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I have just written a long meta post that I'm told doesn't really belong here. I agree, but think something like it belongs somewhere if we are to really service educators.

What doesn't work.

Neither a Question/Answer format nor a Chat format works for such writing. If I pose it as a question and then answer it, it seems self serving. It is also longer than most would be looking for in a question.

Chat doesn't work, even in a separate room, since commentators will interrupt the thread as it is being written and a reader later will need to evaluate all of the inline commentary along with the author's key ideas. The classroom is no good, of course, since we often have multiple simultaneous threads going on.

Separate chats also disappear automatically after a while, though this might be changed, I suppose.

What I propose.

I propose two things. I will discuss them separately. First is a Blog platform similar to our Meta where a user can post something long and (hopefully) unified, that will be maintained. Second is, for each Blog post a separate, dedicated chat room for that post.

A proposal for the Blog

I would think that users over a certain rep, neither too small, nor prohibitive, ought to be able to open a new Post in the Blog. It would be known as a "Post", not a question. There would be, in this idea, no "Answer" post possible, however, the ordinary comments could be left as they can be left for questions and answers elsewhere. Only the OP of a post will have edit capabilities (other than mods... for maintenance). But it wouldn't be like a community post as the intent is to capture the thoughts of an individual.

I'll just pick a number, 500, for the min rep to post. Just a guess. Just a minor suggestion.

Other users, who are allowed to post, will, of course, be able to give their own personal views that may be contrary to a given post. But lacking "answers" inline, it is less likely, I think to result in edit-wars.

I would also suggest that the Blog not affect rep. An interesting idea, however, is that a member would need to "pay" some rep for a ticket to post. Not too much, but enough so you think about it.

A proposal for the associated chat

This proposal suggests that each such blog post have automatically opened a chat room dedicated to that post. Some rep is needed to comment in these chats. I'd suggest enough rep that a user has made some commitment to the site. I'd think actual membership should be required as well as, say 25 in-site rep. This is to prevent, or slow, off-hand comments by people who have given little thought to the teaching process.

The chat room would be free form and an author could have BS called there if needed, but such comments would leave the original post intact for the future. If a chat dies out, then the room might be eliminated in the usual way, but leaving the original in place.

Conclusion

Such a process would allow for long-form writing, perhaps somewhat philosophical. My reason for suggesting it, and for the long piece I already wrote, is that some teachers, especially younger ones, may have seen only a limited subset of what it is possible to do in teaching and might be inspired to try different things, if they only knew about them.

Without something like this, there are things that should be said, that are important to say, and that deserve a hearing, but will have no home here. I think that would be a loss.


Issues

It seems that SE won't want to resuscitate blogs, so if we want to do it, we need to do it ourselves. I think the following are barriers. Please correct me or add additional if you like.

  1. Domain name: Someone needs to own it and pay for it. That someone needs to be around for the foreseeable future.
  2. Hosting: Someone needs to own it and pay for it. That someone needs to be around for the foreseeable future.
  3. Selecting a platform: Probably not a big issue unless the following interfere.
  4. Specific design of the site: ditto.
  5. Integrating it with CSEducators: If membership and rep is a requirement to post then we need to authenticate users here. There is an api: OAuth.
  6. Setting membership rules, etc to be compatible: Negotiable.

