Don't get me wrong - Linux Questions is an excellent resource, and I'm not trying to start a flame war. But here are the facts:

  • Linux Questions (I'm talking about the forums, of course) is a tool which is used pretty much like Stack Exchange sites - it is a community supported questions database.
  • As for interface, Linux Questions to Stack Exchange is like cvs to git. Yes, the aim is the same, but one is drastically outdated.
  • Nevertheless, Linux Questions remains very popular (correct me if I'm wrong).

So, I guess what I want to ask is: Is there something about Linux Questions' user experience that we can use to improve Stack Exchange's user experience?

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    I also notice it in search results. I think this is an artifact of just not having a whole lot of weighted incoming links to the various *nix oriented SE sites, and naturally, those links will be split between them once they grow. The SE 2.0 engine is so much better than a forum, and many people realize that. I'm not sure if we could really learn anything from the model that we're replacing. – Tim Post Oct 13 '11 at 16:25
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    Experts exchange still exists too... – Flexo Oct 13 '11 at 18:02
  • @awoodland, oh, yes! forgot this one. this is even a bigger mystery. – shabunc Oct 13 '11 at 18:51
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    I suspect experts exchange only exists still so the owners can lament that really annoying "pay us to see low quality answers" thing they did. – Flexo Oct 13 '11 at 19:00
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    experts exchange still exists as a constant reminder to us all why we're so glad we're here and not there, should we ever forget :-) – The Unhandled Exception Oct 13 '11 at 22:22
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    OT: belongs on meta.linuxquestions.org – Lightness Races in Orbit Nov 15 '11 at 15:16
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    I disagree with the close votes for "Not Constructive". This question is resulting in specific facts and objective evaluation, and while it could solicit opinion, the actual question and answers are not simple opinion, but relevant objective differences between the two. The comments need not be held to that standard, and the question should not be closed because individual comments may be considered subjective or argumentative. So, you know, consider re-calibrating your close question trigger-finger... – Pollyanna Nov 15 '11 at 17:48
  • @Adam Davis, thank you for understanding. Actually I'm quite surprised about all these down votes and close votes. – shabunc Nov 15 '11 at 21:00
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    @shabunc On meta downvotes merely mean disagreement with the question or premise of the question. Think of it as user prioritizing feature requests and discussions rather than whether it's a good question or not. The close votes are likely because the question, as written, really does sound like "Why isn't this other website dead yet since this one is obviously far better?" which is a very argumentative standpoint. – Pollyanna Nov 15 '11 at 21:16
  • What might be a good idea is a Stack Exchange clone at kernel.org. – Cole Johnson Aug 14 '13 at 20:22

You ask why forum sites like www.linuxquestions.org exist. I think the reasons there are pretty clear:

  • These sites existed before StackExchange and our variety of topic-specific sites (like unix.stackexchange.com) and so they have established user bases.

  • Do all the users of forums know about StackExchange yet? Have they discovered why we're better?

  • You mention "As for interface Linuxquestions for Stackexchange is like cvs for git. Yes, the aim is the same, but one is drastically outdated.", and you explain very well with his analogy the answer to your own question. Sure, git is better than CVS but that doesn't mean everyone's switched yet.

It seems to me like your real question is not "why do these forum sites still exist" but the sentence you concluded with:

Is there something in user experience of Linuxquestions visitor what we can use to improve stack's user experience?

To this, I answer: no, we can't learn much (more) from the experience of Q&A forums. We already have learned what we need to, and that's how the idea for StackExchange was devised: to do what those sites do but do it so much better.

What I think we can do is help show all the users of forums that they're doing it wrong! Send those users to our community instead! (Suggestions on how to do that are welcomed.)

