The question came up in this thread about an OpenFOAM-problem: user asked a question on the appropriate forum where he didn't get an answer too (or didn't find it in the first place) because he didn't know that the thing he was looking for is called "baffles" in OpenFOAM (so it is a pure nomenclature question).
My answer was the nomenclature and then referred him back to the OpenFOAM message board which sparked a little discussion.
This question approaches the topic from "the other side": how should Scicomp act for software that has a "living" community? I would suggest that it doesn't try to replace them but give overview answers and then refer to that community.
I love the StackExchange-sites especially for stuff where
- the answer is unlikely to change (mathematics and general programming)
- the community (and the available resources) are too large and it is not clear where to go for information ("How do I do .... in Python" when one doesn't want to subscribe to mailing-list for that answer and looking through archives yields no "converged" answer)
In my opinion for the the concrete example of OpenFOAM I'd prefer if only questions like
- "Is it possible in OF to ..." (capabilities)
- "How do I ..." (general directions)
where answered here in a general way but for the more concrete advice (calling utilities, program examples) people where directed to the MessageBoard. Especially as concrete usage is likely to change in subsequent versions and as I understand it the idea behind the StackExchange-stuff is that the answers to a question should converge to a form that doesn't have to be maintained later. The MessageBoard is "living", quality there is quite good and I'd prefer to have all relevant answers in one place.
What is the general consensus on this?
Does SciComp even strive to replace existing forums?