Desirable features of a Blog

  1. Editing similar to this site. Markdown, MathJax, etc so that users can use their skills in both without change.
  2. Permalinks. Each Post should have a listed permalink to make external references easy and permanent.
  3. Search. Normal search for text and also search by author.
  4. Archive. Posts should be archived by date. There should be an easy way to bring back a range of posts by date and date-range. Some blogs just have a list of archive "issues" at the side. Other things are possible.
  5. Tags/Categories. Posts should be able to be tagged with multiple tags. These could be taken from the main site, separate for blog-space, or merely textual markers not collected. It should be possible to bring up all posts for a given tag as is done on the main site.
  6. Images. If not too expensive, it would be a nice feature if images could be uploaded and saved. Otherwise they depend on external links, which could expire.
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  • $\begingroup$ The blog is certainly possible, but the chat room rep would have to be 20. $\endgroup$ – thesecretmaster Aug 11 '17 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ Would every blog post need its own chat room? I think it's possible that one dedicated chat room could be used for all the posts. $\endgroup$ – Gypsy Spellweaver Aug 11 '17 at 23:11
  • $\begingroup$ I would think one per post. If it is popular (several per day or week) it would let people focus the way the classroom does not. The unused ones would disappear as usual. $\endgroup$ – Buffy Aug 11 '17 at 23:21
  • $\begingroup$ A blog hosted by someone of this community is certainly possible, but I don't know if it's possible to associate it with the Stack Exchange Network (e.g. to authenticate users or check reputation). In fact, Stack Exchange once had community blogs but dropped the concept so we'd have to implement everything on our own (e.g. using the Stack Exchange API). $\endgroup$ – TuringTux Aug 12 '17 at 8:46
  • $\begingroup$ Several SE sites have associated blogs, run by users on their own site. Most of the sites that started a blog posted a few articles and then interest waned off (which is why SE stopped putting efforts in blogs and discontinued them when maintenance started to require a non-negligible amount of work). Worldbuilding has an active blog (check their meta). If you're serious about this, you should ask the people who maintain it for advice. $\endgroup$ – Gilles Aug 12 '17 at 21:16
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    $\begingroup$ I don't see why participating on the blog should require a reputation threshold. Approving an article for publication should be restricted, but writing an article should be open to anyone. $\endgroup$ – Gilles Aug 12 '17 at 21:17
  • $\begingroup$ For issue #6 I don't think there's likely to be a reason we couldn't simply incorporate the TOS from SE, in toto, by reference or by cite. $\endgroup$ – Gypsy Spellweaver Aug 14 '17 at 6:51
  • $\begingroup$ In keeping with features #2, and SE practice, we should probably have all images on imgur as well. As near a permanent link as is practical on the Web. $\endgroup$ – Gypsy Spellweaver Aug 14 '17 at 6:53
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    $\begingroup$ Real quick here - Worldbuilding has a blog on Medium (titled Universe Factory) - that might be the best option for a blog. You might want to look at the way Worldbuilding does it. $\endgroup$ – heather Aug 14 '17 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles, I didn't envision an approval process, but that would be (to me) an acceptable substitute. The intention of requiring rep was only to restrict publication to those who have made some commitment to the CSEducators site. If completely unrestricted, I think it can be misused. $\endgroup$ – Buffy Aug 15 '17 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ The Stockdale paradox: Neither the Optimists nor the Pessimists survived. The most interested people cannot interact as they need to, and the least interested are not finding enough to engage them. My biggest beef with all of SE is that the people I wish to engage with are few, and there are many folks who react very literally to everything that I say, most of which is allusion (or illusion?) and metaphor. I am probably just annoying them, and not finding people who think similarly, but I really don't know where else to look. This is the highest local maximum of intelligence I can find. $\endgroup$ – user737 Aug 15 '17 at 15:17
  • $\begingroup$ I am not disagreeing, however with reference to answering your own question. According to the guideline it is ok to write a question and immediately answer it. it is encouraged. You can also write both question and answer and post them simultaneously. As well as using this to document something that you want to share. You also end up with alternative answers. $\endgroup$ – ctrl-alt-delor Aug 24 '17 at 9:55
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This is a great idea and I'm very disappointed in me for not thinking of it myself weeks ago. That's a bad Pops! No cookie.

As others have pointed out already, Stack Exchange no longer has integrated blogging, but the Worldbuilding community has a successful blog going on over at Universe Factory. They use Medium, so there's no money involved. The TeX and SFF SE communities also have blogs: TeX Talk and the surprisingly boringly named (for them) SFF community blog.

The main lesson we learned from our time hosting blogs was that monetary cost is, relatively speaking, a non-factor. The real challenge is getting people to commit to contributing, especially over the long haul instead of just once or twice at the start of the project. Very often, people start off thinking "ooh a blog sounds like a great idea for our group", but then everyone loses interest once the novelty wears off, or expects to be able to just read cool stuff that someone else comes up with. (At the same time, you can't just hand out quotas to authors; blogging succeeds only if people intrinsically want to participate, not if it feels like work or some horrible obligation (YouTube link, relevant from about 0:35 to 1:25).)

