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.
Nailed it. You and @Pops explained what I was trying to say, but in a much clearer way than I could. The quality of early these questions is going to set the bar for the quality of users who ultimately spend time here providing answers. Mar 25, 2015 at 12:51
Yes that says if for me as well. The false requirement that questions be expert only is something related to the business value of the stackexchange franchise during the future inevitable acquisition event. Apr 6, 2015 at 19:01
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.
This summarizes for me the value SE can bring that our forums never will. I think we'll also find that there are still lots of other uses for the forum, e.g. posting notices of extensions in development, and other creative conversations that aren't looking for an answer. Apr 7, 2015 at 13:48
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 would say it's not an expert site exclusively, just moderate enough to remove obvious spam and exact duplicates. Mar 24, 2015 at 23:16
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.
2On the other 'expert' sites on stackexchange I belong to I am not offended or put off by newbie questions, so long as they are well presented. In fact it gives me a chance to answer and 'win' a few points. Mar 24, 2015 at 23:19
1Questioners aren't expected to be experts, but SE sites are popular specifically because that's where the experts hang out. A consideration is that, if the SE site becomes the same Civi forum with a pretty face and better search, experts won't want to hang around. Brand new users (who didn't read any guides or do any research), the core team doing support hours, and a handful of evangelists will remain. Voting will help the best questions and answers rise to the top, but it's still something to consider. Mar 24, 2015 at 23:22
3I will add that we should also be careful not to conflate "experts" with "programmers". Civi admins and development directors are experts, not just coders. Given the same question, their answer to a problem will involve front-end config and tools, and will be totally different from a programmer who suggests coding a brand-new extension. Mar 24, 2015 at 23:47
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"