Defining Scope for our site
In the time since we initially launched the site initiative, through the definition phase where the initial set of questions was discussed, through commiment and ultimately beta - the questions and answers raised, voted for, closed and so on, has defined what we as a community would like our site to be about.
And that mechanic works. I'd like to start out by pointing this out.
Let the community decide
We've been debating this in the moderator group, and by and large we all agree that "Let the community decide" is about the best policy we can apply when it comes to defining what questions are in and out of scope for the site.
This is not to be mistaken for "anything goes" however ;-)
But if a question comes along and it's related to our daily work and woes with and around Sitecore, it sometimes falls into a bit of a grey area where there is no well defined line to put it on either side of the "scope fence". This is where the users of the site - the community - comes into play. Vote, up and down, vote to close, use the Stack Exchange mechanics the way they are intended - the site belongs to you, the community.
That said, we do have a few grey areas where the community seems almost split down the middle. And I feel (and I do believe I speak for the moderator group on this) it is time we had a debate on this issue.
Let's take a trip back in time, to understand where this is coming from
At the very beginning
Let's take a look at an August 22 edit of our site tagline.
While I agree, the original tagline in our proposal was perhaps too weak or broad or whatever; a more significant change happened in that edit however. The site went from being for and by the "developers, application engineers, marketers, content editors" of Sitecore ("The Community") to being about "Developers and Users of the Sitecore ... Marketing Software".
So essentially a scope change narrowing our scope down to product related questions; as opposed to community related questions in a broader sense.
And maybe we need that. Maybe we don't. That's what this post is about. While I have a lot of respect for Robert's opinion and experience in driving and launching SE sites - I also know that defining exact scope is not up to him. It's up to the community.
So what do we know?
Some of us has been experimenting with this grey area. In a pursuit to find out, exactly where the boundaries lie - where the community likes the site to be, and where not.
A few things have been tried. Me, I've been experimenting with the community tag. A few posts I feel are relevant to our community at large. From my standpoint - this whole site exists only because of a dedicated community effort; and will only continue to flourish and prosper as long as there is a broad community support for it. And as an extension of that, I feel it only appropriate that questions for and by the community are considered relevant on this site - even if they do not directly relate to the use of Sitecore "The Product" directly.
Looking at stats for the community questions and Wikis, they seem to be overall well received. That said; every one of them raised has led to quite a lot of discussion on our Slack channel - so the status of these questions is by no means clear at this time.
- This site is built by the community, for the community
- Questions on this tag has been received with a relatively high interest from the community
- Will often be a Community Wiki
- Questions of this nature are better suited for "forum format" on e.g. community.sitecore.net
- Questions like this are not "expert level questions"
- Will often be a Community Wiki (this works both for and against)
- How can I connect with the Sitecore Community?
- How can I get started learning Sitecore?
- How to be Recommended to be a Sitecore MVP
Then there was another attempt tried;
sitecore-basics, where entry level questions were posted and tried by the community. The thinking was, to not only act as an "expert site", we would also have relevant content for complete newcomers to Sitecore. The community had a stronger reaction to this experiment, and the overall (and more or less immediate) reaction was to downvote and/or vote-to-close these questions. These questions are actually "in scope" in so far as the current tagline goes, but falls out of scope on SE sites general "expert level questions" requirements. Whatever "expert level" means.
Given the reactions we received on this tag I think it is safe and fair to say, the community does not want this type of questions. We will look into the "Documentation" feature when it becomes available to us.
Lastly; we allow for soliciting feedback from the community at large; on the best-practices tag. And only this tag. As we all know - in working with Sitecore, there is often multiple solutions to any given problem. And as such, there could never be no definitive "right" or "wrong" answer. That said; getting broad community input on these questions was deemed valuable to us all, and I've personally enjoyed all the high quality responses we've been getting on that tag. Community has received these questions openly and actively engaged in debate.
- Very high interest on the tag and high participation from the community
- Not all things in Sitecore have a single solution
- Doesn't fit the Q&A format well. Often, a single answer cannot be marked as "correct"
- The regular 1Q multiple A format of StackExchange already caters for multiple answers
- What are some appropriate uses for Sitecore Data Providers?
- What's the best migration strategy for 6.5 to 8.2?
- Restricting Item Access Rights to Roles - Prevent Users from being assigned Access Rights directly
So whereto now?
That is indeed the question :-)
I think it's time we had a recorded debate on this. Recorded in the sense that we take this conversation to Meta and try and gather community input and thoughts on the matter - as opposed to a handful of people exchanging opinions on Slack and nothing more comes of it.
This is not a vote
Community and site mechanics are in place, everyone can vote to close on questions as usual and so on. But I am hoping we can get enough community input, so we (the moderators) can make a few edits to the site to better communicate what the community wants for this site.
- The on-topic help page (https://sitecore.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic)
- The Vote-to-close reasons (we can add 3 of our own)
- The Tour (https://sitecore.stackexchange.com/tour)
We will leave this question open to gather community thoughts on all of this.
What, in your opinion, should be the scope of Sitecore Stack Exchange?
We can take the above questions to a vote. Some of them. All of them. And add even more, if feedback here suggests it. It's just not practical to take all of this to a vote at the same time, so likely we'll do just one at the time, to allow dust to settle. Should we focus on strictly product? Include community? Why? why not?
Let us hear your thoughts on this.