And that's why I think this site will be one of the exceptions that does well with a blog: you may not be huge like Stack Overflow (yet), but you do have a fantastically dedicated core group of participants with a lot of knowledge to share. You also have a "squishier" topic that invites commenting and kibitzing. Once you get off the ground, some high-quality, and/or controversial-but-not-insane, posts that spread around the wider CS teaching community could be extremely effective for site promotion. Who knows, maybe the blog will end up being phenomenally successful and the Q&A site will end up being the junior partner in the relationship!

I don't have much in the way of concrete advice. Since the blog won't be integrated with our system, you'll be free to invent whatever setup you like for choosing admins and authors and such, but you'll be on your own for implementation. Managing blogs isn't exactly something we CMs have tons of experience with, but let me know if there's anything you'd like help with. At a minimum we can try to get you in touch with the people who run the other community blogs, if you're interested and don't already have those connections.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for your encouraging words. My idea here is to have a few "interested" people try to invite people to write for the blog when a question or answer indicates they have an interesting viewpoint. Then, if possible, to shepherd them (in the patterns community sense) in making a really good post. Note that there is also an effort underway to develop a blogging platform (resurrect really) in the acm SIGCSE community. $\endgroup$ – Buffy Aug 30 '17 at 13:43
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The short answer would be no. I just read about how stack overflow stopped their huge documentation program. One of the many things they mentioned for the failure of that project is the costs.

You have already outlined it

  • Domain name: Someone needs to own it and pay for it. That someone needs to be around for the foreseeable future.
  • Hosting: Someone needs to own it and pay for it. That someone needs to be around for the foreseeable future.

I don't mind paying for hosting and the domain name until a point. I work on Azure, so I could setup a proof of concept blog in a day or two, test it and have it running in a few weeks for the public. The whole thing can run on cloud so that the chances it not running properly is almost zero.

However, this introduces complications when (say a few years later) I no longer wish to admin. The domain name would be owned by me (or whoever buys it) and then I will need to transfer it. Or, it has to be linked to a independent entity. That brings in a whole lot of issues.

Then, there is the hosting cost, if the blog ends up becoming popular. That could be huge depending on the traffic.

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This is to supplement what I proposed in the "question". I'm just collecting ideas here. I note that SIGCSE is also talking about a blogging system and it is not inconceivable that these can be coordinated. Here are some ideas. They may be appropriate for one or the other system or both or neither:

  1. Gatekeeper. A post is submitted to a board of editors who can approve for publication or work with the proposer to improve the post before publication.

  2. Shepherds. A group of editors who work with authors to improve posts. This is done for all patterns submitted to patterns conferences. Shepherding would require either off-site communication or a sandbox for revisions.

  3. Cheerleaders. A group of people who look around for interesting topics and propose articles to the initiator of the ideas. For example, and interesting answer on this site might be expanded to a blog post with more information. A cheerleader can contact the author through the normal channels here (say in comments) or directly if not anonymous.

  4. Trusted Authors. A group of authors who have been proven to be reliable and can post directly without gatekeeper intervention. I think that one of the ACM blogs has this feature.

More to come.

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List Questions would finally have a home and not be summarily executed. I was thinking of posting a new question, but I knew that it was basically an attempt to gather a list / collection of project ideas for student programs. Useful, but unbecoming to a Q&A site.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't see a Blog as a home for questions at all. In fact, I think your proposed question could be made to fit. Write a version here in the sandbox and talk about it in the guidance office. I think it will find support. $\endgroup$ – Buffy Aug 15 '17 at 15:59
  • $\begingroup$ So, lists of resources or ideas - the most useful thing to me - still do not fit in to any kind of site that exists or could be sustained? Sometimes I think that humanity deserves to fail. Prove me wrong. $\endgroup$ – user737 Aug 21 '17 at 10:53
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    $\begingroup$ According to aria 51, lots of answer to a question is a good think. I think list answers are a good thing if it would result in less than 20 answers. But a question that asks for an an bounded list is of little or no value (these are often opinion questions). $\endgroup$ – ctrl-alt-delor Aug 24 '17 at 9:59

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