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Why I feel creating a Stack Exchange for DotNetNuke is a bad idea.

by Will Morgenweck on 04 Oct 2010 02:37 PM

This past weekend I attended the Chicago Day of DotNetNuke.  One of the last sessions was an open panel where people could suggest topics followed by a 10 minute discussion.   Unfortunately time was very limited and this topic was only briefly addressed.  I have several reasons why I feel the Stack Exchange for DotNetNuke is a bad idea.  If my analysis is incorrect and you would like to prove me otherwise please feel free to leave a comment.

  1. DotNetNuke Corp. already provides a public resource for asking questions about DotNetNuke.  DotNetNuke.com is going to be the first stop for most people to seek help with a problem.  There are many questions on the DotNetNuke.com forums that are left unanswered.  There is a group of people that feel very strongly about the need for this DotNetNuke Stack Exchange.  Why don't they just answer the questions on DotNetNuke.com to begin with?

  2. Stack Exchange doesn't like discussions.  If a question cannot be clearly answered then it shouldn't be allowed.  You can read more about this on the Stack Exchange Blog titled Good Subject, Bad Subjective.  While I don't disagree with this format, I don't think it is the best platform for new users.  Can you imagine trying to seek help for a problem with DotNetNuke, but then being told you can't get help until to learn how to properly post a question? 

  3. The DotNetNuke Forums already support Questions and Answers.  Again, the software behind Stack Exchange is great, but why not put the effort that is being placed to seek approval for the DotNetNuke Stack Exchange into the open source DNN Forums that already exist and have users today?

  4. Many have complained, including those supporting the DotNetNuke Stack Exchange, that information for DotNetNuke is disorganized and spread out across too many resources.  DotNetNuke Corp has already taken steps to improve the organization of information, creating another external resource only makes matters worse. 

  5. I question the motivations behind those that started the petition for the DotNetNuke Stack Exchange.  If you look at their bios on Stack Exchange you will see that they have high reputations across various Stack Exchange sites.  You can tell by their reputation points that they see a benefit in the Stack Exchange platform.  Would they be just as supportive if DotNetNuke.com hosted their own Stack Exchange knowing that their reputation points from other sites didn't matter?
In Summary, I would definitely like to see a better way to ask questions and find relevant and accurate answers for DotNetNuke.  I would also like to see this take place on DotNetNuke.com.   Setup a Stack Exchange on DotNetNuke.com where the reputation points were solely based upon the value within DotNetNuke.  Allow questions to be asked regardless of repetition or subjective nature and moderate appropriately.  I've seen other companies use the Stack Exchange platform on their own sites.  Encourage DotNetNuke to do something similar and you have my vote. 

    49 Comments for Why I feel creating a Stack Exchange for DotNetNuke is a bad idea.

    Joseph Craig
    Joseph Craig
    04 Oct 2010 03:19 PM

    Here's another thought -- Stack Exchange is primarly a developer arena, isn't it? It's not likely to be know by, nor attractive to, DotNetNuke users.
    Greg Brown
    Greg Brown
    04 Oct 2010 03:24 PM

    I couldn't agree more on several of your points.

    But I have been waiting for YEARS for DNN Corp. to realize or care (not sure which it is) that the DNN community is being fragmented by all of the outside communication choices. DNN Corp has it backwards - instead of DNN.com driving people to use other communications vehicles those same communications tools should be funnels bringing new users into DNN.com. Or at the very least outside tools such as twitter are a choice available to users and everything said there is replicated on DNN.com. I finally gave up on them and currently feel that if the community is going to be fragmented we might as well see how many avenues we can create - maybe one of them will really catch on and accidentally do what DNN Corp should have planned out and did from the git-go. And as a side benefit maybe some of the additional venue's will bring in some additional users.

    Sorry if this post sounds like I'm bashing DNN Corp- it's just that this issue (DNN.com) is my #1 frustration with DNN. And yes, I did learn about something that might impact this area at DoDNN but I have my doubts there too. If I am wrong I'll be pleasantly surprised.

    Greg Brown
    David O'Leary
    David O'Leary
    04 Oct 2010 03:24 PM

    First, based on the current lack of momentum for the Proposal, I don't think the DNN Stack Exchange site is going to happen. So we do seem to need an alternative. Forums are good for discussion but far inferior to the Question/Answer format of StackExchange for most Questions.

    Second, I don't believe the StackExchange platform is available independently anymore. But once you leave the beta phase, the proposers do get to pick your URL, I think doing something like questions.dotnetnuke.com would make sense.

    It seems to me like you're being a bit overly paranoid. I think those of us that support the proposal have StackExchange reputations because we like the platform and find it very effective. And that's why we want to bring it to DNN. We're not bring DNN to it as a way to boost our reputations.

    But, I think the reputation part of Stack Exchange is very important for encouraging people to participate. I have gotten business from StackOverflow posts. I get a fair amount of traffic and a boost in SEO. There is a level of selfishness involved in responding to posts. That's a good thing. It encourages me to participate. I don't think the DNN wiki will take off until there is more benefit provided to the authors.

    I like the idea of having the Question/Answer solution on DotNetNuke.com. But, it needs to be more than just forums and it should have a reputation type scheme that encourages and rewards people for participation.
    Brian Dukes
    Brian Dukes
    04 Oct 2010 03:31 PM

    So, to start with your point that's most closely directed to me, as #2 on the reputation list, I can say that we fought for a silo-ed Stack Exchange site for DNN back when that was available (private/branded Stack Exchange sites are no longer offered). I can also say that the reputation from other sites will be mostly hidden from view, and shouldn't significantly affect how we're perceived in the system.

    Re: #4, I think my main complaint isn't that information is spread out, but that it's hard to find. Information entered into the forums is lost forever in most cases.

    Re: #1, most of us have given up on the forums. After years of spending time there, the forums have consistently proven that they can't provide an experience that draws us back. We aren't engaged by the forums, we are engaged by the Stack Exchange format.

    Re: #2, I would expect that most users who aren't already familiar with Stack Exchange to find us via recommendations on the forums. Thus, if they're told that their questions aren't a good fit, they're already familiar with the forums (where they are a good fit). In my experience with Stack Overflow, most users are quite gentle and helpful in telling other people that their questions have better places to be addressed.

    My opinion is that forums are an inherently bad platform for finding relevant and accurate answers, thus, we need forums for discussions and something better for Q&A.
    Mitchel Sellers
    Mitchel Sellers
    04 Oct 2010 03:32 PM
    http://www.mitchelsellers.com
    Will,

    Before I comment I want to start out by saying first and foremost I'm not trying to start a flame war here, or anything like that, I just want to put out my thoughts, as being one of the people you note in your fifth comment I thought it would be good for me to say something.

    1. Regarding the DotNetNuke forums, I do answer questions today, but due to issues beyond my control, it is VERY hard to keep track of forum posts, replies, and in the end, it isn't easy for a person to find out if their question has already been asked. For example related questions, and other functionality like that.

