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Stackoverflow of any use ?

just wondering if I am the only person thinking this way... what is this aimless rambling that happens on Stackoverflow about? every time I go there, I read, I am asking myself what is the use of that stackoverflow rebol/red room.
    
for example, let's take some concrete example, what has the SO red/rebol done there, that's advanced rebol3 or red for the past year ?
    
I find this Rebolforum site to be of more use, than the SO.
    
any one has any better idea ?

posted by:   hellohello       16-Feb-2014/12:15:36-8:00



I haven't taken as much of a part in the SO room, but I think it's been helpful in attracting new users who enjoy communicating with others. Last time I dropped by it seemed to be filled with a lot of noise - the kind which is typical in modern development communities. But I'm glad to see that new users are finding it.
    
When Rebol experienced its first wave of popularity, the mailing list was a key communication hub.
    
Now, AltME is really the only place to be if you'd like to communicate with the Rebol/Red community. The fact that it's hidden from public view has always been a point of argument, but everyone seems to love it. The AltME community is very social, but to be honest, I think experienced Rebolers enjoy the "security by obscurity" and productive leg up on other tools, and don't necessarily care to grow the community. (I disagree with that sentiment and would like to see thousands of new rebolers building modern tools with Rebol).
    
As long as there's at least one accessible web forum (right now, this one), I don't think we're losing community. I know that some of the experienced community members watch and respond here when I don't - I just tend to answer fairly quickly.
    
We're getting 15000+ unique visitors per month (50000+ page views) here at rebolforum.com - new users just seem to ask questions when a problem comes up.

posted by:   Nick       16-Feb-2014/12:52:59-8:00



This is my humble opinion:
    
SO is good for attracting new users, but for deeper discussions, there is no way around AltME. Because it's closed, you get little noise, high-value information and AltME's persistence means losing no information.
    
The software itself is rather long in the tooth, and we're still looking for the development of an open source equivalent.
    
Fortunately, it's easy to get an account: You need an email address, an appropriate user name and your full name, somewhere posted to either me or another moderator, and you will get access to the Rebol4 world within a day.

posted by:   Henrik       17-Feb-2014/10:19:11-8:00



This got forwarded my way. Those who know me will certainly predict I'll have something to say...
    
    
"what is this aimless rambling that happens on Stackoverflow about? every time I go there, I read, I am asking myself what is the use of that stackoverflow rebol/red room."
    
The room exists to foster community, and let Rebol and Red people talk about what's current. It is also there to engage non-Rebol-or-Red newcomers who drift in when they are curious. *Everyone* is invited to stop by, and it serves as a water cooler. We teach, we chat, we ramble.
    
Think how most languages have an IRC on FreeNode, except this is automatically logged... more modern markup, with threaded replies. It's accessible through a web interface which also has a mobile version. And we have RebolBot and RedBot to help us test and teach:
    
http://stackapps.com/questions/3960/
    
If you're looking for salient and focused questions and answers, tagged and curated wiki-style, powered by a world-class site respected and known by the Internet community...then you're NOT looking for the chat. You're looking for the main site:
    
http://stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/rebol+or+red
    
Read a few and tell me that's noise.
    
Part of what helps keep noise down on Q&A is the great moderation and editing tools. Let's take a simple example. This weekend Carl announced that we were going to abandon the Rebol 2 notion of "FUNCTION" and instead give that name to what was formerly known as "FUNCT":
    
http://www.rebol.com/article/0543.html
    
I was able to use the high-tech StackOverflow features to dig back in time and shore up old answers. The old information is still there... with logged diffs, displayed and under version control where each version of the answer is permalinkable. In fact, even the diff log is permalinkable... you can see who changed what:
    
http://stackoverflow.com/posts/3168226/revisions
    
It's great and powerful stuff that has earned serious respect from most programmers. So I'm sorry if you've not had the experience of getting involved with it and learning the ropes there. Like any large Internet community (Wikipedia, or whatever) there are going to be some frustrating bits; and I won't deny that. But the information is Creative Commons, and downloadable via the Internet Archive... so you can build a Rebol-powered variant if you ever wanted/needed to:
    
https://archive.org/details/stackexchange
    
More generally: I'll say that if you've been living under a rock and aren't getting in on all the fun new modern changes in the development world...you're missing out. On another "new to Rebol" technology, GitHub is fun. I was just reminded the other day you can have conversations pegged to lines of code in the diffs as you're reviewing them:
    
https://github.com/blog/785-pull-request-diff-comments
    
That's just one little thing in a universe of cool things. I'm afraid that by these standards--this forum's very existence runs a risk of making the Rebol and Red community look rather "out of touch". I'm a fan of the fact that it has no ads, but beyond that there's not much to inspire. (e.g. I'm not sure if I can use italics or not... there's not even a preview button. Not only does StackOverflow Q&A use markdown and preview what you're typing, it has the preview shown alongside your Q&A as you type.)
    
