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Note: This might not be related to code or Sitecore issues.

I have seen that there are many questions that were asked on the Sitecore StackExchange which requires discussion and most of them are marked as "too many possible good answers".

My point of view is that Sitecore StackExchange is mostly for code issues or problems that do not require a long discussion. But, I think, this should be clear for everyone.

So, the question is simple, when to use the Sitecore Community and Sitecore StackExchange.

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2 Answers 2

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Short Answer

If the question does not require long discussion, is not overly opinion-based, and is otherwise on-topic for Sitecore StackExchange then it is a good question for the Sitecore StackExchange Community.

In contrast, if the question requires longer discussion, is primarily opinion-based, or is more of a request for extended debugging help (which is one way of identifying questions that will likely not have a clearly defined answer), then the question would be better for the Sitecore Community site or for the Sitecore Community Slack.

Explanation

Sitecore StackExchange is a Q&A site, meant to serve as a reference for those running into issues or who have questions that pertain to Sitecore. Many good questions on SSE are on-topic for the site and do not relate to code at all. For example, questions about how to become an MVP, etc.

The reason questions are closed for requiring extended discussion is because SSE is not a forum or a discussion board. It is meant to be a quick-reference, and every question that is asked should have a definable "answer". I'm not saying that an answer must always exist - sometimes questions are about bugs that have no answer - but rather that there must be a foreseeable situation in which one may say that "this question has been answered."

When members say that SSE is not for debugging assistance, they mean that it is for help understanding, working with or identifying things that could aid in debugging, e.g. explaining a specific issue or piece of the problem that has been identified. Questions that seek debugging assistance are a great example of questions that are difficult to foresee one saying "this question has been answered".

Motivation

The reason for these rules is to ensure a consistent standard of quality in the information, questions and answers alike, posted on Sitecore StackExchange, and ensure that visitors know exactly what they are getting when they visit the site.

When one searches Google for an issue, Sitecore StackExchange links should be at the top of the search results and visitors should know that when they click on those results they will (hopefully) get the best answers they possibly can without a 1:1 chat. This is the result of building trust with the users, and consistently delivering to them readily accessible answers.

Forums vs StackExchange Sites

There is a very big difference in the user experience on and interaction with a forum than a StackExchange site. On a forum, you may need to read through the back-and-forth on an entire thread before you really understand all of the variables and factors that contributed to the discussion, and sometimes there won't even be a feasible answer becasue the issue comes down to an opinion in the first place.

For more defined questions, Sitecore StackExchange is the way to go. Visitors know that they won't be wasting their time reading through something, because they know that there won't be a giant back-and-forth or primarily opinion-based questions, etc.

It takes a lot of work to make it great...

It is important to note that none of the above are simply "given" to the site - it takes a lot of work and community moderation to pull that off. In order to have a site with all of the above benefits, we - as a community - need to moderate the content and be as strict as possible to ensure that we build that trust and have that quality content.

We don't do this to be mean, but rather to help...

We don't do any of this because we don't want to answer or help with questions that are too broad, opinion-based or require extended discussion or debugging. Rather, we do this because we want to make this site the best it can be, and because we aren't alone - the vast majority of the Sitecore StackExchange Community agrees - we know that the OP will get better assistance for those kinds of questions from other mediums, like Sitecore Community Slack and the Sitecore Community forumn.

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Zachary says pretty much everything I would comment on this matter. But I will try to exemplify what SSE is meant to be, and why it differs significantly from traditional "forum" sites like Community.

An example

So I recently bought a new car. And a new phone. And why is this relevant? You see, the car comes with some new fancy tech; wireless charging. For this to work, it requires that your phone supports this feature - any normal battery won't just be recharged with this technology.

So I find a wireless charging kit for my phone, and now went online to investigate whether this kit was compatible with the car. A few searches later, this is the forum answer I end up with.

http://f80.bimmerpost.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1302749

Read through this, and see if you can determine the answers to the following questions:

  • Can the iPhone 7 be made to fit in the BMW 4 series? (which is discussed in the thread)
  • Does the Mophie induction kit for iPhone work in the BMW?
  • Will the iPhone 7 including the Mophie kit fit in the center console?
  • There's 2 pages worth of "posts" on this thread. How many of the posts add relevant information to the subject?

Now you can read through this if you like, or you can entirely skip it as irrelevant. I just wanted to pull out an example which is very real to me, and I was really annoyed that this seemingly simple information I was looking for, was so hard to dig out.

So what is SSE?

Well it's different. The Stack Exchange sites - not just ours - to put it broadly, aim to be "the first and last stop on your search journey". In the ideal situation, they should fill up with all the questions people have on a particular subject. And to go with that; ideally there would be at least 1 valid answer for each and every one of them. Preferably a few, if the answer isn't clearly black & white, but has nuances.

And now we're getting to the core of this issue. "What questions?". See the thing is, not all questions are good - in the sense of "good" being something that achieves our goal. To be visible on searches, to provide answers. On our site, these questions typically (not always) take a form along one of these lines:

  1. Upgrade troubles. Upgrading from version X to Y, something went wrong, maybe user error, maybe system error, maybe just simple oversight
  2. "What am I missing?" - including it's variants; "I did everything right and still it fails", and so on.
  3. The "ongoing situation". Where OP is typically in the process of debugging something, and via community comments and so on advances the story, edits and updates as the situation evolves.

There are more, but I believe the above to be some of the main types of posts that we end up closing on the site.

So should we close these and send them to Community?

No. First of all, we are not really a "Policy Driven" site. We do have several community guidelines, but any action the moderator team takes is always on a case by case basis. And forget about moderation for a minute - because we're technically here to deal with flags. Moderator attention flags. The community is supposed to do the heavy lifting in so far as what content the community wants.

Asking a question - such as this one - is really an indication of a lack of understanding of this basic fact. That posts like these, and all posts, should be considered part of the joint community effort that SSE really is - and the fact that we have "a lot of these posts" that have been put on hold is a sign of a healthy community effort. It doesn't indicate a problem.

This is an important point, so I'll repeat it. Having posts put on hold (which is not the same as closed, locked or even deleted - something moderators can do) does not indicate a problem. In many cases, OP got their issue resolved. And then it was deemed, the Q and A was not beneficial to the community at large, as the case was unique (for example) or it was resolved in a manner that would be unlikely to help anyone in the future.

These posts are not gone. They're still here, and part of our knowledge base.

So what then?

Just carry on :-) The community is expected and requested to continue helping us make the greatest Sitecore Q&A site in the world. And we do this by asking good questions, giving them good answers and actively participating in the meta around these questions. This is not just upvotes and answer markings, but also post edits, votes to close for content that didn't really help and so on.

And as Zach rightly points out; this is a lot of work. Far more than the mod team can handle on their own. And as mentioned, that's not really what we're here for.

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