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Re: stackoverflow vs the world (and perl6-users)

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Brad Gilbert
June 12, 2018 19:19
Re: stackoverflow vs the world (and perl6-users)
Message ID:
On Tue, Jun 12, 2018 at 1:19 PM, Joseph Brenner <> wrote:
> Attention conservation:  it's unlikely I'm going to say something
> interesting you haven't thought of already.
> A side-discussion that came up here: should you ask questions here, or
> at stackoverflow (or both here *and* at stackoverflow).
> I understand the argument that it's better to talk about perl in
> public where non-perl might see it (to help counter that "perl is
> dead" impression that's floating around).  Getting more involved with
> stackoverflow has been on my list for a long time... and yet I haven't
> gotten to it.  Why not?
> (1) The barrier at stackoverflow to a beginner is probably higher than
> you think it is-- it's not at all obvious what you're allowed to do
> and what you're not at the outset.

The barrier is non-existent.

You don't have to even create an account to post on it.
(You should if you want to be able to edit or delete your posts after
your cookie expires.)

If you have code that you can't get to work the way you think it should,
it is the right place to ask. All other questions are off topic.

On the ask question page they have a list of the rules.
I think they may even have a mini tutorial for first-time users.

> (2) Stackoverflow is centralized, I don't know really who's in control
> of it (and early on I had the impression they were a bunch of
> microsofties).  Email has the virtue of being federated-- or it would
> be if we weren't all using gmail-- and if there's a web archive it's
> also indexed.

Stack Overflow is from Fog Creek Software.

They also regularly provide bulk downloads of all the publically available data.

> (3) Stackoverflow may be "well indexed", but I haven't noticed this
> being very helpful for perl6 where many things are huffmaned down
> below the level where they can work as grep crumbs.  E.g. "does" vs.
> "but" and perhaps worse "=" vs. ":=".

That is fair, but other languages have the same problem.
Since a lot of them use Stack Overflow, they know they can search
there instead.

> (4) I've seen some complaints about stackoverflow moderators that
> seemed all-too-familiar-- power tripping for the sake of it.  They
> seem to be a bit trigger-happy about shutting down interesting and
> illuminating discussion ("this is all just matter of opinion!").
> It's not at all unusual to do a web search on a question and end up at
> a stackoverflow page that a moderator has marked as "Closed".

Very few questions are closed by moderators.
The vast majority are voted to be closed by users.
In fact some moderators refuse to vote to close iffy questions,
because their vote counts as 5 regular users.

If you ask what is the best module for doing X, that is considered
to broad.
If you are having trouble using a particular module, then it is not.

If you ask a homework question, then it is too broad.
If you ask what is wrong with my homework it isn't.
(it may be closed anyway if enough users think it shouldn't be there)

The reasoning for this is to prevent it from becoming another
Yahoo! answers. (They have said this many times on the podcast)

Also note that you are still allowed to edit it to follow the rules.
If enough people agree that you have sufficiently fixed it, they
can vote to reopen it.

If it is sufficiently bad, users will vote to delete it.

Moderators are also elected. So if one of them abuses their
power they risk losing their moderator privileges.

The main purpose of moderators is to fix problems the regular
system doesn't work sufficiently for.
(Spam, bulk voting, sock puppet accounts, abusive speech,
joining accounts, etc)

Basically your remark about mods power tripping is baseless.
The only real problem is that some people don't like the rules.
(Even though most rules have been added by user demand.)

> (5) I question how much it improves visibility to post perl6 material
> at stackoverflow: there's so much stuff there very few people look at
> the place as a whole: the only people likely to look at a perl6
> discussion are the people who are already interested in perl6.

Stack Overflow puts out data about how many questions get asked
for each language. So by putting it there we influence their stats.

This is the main reason JJ keeps saying to post there.


Note that I have been following the development of StackOverflow
since before they had a private beta. (podcasts)

I'm user number 1337 by the way.
I may be the only Perl programmer to receive the Beta badge.

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