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    Suggestions are: ask the question here on the Stack Network, linking back to their question. Then once it has good answers, go back to that thread and link them to where it's answered definitively, and suggest they start on the stacks next time. – jcolebrand Oct 13 '11 at 16:59
  • Suggestions are good, do recommend, will use again! – The Unhandled Exception Oct 13 '11 at 17:00
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    @jcolebrand But, that would require me to not only browse linuxquestions but even INTERACT with them? No way! – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Oct 13 '11 at 21:58
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    @Gilles no way indeed -- you're the unix and linux script master!!! Can't you write a small shell script to interact with the linuxquestions.com users on your behalf? ;-) – The Unhandled Exception Oct 13 '11 at 22:21
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    Have they discovered why we're better? Uuhhh...I wouldn't say it like that. We're better for specific questions, but a Forum is not a Q&A site and a Q&A site is not a Forum. It depends: What do you need? – Time Traveling Bobby Nov 15 '11 at 10:17
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    @jcolebrand regardless of your intention just posting "see othersite.com/blah" type messages on other sites is a spammy action and risks both the general ire of the site userbase and its administrators. Making people think stack exchange users are rude jerks is counter productive. You also run the risk of even greater failure if the admins of the other site are sufficiently offended to respond by adding stack exchange to their URL ban filters. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Nov 15 '11 at 19:26
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    @DanNeely Well now waitasecond, hold on now, check my historical record etc on this. I've always said "don't just post a link, post the body of the answer as well, making sure that in case the linked source goes away, the answer lives on." I hate 404 as much as the next guy, and having ONLY a link is nigh on useless. Links are attribution, answers are answers. ~ Don't make me look like a bad guy just cos I suggested using the power of the stacks and it's efficiency to try and win people over. – jcolebrand Nov 15 '11 at 21:19
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    @jcolebrand even if you copy full text instead of just a link, you're still spamming one site with links to a second. When most/all of the material you post to a site is promoting a second you're doing something that rarely goes over well with people who prefer the second site. The second sites regulars/admins more or less by definition fall into that category. Your intentions may be good, but your net result is unlikely to be beneficial. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Nov 15 '11 at 21:33
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    @DanNeely Thanks for your opinion on that. That's not been my personal experience, so it's always good to get someone else's views on things like this. – jcolebrand Nov 15 '11 at 21:57
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    @jcolebrand Let me try turning it around. Suppose someone started copying every question on the front page of stack overflow to expertsexchange, creating an answer saying he did so with a link to EE, and then editing his answer on SO when someone on EE replied? What do you think would happen here? I strongly suspect the result would be a downvoting storm. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Nov 16 '11 at 19:09
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    If they copied the results over here with each answer, and the answers were good quality answers, and the link was for annotation, then I think that the site here would be accepting of that wholeheartedly. Shall I go find meta posts to support that? – jcolebrand Nov 16 '11 at 20:09

My first impulse was to simply say that both the question and the accepted answer seemed plain childish, very in tune with the competitive spirit fostered by many here. But I'd wouldn't be posting if that was the only thing I had to say... Were that the case, noone would have time to answer all web comments that gives them such impression.

I'm posting only for saying actually why, for me, sites like LQ still exist, and will continue to do so regardless of how ultra cool and efficient and < insert fan adjective here > may be Stack Overflow:

They are intrinsically different in their aims, and that reflects on their atmosphere, communities and of course this includes their interface and, well basically they just are very different. They aren't really the same type of beast (like perhaps Experts Exchange is, and in that regard Stack Exchange is indeed an advancement).

SO: the rep system is central to the site, there are many things you can't do unless you gain points. The atmosphere is more competitive, because more users regard reputation as a main objective, many are constantly "policing" other's posts, and many are stalking questions. Its common to perceive the tension, especially between young people (yeah most older folks don't give a flock about the whole thing, actually, they only like nice content).

LQ: the rep system was added many years after it emerged, and it's accessory. All normal users (ie, not moderators/administrators) can do an awful lot more without more points. The extra points needed for, say, private messaging are only to detect truly regulars and keep away trolls. But not because other reasons. The atmosphere is far more relaxed, less competitive and that reinforces a sense of comradeship.

