4

I am making available on my site a set of free SharePoint solutions.

Currently, people who have issues contact me by e-mail. This is not the most convenient, and I am considering starting a forum.

I see two options that both have pros and cons:

  1. Create the forum directly on my site
  2. Tell people to post their questions on an existing forum like SharePoint StackExchange.

The issue with option 2 is that it might pollute the forum, as the questions will be irrelevant to users who don't use my solutions. On the other hand, my solutions are free, so they could get them anytime. And I see that some people already do this without telling me.

My issue is similar to Marc Anderson's SPServices. Marc monitors discussions on Codeplex, but it is so specific that I seldom go there. At the same time, many users of SPServices directly post their questions on SharePoint StackExchange.

I'd be interested to hear other opinions on this. I think it is a sensitive issue as it is easy to cross the line between community services and advertising.

  • 2
    Is the source code of these solutions available to the community? This is a very important point in my mind. If the source code is available, then the community can understand and support it. Otherwise there are the same issues as with third party solutions. – Stu Pegg Jan 27 '12 at 12:52
  • Good point. Same reply as for Kit, the solutions are open source, available here: usermanagedsolutions.com/SharePoint-User-Toolkit - I'm sure you know the place already ;-) – Christophe Jan 27 '12 at 19:33
3

Per the FAQ, it is OK for people to ask about an open source product:

We also accept questions about community-owned, open source products based on the platform. We don't accept questions about commercial products that integrate with, run on top of, or extend the platform.

However, SharePoint.SE should not be used as your official support forum as Jeff explains:

I think this idea of using [SharePoint.SE] as an official support forum is inside-out : the community has to adopt the project, find it of interest, and talk about it on [SharePoint.SE].

Pushing to one particular destination from inside the project feels like forcing a fit for the community rather than letting one organically evolve.

See also, a related discussion.

  • Thanks Kit (my bad, I didn't see this FAQ). Now I am not sure what "community-owned" covers. Projects like my User Toolkit and Marc's SPServices are really a one man initiative. – Christophe Jan 27 '12 at 2:15
  • btw one difference is that Marc's project is on Codeplex, while mine is hosted by my company (it is not suitable for a platform like Codeplex). – Christophe Jan 27 '12 at 2:23
  • So is your solution open source then? It not, I don't think the FAQ would cover it... – Kit Menke Jan 27 '12 at 18:38
  • The solutions are open source, released under MIT license. Here is the link: usermanagedsolutions.com/SharePoint-User-Toolkit – Christophe Jan 27 '12 at 19:32
2

I've often wondered about this myself. I don't encourage people to post questions about SPServices here, but they do and undoubtedly will continue to do so. FYI, SPServices is fully open source and I charge nothing to use it.

While the questions may be somewhat specific to SPservices, they often are useful for people working with SharePoint in general. The CAML concepts are the same, for instance.

I'm not interested in violating any StackExchange rules and won't do so if I'm told that I have. However, this is one of the best forum platforms out there and I love using it. If people ask questions about SPServices and I see them, I'll answer them (though I often encourage them to use the Codeplex site since the audience there is more trageted to help them).

I'll be interested in others' thoughts.

M.

  • Thanks Marc. Excellent point, often the topics go beyond the solution itself and are of general interest. – Christophe Jan 26 '12 at 20:48
  • 1
    If the question is mainly about SharePoint I think it is fine, and kudos to you for making such a useful library available. If it is specific to your project then it would be better handled on the your project's Codeplex discussion forum (these aren't anything like as good as SE of course). I think if we lose focus the whole thing starts to break down. – SPDoctor Jan 26 '12 at 23:06
  • Honestly, I can see this going either way. To play devil's advocate, what about all the open source questions on StackOverflow? With the no "third-party, commercial products" provision we were trying to avoid becoming a company's help desk for free. Ideally, @Christophe should have some sort of support option but if people ask questions here that is OK too. See Grace Note's comment on Stuarts answer... – Kit Menke Jan 27 '12 at 19:07
  • @SPDoctor I took a shot at editing my original answer.. what do you think? – Kit Menke Jan 27 '12 at 19:15
  • I think your revised answer is spot-on, and I am in complete agreement, and I think you have expressed the consensus view. Just to add that I am only giving my opinion as a member of the community who, as a whole, need to decide. – SPDoctor Jan 28 '12 at 9:48
  • I agree with your point Kit that SO has plenty of open source and commercial product questions. As long as it is clearly relevant to SharePoint I don't see why we shouldn't allow them. As for the original question, I don't think a product should use SharePoint SE as its dedicated forum. Those targeted discussions are for CodePlex and GitHub etc. – Russell Feb 1 '12 at 21:35
2

I think you should set up a forum for your project if the email support approach isn't working. An alternative I have used is email in combination with a FAQ, which is more effecient than email alone.

I think we have to be reasonably disciplined on SPSE because if we lose focus the whole thing starts to break down.

The questions should be general SharePoint ones. But if people like your project and suggest it, and link to it, in their answers then so much the better.

  • Hmm.. maybe I jumped the gun but I was pretty sure we currently allow these questions. However, you make some really good points so perhaps we need to clarify the policy. – Kit Menke Jan 26 '12 at 23:18
  • Yes, I must admit I forgot that it said that in the FAQ - still new to this moderation thing :-# But Christophe was asking about directing users with questions about his project to SP.SE instead of setting up his own project-specific forum, and I still think that would be a detrimental for the site as a whole if multiplied by n projects. – SPDoctor Jan 26 '12 at 23:54
  • @SPDoctor I hear you, and I agree that even if it's allowed there's always a risk. Building a FAQ is an excellent first step, whatever is decided later for the forum. – Christophe Jan 27 '12 at 2:21

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .