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Kevin provided an answer, which, while adding something of value to the three related questions together (by naming the originating concern eventually), actually does not apply to the question at hand. So to further stress the issue I'd like to provide an alternate phrasing with his response in mind:

Is it really worth to police something prematurely, which hasn't been identified to be a problem yet, for the sake of the policy itself, thereby sacrificing the upmost motivation to improve API/library documentation (as well as the liberal ongoing community self-regulation regarding the exploration of proper API/library documentation)?

Assuming for a moment that their really might be an argument important enough to warrant moderator intervention to consider dev-tip posts to be reputation farming at some point in the future and require them to be community wiki therefore immediately, would it really be worth to discourage substantive illustrative guidance of API/library usage nowadays already for the sake of a couple of reputation points in a distant future?

George Edison: I have set up a small MediaWiki installation here:


Feel free to add / edit pages to document API usage. All the content on the site is CC licensed so you can copy (with attribution of course) the stuff in the existing dev-tip questions.

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4 Answers

Honestly, I don't think it is a big enough deal to warrant all of this attention. I don't see why posting code samples should be Community Wiki, but if a Moderator believes that they should be, then that's fine.

It was getting a bit annoying to see C# code samples posted all over the active question's page. I think a few is ok, but in my opinion, it was getting a bit out of hand.

Documentation of the libraries should not be on this site. This site is here to talk about the API that is provided by Stack Overflow Internet Services, not the implementation of that API in other languages.

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Re moderation: while I don't think that arbitrary moderator decisions are just fine, I'd certainly simply accept them as (unfortunate) facts of life and adjust my participation accordingly if this moderation 'policy' would have been stated upfront - however, constantly stressing the importance of and encouraging community discussions only to ignore it at personal discretion later on I do consider to be impolite at best ... –  Steffen Opel Aug 23 '10 at 14:33
Re C# dominance: couldn't you just ignore those topics tags then? I certainly see your point and we would all benefit from a balanced representation of various client technologies, but do you think it is fair to introduce artificial throttles just because some users seem to be more active than others while still providing useful content? –  Steffen Opel Aug 23 '10 at 14:36
Re documentation: that is certainly something we could talk about and reach some sort of consensus eventually (i.e. I'm not opposed to this at all). However, the majority of the posts in question, no matter whether in C# or not, do provide guidance on how to deal with limitations and/or design artifacts of the API itself by implicitly exposing an appropriate algorithm, e.g. I've already translated code poets C# sample to Java two times already for use with your library, which I'm using for some prototypes incidentally ;) –  Steffen Opel Aug 23 '10 at 14:48
Re Mod: @Steffen, I can agree that Kevin may have acted too quickly. Decisions like that should be discussed before they are made. My guess is that Kevin didn't think his actions would be received so negatively. –  jjnguy Aug 23 '10 at 15:31
Re C#: @Steffen No, I like the dev tips, but the most recent ones were only examples of C# code. I have no idea where he finds the time to work on SOAPI so much, but it was just overwhelming for me. I think in the long-run the dev-tips are great. But so many, in such quick succession was just too much. –  jjnguy Aug 23 '10 at 15:33
Re Doc: @Steffen It feels to me like his libraries are quite unique in their implementation, and thus don't translate to other libraries very easily. I guess, the main reason why I didn't have a problem with them being made CW was because I felt that the purpose of his posts was to boast about how awesome his libraries are. But, I can see their value, so I suppose discouraging (implicitly) them could be a determent to the community. –  jjnguy Aug 23 '10 at 15:36
@Steffen, good to hear that you are using SW4J. If you need any support, of have feedback for us, please shoot us an email. –  jjnguy Aug 23 '10 at 15:37
@jjnguy - sure thing, thanks much for your offer! Unfortunately I have once again prototyped for too long to get two smaller apps out already (am good at that ... ;) and been forced to commit to a full time freelancing gig meanwhile. The third and medium sized solution I'm most excited about actually (built with GAE, Jersey based REST interfaces and SW4J for the business logic) has been hold back due to the lack of dedicated API Terms of Service and resulting financing/staffing difficulties. –  Steffen Opel Aug 23 '10 at 17:40
@jjng - since our community discussion of the format of dev-tip there is no longer code in the question, only the use case. the answers are clearly marked with which library and which language the solution applies. Everyone is encouraged to present solutions to the common use case for any other platform. as to where I get the time: I have been a stay-at-home-dad for a year (which has come to an end) and I like to keep busy while I look for an interesting job with tolerable people. ;-) –  Sky Sanders Aug 23 '10 at 18:44
And - regard whether this is an appropriate place to document common use cases. I think it is the perfect (only) place, in lieu of a better place, cough area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/10133/… cough to provide a clear discovery path to the available libraries and how to accomplish common use cases with same. –  Sky Sanders Aug 23 '10 at 19:09
@code, I know that everyone is welcome to participate. I was presenting my feelings at the time that most of the latest dev-tips were posted. –  jjnguy Aug 23 '10 at 21:12
i aint mad atcha. actually most of those had c# and javascript. i don't code java or objective-c or ruby or assembly (any more) so i regret I could not provide a more balanced initial offering. perhaps i need a 'presenting common use cases and the guidance i can provide to solve them with an invitation to others to do same' throttle. ;-) –  Sky Sanders Aug 23 '10 at 21:17
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As Jeff mentioned in the comment of my other answer, this information would be best put elsewhere... so...