    2. Regarding discussion, this is the primary reason that I think a StackExchange site would be a good combination, not a replacement of the DotNetNuke.com forums. The reason being is that there is a time and a place that you need to find an answer, you don't want discussion. A StackExchange site would serve those questions well. New users, would be finding DotNetNuke.com FIRST and they would be asking their questions there. If someone did come across stack exchange I'm sure that any questions that were not deemed "fitting" would get recommendations to "post to dotnetnuke.com or otherwise".

    3. What would we do here? If you look back historically the community has voiced a LOT of concern in the past about the forums, far more effort than what has ever been thought about to get the StackExchange proposal approved.

    4. I can see this as a valid argument, but a forum, or discussion board is NEVER, and SHOULD never be the definitive source of information for anything. I think the efforts of DotNetNuke Corporation are very commendable and they are making a GREAT improvement to the community. The Wiki to serve as a location for storing common bits of information that historically has been spread across 20+ community member blogs is a great thing for the community. I don't see how a StackExchange site would undermine that at all.

    5. StackExchange reputation does NOT mean anything to me at all. The fact that my reputation "aggregates" in certain views was NEVER a consideration for me when proposing or supporting the StackExchange site. And if you look at the way that StackExchange works, your reputation from other sites DOES NOT show on a site. So the fact that I have 22+K reputation on StackOverflow would NEVER be part of a comment that I make on say for example a DotNetNuke Stack Exchange Site. I see the reputation system as a MINIMAL part of the benefit of the system. My reason for suggesting this in the first place is that I find it EASY to contribute to, easy to follow up on, and much easier and faster to find an answer if the question has already been asked.
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    04 Oct 2010 03:38 PM
    www.activemodules.com
    @Brian
    I'm not arguing that Stack Exchange is a better Q&A platform over the DNN Forums in their current format. Which is why I even stated that the forums on DNN.com could use some work. However, you did make a very valid point saying:
    After years of spending time there, the forums have consistently proven that they can't provide an experience that draws us back. We aren't engaged by the forums, we are engaged by the Stack Exchange format

    Have you shared this with anyone within DNN.com? What wasn't engaging? The fact that their wasn't a reputation system? The lack of the ability to control the questions being asked? I think this would be very valuable feedback to DotNetNuke Corp.

    Dylan Barber
    Dylan Barber
    04 Oct 2010 03:41 PM

    I just like the idea of external resources. Sometimes when the resources for a large project get too consolodated they get a bit stale. Variety is the spice and armpit of life - we should embrace it all.

    If the Stackexchange site takes off - great let the DNN guys get on there and be answering questions - etc etc.

    If Stackexchange is not really for discussions -great there are still the forums and of course we call all Twitter our opinions at any time or blog about them as we want to create discussions.
    David O'Leary
    David O'Leary
    04 Oct 2010 03:52 PM

    3 other things that really set StackExchange apart from forums:
    1.) First and foremost is the voting aspect. The best answers rise to the top and are easy to find as a result. When evaluating the answer, you get reinforcemnt that it's not just that one guy that thinks that, 20 people agree... In the forums, it's a nightmare to sort through to find the right answer to a question that has lots of participation.
    1b.) If I see a question I know the answer to, rather than having to write anything, the first thing I do is look at the other answers. It there's one I agree with I vote it up and perhaps make a related comment. In the forums to do the same, my agreement might be 3 pages away.
    2.) Related Questions - As you start typing your question, you start getting a list of questions that match the key words you've typed. As you view a question, you see a list of related questions. Many times, the questions you have have already been answered.
    3.) Tagging - There's also a very nice Tagging system in place which is great for organization and makes it easy to find the stuff I care about in the vast world of StackOverflow.

    These three features are huge in reducing redundancy and finding the answer you need quickly. Forums do not compare.

    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    04 Oct 2010 03:59 PM
    www.activemodules.com
    @Mitchel,
    Thanks for the comments. Also, you won't start a flame war. I think we are all passionate about DNN and can have a real discussion that benefits everyone. Maybe my title sounded a bit too strong, but I'm not against what Stack Exchange has to offer. I disagree with some of the principles, but from a technology perspective, Stack Exchange has a lot to offer. I do have a few comments for you.
    1. Regarding the DotNetNuke forums, I do answer questions today, but due to issues beyond my control, it is VERY hard to keep track of forum posts, replies, and in the end, it isn't easy for a person to find out if their question has already been asked. For example related questions, and other functionality like that.

    Just so we make sure we have the same goals in mind, if DNN.com took care of these issues and made some improvements then we wouldn't be having this discussion at all, correct?

    2. Regarding discussion, this is the primary reason that I think a StackExchange site would be a good combination, not a replacement of the DotNetNuke.com forums. The reason being is that there is a time and a place that you need to find an answer, you don't want discussion. A StackExchange site would serve those questions well. New users, would be finding DotNetNuke.com FIRST and they would be asking their questions there. If someone did come across stack exchange I'm sure that any questions that were not deemed "fitting" would get recommendations to "post to dotnetnuke.com or otherwise".

    This is exactly what I don't like. This isn't the place to talk about the current rate of adoption for DotNetNuke, but I will say this doesn't help at all. A person just getting started with DotNetNuke shouldn't have to be told to go somewhere else. If the Stack Exchange was just about module development and a person asked about installing DotNetNuke, then yes, they are in the wrong place. However, the current stack exchange proposal even has topics listed as Off-Topic which I feel shouldn't be Off-Topic at all. Ask any of my customers that have created forum posts or even help desk tickets about something not related to our products. We do our best to provide them with and answer then offer alternative resources. I can't imagine the review we would see if we said, "Not our problem, go somewhere else."

    Cuong
    Cuong
    04 Oct 2010 04:04 PM

    For all of you who think what doesn't work on DotNetNuke forum and what needs to be improved. I'd love to hear it in details. What doesn't work, why you don't like to use it.... if it isn't a reputation thing, then what it is StackExchange does to attract you more. Is it the design? Is it the user experience?....

    I'd love to initiate the change effort and make it better from our UX team perspective!
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    04 Oct 2010 04:05 PM
    www.activemodules.com
    @David
    1.) First and foremost is the voting aspect. The best answers rise to the top and are easy to find as a result. When evaluating the answer, you get reinforcemnt that it's not just that one guy that thinks that, 20 people agree... In the forums, it's a nightmare to sort through to find the right answer to a question that has lots of participation.

    I have to disagree with you on this one. I have found topics on StackOverflow where the "answer" was not the best answer. In one particular instance I saw where the original poster had even posted a follow-up comment stating that the second answer was more accurate.

    Again, this isn't about comparing StackExchange Software to DNN Forum Software. I thought I made it pretty clear that Stack Exchange wins in this area.
    Antony Slater
    Antony Slater
    04 Oct 2010 04:06 PM

    I think you and I (as well as others hopefully) have the same endpoint in mind just walking different paths.

    My comments on your points:
    1. The DotNetNuke.com forums definately have a goldmine of information. The problem is finding/retrieving that information and also determining how useful/authoratative it is, especially for new users. The StackExchange 'model' fulfils these better.

