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Welcome to Software Development on Codidact!

Will you help us build our independent community of developers helping developers? We're small and trying to grow. We welcome questions about all aspects of software development, from design to code to QA and more. Got questions? Got answers? Got code you'd like someone to review? Please join us.

How can we grow this community?

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Codidact's communities have a lot of great content that is helping people on the Internet. Our communities are small, though, and sustainable communities depend on having lots of active, engaged participants. The folks already here are doing good work; our challenge is to find more people like you so we can help this community grow.

This calls for a two-pronged approach: reaching more people who would be interested if only they knew about us, and making sure that visitors get a good first impression. I'm here to ask for your help with both.

Reaching more people

The pool of people interested in software development is huge. (I don't think I need to belabor that point.) My question to you is: where do we find the right people for this community? How do we make ourselves attractive to them, among all the other sites vying for their attention? You're the experts on this topic, not us. Where would it be most fruitful to promote Codidact? How should we appeal to them to draw them in?

Please don't give general answers like "CS departments" or "GitHub". We need your expert input to decide where, specifically, we should be looking. We are now able to pay for some advertising -- where should we direct it, and what message would best reach that audience? Can you help us sell your community?

Finally, some types of promotion are best done peer to peer. You are the experts in your topic; messages from you on subreddits or professional forums or the like will be much more credible than messages from Codidact staff. For these types of settings, we need your help to get the word out. If you know of a suitable place and can volunteer to spread the word there, please leave an answer about it so we all know about it (and know not to also post there).

Making a good first impression

Pretend for a moment that you don't know anything about Codidact. Visit this community in incognito mode. What's your reaction? If it's negative, what can we do about it? Some known deterrents from across the network:

  • Latest activity is not recent. This tells people the community isn't active. Anecdotally, we have lots of people ready to answer good questions, and on some communities, not enough good questions for them to answer. Can you help with that?

  • Latest questions are unanswered. This tells people it might not be worth asking here. Why are our unanswered questions unanswered? Are they poor questions in some regard? Unclear, too basic, too esoteric, just not interesting? Can they be fixed? Should they be hidden?[1]

  • Latest questions have poor scores. This tells people that either there's lots of low-quality material here or the voters are overly picky. If it's a quality problem, same questions as the previous bullet. If good content is getting downvoted, or not getting upvoted, can you help us understand why?

These are issues we've seen or heard about from across the network, but each community is different. What do you see here? What might be turning people away, and what could we do about it?

Are there things about the platform itself, as opposed to content, that discourage people we're trying to attract? If there's something we can customize to better serve this community, please let us know. If there are other changes in presentation or behavior that you think would encourage visitors to stick around, what are they?

Conversely, what is this community doing well? What draws newcomers in? I don't just mean the reverse of those bullets. What do we need to keep doing, and what might be worth highlighting when promoting this community?


  1. Should the question list not show some questions to anonymous visitors? What should the criteria be? ↩︎

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Increase exposure One way of increasing our exposure is to use Codidact as a source when answering on other forums. A …

2y ago

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By having decent source code formatting that isn't completely inferior to other sites like Stack Overflow. We might want …

1y ago

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In light of another fiesta on a "competitor site", I poked my head in here again. Here's my twocents. When a ship sta …

6mo ago

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As a (for now at least) casual user, I can report that a bad first impression is that there are way too many "500 server …

2y ago

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Search engine optimization? I thought this goes without saying, but apparently we aren't doing too well there for so …

3mo ago

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Just my two cents: 1. I found this community because of someone's username on Stack Overflow. That's probably a good …

2y ago

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I just submitted a proposal to DuckDuckGo here for a new "bang" for their search syntax. If approved: `!coddsw search …

5mo ago

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Never Too Late Due to, shall we say, recent AI-related hallucinations, pretty much everything that was possible PR-wi …

4mo ago

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After a few years of casually using stack-exchange sites and wandering around on coda-dict, I feel there are mainly thre …

4mo ago

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I realize this might not be feasible, because course all of that hinges on the possibility to get some acceptable data o …

6mo ago

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Emphasize and expand content that competitors fail at or deliberately exclude. This section of What type of questions …

2mo ago

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Not having a single sign on option greatly increased the friction in adopting the site for me. This was further compo …

2y ago

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A note on first impressions: I really like that popup windows like when you click "react" are closed by clicking "re …