I have set up a MediaWiki installation for this here:


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a little less talk, a little more action... good work. although an area 51 site cough area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/10133 cough would be a really good solution as well.... –  Sky Sanders Aug 23 '10 at 23:51
@code: Oh well... :) Based on the progress of the proposal, I think this will serve as a good place to collaborate in the meantime. Please take a look and see if my attribution of your code is proper... I want to get it done right. –  Nathan Osman Aug 24 '10 at 0:02
@code: Also, my knowledge of wiki-formatting is rather poor, so any help in regards to that would be greatly appreciated. –  Nathan Osman Aug 24 '10 at 0:03
Looks fine to me. But... this site is still the most direct path of discovery and the concept or value of a dev-tip is not in question. The current discussion is over whether the authors of dev-tips should gain rep from their peers for their efforts. and while I applaud your agile reaction I am not sure that it would not be a duplication of efforts and not the most direct path of discovery. I would probably suggest letting the dust settle and see how the forced CW on dev-tips pans out. Either way, here or there, there is no rep to be gained and there are more eyes here. does that make sense? –  Sky Sanders Aug 24 '10 at 0:21
@code: True... this is not really a solution to the CW problem, but rather your Area51 problem. This is a temporary (or semi-permanent) stand-in for your proposal. Feel free to edit away and make it useful. –  Nathan Osman Aug 24 '10 at 0:29
cool. I am sure we will find a good use for the wiki. –  Sky Sanders Aug 24 '10 at 0:59
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Having earned some rep. from the "dev-tip" questions myself, I can honestly say that I probably would not have put in the effort knowing I would never get rep. from it.

I think the CW-requirement needs to be relaxed :)

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ooohh an anonymous downvoter. must be one of a 'fair number of people' –  Sky Sanders Aug 23 '10 at 19:32
see Kevin's answer. This is simply not the correct site or format for that information. –  Jeff Atwood Aug 23 '10 at 21:49
@Jeff: Fair enough. I added another answer with my solution which should work for everyone hopefully. –  Nathan Osman Aug 23 '10 at 23:45
@Jeff, why does it matter, it's not like Stackapps has the same demand or volume as stackoverflow. It seems it's only you and Kevin who think that it should've been changed, so why change it? At the end of the day it's a number on a computer, not money or some life changing value, so why waste the time changing the system that people, who actually use the site, made. –  Jonathan. Aug 24 '10 at 22:28
@Jonathan: Well, if they think it doesn't belong... that's their choice. Look at my other answer for a possible compromise. –  Nathan Osman Aug 24 '10 at 23:04
It's just annoying that it's all policy and no humaness. That's the worst thing about SE sites. –  Jonathan. Aug 24 '10 at 23:34
@Jonathan: Well, what do you think of my wiki, though? –  Nathan Osman Aug 24 '10 at 23:52
Well it's a good idea, but it moves the information away from stacksapps. And it still doesn't get rep, so there's no incentive (I think that's what you meant in this answer?). But on the wiki I think each dev-tip should have it's own page, and there should be an obvious list of them. –  Jonathan. Aug 25 '10 at 9:57
@Jonathan: Well, currently there are 3 dev-tips and they are on their own separate pages... You're right, though - no rep. Just better organization. –  Nathan Osman Aug 25 '10 at 17:09
Oh right, sorry I misunderstood it a bit. The tips section on the front page is the dev tips (I suggest renaming it to this) –  Jonathan. Aug 25 '10 at 20:29
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Poll style question have long been made "Community Wiki" on our sites. Note that the [dev-tip] questions changed were all of the form "Post your solution to X," a poll question. We had let this slide in the past, but the recent rash of (I'm sure, innocuous) posts brought the issue back to the forefront.

Furthermore, there's already a place for your [library] docs... the [library] question.

Consider it a policy, posting example code not in response to an explicit question should be Community Wiki. Answering a question, posting an [app] or [library], suggesting a feature, or similar should remain "owned."

