be sure do so in the future. Today in particular, I feel like a lot of Facebook devs who relied on the old system are ending up here without the difference being made clear to them. Some of them may be salvageable users, so I'd prefer to correct them as gently as possible, since it's not entirely their own fault. – Jeremy Banks Aug 28 '11 at 0:05
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    Fair enough. I just don't think that closing as "off-topic" or NARQ is "un-gentle". Definitely leave a comment with guidance in the right direction. Questions get closed to effectively put them in "limbo"; they can still be edited to comply with the site guidelines. In my mind, the only unfriendly move is closing without any advice, or instant deletion. I do agree that we need to make more clear that Facebook.SO is like a giant tag filter. All the questions still appear on SO and need to be programming-related. The devs seemed to jump into this with 2 feet and not a lot of forethought. – Cody Gray Aug 28 '11 at 0:07

If you’d like to continue participating in the developer community, join us in the Facebook Developers Group, where the Developer Relations team is going to be hanging out.

Moving forward, Stack Overflow is where you’ll go to have your Facebook Platform questions answered; Bugs is where you go to report an issue with a legitimate repro, and you should participate in the Group to discuss, chat, and talk with us directly.

From the announcement post on developers.facebook.com

  • While I agree this seems to be the "official guidance", it is about 10 steps backwards from the discussion forums. It is simply a wall of posts with no ability to search them or structure them by topic. The signal to noise ratio is as bad or worse than the developer forums, and it is nearly impossible to focus in on a specific subject area. I guess this is not a SO problem but a Facebook fail in serving their developer community. – Pat James Aug 27 '11 at 17:39
  • @pat: You are the first person I've ever seen to say that SO has a low signal-to-noise ratio or that it's even a single step back from other online communities. Thus, I'm curious about your rationale. Yes, it's a wall of posts, but you can structure them by topic using the tags. You can search using, well, the search box at the top. I struggle to imagine how any forums could be different or better. All I've seen are much worse. – Cody Gray Aug 27 '11 at 23:51
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    @Cody I was referring to the Facebook Developers Group as having low S:N ratio, not SO. – Pat James Aug 28 '11 at 3:06

By making sure new users are aware of the Stack Overflow FAQ and community rules and nicely letting them know that this site has different rules than the old forums they were used to. The most common issue I have seen is people reporting bugs, I have been sending them links to the bug site. The second biggest issue has been Facebook policies questions which I point them to the Facebook developer group. Third most have been Facebook user support issues like account problems, etc. Those have been getting closed in a matter of minutes, and those users should be directed to the Facebook help page.

In fact, it would be great if the mini-site added those 3 options as close reasons.


So the question is what are the intentions of the people behind this decision:

  • To have a FB stack exchange (implying the 'old' FB support users have to adapt to the SE culture)
  • Or to have the old FB forums hosted on SE technology (implying that despite all appearances and use of stack exchange to the contrary, the FB.SE site IS a forum)?

And once that's settled, how is the correct decision communicated to all users of the new site?

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    It's clearly the first one. Remember that all questions that appear on Facebook.SO also appear on the regular Stack Overflow that everyone uses. So since everyone will see those questions, they need to follow the established rules and be programming-related. – Cody Gray Aug 27 '11 at 23:52
  • @Cody - I agree that it's the first one. But I'd suggest that either it's not 'clear' or lots of people disagree with us. And there always will be 'growing pains' when making a sea change to a community, which is what has happened to users of the old FB support forums. – Rob Moir Aug 28 '11 at 6:34

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