I've spent the last 3 days intensely working to get the company I work for over to Mercurial from Visual Source Safe, and between the selenic site, SO and kiln learned everything I needed to know to get it set up, configured properly, all the ancillary programs installed and configured, the web server up and running. So I thought in the spirit of what SO is suppose to be, a central location to find answers to programming related questions that it would be nice of me to take all of this knowledge and put it in one big CW post on SO. Now I understand that Mercurial setup and config isn't programming but there are a lot of questions on SO about how to get it up and running, how to use it with Visual Studio, etc....

So I really have two questions, is this kosher for SO and if so what would be the best way for me to go about writing it, because it's a lot of information and will take me more than one session.



In Where should it go:

Currently there are 925 questions tagged Mercurial and 2473 questions tagged Version-Control on SO. 35 Questions tagged Mercurial and 22 questions tagged Version-Control on SF.


Ideally, you should look for an existing question asking for "how do I set up Mercurial" that's similar to what you did, and put your answer there.

If you have really looked and can't find a suitable question it is OK to ask and answer your own question.

As for SO vs SF, it depends how "server-y" you feel this is. Obviously version control is a very programmer-y topic so it could go both ways.

  • Yes I was thinking this might be a potential solution. – msarchet Jun 11 '10 at 19:37

Break your lengthy post up into the individual problems you encountered. For each one of them, see if you can find a duplicate, and, if not, write it up and post as a question. Don't write your answer yet.

Then, wait a few days. This gives other people a chance to answer the question – they might surprise you with their answers. By not writing your answer yet, you are also focusing on the question, which allows you to make sure you've included all the relevant details; it's too easy to assume something if you write the answer alongside the question.

After 3-7 days, if no one has covered all the points your solution did, draft and post your answer. You can accept someone else's answer and still post your own with the fine points you actually used.

There's nothing really wrong with posting your own answer immediately, but it does lead to confusion (users don't expect it) and prevents you from getting an outside viewpoint. When I waited before self-answering on one of my questions, someone else found a simpler solution I had overlooked.

Alternatively, you can post the whole thing on a blog. Depending on how interconnected each issue is, that may be better.

On a finer point, stagger your posted questions by a few days. This lets you and others concentrate on each one independently, and, if you do post your answers immediately, avoids the appearance of "flooding". Again, how to best do this depends on how interconnected the answers are.


Your problem is with this belief:

SO is suppose to be a central location to find anything related to programming

Not entirely accurate. SO is supposed to be the place people with questions about programming go to get answers.

You already have your answers, and want to provide general knowledge to the community. This is a good thing, but not necessarily part of SO.

I'd say what you have here is a great candidate for a blog post.

That said... I just found this interesting post by Jeff that pretty much says feel free to ask the question and then answer it yourself with all the information you want to share.

Where does it go? I'd say ServerFault would be better than Stack Overflow. But I agree it's a gray area.

  • Note how I'm ignoring subject matter entirely. :) – Randolpho Jun 11 '10 at 18:55
  • I agree that it'd be great material for a blog post. I do guess I should clarify that by related to programming I mean do mean programming questions. Also why add to the sea of blog posts that are not likely to show up when someone searches for Mercurial Set up. – msarchet Jun 11 '10 at 18:58
  • @msarchet: you make an interesting point. I just edited my answer, but feel free to read up on this post by Jeff that says you are free to do what you wanted to do. In other words, "I was wrong". Cherish that, I don't often admit it. :) – Randolpho Jun 11 '10 at 19:03
  • @msarchet: as for "does it belong on SO?"... gray area. It's definitely programming related, but ultimately it's server related, and should probably be on serverfault.com. – Randolpho Jun 11 '10 at 19:04
  • I do agree that SF may be better than SO for this – msarchet Jun 11 '10 at 19:05
  • I looked up some stats on questions tagged Mercurial and Version-Control on SO and SF added an Edit about this. – msarchet Jun 11 '10 at 19:09

Write up the whole thing in detail, and you'll have a rather long document. So post it as a blog entry to your own blog, and reference it from SO or SF.

  • That's tricky to do. If you're posting questions and answers, they need to have enough information to stand on their own (e.g. the link eventually dies). – Gnome Jun 11 '10 at 19:49

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