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Ask HN: Alternative to Stack Overflow?
57 points by MarkMc on May 26, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments
Stackoverflow.com say that "Questions asking us to recommend or find a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam."

So what is the best site can I use to ask for a recommended library or tool?

> So what is the best site can I use to ask for a recommended library or tool?

There is a stackexchange site for this, http://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/

Note that this is a beta. Here are the "health" stats: http://area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/60887/software-rec...

In the area of software recommendations more generally, there is also AlternativeTo.net, which I am usually very pleased with. It's not really optimized for development tools, but it technically does have sections on, e.g., C++:


My impression is that Software Recommendations is mostly for end-users for stand-alone software (eg. "Password Safe app for Mac and iOS").

But what I'm really looking for is recommendations by programmers for libraries and tools to suit a particular programming task. For example, here [1] is the question that was disallowed on Stack Overflow and prompted me to look for alternative question-and-answer sites. It seems that such a question isn't really a good fit for [2]

[1] http://stackoverflow.com/questions/23853475/is-there-a-stand...

[2] http://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/

Actually it is to an extent, if you browse around you will see many questions asking about c++ library for this and that etc. Give it a try.

You know, I can't think of a really good site for this, which means that maybe it's a good startup idea. Index by language and environment and category, and allow users to submit descriptions of the trade-offs between specific versions of different solutions for the same thing. Maybe vote on them or make it a universally-editable wiki or something.

Basically, a site where I could look up, say, C# ORMs or Ruby on Rails authorization gems and see detailed descriptions of what's available and what the major tradeoffs and differences are between them from people who have actually used them would be freakin' awesome.

Just checked that out from the other comment, actually. Not bad for the simple stuff, but it looks like it sticks to one-sentence pros and cons for each solution.

Like for example, one of the top questions there right now is for what is the best blogging platform. The answers are stuff like WordPress - Widely Used and Ghost - Markdown support. I'd like to see something more like a detailed description of the pros and cons of hosting a Wordpress blog vs a Ghost blog by somebody who has actually done both.

Slant.co is still the appropriate place for that. A lot of the answers are minimal on detail but only because whoever created the answers wrote it that way. Some of their comparisons get a lot more in depth. They have a meta discussion site if you want to know more.

Thanks Logn :D

@ufmace our problem is more with surfacing consistently quality content than issues with the information architecture. Apologies that you weren't able to find something impressive. Maybe one of the following links might change your mind:



http://www.slant.co/topics/217/~what-is-the-best-css-preproc... (this one is missing a lot of sources...)


Please note that you can click "read X more reasons" to get fully fleshed out pros/cons (ie not just a single sentence) with sources backing them up.

We're working really hard to try and solve this problem and get our content more consistently fleshed out. Please let me know if you have anything you would like us to improve on. I saw before that "people who actually used them" is a big bonus for you, we're working on this :)

It doesn't really encourage discussion though. I prefer Quora for the discussion, but it lacks in other areas.

Are you referring to the comment threads on the answers?

I get the feeling this is something that may evolve language by language. Maybe a Meta site?

BTW There is "The Ruby Toolbox" site which does this (I think pretty well) for Ruby (and of course Rails)

For example Rails Authorization https://www.ruby-toolbox.com/categories/rails_authorization

Yeah, I know about Ruby Toolbox. It's a good start, but all it really tells you about the possible solutions is their relative popularity. I'd like to be able to look at a more contentious category, like Background Jobs, and see some detailed reasons on what the trade-offs are between Resque, Delayed Job, Sidekiq, etc so I can more easily make an informed decision about which one to use.

Seems like a good solution for a website, as you'd be able to keep those expert opinions in a particular place for people to go to, rather than having to search around on SO, forums, and IRC sites for this kind of info.

While I've got the idea hat on, label it with the version of everything mentioned, so you know when the info might be out of date.

I was thinking about starting a site dedicated to the questions/topics that don't suite StackOverflow. The site could have one sub domain for each StackExchange site, e.g. `coders.open-questions.org` for StackOverflow, and `writers.open-questions.org` for `writers.stackexchange.com`.