    2. I believe the DNN forums will be the best place for general discussion on things that don't have a definitive answer. Discussion is the core of any Forum software. the StackExchange model is just taking a subset. As to framing a question properly I think this is a good thing to learn. Thinking through and defining what you want to ask will in a lot of cases reveal the answer reducing the 'noise'. It also means useful answers will be quicker. I agree ideally, new users shouldn't have the proverbial door slammed on their question but would think most will learn quickly. Once the skill of asking a question has been learnt then I think the Stack Exchange platform would help novice users. With the DotNetNuke forums a lot of the 'noise' is to do with requesting clarifications.

    3. If there is something that fulfills the specific need why reinvent the wheel? The core forum software like the majority of others is designed to promote discussions and the Q & A part is built in afterwards.

    4. Agree with you on this one. It would be good if DNN Corp/Community can incorporate the good sources of information so they are accessible from a central location. I don't see a problem with the information being external to the Dotnetnuke.com domain. It's simple to add a link.

    5. Not having much/any reputation on Stack Exchange I can't talk to motivation. However, if you find a resource that fulfills your needs across a range of topics I can understand why you would have a preference to be active in one place.

    The Corp are taking steps as you have said to organize the information with projects like the Wiki but progress hasn't been fast. I also believe we have to distill from the noise the gems of information and currently the StackExchange site seems the quickest way to get this.
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    04 Oct 2010 04:07 PM
    www.activemodules.com
    Thanks @Cuong! That is exactly the kind of discussion that needs to happen.

    For all of you who think what doesn't work on DotNetNuke forum and what needs to be improved. I'd love to hear it in details. What doesn't work, why you don't like to use it.... if it isn't a reputation thing, then what it is StackExchange does to attract you more. Is it the design? Is it the user experience?....

    I'd love to initiate the change effort and make it better from our UX team perspective!
    Nathan
    Nathan
    04 Oct 2010 04:08 PM

    I think having more channels for DNN information raises the platform's profile, benefiting everyone.

    No web site can be up 100% of the time. If dotnetnuke.com is the single source of information, you're out of luck on days like today.

    A little friendly competition should prod dotnetnuke.com to continue to improve usability and aesthetics. There is room for improvement.
    Frozen DNN
    Frozen DNN
    04 Oct 2010 04:55 PM

    Yes. It is a bad idea. I think it is best to have one place where we can ask questions about DotNetNuke. To make DNN forums better and more informative, maybe DNN needs to hire some people just to answer questions on the forums, or pay the volunteers for the best answer. Free volunteers are good but they can't answer all questions and be on the forums all the time. Repetitive questions from very new comer can get very annoying. Ask Will. At least, he searches the forum and posts the link to the already discussed topic :).

    On the other hand, make DNN forum better and fast or use ActiveForums. Nothing to be ashamed about using a better product.
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    04 Oct 2010 04:58 PM
    www.activemodules.com
    @Frozen DNN,
    Thanks for commenting. More feedback from actual DNN end users is what we need.
    Kevin Southworth
    Kevin Southworth
    04 Oct 2010 04:59 PM

    For me, the difference is that the StackExchange format allows me to find answers to questions/issues/problems, rather than a discussion. In a forum or discussion thread format, sometimes the actual answer to the question form the original poster isn't found until page 13 or post #89 or something like that. The StackExchange format allows users to vote up/down the responses so that the best answer is almost always found immediately below the original question.

    The other issue is that I've found the "search" feature on the DNN Forums to be quite bad, it either returns no results, or times out. I have given up using that search, and instead just use the google index of the forums by using the "site:dotnetnuke.com" google filter.

    I don't really care where the data is or what site it's on. If DNN Corp. can institute a similar style of Q&A on the dotnetnuke.com site, I'd be just as happy to go there as I would a StackExchange site.

    Wlll Strohl
    Wlll Strohl
    04 Oct 2010 05:44 PM

    (These are my thoughts and views, and not those of DNN Corp)

    Honestly, I love DNN conversations sprouting up everywhere, and I have no personal issues with this happening. The way I see it, if someone can get value from other sources, good for them. If it becomes successful, great. Would I prefer for this to take place on the DNN site? Absolutely. However, the reality of todays instant gratification mindset continues to show us that the DNN site will not always serve the needs of 100% of the community 100% of the time. That doesn't mean it shouldn't strive to though, and we all know that it will.

    I must say though, that while it would be nice to try to educate people on how to ask a technical question properly, this too is not realistic. Some people simply have no idea how to explain themselves, or lack the proper confidence to try to. Where some people can be trained to do this, you're always going to have that as a problem. No big deal though. We've been figuring this out since technology existed. That's a people problem, not a software tool problem.

    The more the merrier I say. In the very least, this is very active market research. Right now, this discussion, and the tools that people use give incredible insights into what DNN needs to be.

    This would be the part where I would normally ask the people being vocal to help out and contribute to the forums or submit issue requests to gemini, but nearly everyone here already does this in one way or another. That leads me into wishing that EVERYONE attended Nik's keynote speech at the Day of DotNetNuke Chicago this past Saturday. He tackles this very thing.
    Mitchel Sellers
    Mitchel Sellers
    04 Oct 2010 06:12 PM
    http://www.mitchelsellers.com
    @will -

    Yes I have a feeling that the topic of the post might have made your opinion sound a bit more polarized than you might have intended, as I do agree I think in the end we want similar things for the DotNetNuke community and that is an effective communications medium where people can get answers.

    1. Regarding the DotNetNuke forums, I do answer questions today, but due to issues beyond my control, it is VERY hard to keep track of forum posts, replies, and in the end, it isn't easy for a person to find out if their question has already been asked. For example related questions, and other functionality like that.

    Just so we make sure we have the same goals in mind, if DNN.com took care of these issues and made some improvements then we wouldn't be having this discussion at all, correct?


    For the most part yes I think you are correct with that statement. With so many 'forums' to choose from and the way that the interface works and searching it is hard for people to find the right place, or to find out if someone else had answered the question, or to find out which posts they commented on were recently replied to etc.

    For me the gauge that I use to look at how well it is working is to see if people are going elsewhere. For example the number of people that come to my personal website, register an account, validate their account, and post a question that they already posted to DotNetNuke.com is a bit of a problem. Why should someone need to go through that much effort to get a question answered? Don't get me wrong, I like the traffic, and I like helping out, but to me that series of events is a major sign of an issue.

    2. Regarding discussion, this is the primary reason that I think a StackExchange site would be a good combination, not a replacement of the DotNetNuke.com forums. The reason being is that there is a time and a place that you need to find an answer, you don't want discussion. A StackExchange site would serve those questions well. New users, would be finding DotNetNuke.com FIRST and they would be asking their questions there. If someone did come across stack exchange I'm sure that any questions that were not deemed "fitting" would get recommendations to "post to dotnetnuke.com or otherwise".

