14

I've gotta say That I was reasonably excited to see this proposal go into beta, but to date, it's been mostly nothing more than licensing questions. I was hoping for... something more.

  • What other kinds of questions would be a good fit for this site?
  • What can we do to encourage those questions?
  • 3
    This has irritated a fine portion of the community. Issue is that licensing is easy and well-defined, while the rest of the scope is shaky. I've found that non-licensing questions have a much higher tendency of being closed. You can also ask theoretical questions with licensing and be specific, because mechanics clearly exist, unlike with something like financing and monetization. – Zizouz212 Aug 7 '15 at 0:00
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    That's a shame @Zizouz212. I'm actually much more interested in other aspects of FOSS. Like this gem. – RubberDuck Aug 7 '15 at 0:02
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    I exactly get how you feel. I want to be able to ask questions about development, and real issues with projects. I'm just not active in projects that have multiple contributors. It really is a shame. The non-licensing questions are also normally the most interesting, and answers are more thoughtful, abstract, and hence amazing, because they derive mostly from true experience. – Zizouz212 Aug 7 '15 at 0:05
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    I guess I could start by writing a question or two, but I'm sketchy on doing so since you said these questions have been getting closed. Have any of those come across meta as specific-questionss? I'd be interested in seeing some examples. – RubberDuck Aug 7 '15 at 0:07
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    There hasn't actually been much activity on meta about it. On more thought, a few of them were broad in nature, so that could've been a factor. Perhaps saying that they are closed more frequently may be slightly injust, because they are mostly artificial questions and are less frequent. I wouldn't worry about asking questions, I look forward to reading them! – Zizouz212 Aug 7 '15 at 0:13
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    I'll reflect on my last year's experience and see what I've got to add to the community. Certainly one way to encourage other kinds of questions is to post them. I'm still very interested in hearing what the regulars have to say on the topic though. – RubberDuck Aug 7 '15 at 0:15
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    So am I. Hopefully, we'll be able to think of something abstract and interesting. I think another major step would be to promote this site to higher-scale projects. That could be interesting in discovering things. – Zizouz212 Aug 7 '15 at 0:16
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    I note that your question cites no specific examples of other topics you'd like to see here. It's hard to get traction on 'less' without a target for 'more'. – bmargulies Aug 21 '15 at 14:35
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    @bmargulies huh?? – RubberDuck Aug 21 '15 at 15:21
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    It seemed odd to me that your question didn't have any examples to offer of other topics. – bmargulies Aug 21 '15 at 15:23
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    .... that was the point @bmargulies. I asked this not long after joining the community. I was asking what other kinds of questions should be on topic. Perhaps I'll add an answer myself now that I've gotten more comfortable here. – RubberDuck Aug 21 '15 at 15:30
15

Always a good way to form a community is leading by example. So if you want the community include more non-licensing question you should ask some good questions yourself.

Another way might be encouraging questions about specific topics. I've seen on Worldbuilding that there was a week about asking map-related questions (and it seems that's an regular event). Maybe something similar could be created here, although I think the community should grow a little bit more first.

4

In my opinion, there should be a lot more discouragement of questions that can be answered by reading the frequently asked licensing questions of the main FLOSS organizations.

At the very least, there should be more "What have you tried to answer that question yourself?", or "Why does $faqentry not answer your question?" comments.

This may prevent non-licensing questions from being drowned in licensing questions, because either the additional research effort required help to answer the questions, or at least dissuades people from asking those that are not worth that effort and most likely be part of those FAQs already.

  • 3
    Can you elaborate? I'm failing to see how this is relevant to my question. – RubberDuck Aug 10 '15 at 13:20
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    Hm, I might have implictly assumed that "FAQ" is understood as "licensing FAQ". Let me edit this into the answer. – Michael Schumacher Aug 10 '15 at 13:23
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    Thanks for clarifying. Good point! – RubberDuck Aug 10 '15 at 14:52
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    I thinking that discouragement for these sorts of questions are fine, but I think we also need to recognize the need that there are genuine questions by people who do try to research, but come up with nothing. While this should normally be somewhat noticeable in the question body itself, I think it would be important to be wary not to down vote questions just because you found the answer in an faq. – Zizouz212 Aug 12 '15 at 0:10
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    Please not that the downvote button's tooltip starts with "This question does not show any research effort". I do expect people to tell that they have done research, how they did it (i.e. their search terms for web searches), and that they have come up empty, and/or that <insert list of search results here> have not helped them for this and that reason. – Michael Schumacher Aug 12 '15 at 12:12
-2

I don't think it's a concern. For as long as copyright law remains all-rights-reserved the free and open movement will need licenses. We should expect that most questions on this site will in some way touch on licensing. But that doesn't mean there can't be (or that there isn't already) a wide variety of questions just within the broad category of licensing itself (and of course other questions remain on topic too):

