It's now been 3 months since this site came public. It is the first one I really got interested in. Many reasons for that: great user interface, permanent activity, interesting questions, valuable answers, and something of a funny gaming/competition flavor with these reputation and badges.

And though I regularly get frustrated: many of the answers and comments left here could lead to constructive dialog, but do not, as Stack Overflow question/answers (and comments) model does not allow such long lead exchange.

I feel there is a major "knowledge" loss somewhere here, and we should find a way to master, reduce or limit this unnecessary increasing in the system's entropy. My first thought was to propose something similar to Facebook's user wall, an idea that was already declined in stackoverflow.uservoice. I am short of any other track, yet being sure there must be a smart way to get closer to a more effective model that would allow a better knowledge collection and dissemination.

I hope somebody here will be smarter than me...

EDIT: as suggested by Chris Lively, question switched to wiki.

EDIT 2: question could be changed to "Should Stack Overflow add Knowledge Dissemination functionalities to ...". This permanent flow of questions and answers must stay 'as is'.


IMHO the process needs to add:

  1. Distillation - some way go let the information value separate itself from the straw. Not only in terms of best answer, but also clearest answer.

  2. Graceful Aging - we're all getting tired of the same old questions (even though sometimes the answers are different, even opposite.) Good questions with answers need to persist better. Either that, or we need Answer Templates.

  3. Canonization - many times there is a precise, succinct answer to a question - many times on a vendor's page, or wikipedia. We should be able vote on canonicity, and then have a permanent list of such references.

  4. Consensus - every evaluative score or action should require multiple agreement; and any negative score or action should either be removed from the design, or a lot more closely safeguarded (but that's a whole nother topic.) But for starters, a user should only be allowed to close any given question once; and should need to earn some number (250? - more than one days' worth) new Rep points to close another. (Any really obnoxious question will be closed by someone, but no one gets docked points.)

  5. An Audit Trail - just a timestamped ordered list of events with pointers and Rep Effect would be better than what's there now.

And one thing not to mess with - I think the bubbling process, by which the display ordering of questions is determined, seems about right.

  • I knew there were guys smarter than me here! Your proposal might be too complex but is very interesting. – Philippe Grondier Dec 23 '08 at 23:04

Probably not switch but complement some how. Like StackOverDiscuss... :P Where people can chat/talk/discuss all what they want to.

Some kind sibling project.

  • i think those are called forums ;) – grapefrukt Dec 23 '08 at 21:41
  • I agree, a forum would be great. – Can Berk Güder Dec 23 '08 at 21:46
  • StackOverForum :) – OscarRyz Dec 23 '08 at 21:47
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    I think the problem is that with a forum you would wind up with useful technical discussion creeping over to the forum. Then you have two places to search. – EBGreen Dec 23 '08 at 22:19
  • I suggested a forum/message board a while ago, but the question was closed very quick. But I used probably the wrong words. I still think it would be a valuable addition. – Gamecat Dec 23 '08 at 22:21

I actually have had similar thoughts for training and reference, once enough questions are amassed then there could be some seriously useful compilations... I imagine there might be enough information here for a .NET tutorial, if only there were a way to structure the information in the questions and answers.

There's nothing stopping us from doing the structuring and linking in from an external site, of course, and probably having a "Table of Contents" area for various topics would be difficult to manage. I don't know how you'd implement it in general. Interesting to discuss though.

  • I've had similar thoughts about Stackoverflow tutorials. The real strength of this is the insight into what people don't know or find counterintuitive. – ConcernedOfTunbridgeWells Dec 23 '08 at 22:06

Perhaps the issue of difficulty of further discussion needs to be addressed, but Q&A must stay!

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    There is no doubt that Q&A should stay: it has to stay the basic raw material in the system. – Philippe Grondier Dec 23 '08 at 22:02

The problem is not that the knowledge isn’t available. The problem is that most people are too lazy to look for it.

  • I find it hard to believe sometimes that people find it more difficult to look for an answer than to type up their own question. Maybe it's just the novelty of asking that they enjoy. – Nolte Burke Jan 8 '09 at 19:53
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    Too bad you don't get points for searching and finding an answer. – user131297 Sep 14 '09 at 19:30

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