Blender Stackexchange: Public Beta

Stack exchange has been doing private beta for a blender Q&A site for some time, now its public!

This is a trial period, its possible if theres a lot of useless/opinionated/nonconstructive/feature-request discussion that it wont be kept open. So, hope this valuable resource is made good use of by the Blender community, since this format is really great for getting answers to questions (which tend to get lost in forums).

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The stackexchange Gestapo is so hell bend into preventing flamewars that anything which possibly go that way is killed, even at the cost of throwing away the baby with the water. E.g. a what is best… thread might (will) degenerate into a flamewar but it also provides reader with a valueable list of programs/libraries etc. to check on your own.

In addition, for my programming activity I noticed that in most cases the real answer is a blog post somewhere, referenced in the responses to the question, so directly searching blog communities can be nearly as good as stackexchange.

@jpb06 - I never had any discussions I’ve been involved with be mistaken for flame wars (on stackoverflow), but it is quite strictly run

  • As for whats best threads, Id prefer to keep those threads to BA or other forums better suited to general discussion.

Blogs are OK but you dont know if the dev is really all that trustworthy/expert/good-source-of-advice,
and if the blog post is old and gets outdated - you cant always tell (especially if comments are moderated and blog isn’t active - or full of spam).

But sure - multiple sources of information are great, I just prefer the Q & A style for situations when you want a good answer to a specific problem.

@jpb06 - Stack Exchange was deliberately designed to enforce useful communication - as opposed to the lack of conscious design of forums/irc/mailing lists/etc, which is why forums get you flame wars and Stack Exchange produces useful results. See their reasoning here:

The guys behind it have a whole bunch of thoughts about coding and project management on their blogs. It’s valuable stuff, which the open source world could really learn from.

Then why oh why did you post about it here??

…by stifling communication :rolleyes:.

A couple of examples of the stuff you lose by preventing best-for threads:

  • best library for task X… provides a list of libraries for you to check; maybe the one which suits you is an obscure library buried somewhere in Sourceforge/GitHub;
  • best workflow for modeling X… exposes you to different workflows and is material for learning (at least, deciding that a certain idea is bad);

By preventing tutorials, you prevent people from learning the why-s behind the usual telegraphic do-this response. As I wrote, in most cases the really useful answer is somebody pointing out an extensive blog post (or, in some cases, a series of blog posts) in which you are shown what and why do something, tutorial style. The difference between a giving a fish and teaching how to fish.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what happens over there; if a google search directs me to that site, I check the post, otherwise I ignore it.

P.S.: I think that the real idea behind stackoverflow is being a platea for professionals to build a reputation of gurus in preparation for their next job interview :evilgrin:.

@jpb06, I don’t buy your argument - if a blog post or tutorial is a relevant to an answer to gain a full understanding, it can be linked to. (I’ve seen this happen already).
As for stifling - I see it more as reducing scope, which you often have to do when you want to do one thing really well.

Some people get really into gaming the system (getting points, badges… blah blah), not much into this but it serves a purpose and if there is some self interest there for those answering questions - I don’t see any harm in that.

This is going to be great. Thanks ideasman42.

So that people will know not to become embroiled in those things, and instead make good and respectable use of it. :wink:

Not to say that BA is any less relevant, but I am a huge fan of the Stack Exchange model.

Apart from the higher signal to noise ratio, and the format difference previously mentioned, I find that the Stack Exchange format is a lot more friendly towards people seeking information but not participating in the discussion.

e.g. drawing from my personal experiences with programming, before there was StackOverflow, researching a topic requires one to wade through pages and pages of forum posts to distill out the best ideas. While the same information is often presented on StackOverflow without the user even have to scroll down past the first screen.

The heavy participation of developers in Blender SE is also awesome. And I hope this continues.

BA is like a lounge, a good place for people to communicate and just chat.
SE is like a library, you come here to find the best answer to a particular question (and get out fast)

@mpan3, the lounge/library analogy is apt :slight_smile:

Answering Q’s in SE feels like contributing to a resource, with forums I feel like I’m adding to the noise (fine for chit-chat of course).

I’m keeping tabs on how the site is doing and we’re nearing 1000 visits a day!

A great resource that’s for sure!

Regarding chatter, I’d love to see BlenderArtist’s put some kind of cap on the length of posts. I’m so tired of seeing threads that look like they’d be better suited to be in a novel than in a forum thread. People really need to learn how to edit themselves.