1y ago

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This may be a minor thing to some but it's a huge annoyance / barrier to me - we need to change our scoring system to be …

1y ago

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S.E.O. - Stack Overflow has fantastic SEO, and this is a self-feeding cycle. Currently codidact isn't adding json-ld o …

10d ago

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Give software.codidact.com its own domain Stack Overflow is by far the largest community on Stack Exchange and likely …

4mo ago

3 comment threads

Duplicate? (2 comments)
Super new casual-to-be user (2 comments)
I found a great Stack Overflow Clone (build before few days ago) in which he/she implemented nearly e... (6 comments)

16 answers

You are accessing this answer with a direct link, so it's being shown above all other answers regardless of its score. You can return to the normal view.

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Never Too Late

Due to, shall we say, recent AI-related hallucinations, pretty much everything that was possible PR-wise in 2019 is possible for this site again. People are leaving Stack Overflow and this is arguably the best existing alternative. Opportunity has knocked again, but in a sense it really never stopped knocking. So let's not have regrets, but instead seize the day.

Getting Noticed

There's plenty written out there about how Stack Overflow's initial SEO was so successful. I'm sure some rules have changed, but many others have not. I don't know a lot about that stuff. I'll leave the technical aspects to staff.

But what I am sure about is that a site like this needs to pop up in web searches to grow. Individual networking just isn't efficient enough. But if people start seeing that this weird "cod I'd act" site has answers for the fundamental, practical things, and puts comprehensive, organized, well explained answers at the top, and doesn't explain the same easy thing multiple times while ignoring the central cause of confusion... that's what will pull them in.

If you build it, they will come.

Just Write It Anyway

So, building.

I'm going to propose something a bit different from previous answers: I seriously think that getting the ball rolling needs to start with the experts, with self-answered questions.

You know that question, the one you're sick of hearing on all sorts of forums, the one where you're dissatisfied with the available duplicates/references you have or just can't find one version to elevate above the others? The one that plagues clueless neophytes who seemingly never have a proper idea of how to express the problem, despite how simple it is? The one where if you try to search for it, you keep finding irrelevant questions that use the same keywords? The one every "serious" developer needs to understand in order to have a smooth workflow?

Yeah. That one. Write it. And answer it.

You're the one qualified to do it. You're the one who's seen the question so often that you know every which way that people get confused, and have seen what works to alleviate that confusion. You're the one who's most invested - emotionally and from a practical perspective - in having the best possible version of it published, so everyone else can get the best possible explanation and see how smart you are not have to worry about where to refer people next time.

And right here is where you want it to exist. Right?

Don't worry about whether it's covered by the documentation. Documentation answers the wrong questions. For how-to questions, it's often only useful to people who have mostly guessed the answer already. It tells people what X does, when they want to know what does X.

Don't worry about whether it's covered by Stack Overflow, or technical forums, or any of those awful "tutorial" sites. Their questions are poorly organized; they don't factor the problem space neatly. When the question is good (and popular), it has dozens of redundant answers, making it harder to find the few good new ideas. We have the advantage of starting fresh, and the benefit of hindsight.

Nobody can keep the Internet DRY. But by leaving a clear target ahead of time, you will help keep the future, bustling Codidact DRY - and bustling, because the people you haven't met yet will appreciate that environment. And in the mean time, you'll be attracting people to the site by building something of value.

Intrinsic motivation

The best volunteer work comes from enthusiasts - the people who want to put in the work because they get fuzzy feelings from the result of the work, who don't need an automated system to increase a number associated with their name.

What I suspect helps to some extent is to make a bit of a competition out of it. I think this counts as an application of game theory. Pick something you're an expert in, and start writing. Nobody can stop you from writing, because you're producing quality, on-topic content. But if you're the only one doing it, the site gets dominated by your pet topic.

And other people don't want that. Right? So what can they do? Well, I suppose they could complain on Meta, but I'd like to think a more productive and natural response is to compete with you, and write other Q&A about their pet topics. Or if they like your topic, maybe they pick something else just for variety. Point is, fixing the problem involves doing more useful, high-quality-library-building work.

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Increase exposure

One way of increasing our exposure is to use Codidact as a source when answering on other forums. As long as we are treating Codidact as any other source, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I did that with this answer on SO

Improve technical stuff

Sure, there are very few people who joins a forum because it has such amazing features. I'm not saying that this should be the primary selling point. But there are two types of improvements that I believe is quite important.