    This is exactly what I don't like. This isn't the place to talk about the current rate of adoption for DotNetNuke, but I will say this doesn't help at all. A person just getting started with DotNetNuke shouldn't have to be told to go somewhere else. If the Stack Exchange was just about module development and a person asked about installing DotNetNuke, then yes, they are in the wrong place. However, the current stack exchange proposal even has topics listed as Off-Topic which I feel shouldn't be Off-Topic at all. Ask any of my customers that have created forum posts or even help desk tickets about something not related to our products. We do our best to provide them with and answer then offer alternative resources. I can't imagine the review we would see if we said, "Not our problem, go somewhere else."


    I can see your point here. And for me this was a very hard item, but I think that with a little bit of direction it could be addressed, AND done in a manner that isn't going to put someone off. I'm not saying it is perfect, and I totally understand what you are talking about with support. I get it all the time with the few products that I commercially offer, and even more so with the custom development work that I do.

    I think the key is around setting expectations and getting the communication around when the StackExchange site would be best suited. Initially I had thought only for module development, and in retrospect, maybe that is the better way to go, it is a bit more "applicable" if you will. But I think that a lot would be lost if it was limited to only Module Dev questions.
    Greg Brown
    Greg Brown
    04 Oct 2010 06:34 PM

    My previous, somewhat "passionate" response :), was from a sales & marketing viewpoint.

    From a geek viewpoint it would be very easy to build a StackExchange module for DNN. Heck you could do it in 30 minutes or so by tweaking the DigArticle module which has comment voting already. You could then add related articles (or questions in this case) which is already in the module and even provide related Google search right on the same page like Ultra Articles does. Of course any of these solutions would need to meet the performance requirements of a large community site like DNN but you get my meaning - it's not rocket science.

    While I'm glad DNN has been adding some things to the site I think the current Wiki will probably languish without much community involvement. The best solution, in my opinion, is one similar to what Kelly Ford recently did on DNNDEV.com. His knowledgebase is an extension of the forums, in that, you can move a forum thread (or just part of one) from the forums into the knowledgebase and lock it so it doesn't become an extended discussion. This way you can let a thread become a discussion, edit the parts you don't want after you move or copy it to the knowledgebase, and end up with the best of both worlds. Plus getting people to participate is kind of built-in as well.

    I think the main issue with many of the suggestions here is the rule about not using anything that wasn't developed by DNN on DNN.com. I do agree somewhat with this idea - from a sales standpoint I would not like the idea of putting StackExchange (even a branded version) on the site since it isn't DNN powered. But turning DNN.com into a "what can you do with DNN" site using DNN core AND third party modules is a good idea from a number of aspects.
    Bruce Chapman
    Bruce Chapman
    04 Oct 2010 11:51 PM

    Just to pile on here. I pretty much agree with everyone. I think there's a convergence of opinion here:
    1) StackExchange provides better UX, SEO and Question Answering ability than forums software (after all, that was the design aims of StackExchange)
    2) Further fragmentation of the 'go to' location for answering DNN questions is a bad thing
    3) Redesign of the DNN Forums is (a) a big task and (b) not the highest of priorities for DNN Corp

    From all of that, I would say the best compromise is adoption of a StackExchange DNN site, co-branded and using a *.dotnetnuke.com Url. The StackExchange site would have links back to the DNN Forums, and would be in 'corporate' DNN colors. Perhaps implementating of openid using the dotnetnuke.com login as well.

    It would be interesting to know from the custodians of dotnetnuke.com how much google search traffic results in a forum post. Because half the problem is the constant duplicate questions asked, which drowns the forum signal in noise. And the SEO on the forums is not conducive to finding the correct answer, as others have pointed out.

    While it's tempting to build a StackExchange clone and implement it on the DNN site, I've been around long enough to know this is a large task and one not likely to be completed without significant sponsorship (ie, money). While the creation of a StackExchange site for DNN is a path of least resistance to getting what people want, which is a 'definitive' answer. If we look at it from the end-users point of view, people just want answers with enough trust that it's a definitive source. And those who spend more time answering than asking questions want an easier way to keep track of how their answers are going.

    I'm not familiar enough with the post-BETA Stack Exchange process to know if co-branding is possible, but I would have thought that was in everyones best interest to work towards this. Personally, I hit StackExchange every day through web searches and find the accepted questions to be nearly always the best result. I don't think it's a good idea to completely ignore the direction in Q&A that this site has created, so at least some of the ideas (such as the accepted answer bubbling to the top) should be implemented, however it ends up.
    Ian
    Ian
    05 Oct 2010 02:25 AM

    Will,

    It’s probably obvious that I wholeheartedly support the DotNetNuke StackExchange as I’m the one who brought up the topic during the session at Day of DotNetNuke Chicago – but I figured I’d lay out my thoughts here in detail as we were indeed short on time during the session.

    A compelling and rewarding experience drives adoption of the StackExchange software. A team of people are dedicated - full time - to crafting a rewarding experience for the users of the platform. The same will likely never be true for the DotNetNuke forums - nor does it need to be.

    Forums are not suited to do Q&A - doing Q&A inside of a forum model is basically a hack that everyone just accepts. Change is not bad. Neither is realizing that you can't possibly be everything to everyone. I absolutely agree that the forums themselves should be improved - however, they will never be a Q&A engine - much less one that is as compelling as StackExchange. The engine itself has proven to be very successful in technical communities, and is starting to prove itself outside of that core base.

    Driving software adoption in the case of a DotNetNuke StackExchange site necessarily means spreading valuable knowledge that is beneficial to our community. And it’s also very open knowledge - the data is all licensed under a Creative Commons license, and there is a public API built out for integration purposes.

    Furthermore, is it not a common (and respectable) practice to outsource your fringe business needs to a domain expert? Are we really saying that DotNetNuke needs to solve every business problem (which is what this is at the core) without the help of “outsiders?” How realistic is that? We hire experts to do the things that they do – and in this case we don’t even need to hire anyone.
    I think we can see a corollary in the use of CodePlex to house source code and packages for DotNetNuke. It just isn’t practical for DotNetNuke Corporation to own everything.

    Specific responses to your bulleted points in the original post:

    1. When we’re talking about using the forums for Q&A purposes - the forums are broken. It is difficult to navigate and nearly impossible to find any specific information in there. You can use it to keep tabs of the latest threads and posts, or you can just straight browse it forever. Nobody has time for that when they’re looking for *targeted information*, so they don’t do it. People want and need to be able to actually navigate through meaningful information in a reasonable amount of time. The forums do not facilitate this sort of use. It just simply does not provide a compelling user experience or any tangible return on your time investment for this use case. However, if you want to keep tabs on the latest discussion threads – the forums are a great place to hop over and have a chat and check on the latest buzz. This use case is more relaxed and less time sensitive – people wanting to engage with their peers in a more casual manner. This use case is what forums are for – they’re called *discussion forums* for a reason – that is specifically the use case they were intended to serve.

