If you’re not already aware of the dedicated Selenium Q&A site that I have proposed, then it’s definitely worth checking it out. If you’re interested in supporting the proposal, and helping it to reach beta then please commit. By committing you are stating that you are prepared to both ask and answer questions on the proposed site.
So why does Selenium need a new site for Q&A?
Well, first let me give you some history of the official Selenium forums. When I first started to get involved in the Selenium community there was the Clearspace forums, which provided a good structure, a pretty good interface, and a basic reward system. The main problems I had with Clearspace was searching the content, identifying unanswered questions, and the alarming regularity of certain basic (but very suitable) questions. Another issue turned out to be spam, which I believe was the main reason the content was migrated – after much discussion – to Google Groups.
I was 100% for this move, however with hindsight I believe it wasn’t the best decision. Google Groups is great for discussions but not a suitable place for Q&A. It might be powerful in terms of search, but the format of text and structure of conversations makes it very difficult to identify questions, and there’s little or no incentive in answering them. Whenever I’ve taken time to read the posts in the group I’ve almost always lost interest after reading just one or two – there’s just so much text!
At this time the StackOverflow site was already becoming a popular place to ask Selenium questions – there are now over 600 questions tagged ‘selenium’. Once I’d asked and answered a handful of questions myself I was hooked. StackOverflow’s mission is to solve the common problems found in other forum solutions, and they do it very well. Their ‘ask a question’ system makes it very obvious if you’re asking a question that has already been answered, therefore filtering out repetition questions but at the same time providing those users with quality answers. Their rewards system works well to encourage good quality questions and answers. The only problem is that StackOverflow is for asking programming questions, and although Selenium does have programming aspects to it, it’s not the perfect fit.
Along comes StackExchange, which provides the same underlying solution from StackOverflow to fit an audience other than programmers. Unfortunately StackExchange was a commercial solution, and as Selenium is free and open source there wasn’t the cash to get something running. It’s also difficult to determine if the cost would be worthwhile, as without community interested the site would get nowhere.
When StackExchange announced that they would be redesigning their model so that community powered Q&A sites would be provided free of charge if they can prove they have enough committed users, I decided to put forward the Selenium proposal. After 29 days I’m impressed that the proposal has over 100 followers, and now has over 80 committed users!
If you’ve already committed then thank you – I’m really looking forward to participating with you on the new site!