TopAnswers Meta
or
Jack DouglasCC0 1.0
announcement
## The Problem with Stack Overflow

A focused Q&A platform, that keeps the signal:noise ratio high, is a great benefit to people looking for answers on the internet. For a long time this need has been well served by [Stack Overflow](https://stackoverflow.com) and its sister sites, but:

* Stack Overflow Inc is a for-profit company with shareholders, and won't ever be purely focused on the mission of building a library of knowledge on the internet. The profit motive is the powerful, and eventually it is going to push altruism into second place.

* Because there is no obvious profit in free, simple, focused, Q&A, a profit-seeking company is going to explore other avenues for generating revenue (like [Teams](https://stackoverflow.com/teams), [Jobs](https://stackoverflow.com/jobs), etc). The Q&A then becomes the platform for promoting those other, profitable services. That is bound to mean a less pure focus on the Q&A itself.

* There is a large and comitted community of volunteers working on the Stack Overflow network, answering questions, clearing up junk, and performing many other essential tasks. There are also employees of Stack Overflow. Relationships are generally good between the two groups, especially because the Community Managers (paid staff who liase with the community) are well respected and liked. However there is inevitably a discordance between the two groups because their priorities are inherently different.

## How we think we can do better

TopAnswers is intended to solve these issues for the long term. Here, the aim is not to operate for profit. We aren't operating a 'loss leader' strategy, where we take all the costs until the community is big, and then try and leverage that community to make a profit.

Instead the aim is to **keep a pure focus on creating great content, as a community, for as long as possible.**

To that end, we promise that:

1. We will not go down the for-profit route, and will apply for charitable status as soon as any income from donations exceeds the basic level needed to run a CIO in the UK as well as paying our hosting costs. This is not a high bar.

1. We will not diversify into other profit-seeking areas and try to leverage the community here to promote them. If we branch out at all, those activities will:

   * be compatible with focussed Q&A and building a library of knowledge for the good of everyone (for example, services like [db<>fiddle](https://dbfiddle.uk))

   * also be not for profit

1. If you join this community and contribute your time and energy towards the Q&A here, we will never treat you as 'the product'. We want a real community with genuinely shared priorities.

1. As much as possible of the platform will always be open-source and publicly available, and most is currently [on GitHub](https://github.com/topanswers/topanswers) now.

## Where to start

Some of this will have to be taken on trust to start with. There are also some blanks that need filling in, for example:

 * ~~What license shall we use for contributions?~~ *We are allowing contributors [to choose their license](/meta?q=18#a8) from a range of options*.
 * ~~And for the platform itself?~~ *We have [have picked the AGPL v3](/meta?q=28#a116)*.
 * [What Q&A communities will we host](/meta?q=211) and how will we decide that?
 * What about all the millions of other details, including those that don't look important until you start to scale, when they suddenly blow up in your face?
 
