Proposal of a new Q&A site centered on Latex

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Julián Lamas

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Jun 3, 2010, 6:05:21 AM6/3/10
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Hi!

I know, this is a bit promotional, but here I go. I proposed the
creation of a Q&A site using the StackExchange engine (I don't know if
you are familiar with it, but I recommend visiting superuser.com, for
instance). Basically, if this projects takes off, it will consist in a
site where everyone can make any question related to LaTeX, or TeX,
and answer any other question on the site. People will earn reputation
as the questions and answers are voted by the community.

Currently, stackoverflow.com has a lot of questions about LaTeX, but
it is basically a site for programmers, and I think that a site for
LaTeX and TeX users should have a broader scope. In my opinion, LaTeX
is not programming. I think that a Q&A site like this, but oriented to
LaTeX, where experts can resolve questions and help with the
intricacies of TeX would be a great idea. These kind of Q&A sites work
well and can be of very much help for many users.

So, what do I need now? I need experts, that is, you :) I need people
to follow the project and propose new and interesting questions. I
need people that discuss what questions might or might not be on-topic
according to the goals of the future site. You can take a look at this
project at this very incipient stage here:

http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/2148/latex?referrer=jw6%2bb02gLVA%3d

Everyone who wants to join in is very much welcomed. Thank you!

--
Julian

Jonathan Fine

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Jun 3, 2010, 6:27:15 AM6/3/10
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Julián Lamas wrote:
> Hi!
>
> I know, this is a bit promotional, but here I go. I proposed the
> creation of a Q&A site using the StackExchange engine

[snip]

> http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/2148/latex?referrer=jw6%2bb02gLVA%3d
>
> Everyone who wants to join in is very much welcomed. Thank you!

I like StackOverflow, so thank you very much Julian for setting this up.
I certainly think something like this is much needed.

--
Jonathan

Will Robertson

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Jun 3, 2010, 10:34:52 AM6/3/10
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On 2010-06-03 19:35:21 +0930, Julián Lamas <julian...@gmail.com> said:

> I know, this is a bit promotional, but here I go. I proposed the
> creation of a Q&A site using the StackExchange engine (I don't know if
> you are familiar with it, but I recommend visiting superuser.com, for
> instance).

Generally I like the way StackOverflow works, and I can see advantages
to having a TeX-specific site along the same lines. (I was previously
active on StackOverflow until a critical mass of people turned up and
the volume became a bit overwhelming...just like here.)

Good luck :)

W

Julián Lamas

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Jun 3, 2010, 10:48:59 AM6/3/10
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Thank you for your support! :)

--
Julian

Julián Lamas

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Jun 22, 2010, 6:53:00 AM6/22/10
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Hi!

Nearly 20 days ago I proposed the creation of a Q&A site using the
StackExchange engine related to TeX and LaTeX. Now, thanks to the
community that supported it, the proposal is in its commitment phase.
This means that we have more or less defined which questions are
suitable for the site, and which ones are not. At this stage, we are
looking for experts willing to help with the site when it begins its
beta stage (provided we find support enough).

Collaborators willing to commit to this project will have an important
responsibility towards the foundation of the site. In addition,
committing will require some work from your part: participating
actively in the site, visiting at least three times per week, asking
at least three questions during the beta phase, and answering as many
questions as you can for at least three months. I know it can be a
burden, but the point is that it is crucial to gather a critical mass
of committed people that can keep the site up and running. If you want
to join this project now, here is the link:

http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/2148/tex-latex-and-friends?referrer=ius4C60BW0UN5QfMOt5KEg2

Thank you very much for your interest!

Jonathan Fine

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Jun 22, 2010, 11:13:41 AM6/22/10
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Thanks, Julian. I've signed up, and encourage others to do so.

To make things clearer, to sign up you follow the link above, go to the
foot of the page, and click on
Like what you see? Commit to this proposal!


--
Jonathan

Martin Heller

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Jun 22, 2010, 5:26:15 PM6/22/10
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On 2010-06-03 12:05, Julián Lamas wrote:
> Basically, if this projects takes off, it will consist in a
> site where everyone can make any question related to LaTeX, or TeX,
> and answer any other question on the site.

