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Assumption: we want as many professionals on the site asking as many "long-tail" expert questions as possible. From Joel Spolsky's post re: firearm SE proposal:

Excellent suggestion. One thing to think about is this: is there a subgroup of firearm owners that are more than just dilettantes? Think about why MathOverflow is so much better than Yahoo! Math Answers... it's because it attracts professional mathematicians. Can you narrow the target audience from "people interested into firearms" to something like "professional firearm dealers"? Or "military firearm maintenance officers?"

You'll still get all the people interested in firearms, but because of the heavy presence of professionals, you'll get much higher level conversation. Rather than "What are the requirements to obtain a concealed carry permit in [state]", which already has an excellent Wikipedia article, you'll get questions like, "How do I authenticate a genuine 1911 Pacific Theater commemorative Colt?" which doesn't.

The power of the Stack Exchange platform is detailed, expert answers to extremely rare, "long-tail," highly technical questions. To get expert answers, you need experts. To attract experts, you need a site where people are asking very interesting and hard questions, not the basic questions, so that it's clear that this is a PRO site, not a consumer/enthusiast site.... and remember, the pro sites WILL attract the enthusiasts, but not the other way around.

Problem: NDAs.

I think it's going to be difficult to get the kind of long-tail questions that really drive professionals to the site. Most of the major players in hardware and software put developers under pretty stringent NDAs. Posting anything about the Wii/PS3/Xbox/beta iPhone SDKs isn't really something people can do. That's probably true for most game engine licenses as well. And there's the idea that a lot of proprietary tech is considered a valuable trade secret.

So a lot of the questions on the site now are high level subjective design questions. The engines and platforms that aren't under NDAs are generally considered indie/enthusiast (i.e. XNA, Unity, UDK). Non-domain-specific programming specific questions usually are the domain of SO.

I don't really have a specific question to ask. More like a call to arms on suggestions on what we can provide as starting points for good questions to bring people here.

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As a professional game developer myself, I don't think the kind of questions that would require breaking a platform SDK are really appropriate for a site like this in the first place. Platform SDKs change very frequently and already have decent messageboard/newsgroup resources for answering specific technical questions, as well as theoretically resources from the company. So NDAs will stop that kind of answer but that kind of answer is nowhere close to the core of what an "expert" would discuss about game development.

For instance the vast majority of game design knowledge is not protected via NDAs (with the exception of specific implementation details that are company trade secrets). This site is a PERFECT place to discuss how to solve very specific game design problems and I hope it continues to move in that direction. Similarly this is an excellent place to ask multi-disciplinary questions, such as the kinds of things professional technical artists and technical designers need to figure out every day. As far as I am aware there do not exist any great communities for asking questions about game creation as a whole, and that's what drew me to this place.

Basically I think this site should strive to get as many professional GAME creators as possible, as opposed to focusing on the specifics of software development on a platform. We should all strive to get as many professional designers, producers, and artists on here to mix with the existing set of game programmers and indie folk.

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Speaking as a professional game developer, I've been actively promoting the site amongst my peers, since the more people involved the better quality the questions/answers will be.

I can tell you right now that a lot of them are instantly turned off by the high noise/signal ratio on the site already: too many hobbyist and noddy questions. While that's to be expected (there is no barrier to entry), it's something that will need to be struggled against constantly to get the level of quality to make the site feasible.

Worse, the developers I know see the low quality questions and answers, but of course being new to the site, can't vote them down. So they're left with a situation where they see a site with very little good quality content, and to have a hope of making a difference, have to answer poor questions before getting enough reputation to provide a tangible contribution.

Can I suggest a system of vouching, where professional game developers (who have sufficient reputation here already of course) can vouch for other developers, to artificially get them past the barrier to contribution. Doesn't have to run indefinitely, but as a way of kick-starting the site, might help to get more professionals, and less amateurs involved.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think The SO team would be all that keen on awarding any rep outside of the base association. If they are active participants at any other site (with over 200 rep I believe) they will automatically gain 100 rep upon joining here. But nevertheless, please post your vouching idea as a feature-request. :) \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Dorsey Aug 4 '10 at 18:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, could you encourage them to contribute to the meta-site? I think it's very important that we get active professionals, and meta is where we shape site policy. \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Dorsey Aug 4 '10 at 18:11
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'll certainly try. But again there's a chicken and egg situation: they're reluctant to invest time/energy until there's a viable site and a tangible benefit to them, but without interaction from actual pros, there won't be a viable site... \$\endgroup\$ – MrCranky Aug 4 '10 at 19:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ The signal to noise ration is pretty bad, I agree. The best way to deal with that is efficient use of voting powers, but it'll be tough 'til we have a "powerful" community. However this is sort of the same affliction that the gamedev Usenet groups had; a bunch of "pros" were (are? Haven't checked in years) there, but rarely had questions to ask due to any number of reasons, so the hobbyists were the ones left to do the asking... \$\endgroup\$ – dash-tom-bang Sep 15 '10 at 22:41
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Personally, I'm hoping we can get some more game-programming-specific questions on the site. Things like shader or other graphics programming. Maybe questions about things that show up at SIGGRAPH. Maybe try to get some artists to get some art tool questions here as well, i.e. "how do I do X in Max/Maya". I'm spreading the site around to anybody who might think the format is interesting, and most people seem enthusiastic about it, but very few have actually gotten around to asking any questions (if they have any questions to ask).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think "if they have any questions to ask" is a big part of it. I think there's a bit of a cultural issue in the games industry where many creators don't like to admit they don't have the answer. This site can help to open up the community a bit I hope :) \$\endgroup\$ – Ben Zeigler Jul 31 '10 at 5:41
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From my perspective, I just don't have many questions to ask of the random sampling of others that may be reading at any given time. Perhaps unfortunately, most of the work that I do is in the realm of reimplementing solved problems, and generally speaking the solutions that I need to come up with either have tons of documentation available or truly are of the cutting edge, nobody's done it before sort of work that I don't actually want to let the community in on until it's done. :)

