I was directed to explore TopAnswers.xyz in the wake of events on SE. Looking around, I see a site that is functional but still feels like a work in progress, as I would expect.
My question pertains to the meta conversations I'm scanning about how to implement the site. Many of the questions ask for variations to do things differently from SE. Functionally, I've generally liked how SE works. My only issues have been with the management (and with the existence of a "management" that can override the local communities). But it seems a lot of other people want some changes in how questions are asked and answered.
That makes me curious: What is the goal of TopAnswers? Is it simply to replicate SE functionality away from the corporate structure of SE? Or is there some statement of principles that could be used as a guide to decide whether and how to vary from the (you gotta admit: successful) SE formula?
I'm just someone who stumbled across this site already in progress. So others can provide better answers, but as a start:
[This blog post](https://topanswers.xyz/meta?q=1) (thanks samcarter for pointing it out in chat) lays out the general goals, including:
> 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.
> 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)
> - also be not for profit
> 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.
> As much as possible of the platform will be open-source and publically available.
This isn't an SE clone, but it's a Q&A site and Q&A sites have some common properties. Here are some things I noticed, as an SE user, being different and interesting here:
- Chat is tightly integrated. Each question (or blog post) has its own chat, which is displayed alongside the main page. This replaces comments.
- Blog posts and (per-site) meta posts are integrated into the main site, not separate areas. (This meta here is more of a network meta. While you only see one site, Databases, there's at least one private beta running and presumably there will be more. TopAnswers aims to be a network.)
- Instead of upvotes and downvotes you can star posts, and a user's score is just the total number of stars. Yes that means no downvotes, and there's a meta thread about whether that should be true. Interesting difference from other sites: as your score increases you can give *more than one star* to a post. I personally find this a fascinating experiment; it more or less grants experts (to the extent that total score, or reputation on SE, means expertise) the *ability* but not the *requirement* to cast weighted votes.
- Account management is currently, um, primitive IMO. I hope this will improve. The reason for the roundabout stuff with tokens is so that TopAnswers retains zero personal information about you, but I think this will need to evolve to draw in users who are less geeky/hardcore.
I'm excited by TopAnswers and also by Codidact. (And yes, the teams are aware of each other and cooperating.) I'm here (and there) because I want to see *community-driven* Q&A, where the community is the reason for a site's existence and not a byproduct. I don't think either of these sites is trying to *compete* with SE; we're doing something different, and all who are interested should feel free to join in.
Jack, is that about right?