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We have a question on the site: "What is the best tool for reading ULS logs?".

These sorts of questions can be very useful because they provide a great list of resources recommended by our community.

However they also:

  1. Promote subjective answers and discussions which can result in arguments.

  2. Give lots of reputation to a small number of people just from one or two line answers. Even if the post is made "community wiki" (meaning no reputation is gained from answer votes) then there are still several bronze, silver and gold badges that can be gained from little effort.

Should we allow these questions and perhaps turn them into polls (example of how), or close them as subjective and argumentative?

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Stack Exchange sites are designed to be question and answer. These types of questions do not fit this mould.

I don't think we can expect SharePoint Overflow to be "the place to go for everything SharePoint". That can't make sense and there are other places better equipped for this (it would be nice to have a list of them though - ha!).

We should make this site a place for what it's best at - questions that can be answered. Or as the Stack Overflow FAQ puts it: "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face".

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I think we should be more flexible in our policies and have those questions as community wiki. If someone wants to discuss about best tools for SharePoint developers, I do not see a problem. IMHO our policy should be much closer to Programmers SE than Stackoverflow.

  • This sounds interesting: "IMHO our policy should be much closer to Programmers SE". Can you please expand why? – Alex Angas Apr 11 '11 at 4:48
  • Well if someone wants to post "What's the best X for SharePoint" that should be valid question... If someone wants to post a funny question that is also [Subjective] that should be okey too... Otherwise we might end up with more SharePoint sites in future. IMHO the entire path SO has taken with separating content across different sites is not ideal, content and community are dispersed. Regular peeps that were interested in this site were reluctant to commit to Area51, as they were not able to comprehend what's this about... Too many rules = Too many problems. – Toni Frankola Apr 11 '11 at 11:31
  • I really like the community wiki idea. The "best of" posts can be very useful sometimes... especially when you're coming in cold. – Kit Menke Apr 12 '11 at 0:29
  • Be aware that Programmers SE has a stack of problems with maintaining quality because of their more open discussion style. There are several examples on the front page of their meta, here's an example opinion from a top user. – Alex Angas Apr 12 '11 at 4:36
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For now let's convert these questions to wiki, as we used to in SharePoint Overflow 1.0. They contain valid content so should stay, with the added banner of being owned by the community and therefore encourage collaboration. This decision is mainly based on the help text for the "convert to wiki" moderator option:

Community wiki questions don't accrue rep and have a lower full editing reputation threshold. Questions should be manually converted to community wiki when they are marginal fits or 'list of X' questions that contain enough value to avoid deletion. This affects the question and all answers.

We should also remove or tone down wording of "best" to avoid subjectivity.

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My biggest concern with those kinds of questions was that on SPOverflow they tended to get asked multiple times -- because people didn't realize they had already been asked. When it happened, we would just point someone to the previous thread so no worries.

Personally, I like allowing these questions. There are those of us who spend our forum time primarily on SPOverflow, for example. Other people may spend their time on other forums. If someone wants a broad point of view on a topic, we should accommodate them on this forum too.

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Since I have not one, but two subjective questions (one of which was closed, and one of which was not) on SharePoint Overflow, I thought I'd share my thoughts :).

The problem seems to be around the wording of the question (ie using "best" or "worthwhile") moreso than the content of the question. Both questions have quite a few views and both have excellent and objective answers that would legitimately be of use to someone working on SharePoint. For that matter... as SharePoint consultants, the answer is almost always a subjective "it depends", and that is not a bad thing.

I agree that I picked poor wording for the questions. If the first question (What is the best tool for reading ULS logs?) had been re-written as "How can I troubleshoot correlation ID's in my ULS Logs?", it would probably not have raised any eyebrows. The second question (Are SharePoint certifications worthwhile?) is one that is asked and answered (specific to those domains) on several of the other Stack Exchange sites that I visit (pm.stackexchange, Serverfault, Stackoverflow), and are consistently highly-viewed and objectively answered.

I am totally against questions that are legitimately argumentative ("Why does SharePoint suck more than my_favorite_CMS?"), but I don't think the above questions are argumentative or overly subjective. If there is an opportunity for a moderator to just re-write the title to remove subjectivity, I think that's a better approach than closing such questions.

Just my 2 cents :)

  • You're absolutely right, it's all in the wording. Your two examples are also quite different in the type of responses they will gather. I think in the case of Are SharePoint certifications worthwhile? that this question should be reopened which I've done. As it does contain quality answers instead of a list, I won't make it community wiki. – Alex Angas Apr 14 '11 at 7:49
  • Thanks Alex :) I'll work on the wording of future questions to remove subjectivity. – Sean Earp Apr 14 '11 at 16:04

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