First, thank you for all of your comments and feedback. It's been very helpful!
Here are my thoughts, based on what I've seen so far:
- The quality of FEniCS questions are all over the place.
Some are good. Keep in mind that I know next to nothing about FEM and FEniCS. I liked questions like
FeniCS: Visualizing high order elements
Poisson equation: Impose full gradient as boundary condition via Lagrange multipliers
because the problems these users encountered had to do with FEM formulations. I think these sorts of questions are good.
I also liked "How do I do ________ in FEniCS?" questions like:
FEniCS: custom quadrature rule
FEniCS: extracting points from a cell
FEniCS: how to access coordinates when writing an equation for a trial function
Mixed FEM vector indices of pressure and velocity in FEniCS
What I thought was good about these questions was that they clearly articulated what feature they were looking for. If code was used, it was a small snippet used to demonstrate clearly what they were trying to do, not code they were looking to debug. I think this distinction is important. I also think it's important that users show they've made some effort in trying to track down what it is they're looking for. I was a little conflicted about
FEniCS: boundary conditions for electrostatic problems with dielectrics
because noxmetus did read the tutorial (Chapter 1 of the user manual, it seems?), but not the part of the user manual that covers this problem. I think it's a good question to ask, if only to point out to users that, hey, there's more good stuff in the manual. The answers to this were good; the conflict about "Hey, did you read Chapter 9?" wasn't so great, but that's why this whole thing is an experiment.
Some of the "How do I do ________ in FEniCS?" questions were bad:
Fenics : boundary condition
Mainly, what I think makes these questions bad is that they ask people to debug their code. And that's just not what this forum is about. Support forums are geared towards this sort of thing; I really prefer not to think of these questions as "How do I do __________ in FEniCS?", but "Can you debug my FEniCS code?" And the answer to that question should virtually always be "no". The best debugging-type question I've seen was
Simple FEniCS problem shape mismatch
which I think ended up really well. Although I think it's still better posed on the FEniCS support list, I really like how it was resolved. I think we should focus on directing the debugging-type questions to the FEniCS support forum. This issue isn't strictly specific to FEniCS -- we've had trouble with people wanting us to debug their code before the FEniCS posts -- but I think it is a problem specific to software package-type questions we want to watch out for.
xml Mesh format -Fenics
are just bad, and low-quality questions like these aren't specific to FEniCS. They occur fairly frequently.
Bad posts should not be answered. They should be closed. If you have the reputation, comment on them, flag them, and vote to close. If a closed post is unanswered, and hasn't been reopened, I tend to delete it. However, bad posts that are answered shouldn't be deleted (by anyone other than the original poster); just vote the post down, and ask mods to close it.
The best way to stop the bad questions is to help the original posters edit them, or politely provide them advice on how to ask better questions. Politely directing them to existing resources is a good thing; telling them "RTFM" is not.
- The FEniCS answers are a good fit for the site.
Generally, I like the way questions have been answered, and I think people from the FEniCS community have been doing a good job of answering FEniCS questions (and some of them have been really good about answering other types of questions, too).
- The verdict is still out on the experiment.
Given that it's been three weeks, I think the experiment is going well. However, I think we need to give it another few months to see how it pans out.