So at my university (Aberystwyth) we all seem to have Q&A groups on Facebook for all the various courses and disciplines. Alongside societies, websites and all the rest.

I think it would be fantastic if universities could own their own set of Stack Exchange sites, setting up a separate exchange for each discipline. If this is done correctly it provides an education in Stack Exchange etiquette and removes (hopefully!) the vast majority of homework questions that seem to flood at the very least, Stack Overflow.

The best part about this is that it gives courses a great way to communicate their help on what I find the best platform ever for any kind of help. Of course it would require the universities (or at least institutes) to get behind this, as well as the lecturers and hopefully the alumni too.

What do you guys think of the idea? An overall yae or nae on the core of it?

I'm not flat out suggesting this is something that should be done, I'm wondering if it's: a) Something that should be done b) Something that would work well for both the universities & the Stack Exchange communities

What are your opinions?

  • 3
    Who's going to answer all of these questions? Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 10:15
  • As in the questions I've asked, or the question on the proposed SEs?
    – Stormie
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 10:26
  • the proposed SE
    – user289879
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 10:34
  • 1
    Students and lecturers, the course/institute community. There's no shortage of people wanting to help (at least at my university), there's just not a platform as good as SE for it.
    – Stormie
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 10:40
  • Precisely what do you want to achieve here? Preventing answering homework questions? If so they'll just get asked on SO. Encouraging homework questions? If so the lecturers setting the questions are likely to get annoyed that almost everyone is cribbing and only one or two people actually understand the coursework. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 10:47
  • What I really think this idea would be good for is migrating all of the "homework" questions from places like SO to these specific SEs and providing people with what is essentially a soft-intro to using SE. So many people stop using SE because they don't stop and try to understand the etiquette of SE, and I'm sure we can agree that's pretty bad. We want as many helpful people as we can get right?
    – Stormie
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 10:51
  • 2
    The etiquette of SO is there to encourage good questions and discourage bad ones. Without that you'll just get poorly defined, poorly thought out, poorly scoped questions which are basically unanswerable and the site will fail as nobody will be able to find the good stuff in the morass of useless rubbish. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 10:55
  • You appear to have not read what I'm suggesting: A soft-intro to SE etiquette, where you aren't essentially driven from the site when you get things wrong. :p
    – Stormie
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 10:59
  • No, I've read it and I disagree that it's a good idea for the reasons I've stated in my previous comments. You haven't addressed those comments/criticisms of your idea in any way though. You should if you want your proposal to go anywhere. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 11:01
  • 6
    This is being experimented: CS50, edX Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 11:54
  • @RobertLongson Sorry, your edit changed your question. I'm not trying to circumvent exactly what makes SO and other SE's so excellent. I'm trying to introduce it to a wider audience, while helping to improve the quality of questions on SE's like SO. There are always people who take the time to understand the etiquette, as there are always people who don't. The point is to let the university community, prepare each other for the "proper" community. Without utterly demoralising the new user. If you think I still haven't answered your questions then I'd appreciate you being more forward with it.
    – Stormie
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 12:08
  • A University can always set up their own Stack Exchange clone or, if they've deep pockets, contact Stack Exchange for an Enterprise installation. Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 13:27
  • AnswerHub looks very nice!
    – Stormie
    Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 13:48
  • Alternatively, set it up using one of the many clones of the Stack Exchange functionality, like OSQA. Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 12:10
  • 2
    Possible duplicate of How can I propose a new site? Commented May 17, 2019 at 1:02

1 Answer 1


We have tried this. I wish it could work. After all, our universities and educational institutions are where students and teachers meet to exchange knowledge that can be shared through the generations. It sounds like an ideal match.

Except that pedagogy isn't one of the strengths of our Stack Exchange Q&A model, in its current implementation.

If someone has an applied question about a specific programming problem (or whatever your major involves), the place to ask is on Stack Overflow. That's where people meet to share real-world solutions — and with that comes a sense that we're all building a long-lasting collection of the best possible answers to help those who come after.

But academic coursework is very temporal by nature. Students ask questions like "How do you terminate the loop in problem 7b" or "When is the link to the third lab going to be available?" A Q&A site focused on a specific body of coursework inevitably becomes about the coursework itself, where voting serves little purpose and there's little sense that we're building something lasting. Most questions get a dozen-or-so views, and then the issue is pretty much done.

To be fair, even if we restricted questions directly to the subject matter, students are transient by definition. You never quite create that core community needed to make a site "work." Questions get answered by a peer sitting next to you, but nobody is going back to make that answer great. The whole site is a bit of a grind just going through the motions. A question destined for the ages begs for that discussion between a "teacher" interacting with a group anxious to learn. That's the nature of pedagogy, and Stack Exchange (which is designed to avoid that back and forth discussion explicitly) does these subjects a terrible disservice. Any discussion forum would probably do a better job of it.

  • 4
    Well said Robert. So isn't it time to update the answer here (or write a new answer) with the final fate that it doesn't work? Commented Jul 10, 2015 at 17:37
  • @ShadowWizard They haven't shut down CS50 site, nor do there seem to be any immediate plans to do so. It would be odd to issue a final statement that this experiment has failed, while the site is still there. Also, something about burning bridges.
    – user259867
    Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 15:35
  • @1999 the answer is pretty clear, it has failed. Commented Jul 11, 2015 at 16:04

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