Is anyone interested in this? I've built a discussion system that I'm hoping would be useful. It's a bit like a hybrid Questions/Answer system + threaded comments. Here's an example discussion: http://www.debiki.com/forum/-61859/forum-software-for-the-fu... (please note that the 2d layout is optional).

The forum topic list page (http://www.debiki.com/forum/) is inspired by Discourse (http://www.discourse.org/).

StackOverflow's reason does make sense. I've found it best to ask on a related mailing list. By related, I mean, if looking for a tool, ask the associated OS users language mailing list. If looking for a library, ask on the associated programming language mailing lists.

Mailing lists tend to be better than sites for this sort of thing because people who reply there are possibly putting in more thought into their replies and secondly, replies might lead to a discussion that'll make evident the tradeoffs you'll make going with one choice over the other (and there will always be tradeoffs). The thing that mailing lists lack when compared to StackOverflow is the rating mechanism and the ability to easily search/find answers to commonly asked questions.

Edit: Saw iKlsR's answer after I typed this out. I'd assume the stackxchange site he suggested would work better (assuming it has a large enough active audience).

IRC channels for domain-related groups are also an excellent resource for this kind of discovery.

The problem with IRC channels is, conversations there then to be time-sensitive. So except for the most popular channels with plenty of people active all the time, someone (in South-east Asia, for instance) will not get the benefit of good answers from a number of people.

Communities like Stackoverflow come and go. We have a very refined tool in SO, but the strength is always in the community.

You can find very strong developers, still, idling in IRC. I've had many a great question/answer session with the very inventors of some languages I'm interested in, just because they're on IRC.

Get to know the mailing-lists for the languages/programming subjects you're interested in. Stackoverflow is a website; the Internet is composed of much more than web sites. If you have a connection and organizing system that can handle e-mail, beyond gmail and so, you can even build yourself a veritable Treasure-trove of details about current/modern technologies .. by lurking on the -lists. Get your own offline archives for the tech-/topic you're interested in, and you can then probably go and cabin-in-the-woods/off-grid program your next major release ..

Also, do not discount the value of an evening spent exploring your local USENET access. Seriously. USENET still lives. Your ISP may not know that, though ..

I don't have any good suggestion, but I feel like stack overflow is ripe for disruption. Most people only end up at the service because it's the incumbent, but the site has done a very poor job of transitioning from a place where you ask questions to a place where they need to curate results.


Slightly relevant since you mentioned Quora: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7796834

Scribd and Quora considered harmful

Specifically, @nelson suggests "And instead of Quora use Ask MetaFilter or StackExchange." He goes on to say:

> Quora’s business model is to trick people into sharing information for free, then put it behind a login. It’s like Experts Exchange 2.0! For instance, on Quora you can read Who owns the copyright on content contributed to Quora? Only you can’t just read the text. Depending on your history with the site and the way you got there you may see a giant popup demanding you log in obscuring the page, or the first answer clear and then the rest blurred, or if you're lucky just the page. It appears nondeterministic.

The quora experts exchange parallel is not a fair one. Expertsexchange attempted to get you to pay for membership to view the answer (it was available impossibly far down the page so google would index, but obscured as much as possible). Quora prompts you to create a free account after a couple question views, which is infuriating as a user(imho probably not going to be worth it from a business perspective either), but thats a pretty big distance from deceiving you into paying.*

*admittedly Quora's total lack of a revenue model at the moment helps them out here.

I've been over at emberjs' discourse site[1] a lot recently and I've been really impressed. They still encourage people to use stackoverflow for problem solving particular problems but for discussion it's a perfect complement.

[1] http://discuss.emberjs.com/

Recently I had this idea with few friends: http://codepundit.com , we even started working on that. On top of some sign ups we got some constructive criticism on HN and tweeter and the work slowed down since then. What do you think ? Is it worth finishing the project ?

I've had a lot of fun on Quora for these types of questions.


Try Codementor https://www.codementor.io - I'm the founder.

You'd get more personalized help and suggestions based on your specific situation.

Reddit can be useful - check out http://reddit.com/r/findareddit for specific topics.

You can try to submit it on Stack Overflow and hope the deletionist don't notice it.

You can look through past Stack Overflow answers when moderation was better.

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