In the initial email we received when launching the private beta, this Q&A was included:

Q: What else? A: Remember, you get the site you build! Ask difficult, specific questions — the kind of questions pros and experts ask each other, not the kind of questions novices ask pros, because a site full of pros and experts will attract everybody, but a site full of novices rapidly becomes boring. No easy questions, no survey questions, no polls, no intro-level/basic questions, no unanswerable hypothetical questions.

Wasn't part of the idea of creating a stack exchange instead of(or as an extra to) the CiviCRM forum, to make it easier for users to come forward with their questions? This particularly quote isn't exactly promoting that. What should be the level that is exciting enough for the programmers, but easy enough for users to actually bother to interact on CiviCRM Stack Exchange?

4 Answers 4


Wasn't part of the idea of creating a Stack Exchange instead of (or as an extra to) the CiviCRM forum, to make it easier for users to come forward with their questions?

That sounds like an excellent question to discuss here on meta, if I do say so myself!

But to get a bit ahead of myself and into the details of your question:

The e-mail you're quoting from is a standard welcome that we send out every time a new site opens. It's based on the philosophy that a site built by experts with great content will continue to attract experts (who can also help non-experts), whereas a site that starts off with low-quality content will repel good users from signing on in the future. In short, a site's level of quality is somewhat self-perpetuating.

If your goal with this site ends up being a bit different than the goal of the average new SE site, and that can be okay. If you're interested in supporting end users in addition to other experts, then instead of focusing purely on asking expert-level questions and answering them well, you may want to put a little more effort than other new sites into providing great answers to new user type questions and doing community support work like improving other users' posts through editing.

  • Valuable response, thanks @Pops. I too was concerned when I read that thing about experts only, but this contextualises it helpfully.
    – Graham
    Mar 29, 2015 at 12:01

As a user who is quite active on the existing forums I do see this site as being a little different from the "standard" SE site. We need to come up with a set of tags that let people find the type of Q and As they are looking for.

User, developer, beginner, no-code, GUI-solution, api, extension are some of the non-topic tags I think we may need to employ to make this site useful for everyone.

  • Great idea @JoAnne, that would be a useful navigational aid for many users
    – Graham
    Mar 29, 2015 at 12:02

Great question. I asked it myself as well.

I think whether users feel welcome is a question that applies equally to stack exchange and the forum, and I am not sure that changing the technology helps solve the issue.

Reports I have heard from end users in the forum are that they see a load of technical questions and are thus intimidated about asking a question that might seem obvious or they think they should really already know the answer to. Some possible ways we can tackle that are

  • intro text that says you can ask any question - even the most simple
  • lots of examples of simple questions that have been answered
  • a way of distinguishing between everyday usage / implementation / developer questions so people can see lots of examples of people like them using this site.

I guess the first step is convincing some users to come here and start asking there questions. Hopefully, once we have a critical mass of simple questions with answers, that will make the place less intimidating.

We can maybe rephrase that suggestion to:

Ask specific questions — the kind that you would ask in your everyday use of CiviCRM and give lots of details. It doesn't matter whether you are a user, an implementor, or a developer - just ensure that your questions come from your everyday use. Don't ask survey questions, no create polls, and don't ask unanswerable hypothetical questions.


Thanks, @Pops. @JoAnne, I think we're doing well so far with getting some non-developer questions and having them answered well. Once we get out of private beta we can start encouraging people posting to support forms to come here. Or maybe require it, though that might be a bit drastic to do immediately.

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