SO: open discussions are discouraged.

LQ: open discussions are not only encouraged, they are basically a thread's life. This site encourages comment exchanging. Threads are frequently open-ended, and can contain offtopic content.

SO: the main objective in a thread is to answer a question, get the best answer, and if possible try to get it fast too. Things in this regard Have to be Perfect TM.

LQ: people there won't always solve upfront a question, instead embarking on the aforementioned dialog with the OP and with others participating. The question may get answered many posts after the thread start (see above), or never, or could be just a question posted explicitly for open discussion (see above). Kids wanting to get an exam solved, for example, won't have so much success as in SO.

SO: answers and questions can be forever improved. People can edit other's questions/answers/comments, even delete them or turn them into community wiki.

LQ: you can add posts to an old thread (provided the new content is relevant), and otherwise you can start a new one and mention the previous thread as necessary. Also, aside from people marking a comment as "useful" or "non useful", that's all they can do about others material (except of course mods/admins). A bad post stays in the thread right were it was posted as does a good one too. People can't just submerge into oblivion or downright delete content they don't like.

SO: has the ultimate 3.0 interface, sophisticated editing, and connects to your fridge if you want it (and of course, it has an API!!!!). It's the Mac of the Q&A sites.

LQ: just your old forum style. You have bbcode, the posts and, oh yeah, you can add some images too. It's the Linux of the Q&A sites.

And, ehhh I think you get the picture by now. It's two different views of the world. But it's interesting in which of the two sites the current question and accepted answer has popped up (yeah we're so much better!!! how do they exist yet??? shouldn't they have extinguished along the dinos??).

I'll leave to anyone who wants the task to evaluate if SO can learn anything from LQ. Cheers, and keep up the modding!

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  • I'm confused. Are you saying you like all those things about LQ that you mentioned? – Some Helpful Commenter Nov 14 '11 at 21:02
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    What exactly about my answer is "childish"? – The Unhandled Exception Nov 14 '11 at 21:22
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    @Conrad Frix: you missed the point, it isn't about me liking or not anything, I was answering the question and adding with my view on differences between the sites. Read the bolded text again. They don't intercross. They don't compete. – ata Nov 15 '11 at 0:10
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    @The Unhandled Exception: if you can't figure it out from reading the post, there's no length of argument that I can go to explain it, sorry. Perhaps re-read the second last paragraph, dunno. – ata Nov 15 '11 at 0:13
  • Funny, last time I checked being competitive and trying to make a better product wasn't childish. I think you may be using the wrong word. – The Unhandled Exception Nov 15 '11 at 1:26
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    @TheUnhandledException I found this statement of yours childish What I think we can do is help show all the users of forums that they're doing it wrong! Send those users to our community instead! (Suggestions on how to do that are welcomed.) On what basis do you claim that this Unix forum is better than that? – Aquarius_Girl Nov 15 '11 at 3:41
  • @AnishaKaul I'm not claiming "this unix forum is better" because this is not a forum. This is Stack Exchange, and the goal of stack exchange itself is to be a better place to ask questions and get definitively correct answers. That's not my statement, that's the goal of these sites. And besides, when is trying to improve something childish? – The Unhandled Exception Nov 15 '11 at 3:54
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    @TheUnhandledException Improving something is NOT childish, but throwing mud on others especially without any proofs is childish. What do you think should be concluded with these statements of yours? What I think we can do is help show all the users of forums that they're doing it wrong! Send those users to our community instead!??? The word better is subjective. What is better for you may not be better for someone else. Please refrain from spreading FUD. – Aquarius_Girl Nov 15 '11 at 3:58
  • @Juaco You said reviving an old thread, no matter how relevant the new content, is badly perceived This is actually wrong, and IMO you should correct your answer. :-) This has been discussed on LQ here:linuxquestions.org/questions/lq-suggestions-and-feedback-7/… . If the new post is relevant and helpful on topic, it is welcomed, not frowned. – Aquarius_Girl Nov 15 '11 at 5:57
  • @Juaco upvoted your attempt to provide some serious analysis, nevertheless disagree with you. Actually, those two services DO compete. Main entrance point is googling for some specific linux issue, and they really, really compete here. – shabunc Nov 15 '11 at 9:37
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    So where's the BSD of Q&A sites? Because I want it, now. I should have to compile my own client to the server, probably write it myself too; and it should never work, disregard to the amount of effort and perseverance I put forward to get it to be compatible. – cbroughton Nov 15 '11 at 11:47
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    @shabunc: in that regard SO competes with any information source on the web. Google shows linux blogs, discuss threads, etc. LQ and SO have little in common appart from being Q/A. LQ specifically it's not only Q/A. What I want to highlight is the dumb monopolistic mentality of "we should be the only one". Truly retarded. All sites benefit from each other. – ata Nov 15 '11 at 12:58
  • @Juaco - nope. While information indeed can be find in any kind of source, LQ and SO are very specific type of such source - Q/A shaped database with search. – shabunc Nov 15 '11 at 13:14
  • @shabunc: again, I highlight that there's an awful lot more to LQ than the pure Q&A aspect. They're not the same. – ata Nov 15 '11 at 16:35
  • Juaco Perhaps you should link up that LQ thread here for enlightening some SOers. ;) – Aquarius_Girl Nov 15 '11 at 16:45