What is the advantage of this compared to newsgroups like c.t.t or
mailing lists like texhax?

Philipp Stephani

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Jun 22, 2010, 5:45:47 PM6/22/10
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Martin Heller <mr_h...@yahoo.dk> writes:

it looks like 21st century and not like eighties...

--
Change “LookInSig” to “tcalveu” to answer by mail.

Julián Lamas

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Jun 22, 2010, 5:56:17 PM6/22/10
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Thank you very much for your support!

On 22 jun, 23:26, Martin Heller <mr_hel...@yahoo.dk> wrote:
> What is the advantage of this compared to newsgroups like c.t.t or
> mailing lists like texhax?

StackExchange is an engine fully designed to support Q&A sites,
whereas newsgroups or mailing lists weren't designed specifically for
that purpose. In the existing StackExchange sites (like
stackoverflow.com or superuser.com) you can ask or answer any question
without registering or dealing with any configuration that a mailing
list may require. It's simpler.

If you register as a user of a StackExchange site, you can vote the
best questions and answers for every entry in the site. Based on these
votes, the answers to each question are ordered so the best will get
to the top thanks to the collaborative effort of all the community.

In addition, users answering questions earn reputation according to
the votes they had received. This resputation is public to all the
users of the site, and although this may seem a bit banal, the truth
is this encourages people to participate in the site.

This are the main advantages that come now to my mind. I encourage to
visit stackoverflow.com or superuser.com to see how these site are
working right now.

Best regards.

--
Julian

Martin Heller

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Jun 22, 2010, 7:18:33 PM6/22/10
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On 2010-06-22 23:56, Julián Lamas wrote:

> StackExchange is an engine fully designed to support Q&A sites,
> whereas newsgroups or mailing lists weren't designed specifically for
> that purpose. In the existing StackExchange sites (like
> stackoverflow.com or superuser.com) you can ask or answer any question
> without registering or dealing with any configuration that a mailing
> list may require. It's simpler.
>
> If you register as a user of a StackExchange site, you can vote the
> best questions and answers for every entry in the site. Based on these
> votes, the answers to each question are ordered so the best will get
> to the top thanks to the collaborative effort of all the community.
>
> In addition, users answering questions earn reputation according to
> the votes they had received. This resputation is public to all the
> users of the site, and although this may seem a bit banal, the truth
> is this encourages people to participate in the site.
>
> This are the main advantages that come now to my mind. I encourage to
> visit stackoverflow.com or superuser.com to see how these site are
> working right now.
>

Thanks for the explanation.

I might give it a try and see if I can be updated to "the 21st century".

Robin Fairbairns

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Jun 23, 2010, 1:28:41 AM6/23/10
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Philipp Stephani <Look...@arcor.de> writes:

> Martin Heller <mr_h...@yahoo.dk> writes:
>
>> On 2010-06-03 12:05, Julián Lamas wrote:
>>> Basically, if this projects takes off, it will consist in a
>>> site where everyone can make any question related to LaTeX, or TeX,
>>> and answer any other question on the site.
>>
>> What is the advantage of this compared to newsgroups like c.t.t or
>> mailing lists like texhax?
>
> it looks like 21st century and not like eighties...

ah yes, the point-click-drool model.

just the thing.
--
Robin Fairbairns, Cambridge

Jonathan Fine

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Jun 23, 2010, 5:09:29 AM6/23/10
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Robin is the maintainer of our FAQ. I think Julian's project would be a
great incubator for improvements to the FAQ.

--
Jonathan

Turgut Durduran

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Jun 23, 2010, 5:35:03 AM6/23/10
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On 2010-06-22, Philipp Stephani <Look...@arcor.de> wrote:
>> What is the advantage of this compared to newsgroups like c.t.t or
>> mailing lists like texhax?
>>
>
> it looks like 21st century and not like eighties...


And its longevity? CTT and usenet in general has proven their longevity.
I have not seen them in web forums and other things yet.

