I’m not convinced that we should build a clone of Stack Exchange, for both fundamental and marketing reasons.
Fundamentally, as a repository of knowledge, Stack Exchange has some limitations which are due to the voting mechanism. If we’re going to build an alternative platform, I’d like to explore alternative mechanisms.
Voting with ownership begets reputation which begets competition.
If users own their posts and posts have votes, it’s natural that people will want to add these votes, whether the site does it for you or not. And then people will compete for the biggest number.
This creates a strong trend of optimizing for the ego of the participants rather than for the benefit of readers. Witness the anti-edit trend. Joel Spolsky’s vision for Stack Overflow was that once a question had multiple answers, someone would edit the best answer to add information from other answers. But in practice, try to do that and the author of the edited answer will complain that the edit denatures the answer while the author of the other answers complain that their answer has been stolen. Witness also the delete wars, where content that shouldn’t be there can’t be removed because someone would _gasp lose reputation!!!111
Voting does not always indicate correctness.
Wikipedia manages to be mostly reliable by requiring citations. The major limitation of Wikipedia is that this limits the scope to notable topics for which citations exist. The secondary limitation of Wikipedia is that on topics where it is difficult to evaluate the reliability of citations, the information can be unreliable (for example anything related to the history of certain regions of the world).
Stack Exchange lifts the notability requirement by introducing voting. But voting has limitations.
- Well-written incorrect information gets more upvotes than badly written correct information.
- Whoever posts first is more likely to get upvotes than whoever comes later.
- Popular answers (what people want to hear) get more upvotes than unpopular, but more useful answers (what actually works or is actually good advice).
I don’t have an alternative mechanism to propose, but I would like to explore alternatives. For me that’s one of the main reasons to start a new platform.
With voting comes sockpuppetry.
Why is it a problem if someone has multiple accounts? There isn’t much benefit to having multiple accounts except when voting is involved. On SE we spend a significant amount of effort to bust sockpuppetteers, and that’s mostly because of voting rings.
If I want Stack Exchange, I know where to find it.
That’s the marketing reason. For the ~99% of SE users who don’t know what meta is, why would they bother going anywhere else? SE comes out on top on Google.
“Like SE except we respect Monica” won’t get much traction. “Like SE except better in some way that benefits YOU” would. What can we offer to Joe Shmoe?