LinuxQuestions.org fosters a community where people are encouraged to communicate privately and openly, on a variety of topics not strictly related to the site's charter.

It's much, much more social than the equivalent Stack Exchange site.

Conversely, it's much more difficult to form relationships with and bond with others here - the only method so far is chat, and that is a transitory form of communication - you can't start a discussion about Doctor Who and expect to find all the Stack Overflow users who also enjoy that show - you'll doubtless find a few in the chat room, and if you start a doctor who chatroom you might attract a few more, but so far such things tend to die quickly.

People are attracted to different forms of interaction with other people. Stack Exchange is very much all business on site, and very little else. A forum is typically both.

Second, the discussion is very different. A thread of response to both the OP and the other contributors responses may seem very un-focused to some, but it's that back and forth discussion that expands an idea or thought into areas that participants didn't expect, and may be enlightening.

You wouldn't go to a random Stack Exchange question and hope to find anything more than the question and related, direct answers.

Go to a forum thread about printers and you may not only learn the answer, but also why the early version of Linux would/could report that the printer is on fire, and why some CUPS drivers are larger than others when they seemingly do the same thing for the same printer.

In other words, discussion, for some people, is a means of exploration and connection with other users.

On Stack Exchange you can expect to get a really fast, really good answer. But you cannot expect the unexpected learning, connection, and discussion that a forum cultivates.

Neither is "better" than the other in general terms, but one or the other might be better for a given user, or a given task, based on their preferences or the requirements of the task they are trying to perform.

If you are hot to fix a problem and don't need additional distractions, Stack Exchange might be a better choice than a forum.

If you have a question about why something is done a certain way, you're interested in learning more than just the "textbook" answer, you have extra time to explore related concepts and ideas, or you a interested in getting to know a few experts and discussing other things with them outside the official topic, then a forum might meet your needs better.

You can, to some degree, get the same things out of each of them. But the way they are designed encourages different types of interaction, and since everyone is different they will appeal to different people. Further, it's not a zero sum game where a person would only ever choose one or the other. Some use both resources.

Either way, it's not a situation where one would kill the other. There will always be a market for the things Stack Exchange discourages which this forum fulfills.

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    I think that this is an excellent answer. The accepted one was accepted too early. – user240515 Nov 15 '11 at 23:18
  • This actually express what I intended in a far better way. Not only my english doesn't suffice to express myself in such depth and sharpness, this is far more objective too. IMHO, this would be a good accepted answer. – ata Nov 16 '11 at 1:16

As a matter of fact, the owner of LinuxQuestions.org also owns a site modeled on Stack Exchange. It's LinuxExchange.org. Why does he see room for both sites? The reasons are explained in the thread announcing it:

New Site Launch: LinuxExchange.org

The tl:dr version is that the "QA site" (e.g. Stack Exchange) user experience is optimized for questions and answers, while forums are optimized for long discussions.

