11

I'm happily searching Google for SharePoint errors and keep finding 404 pages from http://sharepoint.stackexchange.com. For example, the first search result is now broken:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=sharepoint%20ListData.svc%20%22Object%20reference%20not%20set%20to%20an%20instance%20of%20an%20object%22

That data is nowhere to be found, except in Google's cache, for now.

I see there are plans to migrate these question, but this is best done before the site is shut down.

12/04/2011 - Update:

As expected, Google detected the links are dead and removed SharePointOverflow from the first search result position, and probably from all search results.
The effect is simple: The "migration process" broke many links, and effectively undone much of SharePointOverflow's community's work.

5

The process of transitioning this site from one platform to another solution is not ideal. Much of the (temporary) pains of going through this transition are part of a compromise — a compromise that was arrived at to even enable this migration to happen. To assure that we end up with the best possible site in the long run, some hard decisions had to be made.

A bit of background—

On Alex's side (SharePoint Overflow), he was one of the lucky few who beat the odds and built a successful site — a proposition where thousands (well over 99%) of his fellow site owners failed. The privately-owned subscription model of Stack Exchange was a huge failure and SharePoint Overflow was faced with either (a) shutting down, (b) porting the site over to one pale clones of the Stack Exchange software, or (c) migrating the system to the upgraded and already-successful Stack Exchange Network.

I think he made the right choice.

On Stack Exchange's side, our previous experiences of simply migrating existing "SE 1.0" sites have been less than stellar. Many of the imported sites are among the weakest sites in our network. Some are still struggling and haven't really been able to get it together to get this whole thing going. It's not the fault of the owners nor those communities; Those sites were simply created under a different premise.

We didn't want that to happen to SharePoint Overflow.

As discussed in Rebecca's introductory post, we decided that the best way to assure this site's long-term success was to go through that same process of community engagement that launched our other Stack Exchange sites. I never realized just how important those early stages are to inspiring and maintaining the level of energy and meta activity found on the other sites.

But SharePoint Overflow is one of the last sites we agreed to move over to the Stack Exchange Network. There are no more plans to import existing sites (with few exceptions).

The problem is, there is no mechanism for transitioning a site in stages like this. There's no read-only mode for the old site; There's no way to tell Google that the content will go offline temporarily while we retool — If we were forced to redevelop the legacy code of SharePoint Overflow just to accommodate this last site migration, we would have had to turn Alex and SharePoint Overflow away.

At the risk of sounding a bit boastful, this is a huge opportunity for the SharePoint site. Alex and the SharePoint community have done an awesome job with this site, but it can take years (if ever) to build up the type of traffic exposure and "Google juice" that a Stack Exchange site gets in its opening weeks. The Stack Exchange network is still growing at 18% per month, across the board. Stack Overflow is one of the top-400 sites on the Internet. And the SharePoint Stack Exchange is hot on the heels of Stack Overflow-like content. That's huge.

I hope you can tolerate a bit of these "growing pains" while we launch this site. We're not going through this process to piss anyone off or to deprive them of their searchable content. Enjoy the site; Enjoy the chat rooms; Enjoy the added exposure. In a few weeks, we'll start the import and Google will pick up that content almost immediately. Then well all reminisce about those Wild West days when SharePoint Overflow went dark for a few weeks.

"Pardon our appearance while we do some remodeling."

2

This is a temporary stage so that we can take ownership of the site on the new platform without any previous baggage. It's a "new beginning" so that we can set the tone of what we want the site to be now. (More details from Robert Cartaino.)

Older content will be migrated over, but if I can presume to speak on behalf of the Stack Exchange team, they want to see us taking this ownership of the site as a community. That means thinking about what worked well in the old site and what didn't, bringing up these topics on Meta, and asking the 7 Essential Meta Questions of Every Beta. That means when the old content is brought over, we can work together as a community to shape it into how we want the site to work now.

I know it's far from ideal that our old content is gone for the moment, but the Stack Exchange team have the experience of migrated sites. They've seen first hand what worked versus what didn't, and want to give us the best chance of succeeding.

  • 1
    Thanks Alex. It's great that you accept it so well. A good community is crucial to the success of any site, no doubt, but there's more. Jeff stated many times that he created Stack Overflow to "make the internet better". The internet isn't better this week - it has a lot of broken links, and your community's great answers are wiped clean from indices and search results. There are simple measures that could have prevented that - the site can stay up in read-only mode until questions are migrated, with proper redirect headers. I'm complaining as an internet user, not as a potential member. – Kobi Apr 13 '11 at 4:25
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    @Kobi: The scenario you describe is actually what I hoped would occur, i.e. we keep sharepointoverflow.com as-is but in read only mode, and set up sharepoint.stackexchange.com in parallel. But Robert later informed me that it wasn't technically possible to set sharepointoverflow.com to read only and the SE team made the decision to go this route. – Alex Angas Apr 13 '11 at 5:13
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    There are locked questions - I'm sure a quick query can handle that. Next, Questions that are migrated between SE sites via "off-topic" close votes are automatically redirected. It certainly isn't "not technically possible", it's more a case of "we have better things to do" - which is a shame. – Kobi Apr 13 '11 at 5:18
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    Okay, understand the problem. The SE folks must excuse our frustration; as SharePoint people we deal with this kind of problem all the time. And we also know we would be out of a job if we told our customers or employers that their content would be offline for a few weeks and their Google rank would go down the toilet while we got our act together. – SPDoctor Apr 15 '11 at 15:19
1

This id due to the fact that SharePointOverlow.com has been redirected to the new platform. The old questions (on the old platform) is still in the Google/Bing/Whatever index/cache.

Once the questions are migrated to the new platform, they will eventually appear correctly in the search engines.

  • The questions and answers are temporarily on cache, until they'll be deleted. I wasn't active, but it seems SharePointOverlow.com did well - it got to first position on many queries. I don't think this migration is done right if it created many broken links (search -> SharePointOverlow.com -> redirect -> 404). By the way, most users wouldn't get as far as I did... – Kobi Apr 10 '11 at 13:52
  • Not all the questions have been migrated either, which is why this particular example gets a Not Found. The questions on the old SO site need to got through some form of QA (be it by votes, # of answers, whatever) before being migrated to ensure high quality content remains on the site. – James Love Apr 10 '11 at 19:11

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