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As a follow-up to the evangelism effort at the RallyDev conference last month, a new experiment is taking place to grow the community.

Rally is going to introduce pm.stackechange.com as a repository for pm specific questions in an upcoming Agile webinar on June 9th. Instead of having people type pm questions into a chat window or email them during the webinar, they will be encouraged to post them on our site or to see if the answers already exist on the site.

There should be thousands of people on the webinar (not including those who view the recording later). Most of the people have likely never heard of the site yet.

As part of this effort a new tag is being added to the site that is related to the topic of the webinar definition of done.

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I think the basic idea here is a great one. However, some of the finer details have me a bit concerned. I am not familiar with this series of webinars, so if part of this me not understanding please correct me!

It would be great if the webinar started with a brief introduction to the site. Stack Exchange sites are not traditional forums, and sometimes this can trip up new people. When it is a user here and there, it is easier to give them attention and help them learn how to use the site. When it is thousands of people all at once, it can easily be chaos. Even a few minutes explaining the premise of the site (not questions just for discussion, but about objective problems you're facing etc) would be helpful.

What sort of questions are people usually asking in the chat window during these webinars? Are they questions about the presentation itself? Are they discussion questions? While promoting the site is great, don't lose site of the purpose and intent of the site.

I wonder if this is essentially trying to treat the site as a chat room. Remember also that there is the chat room (and more chat rooms can be created if desired). For general discussion and chit-chat about the webinar, this could be appropriate. However, one must have 20 rep (on any Stack Exchange site) in order to chat.

I'm also a bit curious about the tag. If the question is truly a good fit for the site, then a tag doesn't seem like it would fit the question. would seem to serve the purpose of knowing what questions are from the webinar, but seeing as this site doesn't get Stack Overflow's 3600 questions a day, it is probably ok to assume any question asked during that timeframe is from the webinar. Using the active or new sort would show these questions.

Note that if you do use chat, a moderator should create an event in the chat system. This will publicize the event via a system message on the site, and also tweet the event to the site's twitter account.

Don't let me scare off this idea - I do think there is value here. I'm just curious about a few of the details.

  • Hi @Rebecca, I share your concerns with the site purpose. Even existing users sometimes try to degrade the site into a forum. Also, we did use a meta tag to identify questions from the RallyOn Conference, and although it's not really the best use of the tags as far as StackExchange is concerned, it does help us better understand why we see certain types of questions on the site. I also think those tags can be removed later once they outlive their usefulness. – jmort253 Jun 4 '11 at 2:57
  • @jmort253, killing a tag cannot be done through the interface. Only renaming or merging a tag can be done by the moderators. Killing a tag is much more difficult, because the question still needs to be tagged appropriately, and just removing the tag doesn't do that. It often requires people going through it one-by-one and retagging. – Rebecca Chernoff Jun 4 '11 at 3:01
  • @Rebecca - I've noticed that not every question has one tag. I also don't think that questions should have only the definition-of-done tag. For example, if I ask "How do I deal with a rude team member?" I could use the roles tag, the team-management tag, and if I've asked it as a result of the webinar, I could also add definition-of-done. What do you think? – jmort253 Jun 4 '11 at 3:08
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    What value do [rallyon11] and [definition-of-done] add to the site? – Rebecca Chernoff Jun 4 '11 at 3:21
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    To me, nothing, and I'm aware meta-tags are strongly discouraged. Perhaps Mark or Eric can elaborate on why this is helpful. I'm playing devils advocate, so I should let one of them take this question :) – jmort253 Jun 4 '11 at 8:31
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    Hi, you're right on. The webinar is going to include an introduction to PMSE, what it's about (that it's not a forum) as well as guidelines as to asking good questions that are relevant to the site. In terms of the tag, definition of done is relevant as a topic itself in project management. And I think its a good step forward from the RallOn11 tag from the first experiment last month. – Mark Phillips Jun 5 '11 at 4:50
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I second what Rebecca says about your introduction to PMSE in the webinar. No matter how good your explanation of the difference between forums and Q&A sites, I think you're still going to see users who try to start discussions.

My suggestion is to find out if there are any audience members who are already familiar with the SE network and then utilize their knowledge and expertise to form smaller focus groups that can ask questions on PMSE as a group. You could have each group rotate in different question askers so everyone creates an account, but with the expert there to help reduce off-topic questions.

Otherwise, I think we could get overwhelmed with a lot of off-topic questions, as well as a lot of hurt feelings when we have to come in and start closing them. I believe it's easier to prevent the off-topic questions than close them once they're submitted.

On the other hand, many of the questions may be editable, and many users may be okay with having someone help them improve their question.

Note that by "off-topic", I'm referring to any questions that don't belong on our network, like questions that aren't constructive, not real questions, or any other question that diminishes the value of the site.

Are you able to talk to any SE folks who will attend the webinar, before the webinar starts, to help get the group organized?

With that said, I do think this is a great way to get more visitors on this site! We saw a slight increase in traffic after the RallyOn conference, and our views from search engines has increased above 50%!

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    first off, congrats on the new pic. From my experience with the target audience of the webinar, they would not be offended by constructive criticism/guidance on using the site. It is being viewed as an experiment and opportunity to learn a new tool for knowledge discovery. In the best case, we may see a large volume of people coming to site who need further guidance but who find value in the community. And on the other side, generating further exposure for the site and welcoming new members who can contribute to the community. I think the analytics so far are positive. – Mark Phillips Jun 5 '11 at 5:05
  • @Mark - After reading this, rallydev.com/agileblog, I believe that this webinar will do more good for PMSE! – jmort253 Jun 5 '11 at 6:51
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First off, thanks for trying these experiments. If you saw my post from today, I believe SE is a great solution for capturing, sharing and managing knowledge in the agile space.

Mark and I talked about the issue of a flat tag list when folks are trying to create tight communities. We had folks at the RallyOn conference ask to find all the questions tagged: agile, quality, and regulated. Once they found those questions, they wanted to share that collection with the other 100 or so experts in that space worldwide. They want to strengthen that tribe of 150 or less folks.

They were describing a sub-community problem. As such, this meta-tag concept seemed like a potentially valuable way to help folks find their tribe. We could then point viewers of the webinar to a specific tag in SE. (Hence the current proposal) I also see the problem with meta-tags exploding. Can you tell me what is working at scale in stackoverflow?

Really, we are just trying to solve a larger industry problem and trying to find solutions in this great space. We believe raising the bar on the quality of questions that people ask will benefit us, the attendee and SE.

I am an advocate of proactively training and promoting pm.SE for all the ordered problems in our space. If you can help us define the constraints then we will design inside of them. Glad to co-create a quick training video for webinar/live event attendees? Kind-of jumping to a conclusion, but it is an example of what we are glad to do.

As an example, we plan to keep the chat window open during the event to catch the trivial questions. I assume that sounds good too?

Any other ideas?

  • I think these sound like great ideas. Additionally, I think that using PMSE is a great way to expand the Agile community and bring people together. – jmort253 Jun 11 '11 at 1:35

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