[wp-hackers] Wordpress StackExchange is ready.

Eric Mann eric at eamann.com
Wed Jun 2 23:19:10 UTC 2010

I wasn't able to respond to the later messages earlier because of a meeting,
but since I feel so strongly about it I do still want to make a comment.

As an open-source project, it's the community that defines what "official"
represents.  We're in a situation where a large portion of users (not
necessarily a majority) feel current "official" channels are not serving
their intended purposes.  In this case, it's the WordPress forums.  One
suggestion is to supplement these forums with a Stack Overflow-like question
and answer site.  It keeps the answers in a concise form while still
maintaining a forum for more verbose discussions of other issues - plug-in
ideas, theme collaborations, etc.  Since Stack Exchange is a freely
available way to do this, people have suggested we go that route since it's
there already, seems to be a proven-enough model, and it's similar enough to
a tool they've used in the past.

I doubt anyone would sincerely suggest that a WordPress Stack Exchange would
ever replace the forums, only supplement them.  Look at the structure of
wordpress.org as it stands - we have a blog for news updates, a forum for
community discussions, and a wiki for documentation and how-to articles.
There's no reason a question-answer stack wouldn't fit into the mix as well.
Using a Stack Exchange for now is the shortest route to having that

Considering so many people are worried about a site like this "splintering
the development community" means that we all recognize just how many people
could use a system like this.  The fact that it could be a popular
alternative to a traditional forum is not a reason to dismiss it.

But my biggest issue lies in the knee-jerk dismissal of this idea as a
"fork" that doesn't have a place among "official support channels."  We are
a community working on a common project ... we define what is official and
we define the direction of the software and it's support systems.  At least
one person suggested that an answer stack could live on a subdomain of
wordpress.org, which would make it just as "official" and sanctioned as
codex.wordpress.org ... which itself is also a separate platform (MediaWiki,
if I'm not mistaken).

I actually hesitated to get involved with WordPress for about 2 years for
this very reason - the difference between "official" and "unofficial" in a
community-driven open source project.  As a newcomer, I felt like I was
getting software for free from a corporation that had no interest in my
opinion.  When something broke, I would wait for an "official" moderator to
respond to a question.  When I wanted to submit new code, I would wait for
an "official" committer to take a look and approve it  In the beginning, it
felt nothing at all like I was a member of an open source project ... after
conversations like this, it still feels that way.

The original proposal was to develop an answer site that would live on
wordpress.org and supplement the codex and forums.  If we want to keep the
discussion of that proposal off the mailing list to save on noise that's
fine.  But don't suggest that we're doing so because it's an "unofficial"
project that's competing with other so-called "official support channels."
All that does is insult the "unofficial" developers.


Eric Mann

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