Source code questions. Back in the day, we decided to put these questions outside our scope for a variety of reasons.
Now that we've graduated and matured more as a site, perhaps now is the time to examine the possibility of expanding that scope.
- C/C++ questions with nothing to do with blender can certainly go on StackOverflow, but
C/C++ questions that have everything to do with blender are rarely answered on StackOverflow and have nowhere else to go.
- Many questions would be localized, but then again many questions about the use of blender are also very localized. It should be possible to encourage a policy of asking generalized questions which apply to more than just a specific project, just as we do for regular usage questions.
- This site has certainly benefited artists, but more technical artists and would-be developers are left without any really accessible resources on blender development. Most developer traffic is either on a mailing list, which leaves its content buried deep in a bottomless pit of archives, or IRC, which, while great for 1-on-1 debugging type problems, suffers from short-term memory loss and common questions must be asked again and again.
I propose allowing source-code questions, but with a carefully monitored lower-bound on localization. Questions such as "How to add a modifier" would be okay, but questions involving a project specific to the OP, such as "How to add a make-awesome modifier" would be too localized.
Really, the rules already in place for regular usage questions should work just as well for development questions.
I also suggest the tag for such questions be named source-code, with possibly more specific tags (e.g. rna, blenkernel) if demand is there.
The pros and cons of such an arrangement:
(at least ones I have thought of so far, if you think of more, please do add them)
- Finally, an accessible, searchable, approachable place to ask about the internals of blender.
- Possibly interest developers more in the site, resulting in more user-developer interaction
- Increase in scope means there are more questions to be asked, and a wider reaching audience to ask/answer them.
- Make it easier for community members to contribute to blender directly, resulting in more features.
- Some users could even turn into full-time blender devs, resulting in even more features.
- More persistent place to keep info for developers than IRC or the mailing list, and possibly easier to add to/more visible than the wiki.
- Development questions could damage the site by driving away artistic users (doesn't seem likely IMO)
- Development questions would go out of date as blender changes. This is of course also true of usage questions.
- Some questions, such as "where is the code" questions, seem most effectively answered with some kind of general, universal map of blender's source, but such a map would have to be maintained.
If we decide to expand the scope, one problem we'll have to face is that we've been telling everyone that they aren't allowed for years. We can't just change our official scope definition to something like "The Blender Stack Exchange site is for people who use and develop Blender" and expect the source-code questions to magically come rolling in.
In order to "break the new scope in", we'll need to spread the word and set examples of what new kinds of questions are allowed.
A couple ideas come to mind:
Make a massive CW post on something relatively simple but with lots of common pitfalls (GPU style), perhaps obtaining the source-code and getting to compile (for multiple platforms)
Have a "source-code" day, where users aware of the scope update hang around in chat and have a question and answer party with all the source-code questions that have been in the back of everyone's mind since day 1. (and perhaps copy/paste a short description of whats going on with a link to this post at the bottom of each Q)