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Codidact Meta is the meta-discussion site for the Codidact community network and the Codidact software. Whether you have bug reports or feature requests, support questions or rule discussions that touch the whole network – this is the site for you.

Comments on Dealing with questions "settled on" Stack Overflow

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Dealing with questions "settled on" Stack Overflow

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We are a late starter QA site, so we are disadvantaged vs. competitors like Stack Overflow. Namely, a lot of basic questions are already asked and answered there, and people are less likely to organically re-ask them here. For us to accumulate such basic/well-known questions and answers will take a very long time (if it ever happens).

That leaves us positioned to do well on obscure topics, but have poor coverage of basic ones. I wonder if this would undermine our value as a place of reference and learning to potential new users. In essence, wouldn't they say "if everything exists on SO, but only obscure things are covered in CD, I'd rather use SO even though it's not as good because at least it's comprehensive and I can reliably find answers to my question".

I've seen some organic efforts to counter this by CD users:

  1. Some people deliberately re-ask questions here, knowing that they already have an answer on SO. This is a good way to "catch up" but it's a lot of effort and currently there is not enough energy put into it by the community to handle this with sufficient coverage.
  2. There was an idea of automatically importing questions from SO, but it sounds like the admins don't want to do this.
  3. We could just focus on the obscure questions to attract mainly expert users. Once the site is a healthy community for questions by experts for experts, it would presumably begin to attract newbies who ask the basic questions as well.

But what are the feelings of the admin team? I like CD more than SO so I hope it does well. But this issue seems hard to solve individually. It would be a lot easier if there was some "official" strategy that us users could follow with more cohesion.

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1 comment thread

Basis of the creation for the discussion (4 comments)
Basis of the creation for the discussion
Andreas‭ wrote 5 months ago

This is a good and necessary discussion I have considered bringing up myself, and I definitely encourage filling this database of knowledge independently of what’s on SE. Obviously, there’s a fine line between «basic, but acceptable», and «too basic, and too easily accessible in the documentation», but I wouldn’t consider SE similar enough to documentation to decline questions here, that have answers there.

That said, I am a little bit worried that we have a different understanding of what constitutes a basic, but acceptable question. A few days ago, one of your questions received 3 downvotes. Is this some of the reasoning behind starting this discussion? I think it’s a basic question, but not very much an acceptable one. On SO, we have an issue with the site being treated as a regex writing service, and this doesn’t provide future value when the amount of content grows; it’s only a mess that you can’t navigate through. May you clarify?

Andreas‭ wrote 5 months ago · edited 5 months ago

Specifically, in the case on SO, is that regex Q/As are more about asking somebody to fish for you, instead of teaching you how to fish by yourself. And with the vast amount of «what’s the regex for this», and the regex debugging questions, we are left with a database that cannot really be searched. Such a database is not useful. Your question may be fine for searching, but what happens the day Amazon changes something related to it? Now it’ll be outdated. Is that an issue? Maybe not, if Codidact can better combat the problem of outdated content than SO does.

matthewsnyder‭ wrote 5 months ago

Andreas‭, since you appear interested in debating the regex question per se, you should probably leave a comment on that. I note also that while it received 3 downvotes, it also received 3 upvotes, and besides none of the downvoters have bothered to leave any feedback, which I maintain is a terrible way to use downvotes. I also disagree that it's a bad question to begin with, but this is all unrelated to the one we're commenting on.

My question was not motivated by the regex one. I had actually forgotten about it until you brought it up. It was motivated by https://meta.codidact.com/posts/289879

Andreas‭ wrote 5 months ago · edited 5 months ago

If it’s unrelated to this, and really had nothing to do with this one, then I agree; a discussion about it is off-topic here. However, if it did, it would be relevant, as we’d both agree with the question text here, although interpret it differently.

That said, I’m one of the downvoters there, so at least you have feedback from one now. ;) It’s not fair to disregard downvotes just because they are not accompanied by an explanation. If that’s the case, you may as well disregard the upvotes, because they don’t have an explanation either. I think you should open a new Meta discussion about the topic of votes, unless one exists already, which explores the issues with them. I may have some commentary to share there.

I don’t think my extended feedback, as well as broader reasoning, and discussion, is appropriate under that question. It’s a meta discussion, and doesn’t belong on the main site. However, I did consider opening a discussion on the Software Meta about regex questions.