    2. The intent of Stack Exchange is not to cater to new users. The intent is to focus the use case on the experts in the community – engage them – captivate them and get them to interact and participate. These are the people that you want to draw in – because they are adding the most value to the site. Once you have these people in place the “newbies” will come. They will see the information housed on the site and have respect for that. There will absolutely be a learning curve for using the system (and learning how to ask the right questions – but again – if the knowledge and value is so easily recognizable (as I believe it is) – the learning curve is easily dealt with.

    3. See my response to #1 above. Just because something can be done with a piece of software – does not mean that it is optimal or even good. Again, I agree that the forum software should be made better – but I believe trying to make it a Q&A system is a misguided goal.

    4. I think the heart of anyone’s sentiment here is that the information is *not easy to find*. The reason is that it is not easy to find is that it is not housed in a repository that makes it easy to find. None of our existing knowledge repositories cater to search engines in any meaningful way. I firmly believe that if our community embraces a DotNetNuke StackExchange - one will be able to find the answers to the problems they’re having much more easily using their favorite search engine. This includes people that *don’t care* where they find the information, they just want to solve their problem! An overwhelming majority of stackoverflow.com visitors are anonymous users that come from Google (like upwards of 80%) – granted this is a focused audience (software developers) – but I think this is indicative of larger trends just for people in general.

    5. I’m not sure I understand your point here. I do not find it surprising that the very people that advocate for a DotNetNuke StackExchange site are those that are most familiar with its underlying engine (through the use of the stackoverflow family of sites). These are also people that obviously find value in sharing knowledge with the community (a core desirable trait in this discussion) – and have great respect for the software that allows them to conduct these already rewarding activities in a compelling and pain free manner.

    Lastly, I will address points made in the summary. I do not agree that questions should be allowed to be asked regardless of repetition or subjective nature. This dilutes the valuable information contained within any knowledge repository and confuses the people who are trying to access this information. In addition, I believe more than satisfactory integration could be achieved through the StackExchange API (stackapps.com) into the DotNetNuke.com site. There is simply no reason for the information to be housed on the DotNetNuke.com website from a pure knowledge dissemination standpoint – as – although it is merely a guess – I feel confident in guessing that the default use case for traffic to the DNN forums is through search engine searches – NOT through direct traffic where people are browsing for answers (because they likely won’t find anything within the first 10 minutes of browsing – so they won’t do it).
    Ian
    Ian
    05 Oct 2010 02:32 AM

    Greg,

    I'd encourage you to take a closer look at stackoverflow.com - I think you'd be surprised at how advanced the software is in actuality. Of course the finer points are lost on most users - as the average user is coming directly from Google to the information they specific information they need. But part of the whole reason that information is there is due to the fact that the software is so well crafted to engaging experts to participate. The dual goals of StackExchange are to serve that use case and to also draw in as many community experts to participate and generate all of that valuable data. To do so they've developed a very elaborate and responsive system.

    Ian
    Brian Dukes
    Brian Dukes
    05 Oct 2010 09:48 AM

    @Cuong
    For all of you who think what doesn't work on DotNetNuke forum and what needs to be improved. I'd love to hear it in details. What doesn't work, why you don't like to use it.... if it isn't a reputation thing, then what it is StackExchange does to attract you more. Is it the design? Is it the user experience?....

    I'd love to initiate the change effort and make it better from our UX team perspective!


    1. I cannot search for answers to my questions, or for my previous answers, or comments that I know I've seen.
    2. Someone before mentioned that there are too many different forums. It's hard to know where to put questions and where to search for answers. (Stack Exchange tagging addresses this)
    3. The reputation system encourages engagement and constructive behavior. Having reputation, badges, and advanced privileges/responsibilities draws back experts.
    4. Even if you find a relevant discussion, there's no clean way to support or correct good or bad answers. Stack Exchange voting and comments provides the ability to do this well (we can all find cases where the voting isn't perfect, but it's better than no feedback from the forums)
    5. An easy way to search also helps address duplicate questions well and quickly (pointing someone to the question where the best answer is maintained, rather than trying to come up with it again).

    With the point being, there are some things that the forums can do to improve, but many of the features that make Stack Exchange great for Q&A don't make a lot of sense to integrate into a forum.
    Brian Dukes
    Brian Dukes
    05 Oct 2010 10:02 AM

    @Cuong
    One other point on forums (which, I believe, is being addressed, but can't come soon enough) is that post count is a pretty bad metric to promote (both in the forums and in the newsletter). We're not helping Q&A or discussions by encouraging people to post without meaningful content.
    Greg Brown
    Greg Brown
    05 Oct 2010 10:07 AM

    Ian-

    I realize my last post was an oversimplification. I still need to look deeper into StackOverflow (which I plan on tonight) and I hear you guys talking about the benefits on the answer side. And to be honest the use of StackOverflow and/or other and additional tools aren't a big issue with me. Further fragmentation of the DNN community is an issue. I want the community to grow - both in total numbers and in involvement. Obviously a larger community is good for everyone but it is especially good for third party developers.

    I visit DNN.com multiple times per day on most days and the first thing I look at is the total guests/members online. First the number of members online is embarrassing for such a large total community and second the total number of users has been decreasing over the last 18 months. The DNN Twitter group seems to still be growing slightly but it is mostly developers and power users - which steals quite a bit of power from DNN.com and the users that rely on their knowledge. The Linkedin Group has been gaining some decent ground but I see questions asked there that should be asked on DNN.com.

    In short I think priority #1 for growing the community should be centralizing the community. You can still use some of the outside tools such as Twitter, LinkedIn, StackOverflow, etc. but we need to bring those resources "into the fold" so we can wrap our arms around those users and hold on to them. A simple Twitter feed would be a step in that direction. The next thing should be encouraging people to contribute. A participation awards system/module (monthly winner gets a free license to X module) and use of the core survey module (something that has never been used on DNN.com) are just a couple of examples of things that could be done.

    My trip to DoDNN really pointed out to me how important some of these things are but also how much opportunity seems to be getting missed. Sorry everyone - I have three posts in this thread - I'll hold my tongue now and let others speak.
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    05 Oct 2010 10:26 AM
    www.activemodules.com
    @Ian,
    Thanks for the comments. I'm not going to get into the technical aspects of the software. I do agree that StackExchange is a fantastic platform, but I disagree with the point that a forum can't handle Q&A properly. You did confirm my two biggest gripes with StackExchange.
    2. The intent of Stack Exchange is not to cater to new users.

    I do not agree that questions should be allowed to be asked regardless of repetition or subjective nature.


    How do you plan to handle repetitive questions?
    How will you handle questions that are off-topic or too subjective?

