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Use Stack Overflow as the official support site of an open-source project

Let's say I create a little open source project and share it on GitHub. Maybe it is not a spectacular project that causes the world to take notice, but one of those yet another projects; yet another unit test framework, yet another JavaScript date picker, yet another YAML parser, etc.

Instead of setting up a Google Group to respond to user questions, can I direct people to ask me questions on StackOverflow?

When the project is small in scope, so that ongoing discussion is not necessary, I believe that StackOverflow would do a better job of organizing the nascent community that develops than a Google Group or similar.

  • There's already a community in place, with community standards. You don't have to draft your own in response to a listserv squabble.
  • You won't find yourself answering questions of someone who is trying to get you to do their work for them one question at a time. StackOverflow is not conducive to pestering the way that email is.
  • You don't have to devote time to culling a Google Groups for spammers and spam.
  • You'll know something about the participants at the outset. Reputation is a great feature.
  • StackOverflow would do a better job archiving the discussion.
  • StackOverflow would make it easy for people to find answers through web search.
  • Duplicate questions get deleted. Saves the trouble of saying, read the FAQ, use Google, etc.

My plan would be to ask people to use a combination of tags specific to my project that I would watch in RSS. I'd use GitHub issues for developer discussion, but StackOverflow for general discussion and help.

My concern is that the StackOverflow community would not want questions specific to a small in scope project, even assuming quality questions and answers.

An even greater concern is that the StackOverflow community would consider directions to ask questions on StackOverflow as self-promotion or spamming. Would this be considered a form of spamming?

I can see how it might. I'd be asking people to use StackOverflow to ask questions that only I'd be able to answer. If not because I'm the only how knows the answer, then because I'm the only one who cares enough about the project to offer an answer.

Yes, I'd be happy if it were someone else who provided the best answer. It would mean that other people are using my code and getting to know it. My code is becoming our code. Hooray!

Though GitHub, we're beginning to see open source offerings that are tiny, but very useful, that don't require full blown community scaffolding, but still raise a few questions on occasion. StackOverflow seems like a great place to ask those questions.

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