The programming challenges that I run into aren't particularly restricted to game development, so I ask them on StackOverflow.

However, I still come here hoping to run into some good conversation and maybe help steer some newbies right. Perhaps it's exactly that attitude that will prevent more pros from joining up, though.

Richard Fabian's "runtime game tweaks" question could be one of the coolest ones around if it revealed an implementation that one could just go and grab. As it is, yeah that's the coolest feature ever and everyone implements it themselves so I don't really have much to add. Go go reinventing the wheel!

As to reinventing the wheel, I think the NDA issue does sort of coincide with the fact that there is generally no sharing of "work product" between "pro" game developers, so discussions turn higher level and conceptual or end up of lists comparing Jira to FogBugz and Unreal to Unity.

Not to mention, many of us participate in other fora which are either primarily "pros" or exclusively (e.g. invite-only). Mailing lists like gdalg or sweng-gamedev serve a much more focused purpose, and I suspect they therefore detract from an individual's desire to join yet another community.

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Thinking about this some more, and possibly deserving of its own answer, is that often the questions somewhere like StackOverflow are answerable. Someone posts a snippet of code and asks where they're going wrong. Someone else asks how to make a particular editor syntax highlight strings in a different color. ...at least the tags that I follow. :)

In the gamedev.stackexchange the questions we're seeing are more like, "how do I make a game," and "how does a physics system work." These are not answerable questions, at least not in a forum like this. A "good" question might be "how do I map controller buttons to actions, since my press-button-call-function method is getting too complex" or "how do I best smooth out camera motion in a third person game?" These are the sorts of questions that programmers in game development run into and there are many answers, each with pros and cons, therefore yielding discussion and vindictive downvoting.

Honestly I'm not sure how to get to that place, or even if that's what the community wants. That's what I'd like to see, though that sort of arena is already present on the gamedev mailing lists and other public and private fora.

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There will be a class of question which cannot be openly answered here by an expert, and those are questions about an NDA'd topic, asked by someone not under NDA.

Someone under NDA wouldn't ask the question here in the first place.

All else is fair game, and of sufficient interest that you will absolutely attract professionals to the site.

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I've seen atleast one major industry professional here, but I agree the NDAs that developers are required to sign would be a considerable hindrance to getting that particular line of professionals to the site.

I think, what would be best, is to figure out a way of bringing over those development communities. It's a shame that we won't have access to sponsored tags for some time, but there are many professionals in the indie community, and quite a few with the appropriate skillset among hobbyists.

I never got into UnityAnswers, so I don't know how into Unity would be to driving people here (I would assume very little, although a Unity sponsored tag would probably cost less than hosting unity answers)

But I do know that the UDK community could benefit vastly from having a resource such as this. With UDK practically being Unreal Engine 3, many professionals play with it from time to time.

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    \$\begingroup\$ To be perfectly frank, most people who post in UnityAnswers aren't exactly the kind of people that you want on a site like this. Most of the questions are "find my bug for me since I don't fully understand UnityScript". I was thinking about sponsored tags, especially if we can get XNA or UDK ones, but the really big players probably aren't going to go for it. I know Nintendo, for example, has their own private newsgroups that they run and moderate. \$\endgroup\$ – Tetrad Jul 30 '10 at 23:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ It may be possible to encourage the UDK community, I don't know about XNA though Microsoft already has a ton of communities for getting / giving help. \$\endgroup\$ – Jesse Dorsey Jul 31 '10 at 12:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Tetrad- all of the console manufacturers have private forums for developers. \$\endgroup\$ – dash-tom-bang Sep 15 '10 at 23:02
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    \$\begingroup\$ @dash-tom-bang, there are forums for a lot of things, but one of the selling points of StackExchange-based Q&A sites, is that they aren't forums. The structure works completely differently, with voting, rep, etc, and is intended to build up a useable, detailed knowledge-base of Q&A. (Of course, people keep trying to use it as a forum and have extended discussions, but that's another issue :) \$\endgroup\$ – Cyclops Sep 16 '10 at 13:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ By "forum" I mean "a place where people gather to hear themselves talk." Usenet, BBS, StackExchange all count as forums IMO. \$\endgroup\$ – dash-tom-bang Sep 16 '10 at 18:23

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