    The scenario I keep coming back to is the person that is brand new to DotNetNuke. In most cases they are already frustrated. They find the DotNetNuke StackExchange and ask their repetitive or subjective question. Instead of receiving an answer are they going to be told to use search, rephrase their question or go somewhere else?
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    05 Oct 2010 10:28 AM
    www.activemodules.com
    @Kevin Thanks for the comments. Excellent feedback!
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    05 Oct 2010 10:33 AM
    www.activemodules.com
    @Greg,
    That is the kind of reasoning I expected from more of the DotNetNuke Community. We all use DotNetNuke, we all recognize the need for this capability, but yet we find it acceptable to use a third-party application outside of DotNetNuke. Why should we create blog modules when we have WordPress? Why create forum modules when we have vBulletin? If we all start thinking that X Product is the best then eventually the innovation within DNN starts to die.
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    05 Oct 2010 10:38 AM
    www.activemodules.com
    @Bruce,
    Great way to summarize everything. I'm pretty much in agreement with you.
    From all of that, I would say the best compromise is adoption of a StackExchange DNN site, co-branded and using a *.dotnetnuke.com Url. The StackExchange site would have links back to the DNN Forums, and would be in 'corporate' DNN colors. Perhaps implementating of openid using the dotnetnuke.com login as well.

    If this were possible and we could figure out how to handle the "you can't ask that question" mentality I would be much more supportive.
    Brian Dukes
    Brian Dukes
    05 Oct 2010 10:51 AM

    @Will, re: repetitive questions, Stack Exchange associates duplicate questions. People aren't told to search, they're told to go to a specific question that already has answers.
    Matt M
    Matt M
    05 Oct 2010 10:55 AM

    A perspective from someone who stopped using DNN from early v4 until only recently;

    Gotta be honest - pretty much all of the best ideas and solutions I use come from outside the DNN site anyway. Whether that's buying a 3rd party module or a way to achieve something that DNN is otherwise too rigid to permit. There aren't too many core modules I use anymore, and some of the 3rd party modules I'm using are purely to address shortcomings with the core framework. It makes it pretty expensive to get a DNN site off the ground, even though I feel it's worth it; some of the 3rd party modules do things that otherwise would need custom code on any other platform.

    Frankly the view I encounter in the community is that DNN as is, is cumbersome and tedious. I actually understand how that viewpoint arises, and it's not necessarily wrong. People like myself use DNN because they know it well, and because there are some great modules that meet our needs. But more and more it's necessary to look outside the core development effort to keep DNN up to date with what's happening in the rest of the community.

    From looking outside the core to moving to another platform? It's not that far a move. DNN needs to open up more conversation with prospective users, to be responsive to what's happening externally, and to embrace and encourage the growth of its developer community.

    Send a prospective new user to Dotnetnuke.com, and they'll quite likely back away from it, and look for something else. I have recent experience with this. On the other hand, send them to ActiveModules.com and they may well be interested and engaged. They could well make the purchase of Active Social, and wear the need to install DotNetNuke to use it - especially given the helpful crew there.

    My point here is that DNN's real asset exist outside of DNN Corp and DNN.com. Will, for example, could just as easily create a standalone product out of what he's doing, but instead has chosen to work to enable third parties to work with his software. Where's the collaborative effort from DNN to leverage that kind of initiative and leverage his (and others') knowledge?
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    05 Oct 2010 10:56 AM
    www.activemodules.com
    @Brian,
    I have found topics in stackoverflow.com where the original poster was told to search and that his question was asked and answer numerous times. I agree that those can be annoying and disruptive to the flow of information, but from what I've seen on stackoverflow.com it isn't any different then being rude on the forums. Now, that being said, stackoverflow.com does do a good job of showing related topics, but again, that is a technology solution.
    Mitch Labrador
    Mitch Labrador
    05 Oct 2010 11:00 AM

    I like StackExchange's interface, it no doubt is a lot more engaging than the DNN forums. I do however see the value of information being in one place. For one it makes it more likely for the answer to your question to be found by searching one source rather than having to hop between sites.

    Now back to Will's implied challenge, how can we improve the DNN forums to meet the need? Here are my suggestions:

    1. Make search front and center and use google style single input search. Add an advanced search that would behave like the current search.

    2. Improve the quality of the search results. Rather than just doing a dumb character search, try to answer the question, for instance topics that have more than one post are more likely to contain an answer rather than just a question, bring those back first.

    3. Improve the speed of the search. Right now it is too slow.

    4. Add a way for the originator of the post to mark his concern addressed (i.e. his question answered)

    5. Add a way for users to vote up / agree with a certain topic post.

    6. Have a way to sort the topic in chronological order, or by relevance (votes, reputation, etc.)

    7. Add a reputation system. This would provide confidence in the answer.

    8. I can't emphasize this enough... clean up the interface!!!! Make the content front and center and make it easy to read. Make the actionable items stand out etc.

    Thanks for bringing up this topic. I voted for the stack exchange site because I think it provides all of the above requirements. However I would much rather have these requirements met on the DNN site.

    Regards,
    Mitch
    Joe
    Joe
    05 Oct 2010 11:17 AM

    So what if we waived a magic wand and were able to provide a robust Q&A functionality on DotNetNuke.com? Would that solve the issue for most people? Or would you still feel that a StackExchange site was necessary? Is the goal to get a StackExchange site or to get a Q&A site for DotNetNuke that is searchable, focused and community driven?
    Brian Dukes
    Brian Dukes
    05 Oct 2010 11:25 AM

    My goal is the latter. I just don't believe in magic.
    Joe
    Joe
    05 Oct 2010 11:32 AM

    @Brian - I asked the question because there are other alternatives that provide StackOverflow like functionality that could be hosted on DotNetNuke.com infrastructure and provide a more seamless experience for users. If the goal is Q&A, then we could provide that and I could totally support that goal. If the goal is StackExchange then it is probably not something I would support as I feel it is more likely to fragment the community than to bring it together.

    Of course this is strictly my opinion and may not be the same as anyone elses at DotNetNuke Corp.
    JanO
    JanO
    05 Oct 2010 11:38 AM

    Hmm, why are we discussing this topic here and not in the DotNetNuke® Forum?
    Joe's idea sounds great. But from idea to reality sometimes the time is too long.
    In a market driven social world the DNN community will be a subway station if not some action from the corp are taken.
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    05 Oct 2010 12:06 PM
    www.activemodules.com
    @JanO
    Hmm, why are we discussing this topic here and not in the DotNetNuke® Forum?

    I created this topic mainly to address questions that I received from customers over the weekend at Day of DotNetNuke about this particular subject.

    @Joe,
    Thanks for taking the time to comment. Your recommendation is what I alluded to in my summary. If you put StackExchange (or any other Q&A platform) on DNN.com that would be an ideal solution. However, the next evolution to consider is how to properly route topics to Q&A(Technical), Q&A(Pre-sales), Forums or Help Desk(Gemini). I have some more thoughts on this but that is for another blog post.