  • questions about terminology and license explanations
  • questions are applying licenses to projects, and relicensing projects
  • questions about the compatibility of licenses and how libraries can be legally incorporated
  • questions about contributor license agreements
  • questions about implied licensing such as Github's forking functionality
  • 5
    A few more rep and I'll happily down vote this answer. There's sooooo much more to OSS than licensing concerns. – RubberDuck Aug 7 '15 at 6:40
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    @RubberDuck then why would you vote this down? I don't disagree with that! All I'm saying is that it's appropriate that we have lots of licensing questions, and that we should keep expecting to have lots of them. – curiousdannii Aug 7 '15 at 7:24
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    I specifically asked about the scope of questions that don't involve licensing. The word "license" is in 4/5 of your bullet points, and implied by the 5th. – RubberDuck Aug 7 '15 at 7:26
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    @rubberDuck I wrote this post because your post makes it sound like a dominance of licensing questions will make the site become boringly uniform, so I wanted to show how even within licensing there is a lot of scope diversity. Of course there's lots of other things. – curiousdannii Aug 7 '15 at 7:40
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    For some of us, becoming boringly uniform is exactly what will happen. I agree that there will likely be many licensing questions asked, I'm asking what other kinds of questions should be in scope and how to encourage them. – RubberDuck Aug 7 '15 at 7:42
-3

Questions that negate FUD

If there's popular fear, uncertainty and doubt cast about a FLO concept, ask a question about it. (e.g. "Is copyleft anti-commerical?") Answer the question yourself and give a concrete counter-example.

Bonus: The next time you're in an internet argument, link to the question :D

  • 3
    Please, no troll-bait on that sort of broad, political, topic. – bmargulies Aug 21 '15 at 14:33
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    @bmargulies I think a complete answer to that question would be both factual and interesting, and not at all troll-bait; unless you mean my "bonus" comment, which was intended as a joke :) – david.libremone Aug 21 '15 at 14:42
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    @bmargulies in fact, I'd say being able to completely (even-handedly) answer such a question should be one of our site goals – david.libremone Aug 21 '15 at 14:43
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    I don't agree. I think that this site should have the same limitations on 'broad' and 'opinion' that the rest of the network has, and I don't see how anyone can give an answer to this question that would pass those tests, and I feel confident that any such question and answer would attract a torrent of ideological commentary. But, that's me. – bmargulies Aug 21 '15 at 14:46
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    @bmargulies I take that as a challenge ;) [when I have more time] – david.libremone Aug 21 '15 at 15:00
  • 1
    Go right ahead! – bmargulies Aug 21 '15 at 15:00
-3

I suppose that the long-term goal here, as for stackoverflow.com itself, is for the site to provide answers to 'practical, answerable' questions. Relatively concrete solutions to relatively concrete problems.

Other than licensing, where might these come from?

We are already seeing some 'community-building' questions. While they can be a bit squishy, the squish can be controlled by applying the standard that answers should be 'backed up' with concrete personal experience.

One could also imagine some 'community destruction' questions, if you'll excuse a humorous way of thinking about forking.

We've seen some questions about the intersection of technologies (version control, testing, build systems) with open source collaboration. From one point of view, an open source project is just an example of a bunch of people scattered all over try to collaborate, so those questions might be viewed as off-topic, but, again, if they are worded to ask for backed-up practical answers, why not?

The recent AV question is again one which straddles a line between 'specific to open source' and 'generic to products with a small(er) audience.'

There's the department of 'how can I make a living building open source.' In my opinion, these would be great if we got answers from people who actually make a living doing open source, and not just people copying and pasting ideology or second-hand stories.

A common theme here is that the range of workable questions depends, ultimately, on the availability of actual experts to answer them. Where by 'expert' I merely mean, 'someone with relevant, practical, personal, experience.'

  • 1
    Stack Overflow should not be used as a goal for this site, because all of the stack exchange sites combined (excluding stack overflow) have less questions than Stack Overflow. A more realistic goal is to be like other non-stack overflow sites where questions are allowed to be a lot more "squishy". Also bear in mind the main reason stack overflow requires specific questions is because non-specific questions would get hundreds of answers if they weren't closed, bumping the question and filling the homepage with junk. We don't have that problem here, and never will (PS: I didn't downvote you) – Abhi Beckert Aug 22 '15 at 16:14
  • 1
    If you read my answer more carefully, you will find that i referenced the policies of several of the non-stackoverflow sites on the network that allow 'squish' but manage it with a 'back it up' policy. – bmargulies Aug 22 '15 at 19:36

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