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I tend to disagree, this is not a poll style question to me - I'm not a native speaker, but a poll asks for opinionated content regarding something (i.e. 'best', 'worst', 'funniest' etc.). This is an invitation to document API/library usage against a particular use case. Answering to one of these can take a considerable amount of time and respective software engineering effort, and no reader will be inclined to vote something up simply because he likes it most or prefers it over another, rather only if the example turns out to be useful guidance regarding the use case at hand. –  Steffen Opel Aug 23 '10 at 9:09
Or to put it another way: please contemplate that this might simply be a type of question not existing before, just as Stack Apps is a type of site with noticeably different characteristics (unfortunately, but that's another topic). Of course these could be added to the library in question as well, but are you really suggesting that we should build a complete library handbook as answers to the one library post instead of providing easily discoverable use cases where solutions in the library of your choice might hopefully be deduced from others if absent? –  Steffen Opel Aug 23 '10 at 9:16
Finally -1 for not answering my question. Thanks for responding to 1 out of 3 related questions at least, but I can't help but notice that you are not answering the question(s) at hand, rather try to get away with something else. If anything, your answer could have been a starting point regarding the acceptable moderation or reputation farming issues. However, here I stressed that whatever argument you might come up with, whether this would warrant discouraging welcome and useful posts, see update for more on this. –  Steffen Opel Aug 23 '10 at 10:43
@Steffen - "poll style" means no correct answer, which the CW'd [dev-tip] posts definitely fell under. Bluntly, those posts were blatant rep-farming; because they weren't garbage, I CW'd them instead of deleting them since that seemed like an acceptable compromise (on any other site, they would have been deleted I'm quite sure; certainly after the 2nd one). I guess in the future I should just delete them since the rep is apparently all any cares about (as opposed to the post content, which was unaltered), and there can be no compromise there... –  Kevin Montrose Aug 23 '10 at 17:22
@Kevin - Excuse me? I think you are overreacting to the extreme and appear to take all this quite personally, thus pretty much failing on your moderation duties according to Jeffs Theory of Moderation. I urge you to reconsider: accusing the single most effective API contributor and bug hunter (apologies to all the other valuable contributors here), who is doing all this for free, for blatant rep-farming while gaining rep for solving those bugs you introduced yourself while getting paid is, bluntly, hypocrisy. –  Steffen Opel Aug 23 '10 at 17:57
@Steffen - no [bug] posts have ever been CW'd. Only these [dev-tip]s. A history of useful contribution (which code poet does have) doesn't let you break the rules, Jon Skeet can't post spam on SO for instance. –  Kevin Montrose Aug 23 '10 at 18:31
This is not SO. The community it serves is a relatively closed eco-system and as such have needs and interests that differ significantly than those of the SO community. If you show me an api or other software product that is only documented reactively I will show you a failure. Show me a library or api with minimal documentation of members with no common use cases or quick starts and I will show you a failure. Your insistence in imposing your opinions upon this community is doing it a disservice. –  Sky Sanders Aug 23 '10 at 18:59
And you may forget that I can see your activity. You were not targeting 'dev-tips', you were specifically targeting my posts. What possible reason can you have to dig through my posts and CW How to call the API via JSONP in Plain Old JavaScript stackapps.com/questions/891, which was posted on Jun 25, at the very opening of the API to the public? Seriously dude. –  Sky Sanders Aug 23 '10 at 19:05
@code poet - stackapps.com/questions/tagged/dev-tip ; magically isn't it (note, a few were sufficiently borderline that they didn't get the CW'ing)? I would point out that this policy is not just my opinion, its the opinion of a fair number of people. Just doesn't seem to include you and Steffen; frankly, too bad. –  Kevin Montrose Aug 23 '10 at 19:20
ok, so i was wrong about being blatantly targeted. But who is this 'fair number of people' show me.. stackapps.com/questions/1029/… . 'a fair number of people' is equivalent to 'some people say' which is an example of a classic fallacy that has gained much popularity lately. Which one I will leave as an exercise for the reader. –  Sky Sanders Aug 23 '10 at 19:26
And over the past few months I have noticed that you seem to have a terrific aptitude for avoiding direct questions and answering only on the vector that supports your position. Political tactics, intentional or not, add little to real conversations. We are trying to address a real (relatively speaking) issue upon which you seem to have formed an opinion and acted upon same unilaterally as if you are the community. A 'fair number of people' have noticed this and are not impressed. –  Sky Sanders Aug 23 '10 at 19:31
@code poet - ah, a personal attack with no examples, the highest form of internet debate. Do please, continue. –  Kevin Montrose Aug 23 '10 at 19:46
@Kevin - you do not really want me to link or even quote all posts here again where I openly but politely (at least I think and hope so, else I apologize!) challenged your answer being somewhat off-topic at least (including this one) or didn't get any answer at all (incidentally including the very question which started all this, linked by @code just 2 comments above yours)? Do I really need to stress again that, had you only chosen to honestly answer the latter back then already instead of simply enforcing your POV by moderator power later on, we most likely wouldn't have this discussion now? –  Steffen Opel Aug 23 '10 at 20:24
...and Jon Skeet could post spam if he wanted to anyway. –  Nathan Osman Aug 24 '10 at 2:05
So due to this post (blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/05/a-theory-of-moderation) it says that SE sites are to meant to be pretty community run? Now it seems that its only Kevin who made this change, that's very community like isn't it? There's this huge fuss over a simple change that wasn't necessary. This site is different to other SE sites. The moderation here is kinda not important like it is on other SE sites, so it makes it feel like your left having to do more trivial tasks. –  Jonathan. Aug 25 '10 at 22:33
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