So I hope visitors here give StackOverflow a spin sometime. Chatting may not be your thing; and that's okay. But there were some cynical naysayers and holdouts who wound up coming around and eventually said "it has its purpose, I get it now". It's where we hang out to discuss and triage, in a similar way that others use IRC. The messages in chat are transient, and no one is expected to sift through it to catch up. That's what the voting system is for...chatters can "star" anything notable, and you can go read about anything you find interesting in context:
    
http://chat.stackoverflow.com/rooms/info/291/rebol-and-red/?tab=stars
    
    
"what has the SO red/rebol done there, that's advanced rebol3 or red for the past year ?"
    
[deep breath]
    
I'm going to grit my teeth and pretend you didn't say that. Then I'm going to answer it anyway.
    
Discussions have hammered out everything from core language feature changes, to coalescing the Rebol and Red communities to tap each others talents, to strategizing on how to avoid fragmentation of the Rebol forks, to conference planning and making the videos available, to plotting out the submission for Google Summer of Code for Red, to recruiting curious new users who have wound up becoming regulars and advocates (who've submitted pull requests or adapted syntax highlighters), to the new Red logo and logotype.
    
Note that the people using StackOverflow include Andreas Bolka (a.k.a. @earl), Brian Hawley, Nenad Rakocevic (a.k.a. @DocKimbel, leader of Red), Graham Chiu, Chris Ross-Gill, Ladislav Mecir, Shixin Zeng, and many others who I don't want to politically worry about mentioning or not so I won't mention myself :-). My point is just that it reads like a who's who of pull requests in Rebol and Red (minus Kaj de Vos who I don't see here either since 2011--he's finicky). While Carl Sassenrath may not be a regular as of yet, he has used chat... recently just to get realtime tech support on merging issues. And that's what chat is supposed to be: the fast-answering, realtime living now...a.k.a. "whoever's up." If something becomes important we box it up and put it in the right place: issue tracker, Q&A, whatever.
    
So *please* don't knock it until you try it. Get an account, learn to use it. We'll help, it's only 20 points to chat... and you can get points by asking as well as answering. Plus you can answer an already answered/accepted question (if you have a new take on it).
    
I do admit that the highly curated nature of SO can make it difficult for new users, and I go around trying to police the people who jump on users with one reputation point (when I have time to do so). Still, many StackOverflow moderators are quick to use voting tools to say something is "not a real question" or otherwise try and keep the site from devolving into an abomination like Yahoo Answers. They expect things to always be questions, and not "topics" like "What's up with X these days?". We try and cover "topics" in chat, but if a certain personality type likes forums/email then that's fine.
    
Don't be afraid to come try making an account and learning the community rules. These days, a bit of leeway is given to the Rebol and Red community to "take care of their own"; our tags are ours to police... within reason. Yet back to the "how have we advanced": note one reason we have that leeway is _precisely_ by having established a presence and being known on the block. So we are trusted to watch out for the tags, and show people the ropes when they don't know what they're doing.
    
Does that answer your question?
    
Sincerely,
--Brian
    
...designer of Rebol and Red icons:
    
http://blog.hostilefork.com/logo-design-for-rebol/
    
...fixer of the notorious TCP bug, among other code contributions:
    
https://github.com/rebol/rebol/pull/158
    
...editor of several Rebol and Red Recode videos, and contributor of $400 toward Nenad's flight to be in Montreal:
    
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4kMlOkN894
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_r2iIIxjbjc
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIw7aRP6JPU
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJDJVTyp7jo
    
...manager of the submission of Red to Google Summer of Code 2014:
    
http://www.red-lang.org/2014/02/project-ideas-for-google-summer-of-code.html
    
...creator of the Red open source recruiting advertisement ad (and the ad copy on clickthrough):
    
http://meta.stackoverflow.com/ads/display/210389
    
...porter of Rebol to HaikuOS:
    