Turgut

Robin Fairbairns

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Jun 23, 2010, 6:03:15 AM6/23/10
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Jonathan Fine <J.F...@open.ac.uk> writes:

i doubt it. i've been monitoring comp.text.tex on that basis, ever
since the faq work started in 1994, and recently i've hardly had more
than the occasional hint that an answer might be useful.

why would a voting procedure improve things? (i did once post a couple
of answers to the stack overflow thing, but have given up largely
because of this beauty contest aspect of the thing.)

to first order, people don't care about the faq -- they would rather ask
than look for themselves. so improvements to the faq are largely for my
amusement; i shall go on working on it when i've the energy, but i've no
illusions about its utility.

(there _are_ exceptions, of course, to the first-order rule. there are
also one or two invaluable people who check each new release of the faq.)
--
Robin Fairbairns, Cambridge

Jonathan Fine

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Jun 23, 2010, 9:13:16 AM6/23/10
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Robin Fairbairns wrote:
> Jonathan Fine <J.F...@open.ac.uk> writes:

>> Robin is the maintainer of our FAQ. I think Julian's project would be
>> a great incubator for improvements to the FAQ.
>
> i doubt it. i've been monitoring comp.text.tex on that basis, ever
> since the faq work started in 1994, and recently i've hardly had more
> than the occasional hint that an answer might be useful.

Do you mean an answer to an FAQ or an answer given on c.t.t (or both, or
something else)?

> why would a voting procedure improve things? (i did once post a couple
> of answers to the stack overflow thing, but have given up largely
> because of this beauty contest aspect of the thing.)

Discussion and voting is a way of developing and sharing wisdom. Most
or all enduring communities have some form of voting. Sometimes voting
is used for trivial and worse purposes, but I think the StackOverflow
voting is wholesome.

--
Jonathan

Robin Fairbairns

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Jun 23, 2010, 10:12:32 AM6/23/10
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Jonathan Fine <J.F...@open.ac.uk> writes:

> Robin Fairbairns wrote:
>> Jonathan Fine <J.F...@open.ac.uk> writes:
>
>>> Robin is the maintainer of our FAQ. I think Julian's project would be
>>> a great incubator for improvements to the FAQ.
>>
>> i doubt it. i've been monitoring comp.text.tex on that basis, ever
>> since the faq work started in 1994, and recently i've hardly had more
>> than the occasional hint that an answer might be useful.
>
> Do you mean an answer to an FAQ or an answer given on c.t.t (or both,
> or something else)?

faq answer

>> why would a voting procedure improve things? (i did once post a couple
>> of answers to the stack overflow thing, but have given up largely
>> because of this beauty contest aspect of the thing.)
>
> Discussion and voting is a way of developing and sharing wisdom.

boggle. discussion, sure. voting??? really?

> Most
> or all enduring communities have some form of voting. Sometimes
> voting is used for trivial and worse purposes, but I think the
> StackOverflow voting is wholesome.

it makes me feel slightly sick to be told that a trivial answer i've
given has been "voted excellent". i've a clear enough view of my many
shortcomings that i just don't need such specious "praise". i shan't be
posting to stackoverflow again.

sure, these things might be good for the self-confident, but for the
self-loathing, they're merely upsetting.
--
Robin Fairbairns, Cambridge

blm...@myrealbox.com

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Jun 23, 2010, 4:26:04 PM6/23/10
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In article <qf631ax...@sxp10.cl.cam.ac.uk>,

Robin Fairbairns <rf...@sxp10.cl.cam.ac.uk> wrote:
> Jonathan Fine <J.F...@open.ac.uk> writes:
>
> > Robin Fairbairns wrote:
> >> Philipp Stephani <Look...@arcor.de> writes:
> >>
> >>> Martin Heller <mr_h...@yahoo.dk> writes:

[ snip ]

> to first order, people don't care about the faq -- they would rather ask
> than look for themselves. so improvements to the faq are largely for my
> amusement; i shall go on working on it when i've the energy, but i've no
> illusions about its utility.

