A few days ago we all agreed that the quality of our questions and answers could use some work. Many of us have been hard at work to fix this, and I feel like we've definitely broadened and thus improved the scope. And their certainly have been some pretty good questions. but I feel like the problems we had then still plague us.

As Gilles said, we'll need expert-level questions to attract experts. However, to successfully ask and answer expert-level questions, we need experts. (Or at least people with intermediate experience who are actively working with open source.

And sadly, it seems like we're lacking there.

So my question is, how can we reach out to people actually active in and knowledgeable about open source projects and convince them to join this beta to help raise its level?

3 Answers 3


The best way to recruit experts is to show them content they're interested in. This can be answers that teach them something, or questions where they can demonstrate their expertise. To attract experts, you need at least original questions; to retain them, you need also original answers (but having experts around tends to generate that).

If you know experts, think what kind of content they would like to see. Would they be interested in our most popular subjects, such as how to determine whether two licenses are compatible — which doesn't go much further than summarizing content found elsewhere? Or in how to relicense a project, or how many licenses a source archive must contain, or how to monetize an open source project?

If the answer is no, we have a problem. You can't count on experts with no prior motivation to raise the level of questions. Experts' questions tend to be few and far apart, and they'll only ask them in venues where they feel they're likely to get an answer. Experts will raise the level of answers provided that they have some incentive to do so — seeing a lot of poor answers (short, unresearched, only repeating what can be found elsewhere…) isn't an incentive to take the time to craft a detailed, interesting answer.

  • I'm not sure I'm convinced, but that's not the point I want to make. It seems like we are as it is, not in capacity to ask enough questions that would attract experts to this site. (Unless you think people are sitting on their great questions and mostly pumping out okay ones.)
    – overactor
    Jun 30, 2015 at 4:59
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    @overactor I don't think people are sitting on great questions but I do think that spending less time pumping out contrived questions would allow for spending more time on actual projects, which is how you run into the problems from which good questions are formed.
    – Air
    Jul 2, 2015 at 15:31

Well, I disagree we lack experts in Open Source. In the question you linked many identified their projects. One who didn't answer there was Bruno Lowagie, author of iText. I think expertise is given. But, experts mostly answer questions and often pretty good (1, 2, 3, 4, 5 to give some examples). But they lack in asking questions. So I don't agree, that we lack expert, though I agree we lack good example- questions. We should get more people interested in Open Source, they may have the better questions.

  • 1
    I agree that the answers are better than the questions, I guess experts don't have many questions to ask. Which brings us back to: we need more experts.
    – overactor
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:35
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    Or more enthusiast that may have more questions than answers. But anyways, asking interested people to join the Beta may be a good course of action.
    – Mnementh
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:46
  • However, these enthusiasts would need to be committed, and have some minimal background to post expert quality questions
    – Zizouz212
    Jun 29, 2015 at 13:59
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    And again we come to the problem of FAQs. The minimal background is best build by reading the extensive resources on sites like GNU, FSF, OSI, CC. The experts are at these sites, not here.
    – user114
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:25

This problem is caused by the scope of this sites. Most questions about specific licenses and their application to various situations are already answered elsewhere. It makes no sense to, for example, formulate new questions and answers that in the end just duplicate the FAQs of the FSF about their licenses.

The GNU GPL experts of the FSF and the SFLC will not participate in this site because it is about "Open Source" and, at least at the moment, there is no consensus to rename the site to include Free Software in the site name. The experts that could cover all aspects of GNU licenses will not take part in a site that is, from their perspective, hostile to the very idea they try to promote.

Will CC people come here if they host an extensive list of FAQs at the CC site? I think they will not.

What unasked quality questions are left if you effectively exclude GNU and CC? I find it hard to find questions that will not just lead to duplication of content better found at the original sources.

  • I disagree with the points that you include. The scope of the site is not a problem; the majority of the questions that we do is. People don't come to SE sites to duplicate the world's information, but because they genuinely have questions that wouldn't have been answered clearly. I agree with you however that the site name is misleading of our scope, but including the name will not fix that. We are not hosting FAQs on this site, but we're trying to bring a site that is useful to those involved, in all aspects of project development. It's not hard to ask, the scope includes many aspects.
    – Zizouz212
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:10
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    "in all aspects of project development" Until now I fail to find relevant questions (and answers!) that cover topics different from license. If a asked that is not about licensing, it often is so broad that it can be closed at first sight.
    – user114
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:13
  • That's also a result of the community, most of us are not involved in these areas because Open Source does not directly relate to that. These questions are not closed at first sight, and being in a private beta, we should then promote these discussions on meta. That is how the community will grow, that is how the site will grow
    – Zizouz212
    Jun 29, 2015 at 14:16

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