I am surprised nobody has asked this, but I'll go ahead and start the flame war.

Why do you like this site more than the Ubuntu Forums?

To me, it seems like unnecessary fragmentation of the Ubuntu support community. The Ubuntu Forums provide everything from a large established community, large body of existing questions that new users are referred to, very well moderated (from what I've noticed), and questions usually get answered.

This community on the other hand is new, undefined, and would seem like a mess to follow. On that last part, one of the things I like about the Ubuntu forums is the categorization. If I only wanted to help on begginer topics, I could go to the beginners forum (really helpful since my skill level with debugging linux isn't that much). If I was more advanved and wanted to help people string together a custom DE based on Compiz, Gnome-panels, a taskbar, and nautilus, I could follow more advanced forums like Desktop Environments or other similar advanced forums. From the outside it looks like in the future its going to be a mess of super advanced questions that nobody see's (and therefor doesn't get answered), and tons of basic "Where's the browser?" type questions. And as seen on MSO, difficulty rating systems aren't all that liked.

I just don't see any advantage over the Ubuntu Forums. However, considering that this site in Area 51 grew faster than most other sites, some people apparently like it. My question is why? What are the deficiencies of the Ubuntu Forums? What draws you here? And lastly, has the creation of this site stopped you from going to the Ubuntu Forums?

I'm curious to how this plays out.

4 Answers 4


The forums are great for discussions but not so great for keep answers up to date. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of great answers on the forums, but there are also tons of wrong answers from threads that don't get updated, etc.

There are countless threads that are pages long and if you are unlucky enough not to read on page 14 that the more correct way is to do it another way you are doomed. On top of that it's tough to find JUST the answer you need without filtering through the tons of discussion in a thread. I don't really need to know or care if someone thinks the thread is +1 or that "that feature is dumb" or whatever, if people need help they should be able to just get the answer.

I like the SE has a concept of reputation based on your past performance. If someone's answer is better than another person's it gets voted and percolated to the top. There's no need for people to update threads or split off threads that are offtopic or any of that. Just the answer to the question, that's all people want.

I read the forums every day, and I find that using SE is a better tool for finding answers to questions; it's not a replacement to the forums because that's a great place to just talk about stuff, like "that feature is dumb", but not mixing it in with a help knowledge base. To me I think using SE for the questions is better, however instead of "the sticky thread on how to compile your own kernel" on the forum containing the information that can be kept on an SE answer and the discussion can take place on the forums. shrug

  1. This site is pretty. It is much prettier than those forums.
  2. Meh. I searched for a solution, and I found it here. I found this place before I found that one. So I started using this stuff. It works.
  3. I've seen questions get answered on here pretty fast, and pretty well. And in English. I somehow imagine that nobody on the Ubuntu forums speaks English. I'm not saying you don't... But if I were to go to that forum and ask "where is the browser?", I feel like you guys would answer by telling me to write up a quick shell script to perform a depth first search from the root directory. People here answer questions in a surprisingly simple manner. And, yeah, I don't know how nice the answers in the forums are... I might be surprised. But I feel comfortable here. Which, I suppose, goes back to point number 1.
  4. Who ever said we aren't using both?

As other people said, it doesn't have to be one or the other. This site is focused on concrete questions with concrete answers, as opposed to subjective discussions (both have their own role). As other people noted, it's a wiki and it has voting and reputation. People are supposed to be able to see the best answers (this works fairly well in practice), and you can edit other people's questions and answers when appropriate. This helps things remain up to date, accurate, and organized.

Finally, it has a free license (Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.5) and dumps (haven't seen a dump for Ubuntu yet, but I assume it's coming). Both have played a big part in Wikipedia's success (and my participation therein), and this also encourages me to use StackExchange sites. Forums come and disappear regularly and people's contributions usually aren't licensed at all. A lot of good work has already been lost across the internet. I can feel confident that even if StackExchange goes under, the content will still be available. And people are free to reuse, modify, and mash it up to make something else.


As I understand the setup, the Stack Exchange engine tries to merge some additional concepts with the discussion part. I don't know if there is a definitive document describing all of this, it has been mentioned on the Stack Exchange blog.

From what I've seen it doesn't always work the way it is supposed to, but the idea is to emphasize coming up with the answer to a question (which should be the first item below that question because it has been voted up or accepted by the questioner). Users who are consistent about providing answers that others value should have a higher reputation score.

Forums encourage a conversation, which isn't always the same thing.

The engine worked quite well for programming questions, and over time the original creators decided to see how well it handled collecting answers to questions on other topics. Sometimes it works better than other times. And, the many new sites (including this one) are an experiment to see what works and what doesn't.

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