Robin (if I may call you that) ....

More and more I'm started to notice you saying these things
that sound so -- disheartened, maybe, and it seems such a pity.
You may be right that the FAQ you maintain is not widely used,
but there's at least one person who'd miss it if it weren't there!
What I use as a browser home page is a list of sites that are --
oh, analogous I suppose to a shelf of reference books one wants
to have readily available -- and the TeX FAQ is on it, and yes
that reference does get used fairly regularly.

"Just sayin'" ?

[ snip ]

--
B. L. Massingill
ObDisclaimer: I don't speak for my employers; they return the favor.

Philipp Stephani

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Jun 23, 2010, 5:25:59 PM6/23/10
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Robin Fairbairns <rf...@sxp10.cl.cam.ac.uk> writes:

>> Most
>> or all enduring communities have some form of voting. Sometimes
>> voting is used for trivial and worse purposes, but I think the
>> StackOverflow voting is wholesome.
>
> it makes me feel slightly sick to be told that a trivial answer i've
> given has been "voted excellent". i've a clear enough view of my many
> shortcomings that i just don't need such specious "praise". i shan't be
> posting to stackoverflow again.
>
> sure, these things might be good for the self-confident, but for the
> self-loathing, they're merely upsetting.

I think these votes are more relevant for people asking questions. In
many forums I see many bad answers that are wrong from every expert's
POV but superficially solve the problem at hand and are thus praised by
the OP, whereas currect answers tend to be complicated and even
unsatisfactory (because often there is not the one right way, or the OP
lacks basic knowledge) and are thus criticized by the OP. A voting
system does prevent this: Beginners tend to vote randomly, but expert
vote only for the correct answers, and if you have a good mixture of
experts and beginners (and SO has), the best-voted answers will
automatically the best ones. This is essential for people reading the
discussion threads, and I guess forum threads are read much more often
than written.

Philipp Stephani

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Jun 23, 2010, 5:31:51 PM6/23/10
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Turgut Durduran <ug...@ugdc.org> writes:

First of all, my "answer" wasn't completely serious. But, OTOH, Usenet
is all but dead and only kept alive by Google (many people think the
"Google Groups" is a service invented by Google), c.t.t is one of the
very few newsgroups that is not primarily used for spamming or
filesharing. There are only very few freely accessible Usenet servers
left, and the universities also have largely shut down their servers.
Most current LaTeX beginners don't know that the Usenet exists and
post to web forums, if anything. The LaTeX experts must take care not
to retreat into some ivory tower.

Turgut Durduran

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Jun 24, 2010, 9:33:01 AM6/24/10
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On 2010-06-23, Philipp Stephani <Look...@arcor.de> wrote:
>> And its longevity? CTT and usenet in general has proven their longevity.
>> I have not seen them in web forums and other things yet.
>
> First of all, my "answer" wasn't completely serious. But, OTOH, Usenet
> is all but dead and only kept alive by Google (many people think the
> "Google Groups" is a service invented by Google), c.t.t is one of the
> very few newsgroups that is not primarily used for spamming or
> filesharing. There are only very few freely accessible Usenet servers
> left, and the universities also have largely shut down their servers.
> Most current LaTeX beginners don't know that the Usenet exists and
> post to web forums, if anything. The LaTeX experts must take care not
> to retreat into some ivory tower.


well, I think that is something that could be changed if
defeatism is not practiced. usenet's longevity is a good and important
aspect of it. I do not mind web forums or other things popping up. I am
just pointing out a major shortcoming in my opinion.


Turgut

TonyMc

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Jun 28, 2010, 8:18:48 AM6/28/10
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Philipp Stephani <Look...@arcor.de> writes:

> it looks like 21st century and not like eighties...

So far, that doesn't seem like much of a recommendation.

Tony

Philipp Stephani

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Jun 28, 2010, 1:46:14 PM6/28/10
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TonyMc <af...@btinternet.com> writes:

I really should've added a smiley to my post. This was never meant to
be a recommendation. But real argument in favor of SO can be found
elsewhere in this thread.

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