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Q&A

Welcome to Codidact Meta!

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.

Why prefer Codidact to Stack Exchange?

+17
−7

As I explained in this post and some community staff confirmed, Codidact is almost a miniature version of SE. In fact, I see no radical difference between them.

As we know, almost all (in my opinion, all without exception) people coming to Codidact are already familiar with SE. So, why should we expect that they prefer to contribute to this community, rather than SE? Only because of some meta issues?

I know that the main motivation for creating Codidact was some controversy about some meta issues. But, please note that many people, who are interested in contributing to a Q&A community, do not care about meta subjects like "Code of Conduct", "Copyright Licenses", firing some community staff etc.

Even, almost all Codidact community staff are still serious active SE users, and I think almost all user protestors against some SE policies will continue their contributions to SE even if they face more unpleasant policies. Why? Because the main important thing to almost all contributors is "asking and answering."

In my opinion, if we want active communities, we need many people to contribute regularly, especially for some communities like a math community.


Updated

There are some some points in the answers, which need to be responded to (Since a math community is about to launch, I use this community as an example to clarify what I mean):

  • I agree with the fact that Codidact is a non-profit, community-focused, and open-source platform, which distinguishes Codidact from Stack Exchange. However, such characteristics cannot motivate enough people to contribute to such a community regularly. I, as a typical math enthusiast willing to contribute to a math Q&A community, prefer to spend my time and energy in a community in which I can be sure that there are enough math experts to communicate with them. Why has Math Stack Exchange become successful? Because at the time of its beginning many people needed a math Q&A community and there was no serious rival, so people had to join Math.SE and developed it. But, now there exists a terribly successful community, Math.SE, so that I think almost all career math experts (including teachers, students, and researchers) prefer to devote their little free time to contributing to a developed community, rather than an embryonic one; one can only hope that a few idle math experts contribute occasionally to such a new community.

  • Some people believe that they can always have an alive small community and do not need to attract individual people. I think such a claim is not true for any Q&A community; it may be true for some people willing to discuss some topics with each other, but the story of a Q&A community is different. Mathematics has terribly many independent branches. So, if we want to have an active math community we need many people, and a small community is not enough for such a subject. The point is, that when people see that their questions are not answered (properly), they become discouraged from asking in such a community.

  • I agree that many people opposing SE policies and rules; I personally have many problems with them. But, such people still continue their contributions because the most important factor of a successful Q&A community is its population, especially for some communities like a math community. People like good policies, rules, and norms, but their needs, namely asking and answering, are their priorities, which would not be satisfied in a small community.

  • I agree that casual users do not care about meta issues. But, the point is that active meta users will come from such casual users; if not enough casual users are not interested in continuing their contributions to a community, we cannot have enough active meta users to develop the community. Each community first needs to attract casual users and then it expects to be developed by serious users.

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General comments (3 comments)

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+19
−0

There are several differences in the philosophy of Codidact vs. Stack Exchange that may contribute to people preferring CD over SE.

For-profit vs non-profit

Stack Exchange is a for-profit company. With that in mind, they have to worry about making a profit and monetizing their products; there's always that driving factor of the money driving what they do.

Codidact, on the other, is a non-profit venture, funded by donations and out of pocket expenses by the creators. (There's currently no actual organization that can accept donations, but we're working on setting up a non-profit or something similar.)

Community focus vs knowledge base

Stack's stated goal is to be a repository of information, which leads to strict policies reducing clutter.

Codidact's ultimate goal is to serve the communities it hosts. This means that each community can set its own goals and visions, including how strict they want to be with comments etc. Being a repository of information is a secondary goal.

Open-source vs closed-source

Codidact is entirely open-source; this means that anyone can access the codebase and use it, for free, allowing anyone to set up their own Q&A instance however they want. Stack, on the other hand, is closed-source (excluding the data explorer), and people have to pay to set up a Q&A instance.


Ultimately, most of the differences between Codidact and Stack come from Codidact explicitly focusing on serving the community's needs. This is where features such as Categories come from, and the upcoming Abilities change; both serve to address longstanding problems that arose with the Stack software. We can also include community-specific features for communities that need them, a la the Sefaria linker at Judaism Codidact.

There's the Codidact Arbitration & Review Panel, which will act as a supervisor and make sure that both moderators and staff members have a proper way to deal with conflicts that arise between them.

Yes, Stack is a much more advanced project, with over ten years in the game vs Codidact's year or so in development, and it shows. But I believe that Codidact has the ability to set itself apart as a viable alternative to Stack, and serve alongside Stack to meet the needs of various communities.
Some communities will prefer Codidact, others Stack, some neither; and that's fine. Different communities have different needs.

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+11
−0

please note that many people, who are interested in contributing to a Q&A community, do not care meta subjects like "Code of Conduct", "Copyright Licenses", firing some community staff

The casual user of any system generally doesn't care about this type of stuff. The active, involved, users - a small percentage on almost any public system - do care. They care because it affects them directly in some cases, or because they are concerned about the goals, morals or other aspects of a system where they spend a lot of their time & energy.