    David O'Leary
    David O'Leary
    05 Oct 2010 02:30 PM

    @Joe, I would certainly support a Q&A solution on DotNetNuke.com. But, I really do think StackExchange really found the sweet spot in terms of features and simplicity. Not all Q&A solutions are created equally.
    Ian
    Ian
    06 Oct 2010 10:52 PM

    Will: regarding not catering to new users: Actually, SE does cater to new users. Have you ever asked a question on StackOverflow? You'd be hard pressed to ask a duplicate question without finding the answer first - as it actually has a pretty nifty feature that pops them up real time. Also - and this is a big also - I feel that the most common "new user" experience is actually going to be searching for a question or collection of keywords on google so that they can find specific information. The SE engine specifically targets this scenario - with the popular search engines (namely google) spidering their site in real time - while the SE site may not necessarily be that highly indexed as it won't be as highly trafficked - the software is proven to *make information accessible*.

    So without any further information from you - quite honestly I think that your major gripe #1 is nothing to worry about at all.

    If duplicate questions and "catering to new users" are your two biggest gripes - I'd say you really don't have anything to gripe about and you're kind of grasping for excuses. Do we just not want to acknowledge that someone outside of our community has a superior solution? Is it threatening?

    Again - my biggest point in all of this is that - in reality - people use Google to find information. Focusing on "keeping our community together" or "providing a seamless experience" is focusing on *the wrong goal* - try focusing on the experience of actually being able to find quality information on the interwebs and you're headed in the right direction!

    -Ian Robinson
    Ian
    Ian
    06 Oct 2010 10:58 PM

    Also, in regards to the ideas of using another piece of software for Q&A (e.g. the stackoverflow clone software or Active Forums) - I think this really misses some of the greatest benefits. When we're talking about StackExchange - we're talking about dedicated best of breed social Q&A software *period* - that's the whole reason we're (or at least I am) talking about this in the first place - in my mind SE practically makes the other solutions obsolete. That is their business - that is what they do and they do it well. Sidestepping that is just slowing our progress down.

    -Ian Robinson
    Dylan Barber
    Dylan Barber
    07 Oct 2010 12:31 AM

    Man who would have thought such a simple and well thought out argument would create such an animated discussion.

    @Ian - I agree that SE may make the other solutions obsolete but remeber you have to play by their rules. They host it and they charge for the volume and such - I know they have changed a bit because they offer free versions for non-profit's and ad supported versions.

    But think of it really couldnt dive in and add features you want or tweak this and that performance issue. Dont get me wrong the DNN corp guys have enough to do making DNN better everyday (and thankfully they are doing that) but think in a year is it going to become a huge 'we want to move to our own solution but the resource is too important to the community' then is the situation any better?

    I don't know I am not either for or against the StackOverflow site or any QandA site - its just I hate for the community to jump in and have it sort of end badly with a bad taste for everyone (I keep thinking of how bad ASPDotNetStorefront was).

    If someoen wants to start a StackOverflow site (like Mitchel Sellers) then power to them the community can either embrace it - come up with something else - or ignore it altogether. Let the consumer decide. If the consumer is you and I then great! If its as yet unconverted masses of DNN admins then great!
    Chris Paterra
    Chris Paterra
    07 Oct 2010 01:44 AM

    Oh where to start. First, I should start with while the forum on DNN.com can handle a Q&A format it certainly isn't setup for users to use it like that (ie. it's not intuitive). I think all the other problems w/ the forum (with regards to the functionality we are discussing here) were already clearly identified. In all these areas, I agree, the StackExchange software blows it away in this Q&A format (although as others mentioned for a number of reasons, such as general discussion, the forum still has a purpose on dnn.com. As a side note, expect to see tagging in the dotnetnuke.com forum sometime in late October or early November). That said, I will stop short of saying StackExchange is best of breed (I hate buzz words/phrases used far too often by marketing departments).

    Out of all of the things mentioned here what I really have an issue with is the fourth point in Will’s original list. However, I think it goes a bit deeper than what we have touched on here thus far. If people are behind this, the DNN stack exchange site already exists and can be ‘promoted’ and found in Google. No matter what happens anywhere, this cannot be changed (nor should it be). To me, having a DNN Stack Exchange is no different than there being an Apple Stack Exchange and I don’t see Apple doing anything to stop it (and we all know Apple stops anything they can related to their brand/products which they don’t agree with). That said, take a trip on over to www.apple.com and tell me how you find the Apple Stack Exchange on their site. I checked under support and also did several searches on their site and found nothing related to it. If they are supporting this, as their source of Q&A or in any other way, I am not seeing anything on their site that promotes it or links to it. Why is that? Well, I don’t think anyone who participated in this thread can really give us the answer to that question although I am sure many have their own opinions on why that is the case. One thing that is certain, though, Apple has spent tons of time and money making sure their customers can find information on their website.

    Believe me when I say that I don’t want to spend time re-inventing the wheel when it is not necessary, I would much rather spend that time on figuring out cold fusion (no, not the Adobe product) or building an economical jet pack (http://newsfeed.time.com/2010/10/05...minutes/). But… at the end of the day I think dotnetnuke.com has to have their own solution on the site that handles this much better than the forum can to meet their clients expectations (both free and paid). I also truly believe that, if the right people come together on something like this, we can come up with a solution that works just as good if not better that is used on dotnetnuke.com or any other DotNetNuke based site in the future. The fact that we are having this very discussion is proof that this is something which lacks in DotNetNuke today (not just dotnetnuke.com).

    Also, to touch on a point Greg originally brought up and Will commented on: “That is the kind of reasoning I expected from more of the DotNetNuke Community. We all use DotNetNuke, we all recognize the need for this capability, but yet we find it acceptable to use a third-party application outside of DotNetNuke. Why should we create blog modules when we have WordPress? Why create forum modules when we have vBulletin? If we all start thinking that X Product is the best then eventually the innovation within DNN starts to die.” As some of you know, I spent years as a Systems Integrator prior to joining DotNetNuke Corp. In the majority of the implementations I did as an SI, one of the top requirements I came across was that all data be contained in a single website (there were many valid reasons for this in each case so let’s not spend time on why this was a requirement). Now that StackExchange is starting to become more popular, I think other SI’s or consultants are going get requests for StackExchange like functionality that works within their single DotNetNuke website. Is that not reason enough for someone to start putting the time in now on a solution? As Will pointed out, if we stop creating new modules/functionality just because it exists today in some other offering, DotNetNuke is going to start dying which is something I think everyone here wants to avoid.

    FYI: This is my own personal opinion here (I endorsed this message) and not that of DotNetNuke Corp (They did not endorse it).
    Brian Dukes
    Brian Dukes
    07 Oct 2010 09:13 AM

    @Dylan Barber,
    Just to keep the facts straight, the current Stack Exchange system is entirely free; there is no base charge, or charge for volume (this is a community effort, who would they charge?) The old system where people could purchase their own (hosted or not) version of the engine is not available. So long as a community can get enough momentum to meet their requirements, Stack Exchange will create a site for that community. At the moment, it appears that these sites are no ad-supported, though I would guess that they will be to some degree. For more information on the new system (Stack Exchange 2.0), see http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/...-exchange/
    Ian
    Ian
    07 Oct 2010 11:58 AM

    Also, some context for the discussion - the license for the data for a stackexchange site: "user contributions licensed under cc-wiki with attribution required"

    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5/

    Check out the API:

    http://stackapps.com/questions/1/ap...n-and-help
    http://api.stackoverflow.com/1.0/help

    Supported Sites
    The following family sites are currently supported by the api:

    stackoverflow.com
    serverfault.com
    superuser.com
    meta.stackoverflow.com
    stackapps.com
    *.stackexchange.com
    Ian
    Ian
    07 Oct 2010 12:05 PM

    Also - I feel I should note that I never had any hopes of DotNetNuke Corporation actually saying "we are adopting StackExchange" (even though I think their adoption of CodePlex is a perfect example of doing the same sort of thing...) - but I do still have hopes of the community actually making this happen.