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jImeByEkV8Y
    
...author of the first Red "Game":
    
https://github.com/hostilefork/teenage-coding/blob/master/DUNGEON/dungeon.red
    
...alter ego of Dr. Rebmu:
    
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDKaz1iB9wQ
http://rebmu.hostilefork.com/
    
...author of "popular" Rebol articles:
    
http://blog.hostilefork.com/why-rebol-red-parse-cool/
http://blog.hostilefork.com/is-rebol-actually-a-revolution/
http://blog.hostilefork.com/core-rebol-concept-flexible-series/
http://blog.hostilefork.com/enumerated-type-for-rebol2/
http://blog.hostilefork.com/computer-languages-as-artistic-medium/
http://blog.hostilefork.com/major-rebol-language-quirks/
https://groups.google.com/d/msg/red-lang/qLt6wBHWGIo/91xrwqJKlXIJ
    
...and I could go on with this and turn it into a "what have *you* have done to advance Rebol and Red in the past year" snark. But that's not my point. Let's not dwell on the last year or who did what. Rather, I invite everyone here to the StackOverflow community to keep us catalyzing things to making programming better.    
    
(Or as DocKimbel says: "Bring back the Fun. Yeah, we want the Fun back.")

posted by:   HostileFork       17-Feb-2014/10:54:02-8:00



Thanks for all the info HostileFork - sounds like I need to spend a little more time looking at the Rebol/Red SO areas :)

posted by:   Nick       17-Feb-2014/11:31:09-8:00



You're welcome, Nick... please do come join in even just to say hi a bit. You can contact me personally if you have any issues with those 20 points. We try and pay attention to questions and answers on new accounts of anyone who joins the room.
    
I'll also point out that I have advocated strongly for the idea that Rebol/Red leverage its ownership of rebol.* and red-lang.* domains to build a community that isn't subject to the rules of StackOverflow (or GitHub, or Facebook, or Google+, or anyone else.) All content should be mirrored; that includes chat and Q&A.
    
Don't think it's in the cards that I'll ever edit my video for "E. Rebolus Unum" from Recode. But here are the slides:
    
http://metaeducation.com/media/shared/rebol/e-rebolus-unum.pdf
    
As proof of my ability to compromise, I've come up with a compromise on /ONLY which actually involves applying it *more* often. That's because I figured out how to make it part of the philosophy. Most recently it was added to IF/UNLESS/EITHER to mean "only perform the condition and pick the argument, don't evaluate blocks":
    
     >> if/only 1 < 2 [foo baz bar]
     == [foo baz bar]
    
And I was the one who proposed and implemented the change. (!) I think when /only is understood to never add arguments but perform a more essential subset of the operation that would literally be given the name, that works. (For this reason I hope we change PRIN to be the more literate PRINT/ONLY, because it helps drill in the meaning so it doesn't surprise people later... dropping the last letter is not a pattern you see elsewhere, e.g. it is APPEND/ONLY and not APPEN.)
    
Tangents aside: the rest of it about the websites stands. And it really seems that with your energy and what you're trying to do here that maybe what you really want is to get in with defining and administrating rebol.net? Carl has said he's ready to delegate rebol.net and rebol.org to the community, and I see rebol.org as being the "official, curated" documentation and module repository, while rebol.net is more organic and delegates subdomains.
    
At the end of the day we do need a rebol.net, and we want it powered by Rebol/Red... so Cheyenne and Quartermaster, for instance. We were thinking the homepage would be a dashboard of "what's news" and do things like pull together feeds from the rebol.net subdomains, the stackoverflow chat, and have its own forum.
    
If you'd be interested in helping make this happen, do come talk to us. The plans are have been in the works since last July, and have Carl's stamp of approval...he's on board, but is waiting to know where to point things and if the domains are to be transferred then "to who"? (A foundation? A trusted individual?) Regardless, the whole thing will move faster with more hands!!!
    
Best,
--Brian

posted by:   HostileFork       17-Feb-2014/12:09:27-8:00



Altme is not all that bad! The way discussions are kept together makes them easier to follow.    
    