We'd like to work together with you, to answer these question and others like them. This 'meta' community is where we'd like those discussions to take place, and we promise to always be responsive to, and to listen carefully to, the community here. No other channel, *even Twitter*, will ever take priority over this one.
Jack Douglas replying to holmanb
thanks, I have updated the post :)
holmanb
It seems that the second bullet (regarding the platform license)  has been resolved.  Would you care to edit the post (I cannot)?
Jack Douglas replying to srm
I like it but not quite enough to think it's better than simply 'stars' — partly because 'star power' to my mind more naturally relates to the number of stars you can award (which is log~10~(stars))
srm
@Jack  
srm
@jack Thanks for the ping info. Did you see my suggestion about using the term "star power" instead of "reputation" or similar?
Jack Douglas replying to srm
I happened to see your reply here but you might like to know I didn't get a ping — you have to reply or click on an identicon in the stack on the right to ping ---------->
srm
@jackdouglas No, not a mod, never have been. Just a high-ranked user who has watched for years. 
Jack Douglas replying to srm
I think SO have made a number of mistakes that we can learn from. Are/were you a mod on any SE site? Some of the avoidable problems have plagued moderation on SE for a long time. Of course the big question is whether we really will do better or just *think* we know better. Only time will tell but if we take the single biggest change we have made (moving comments out of the main Q&A line into this sidebar), we've already got good reason to think this will save us an enormous amount of hassle as well as keeping the signal:noise ratio higher in the Q&A itself.
srm
@Jack Many of the adjustments from SO you discuss making are about the corporate structure, not about the quality of the Q&A. How do you feel about the theorem "we should replicate the SE sites as exactly as possible to start with but with a different governing structure to guide their evolution"? 
srm
It's accurate (literally, the number of accumulated stars), but has a nice secondary meaning that is directly tied to how much you've shown off on the site, a starring role in Q&A.
srm
@PaulWhite How about "star power"? 
Jack Douglas replying to John aka hot2use
wrong room?
John aka hot2use
morning
Paul White replying to Jack Douglas
ah yes that's even better
Jack Douglas
I looked for some 'reputation' synonyms, but (unsurprisingly), they are mostly also quite loaded terms like 'standing'
Jack Douglas replying to Paul White
just 'stars' is pretty neutral and fairly obvious what it refers to
Paul White
I hope to convince Jack (and everyone) that "reputation" is a poor alias for "total score" at some stage.  
Total score is a measure of well-received contributions. Calling it "reputation" feels a little too personal for mine.
Paul White replying to Monica
Only stars contribute to score, yes. User total score is per site.
Monica replying to Paul White
Nice idea!  Votes scaling with rep seems like a good way to give newbies *something* while not overly restricting the invested users.  What gives rep, just votes?  Votes on meta too or only on the main site?  (As someone who's not going to be asking or answering on Databases but has, I expect, a lot of upcoming meta participation, I'd like to know if I have a path out of the newbie box.)
Paul White replying to Monica
The only effect I am aware of right now is that as your rep increases you get more votes.  
Log10 scale so 10 rep = up to 2 stars, 100 rep = up to 3 stars and so on  
This is quite nice so far I think. I like being able to choose to award one or two stars.
Monica
Voting is essential, but reputation might not be.  (Though I grant the gamification benefit.)  What are the current effects of reputation?  Is it just a number next to your name, or does it unlock privileges?
Jack Douglas
I don't think there is any doubt that as artificial as internet points are, they do serve to incentivise contributions from some folk
Jack Douglas
rep is not so essential, but we are using it as a rough measure of expertise — and if your rep is high enough you are able to award multiple starts to posts (first 2 when rep=9, then 3 when rep=99 etc)
Jack Douglas replying to Colin 't Hart
voting is essential I think because it is the only way that we can keep the signal:noise ratio high — by sorting answers by votes
Jack Douglas replying to Colin 't Hart
good question — it is 'by design', but only because I want as few special cases as possible, and I wanted to create blog posts. We are tentatively planning to allow people to ask questions linked to blog posts (they can't be 'answered', but could raise questions!)
Jack Douglas
at some point any edit or re-tag will notify the OP
Jack Douglas
so, yes, 'intentional' at the moment. editing tags no longer bumps a question so removing a tag and re-adding it has no negative effect
Jack Douglas replying to Colin 't Hart
anyone can edit tags — the only thing we do currently is rate limit, and keep tagging history, so we can undo changes if necessary.
Colin 't Hart replying to Jack Douglas
Do you really want "rep and voting"? Just thinking about what function it serves.
Colin 't Hart
Should all users regardless of reputation be able to create blog posts?
Colin 't Hart
@Jack Hmm, I was able to delete the announcement tag. I added it again. Bug? Intentional?
John aka hot2use
I only benefited from an additional 400 unicorn points, which is good IMO.
Jack Douglas replying to ypercubeᵀᴹ
yes, though at least they are no longer casting the change as "women don't have answers"
ypercubeᵀᴹ
You can remove the "allegedly" now ;)
Jack Douglas
Today is the day SE are [allegedly](https://web.archive.org/web/20191105161629/https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/337604/stack-exchange-is-planning-to-retroactively-change-the-vote-value-on-questio) going to make a controversial change to vote values. The change itself isn't very significant — but it does seem to add weight to the feeling  that their priorities have changed permanently. So perhaps today is a good day to [announce The Heap™ – Consultancy ©® 2.0](https://topanswers.xyz/databases?q=25). If you have just arrived here from a link in The Heap on SE, thank you for dropping in. If you are curious enough to invest the time doing so, please read the "Heap 2.0" announcement post I just linked to after finding out "Why we are building TopAnswers" on this page.
Jack Douglas
would be interested to know if you think I should wait longer — eg if there is a particular feature we should implement first
Jack Douglas replying to Tom V
and I think we are close to the point where I can post this in the Heap
Jack Douglas replying to Tom V
you can now if you like :)
Lamak
and I miss answering some questions, and learning from them
Lamak
but it's promising, I like it
Paul White replying to Jack Douglas
yes I meant linking to the blog post not necessarily encouraging everyone to come here just yet. There is a lot of work to do for sure.
Tom V
but I remember that as a much more detailed study from long ago when I still did websites, cant find it though with all the "how to draw more visitors to your site" blogs that put so much time in SEO
Tom V
https://webwisewording.com/website-first-impression/
Tom V
there is a term for it but I forgot
Tom V
you don't want the general opinion to be formed to early (I checked it out but it was nowhere near), if the initial response is disappointment a lot of people will never return
Tom V replying to Jack Douglas
I think you are right in waiting
Tom V replying to Jack Douglas
I like that idea a lot
Jack Douglas replying to Tom V
yes that's exactly right — one room per question…
Jack Douglas replying to Paul White
I wonder if SE would ban me if I overtly promote TopAnswers there. It's also a timing issue — when we have rep and voting working here I think I can reach most Heapers (and other users too) with a link of some dort on db<>fiddle anyway. Does that make sense?
Paul White
Why hasn't this been posted to The Heap on SE?
Tom V
I would up-vote this question if I could :D
Tom V
Ah sweet, does this automatically create a room when a question is asked?