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The Final Push for Stack Exchange

After EECI many people in the ExpressionEngine community focused on a proposal for a Stack Exchange site for ExpressionEngine. That proposal moved to private beta and is nearing the end of its public beta. In order to reach the goal of having a permanent SE site for EE, one of the requirements is that at least five people need a reputation of 3,000 or greater. As I write this we have threefour.

I applaud the effort of everyone involved in making this happen. It is a lot of work to answer questions, especially ones that are very specific. Sometimes a quick Google search is all that is needed (which makes me wonder why they didn’t just do that in the first place) but I’ve come across many questions that are difficult to unpack and answer. Some of these questions are answered but many of them sit in the purgatory of the Unanswered Question list.

I’ll be honest, though. I find the Stack Exchange system and rules difficult to understand. I feel like a dummy using it. It doesn’t help me along with hints as I’m trying to use it. Getting off the ground with reputation can be difficult and you can’t even hop in a chat room and ask for help unless you already have some reputation. You also can’t ask for clarification on a question until you have a certain reputation. The tools you need to give good answers are unavailable to you at first. The draconian requirements help foster a good community long term but they are terrible when you’re trying to help get one off the ground. I hate using it but I feel so drawn to it because I understand the greater good it can do for the ExpressionEngine community.

If you have ever had to use Google to help solve a coding problem you ran into (with PHP, Ruby, Python), you know that Stack Exchange answers come up frequently in the results. It seems like there is always an answer to your problem.

And this is what makes a SE site for ExpressionEngine so exciting. With the pruning of official EE forums, the obvious lack of care by EllisLab in not breaking in-bound links (which is tantamount to breaking the Internet itself) to the site and resources (hello, wiki), so many new users to ExpressionEngine can be alienated.

I’ve been publishing about ExpressionEngine for four years on this site and more than five in total. I know how hard it is to get people to find the information you created that can help them. Stack Exchange gives us that opportunity because of the value and weight of its domain in search result algorithms.

While I think Stack Exchange is a frustrating, user-unfriendly system to use when trying to build up a new site, I know it will be help people more and more as it matures. A single question with an answer could probably help hundreds of people beyond the original poster.

And that right there is why it’s worth the effort to up-vote good answers and questions, participate when you can, and encourage others to do the same.

Posted on Jan 12, 2013 by Ryan Irelan

Filed Under: Community, Stack Exchange

Brandon Kelly21:24 on 01.12.2013

Totally agree that SE comes with a bit of a learning curve. I appreciate most of the rules, and the ideals behind them, but the app could be doing a much better job holding newcomers

Jim03:37 on 01.13.2013

SE is an important milestone for EE as a community - if Ellis Labs doesn’t want to support us, we’ll take EE elsewhere. It’s immediately deep with vast information, relevant to the current releases. It’s also narrow that way - a bit of a chasm. We need to get SE through this last gate so it’s final first though.

As a point, I and others are trying to revive the subreddit and we hang out there daily. If there’s ever a rambling question or a POV piece that isn’t right for SE, please post it there.

GDmac04:51 on 01.13.2013

Have you noticed that Ellislab also has a voting system on their forums now? You can see it in the community support forums, where entries have a badge of “needs solution” / “has solution”.

However, for me the StackExchange effort really helps the community. It will be less prone to the next round of Ellislab obsoleting (archiving) another forum when 3.x might come to be.

Steve Hurst11:56 on 01.13.2013

Every time I come across a link to an old forum post, Wiki article, or official plugin link for instructions that takes me nowhere, I question who I’ve put my money and time behind. I have never encountered such a cavalier lack of respect for its own community, and a total lack of professionalism. I love ExpressionEngine, and I have sold it to many clients, but I can’t help but feel the writing is on the wall. If the company botches a website relaunch to such a degree, there is very little hope for the software itself.

Chris20:08 on 01.14.2013

EE SE is simply terrific and hopefully everything will be consolidated here.  It’s unfortunate that Ellis took a position earlier this year to work more closely with the ee community. . . and today there isn’t even a link available on the EllisLab website for feature requests.