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    It's a clone. There are no new Stack Exchange site being created outside Area 51. It even says "powered by OSQA" at the foot of the page. If they are passing it off as a Stack Exchange site then that is "a bad thing". – ChrisF Nov 15 '11 at 14:41
  • I've edited the answer to change "a StackExhange site" to "a site modeled on StackExhange". That should be more precise. – user240515 Nov 15 '11 at 14:52
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    Dugan, The problem with some members here is, that they think their's is "best" problem solving site on the internet, and the people joining fora like LQ are "wrong"! LOL The accepted answer here has this baseless and weird statement Have they discovered why we're better? and also What I think we can do is help show all the users of forums that they're doing it wrong! Send those users to our community instead!. – Aquarius_Girl Nov 15 '11 at 15:00
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    Yes, Anisha. It did sound very arrogant on the part of the person who said it. Neither platform is better. They are just different. I personally prefer LQ where not only will I usually get the answer I want but will learn other stuff "that I didn't even know that I didn't know":) Additionally, I like the sense of community in LQ. These are areas that I value much and I doubt that I'll ever give them up. While LQ's main purpose is to provide answers, LQ is much bigger than that and in this respect SE will not, and by definition can't, appeal to me. For short answers, I usually RTFM. – mherda Nov 15 '11 at 18:26
  • @sycamorex Unfortunately I don't have enough reps to "down" vote the question as well as the accepted answer. Original question - Why does LQ still exist, is a kind of flame bait, so is the accepted answer! Thankfully at LQ such weird posts aren't encouraged. :) – Aquarius_Girl Nov 16 '11 at 0:31

I'm a long-time LQ user, and I keep going back to that site because the conversations "flow" in a traditional format. I'm not saying SO's habit of shifting things around based on "upvotes" is a Bad Thing (obviously thousands of people find that feature useful).

For me, following the conversation along as it happens helps me remember who said what. Which is just as important to me as what they said.

TLDR; SO is like "Twitter" and LQ is like "Blogs". Different styles of communication.

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  • "helps me remember who said what"... isn't the user name attached to all SO posts/comments, and that doesn't help you remember who said what? Weird analogies though... did you mean to say comparing apples and oranges, last I checked the style of forums is very different from blogs – Old Checkmark Aug 14 '13 at 20:38
  • Usernames in SO are not given the same UI-real-estate as the post. SO is similar to another popular site, Slashdot, in that it under emphasizes who the poster is. True, this does appear to be an "apples vs oranges" comparison. But in LQ, an answer wrapped with a little humor does not get +13 upvotes and then deleted by some a**-hat w/o an explanation. (Apologies for the lashing-out, just had my most-helpful post today, only to watch a mod delete it w/o clarifying why and as far as I can tell, I violated no rules.) – Signal15 Aug 15 '13 at 21:00
  • Well, you could have had a serious discussion about your deleted post. Daniel Beck gave you a few suggestions on where or whom to ask, and he hinted at what was wrong with your answer. But then again, I suggest you don't call people, whom you'd like to clarify something for you, asshats up front. Just sayin… – slhck Aug 15 '13 at 21:31
  • @slhck Thanks. I'm satisfied that random and Daniel Beck did the Right Thing(TM) for SO. However, that just reinforces my belief that the LQ and SO communities as a whole are very different socially as well as functionally. (Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'll just have to adapt if I'm to contribute constructively) – Signal15 Aug 19 '13 at 15:53
  • Thanks for your understanding. It's really just a question of emphasizing content over everything else, at least compared to forums where there's a little less restriction due to the chatty nature. – slhck Aug 19 '13 at 15:58

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