It is, in some ways, similar to politics (in a nominally democratic nation, not the same in a totalitarian regime - but consider US, Canaa, Australia, most of Europe, etc.):

  • A very small group really do things (career politicians, the Codidact developers)
  • A larger group, but still a minority, put a lot of time & energy into the system (politically active, "Meta" users)
  • The vast majority have their opinions but relatively little real action (voters, regular users)

We don't expect 100% of Codidact users to become developers or even significant Meta users. But we want to provide an environment where everyone who wants to participate in a productive way (from asking & answering on up to helping develop and run the system) can do so. For the casual user, Code of Conduct and similar issues will have zero effect on them - they just need a system where they can find answers to their questions. For the more active users, these things matter.

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+8
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As I explained in this post and some community staff confirmed, Codidact is almost a miniature of SE. In fact, I see no radical difference between them.

Codidact is being used since not long, that explains the similarities. Even so, there are huge differences below the sea level:

  • Codidact is open source, which means you can fix bugs, adapt to your needs as long as complying AGPLv3, you can publish your own instance.

  • SE is an aged and dying platform, technologically speaking.

As we know, almost all (in my opinion, all without exception) people coming to Codidact are already familiar with SE. So, why should we expect that they prefer to contribute to this community, rather than SE? Only because of some meta issues?

They don't have to. Codidact is for communities, not for individual people.

I know that the main motivation for creating Codidact was some controversy about some meta issues. But, please note that many people, who are interested in contributing to a Q&A community, do not care meta subjects like "Code of Conduct", "Copyright Licenses", firing some community staff, ... .

Well, that's their motivation. Others are here only because open source.

Even, almost all Codidact community staff are still serious active SE users, and I think almost all user protestors against some SE policies will continue their contributions to SE even if they face more unpleasant policies. Why? Because the main important thing to almost all contributors is "asking and answering."

So what's the question?

In my opinion, if we want alive communities, we need many people to contribute regularly, especially for some communities like a math community.

Communities can be small and alive. I don't understand.

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+4
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I appreciate your passion! It resonates very strongly with me, as someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. One thing I'll say though is many of your points seem to be based on assumptions, anecdotes, and wishes, but not real evidence.

None of us can see the future. It's impossible to say whether Math.CD will be more or less successful than Math.SE, because as you pointed out, Math.SE has been the only site large enough to encompass the broader maths community. If Math.CD users evangelize the service, however, there's no telling what the effect on Math.SE might be. The point applies to other communities on CD too.

Is it a little bit of Field of Dreams, i.e. "If you build it, they will come"? Sure, but all startup projects are founded on hope. The key is, "build" doesn't just mean "create the software in a vacuum and release it into the ether"; it also includes "be active participants, stewards, and evangelists of the software we're building and the communities that use it," as evidenced by the broad meta community and even this question right here.

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+3
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Superior technology

  • The site software supports more post types than just Q&A, and multiple Q&A sections with separate labels. This allows each community to organize content, post high-quality information without the need to hew to the Q&A format, set up "staging" areas for questions that might need more work, organize contests or other community events, etc. etc.

  • Threaded comments allow users to organize whatever discussion might be necessary, while keeping comment threads hidden behind a title by default to minimize their impact for readers who aren't involved (and don't want to get involved).

  • Post reactions allow rapid identification of outdated or dangerous information, even if it represents a popular "hack" or was important to know years ago.

  • Wilson scoring on posts gives a more accurate view of quality by implicitly giving dissenting votes more weight, pulling controversial content away from the top (and sometimes bottom).

  • The site style sheet allows for useful fancy HTML formatting - in particular, to put text on a shaded background and collapse details - making it easier to skim posts while not omitting useful information completely.

  • The "Copy link" option for posts includes a Markdown-formatted version of the link, suitable for immediate use in other posts and comments.

  • Reputation is greatly de-emphasized, and a system exists to hand out privileges based on demonstrated skills, talent and dedication related to the privilege. There is still much that could be designed or improved in this implementation, but merely trying results in something far better than handing curation privileges to someone who asked a single hugely popular question years ago.

A fresh start

The simple fact of being a relatively new site, with far fewer posts, makes it easier to begin curating a canon of the most useful information on a topic. We also have the benefit of 15+ (now) years of experience from Stack Exchange, to understand what makes for really good questions and answers. If you ask a simple, fundamental question about the essential techniques of a craft (or the basic tenets of a religion, "old chestnut" advice for designers or hobbyists, etc.), you'll have the chance to define the scope of the question really properly, and get answers that don't drown in dozens of random related hints (or restatements of previous answers, or arbitrary combinations of two or three previous answers...).

Ownership that cares

The Codidact Foundation is made up of people who were dissatisfied with Stack Exchange and determined to do better - starting with a focus on community. This is a somewhat nebulous concept, of course; but you can be assured that they are far more in touch with each Codidact community than, say, Stack Exchange staff are with the consensus of curators on Meta Stack Overflow. Individual communities have greater power to tailor their site to their own needs - including in particular the content of the site's Help section.

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+8
−3

Since this is obviously open to individual answers, I will give my reason. The structure of SE leads to it being much more toxic for casual use. There is a reason people always joke about their SE questions being closed as a duplicate of a question that doesn't even answer their question. The reputation points on the site give power-users a physical authority over those who do not power-use.

To the casual user, asking a "good" question is very daunting, often because of arbitrary requirements in a community resistant to change. That is not to say there are not bad questions—there definitely are—but the definition is less rigid than the censors would lead you to believe.

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