Stack Exchange is/should be different than the CiviCRM forum. Some questions will necessarily be discouraged from the SE users, following the dynamics of SE. (In the forums practically no questions are mocked!)

Bearing in mind that we are a small community, which needs every person we can attract, how should we make our site policy to welcome "new users that have silly questions"? (This also counts for the private beta period, as we need a lot of Q&A to reach full site status)

As we all was told in our invitation email, the first period sets the tone of the site. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

3 Answers 3


I agree we want this site to be as friendly and welcoming as possible.

My interpretation of the welcome email is it said that you (the person receiving the email) are encouraged to post high-quality content to help set a professional tone for the site. It didn't say you should try to control what others post, especially not by ridiculing them. Hopefully people did not interpret it that way.

What it left unsaid (and IMO probably should have said) is that we want the tone to be professional and welcoming. If people who know a lot can share their knowledge with those who know less in a friendly, non-condescending way, this will be a great place for everyone.


Coleman's interpretation is, indeed, what we intended to say. I'm disappointed that we're failing to communicate what we mean, and slightly alarmed that we're giving off a "there's an SE orthodoxy, and it's out to get you" vibe.

I don't know exactly how long it's been since the private beta invitation e-mail was last updated, but it's definitely been a while. I'm going to combine whatever feedback is posted here with anything I can get from the next few new sites and see if I can spruce up the wording of that e-mail.

  • 1
    Posting a less-than-brilliant question on SO sometimes feels like swimming with sharks (just speaking from my own experience). My goal for this site is to have a friendlier, more laid-back vibe, and I think that won't be too hard - Civi folks are a jovial bunch.
    – Coleman
    Commented Mar 27, 2015 at 21:07

StackExchange generally does push for high quality questions as well as high quality answers, and I don't think that's a bad thing. That said, asking questions well is often difficult, and there's a learning curve involved.

There's a few areas where questions typically fail. Repeat questions, giving no indication of having tried to work on the problem already, and poor language in asking the question are the ones that come to mind first.

With repeat questions, they should be treated as such and not answered afresh, but there's a lot in how it's done. It can (and often is) done badly by simply marking the question as a duplicate without further communication (and too often by an admin who hasn't fully comprehended the question). It can be done better by linking to the previous version of the question, and asking the the poster if that actually solves the problem, but the first point to address is whether the question need a fresh answer or is already covered.

Where users have failed to put much effort in themselves before asking a question, it is important to point them in the right direction, but it can be done by prompting them on what they need to do in order to get to a question worth asking. Maybe they need to be pointed at some basic documentation, or there's particular information they need to gather and add to the question. It is important to realise though that any question asked will involve quite a lot of people spending time reading it, and there's a responsibility to put a bit of effort into it.

Questions and answers can both be edited, by either the original poster of the question or answer, or by someone with sufficient reputation on the site. There are two goals here. Firstly we want to solve the problem of the person who asked the question, and secondly we want to get both the question and answer into a good form for providing assistance to whoever might come afterwards.

There's quite a lot of questions on StackExchange where I've worked with the poster through a series of exchanges in comments and updating of the question and answer text. Getting to the point of having a good question and answer is a process, which is often iterative.

People's language skills obviously vary, and English is not everyone's first language. There's definitely a place for editing questions to clarify them. I've been rather irritated though where people have occasionally done that in a way that is really just substituting their preferred turn of phrase without really impacting clarity.

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