Now that we have this lovely StackExchange site, is the forum still relevant? If so, how do I choose between using the forum and using StackExchange?
First, to clarify a potential misconception: As SE community manager "Pops" pointed out here, the end goal is not for this site to be "experts only." The end goal is for this site to be for everyone using or considering CiviCRM, and the way to achieve that goal is to ask lots of expert-level questions during the beta. That doesn't mean we should turn up our noses at newbie questions, even during the beta (IMO doing so could be extremely counter-productive).
So with that clarified, I think the scope of this site could be "any question about using/evaluating/administering/extending CiviCRM that can be answered in a Q/A format". That leaves a lot of overlap with the existing forum (although there are areas of it, e.g. discussing plans for new features, that do not belong here).
Once the private beta becomes public, I think we ought to at minimum put up a big notice to anyone posting on the forum (or at maximum, redirect posters on certain boards straight here).
A good next step would be to identify which sections of the forum we want to start deprecating.
My own experience is that the Stack Exchange format leads to a vastly superior resource than any forum. The simple mechanism of ranking questions and answers very efficiently provides a well indexed and filtered resource.
Therefore, I'd suggest that all questions and answers should be encouraged through the stack exchange site.
The forum would remain a useful place to discus and chat about issues where there is no immediate prospect of a "correct" answer.
What has frustrated me about the forums is that I have to comb through numerous pages of conversation when trying to find an answer to my question. Even when I do find an answer, I'm not sure whether it's correct or not.
The Q&A approach here is much more helpful for my personal workflow. I enjoy seeing questions from different levels of expertise and it helps me better understand what my clients might find confusing as well.
Forums are for general discussion and broad questions about best practices (p.s. we need to flag some questions on the SE already). User guides are for basic how-to questions. SE is an expert site, for asking and answering specific but difficult questions.
If you need a walkthrough explaining how to create a Price Set, visit book.civicrm.org. If you want to ask how other organizations are using Price Sets, visit the forum. If you've got a crazy set of pricing requirements that you just can't get working properly, use this site.
Edit: to clarify what I mean by "expert site", it's a place where you can get specific answers from experts, vs a forum with lots of "I'm having the same problem too". I think @Coleman best explained the goal in his answer.
I understand that SE promotes its sites as expert sites, but I am wondering if that is how the CiviCRM community wants to use it. It is our site and we can set the rules to suit us.
I agree that the user guides are for basic how-to questions, but we still get a lot of them asked on the forum where previous questions and their answers are hard to find.
I would like to see basic how-to questions answered on this forum with a link to the relevant section of the User and Admin guide . They should be tagged with an appropriate content tag and also with a "beginner" or similar tag so that newbies can use the superior search functionalilty of this site to be guided to where they can find the answer to their particular question.
My sense is that we have a pretty clear consensus building on this issue. In terms of taking it forward I can see that a clear policy statement/guidance note that is published here and on the forum would be helpful to all users.
The forum is need need of a pretty thorough overhaul in any case IMO, and I can see a potentially valuable piece of work as part of that, in migrating some of the existing forum content (perhaps in edited form) to this site, as well as the policing/moderation of new content both here and on the forum.
As a non-technical heavy user, I can say that Stack Exchange has been a better resource for me than the CiviForum and that is without this concerted effort. I think the primary reason is that a lot of my questions are not just Civi related but involve its interactions with the underlying infrastructure. It also seems that the Stack Exchange approach "just works"