    Taking this initiative in the short term will have long term benefits for our community. I'm all for re-inventing the wheel if it makes business sense - and adding more first class Q&A functionality to DNN will be great for our platform - but the very desirable technology behind SE site is available now for free - we just have to step up and take it.
    Will Morgenweck
    Will Morgenweck
    07 Oct 2010 01:41 PM
    www.activemodules.com
    @Ian,
    Why would I find the StackExchange solution threatening? I think I made it perfectly clear, more than once, that StackExchange is a superior solution. I even said that I though it would be great if StackExchange could be used under the dotnetnuke.com domain. Why would I even mention the product, create blog, post on twitter if I felt threatened? Talk about grasping for excuses. I apologize if you feel that this blog post was some kind of personal attack against you because that was certainly not my intention.

    Take StackExchange out of the equation for a minute, because it's clear you are passionate about the platform. Lets look at a product that is also outside of my area of expertise. A good wiki has been absent from the DNN platform for years. Many of the same people on this thread also expressed the need for a wiki. I would change the title of this blog to "Why I feel creating a -Insert Hosted Wiki Name Here- is a bad idea" and my opinion would nearly be the same. Not all of my points would necessarily apply, but it would still be an external resource. It would also show that DotNetNuke isn't a platform to support a wiki and that there aren't any suitable options for available for DotNetNuke. Another good scenario. How does it look when prominent members of the DotNetNuke community, DNN Corp Employees or even core team members don't even use DotNetNuke for their sites or personal blog.

    I have no doubt that the SE platform can provide technical solutions to help new users. I'm not talking about new users to stack exchange, I'm talking about new users to the DotNetNuke platform. You even said yourself in one of your comments on the proposal site that you want to target the experts.
    We really need to figure out the boundaries of the community (i.e. who is this site NOT for). We want to bring in the experts and the rest will follow. We can't make this a place to discuss everything DotNetNuke. In my mind we want to target the expert ( exclusively technical?) members of the community. If this makes sense, how do we reflect that in the description? Is "how do I add a page in DNN" the kind of question we DON'T want?

    and
    Yep, we need to figure out what kind of DNN questions we don't want here. We need to attract experts and discourage the types of questions that could be answered by spending less than 5 minutes with the product and/or google. Of course this is not an absolute, but we have to establish a in a perfect world type of boundary.

    Perhaps I'm taking those comments completely out of context, perhaps you and I see the situation differently or maybe I'm just completely wrong. However, we deal with hundreds of users each month. Many of which are completely new to DotNetNuke. Some are trying to decide if DotNetNuke is the right platform them. Some have been around since day one. To them, no question is "shitty" (referencing another one of your comments). All they want is to solve their problem as quickly as possible. Some will use google, some will use the forums, some will create support tickets and then some will throw their hands up and move to another a platform. I will be against anything that I feel has a negative impact on DotNetNuke adoption. That's something that should make all of us feel threatened.


    Ian
    Ian
    07 Oct 2010 09:04 PM

    Hey Will,

    No worries - didn't take any of it personally, and nor did I mean any personal offense to you. Just trying to cut to the chase. I think we're in agreement about most everything at a high level - just about the details of which use case/scenario we want our solution to cater to. I of course think SE is the best solution because I think it addresses every facet of our dilemma very well. I feel like implementing the SE solution is a long-term holistic solution to the problem of knowledge collection/transfer in our community.

    Here are some important points I want to make:

    1. I think trying to re-invent the Q&A wheel in DNN - in this particular case - does not provide the same or equal value that adopting SE would.

    Of course I think we should take steps to improve our platform - but nobody would claim that building something from scratch is the better option 100% of the time. I just feel that in this case using SE is the right solution. We (the community) could better focus our efforts on other items, or loop back to this one later. We have an opportunity to make some real progress on our goal of improving community knowledge here and now, and I think we should take it. We can and will work on improving DNN at the same time. Nothing about adopting SE would prevent us from improving our platform.

    2. The most important thing to a new DotNetNuke user is to be able to evaluate the platform. A SE driven knowledge base would be an invaluable source of information for them.

    What more could you ask for as a new user of the framework? You can quickly and easily find all of the information you would want (assuming we embrace the SE system should we ever get to beta) about the topics that are relevant to you. Interested in web farms? click on the web farms tag. Interested in taxonomy? Click on the taxonomy tag. What about hosting considerations? Search for it, it's there. And that's just within the system - I think its more likely that someone will Google "What are the minimum server requirements for hosting DotNetNuke?" or "DotNetNuke Hosting Requirements" and would be led into the system (and their answer). Also, because the questions / answers are all editable - the server requirements could be edited over time to keep them relevant. So a search now and a year from now would still return the same page, only just with updated and relevant results.

    3. I believe the SE software meets the needs of all levels of users (of the software), but it is opinionated - which is important.

    I also think we're getting a little caught up in the Experts vs New Users discussion - and realistically I think the SE system address both very well. Its just an open ended system - and the users make it what it is (as far as content). Just because I want to optimize for experts to use the system - doesn't mean new users are left out in the cold. It just isn't that black and white. The developers of the software bent over backwards for the system to be easy to use and guide new users to using it correctly. And no matter who you are - the system provides incentives for sharing knowledge in a format that is clear and maintainable.

    4. The definition process is a "in a perfect world" type process. Just like the law and morals, all of the boundaries are blurred in reality - and that's okay!

    The real world isn't perfect - and gray area is what makes things real. For examples, some duplicate questions will make it in and provide value for the community despite the fact it is a duplicate - and it'll just be linked to the other question to make the information more accessible! Another example, someone will ask a question that obviously is more of a discussion or fun question - but because the community latches on to it and it actually provides value - it isn't shunned and closed. Its interesting and engaging and therefore valuable to the community - so its left open - because the community is in control - which leads me to:

    5. The community governs itself.

    Another big thing to call out here - the community are the moderators. We are. You and I and everyone else out there. The more you use the system, the more the system trusts you. Trusted people (who can be anyone) have to vote on questions to close them, for example. They don't just get closed for no reason. It is a very democratic "moderation" system that scales quite well. Maybe part of the flaw on my end of the discussion is that I assume too much knowledge of the SE system from everyone else. Hopefully over time though these little pieces of information about the software will help everyone to see just how awesome the platform is.

    -Ian Robinson
    test
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