SO does have a lot of noise in this respect. SO has it's own charms, gathering for Ideas and direct feedback, stacking enthousiasm, posting links, getting people to take action translating video's drawing logo's GSoC volunteers.
    
Forums have their charms and practical use.
    
All these forms of communication have their specific use and people have their favorites in these.
    
The key point is that we all get in action. Take a little step each, each time, so together we make the big steps.

posted by:   Arnold       17-Feb-2014/15:06:33-8:00



In my experience, AltMe has all the noise of SO Chat but spread over multiple topics and has none of the benefits of being public facing. Most of the 'clean' discussion would be better stored in SO Q&A where it can be ranked, categorized and referenced for eternity instead of lost (because AltMe doesn't have a starred list equivalent). It's no way build an enduring ecosystem for a language.
    
When you consider that much of the 'noise' in SO Chat is generated by new users and all that implies, then complaints thereof just come across as kranky: 'get off my lawn!' Far better for all of us that we develop an environment to engage these people because without them, our language will be dead.

posted by:   Chris       17-Feb-2014/15:44:04-8:00



HostileFork,
    
I like what you say. On a practical note, I'd like to answer a question at http://chat.stackoverflow.com/transcript/message/14767495#14767495 , and talk with you about helping with rebol.net and rebol.org . I thought I had earned 20 SO points at some time, but now don't see any place on the page to type a response.

posted by:   Nick       18-Feb-2014/5:36:17-8:00



Nick, if this is your profile, you should be able to chat if logged in:
    
http://stackoverflow.com/users/2740048/user2740048
    
The chat box is pretty hard to miss at the bottom of the page when you are logged in, so that'd probably be the place to check.

posted by:   Chris       18-Feb-2014/5:55:09-8:00



Thanks Chris, I got started - gotta spend some time finding my way around :)

posted by:   Nick       18-Feb-2014/6:24:59-8:00



was the answer from Hostilefork or from Brian ... are they the same people ? a bit puzzled as to why he/they is/are taking it personally ?
    
My question was never meant to be a personal one. and not addressed to anyone in particular.
    
The question was more of a generic nature towards the SO site, as I could not figure out clearly what was the goal there and how it was contributing to advancing rebol.
    
I "got" it when I read Mr sassenrach's blog, rebolforum forum but not SO, hence my asking.
    
as to what I have contributed to Rebol, in the last year, NOTHING, I just found rebol in january 2014, and still trying to figure out what to do with it.
    
As to what I have contributed to other OSS projects? a lot in the past 10 years, in the field of database,Java, and OS. I am just one of the millions of anonymous workers helping OSS.
    


posted by:   hellohello       8-Mar-2014/10:38:21-8:00



hellohello,
    
The Rebol has had a history of congregating privately, especially on AltME, which led to isolation and limited public exposure on the web. HostileFork (Brian) is an experienced pro with broad perspective, and his ideas are great. He's worked really hard to build up the nice new room on StackOverflow, so he responded directed to your question. Some of his response was aimed toward me, to get more involved in SO chat (I have nothing against it, just had limited time to get involved there, and had enough other channels of communication open for my own needs). It's good to have exposure in a place like that, and he's right, this little forum is old fashioned. I wrote this script quickly, as a short tutorial example, and it's ended up serving more of a useful purpose than originally intended, for quite a few people, so I've kept it running (and will continue). I think you'll find that the community is welcoming, knowledgeable, etc., no matter where you choose to communicate :)

posted by:   Nick       8-Mar-2014/23:20:33-8:00



Thanks Nick, maybe you don't realize it, but your site fills in a niche that hte other sites don't cover. especially for new users. To be honest , your site has been more useful in learning about rebol than the other sites.


posted by:   hellohello       11-Mar-2014/22:16:44-7:00



Yes, I want to thank Nick also. You are providing a vital link for new discoverers of Rebol. My interest is Android.

posted by:   yoffset       12-Mar-2014/12:48:29-7:00



I'm glad to see new users trying out Rebol :)

posted by:   Nick       13-Mar-2014/11:39:11-7:00



@Nick:
    
This "little forum" is NOT out of fashion.
Keep it this way.
    
Simplicity NEVER goes out of fashion!


posted by:   Jma       13-Mar-2014/13:07:27-7:00



Maybe that means Rebol will be forever fashionable :)

posted by:   Nick       14-Mar-2014/23:04:52-7:00