  1. Features that are common on other forums that new user will miss when they come here. Sure, we don't need to implement everything, but we should definitely make sure that nothing is missing.

  2. Existing features that just feel clunky and more of a prototype for a feature than a final implementation.

For example, the comment thread system feels very clunky. I love the idea, but it doesn't feel very well executed. It could be that I'm not used to it though.

We should have used the leverage of the Monica incident (too late now)

I think it was a mistake to spend so much time of deciding exactly how codidact should be before launching. Sure, there are benefits with that. I won't deny that.

But we did miss the possibility of using the dissatisfaction generated by the Monica incident to our advantage. This may not be very helpful now, but I think it's worth mentioning.

Focus on being a community

SO is not really a community. And I think that's a bit sad sometimes. I think that's one thing where we could get an edge. A suggestion is to make it a little bit of a mix between a Q/A forum and a social network. A few suggestions:

  • Personal blog with commenting features and have a separate category for that besides Q&A, Code reviews and Meta.
  • Discussion forums. Let's face it. This Q&A form is not especially good for discussions. There was a forum before Codidact launched for discussing how everything should be here. Maybe that could be brought back in some way?
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2 comment threads

Currently there is even more of a furor about AI-generated answers on Stack Overflow to potentially c... (1 comment)
Using Codidact as source (1 comment)
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By having decent source code formatting that isn't completely inferior to other sites like Stack Overflow. We might want to post/view snippets longer than 13 lines without suffering some scroll wheel. See my feature request here.

My first impression when coming to any Codidact site requiring source code is "wow, this site wasn't designed with programming in mind at all". After which my knee-jerk reaction is: "eww yet another 'forum', exactly what I didn't need".

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In light of another fiesta on a "competitor site", I poked my head in here again. Here's my twocents.

When a ship starts going down, there's only three courses of action for every individual

  1. Fix it
  2. Abandon it
  3. Stick with it

The key insight is that individuals chooses the option that sounds the best to them, personally. Given that the ship is going down rather fast at the moment, you'd think there's plenty of motivation to abandon ship. But it's not, here's the thing:

I can't get my daily Q&A fix here.

There are no questions, what am I going to answer? If I abandon ship, I'd be swimming.

This is not entirely a chicken and egg problem. There's no way you can answer a non-existent question. You can, however, ask a question even if you only get subpar answers. You have to get the questions in first. The answerers are easy to, shall we say, entice in the current climate.


Aside from that, there's just a lot of UI/UX pains that adds up. A lot of workflow habits are broken by UI differences, and I don't know whatever is justifying these differences are worth it. I suggest a very loose goal of breaking the least amount of workflow habits carried over from the (ahem) "competitor site".

Exhibit A: I can't resize this answer box. And I'm triggered.

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1 comment thread

Just landed here for the first time; agree with the diagnosis that more Qs are needed. (Although I di... (1 comment)
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As a (for now at least) casual user, I can report that a bad first impression is that there are way too many "500 server errors".

Within a few tens of minutes I ran into two, one for some profile action (clicking on some tab in a user profile?) and one for en edit action.

It was the same impression some months ago and, like for submitting comments to the official Stack Overflow blog, I now know to save everything offline in a text file in order not to risk losing content and/or to have the option to try again some time in the future (including when submitting this very post). That shouldn't be necessary.

If there are some known errors or limitations, I think users should at least be informed somehow (e.g., information about workarounds or things to avoid).

Perhaps take a look at those 500 server error error logs?

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2 comment threads

General (2 comments)
(There weren't any errors when submitting this post.) (1 comment)
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Search engine optimization?

I thought this goes without saying, but apparently we aren't doing too well there for some reason.

The other day I was having a discussion with someone at SO regarding how hard it was to find specific information about anything on SO, even when using Google for the search. As an example I used a topic which I knew there was no good "canonical" for at SO, which had once resulted in me writing one on Codidact instead.

The topic was endianness, a common programming term and the question was simply "What is endianness?" or more specifically "What is CPU endianness?" I have written a Codidact post here with the title What is CPU endianness? and with a tag "endianness".

Using either that very title in Google, or just typing "what is endianess" results in just a few decent hits, with Wikipedia rightly being the #1 hit. Then follows a flood of misc tutorial sites of diverse or unknown reputation, as well as technical articles and the like. Lots of them probably didn't make any particular effort to end up in Google ranks. And yet Codidact is nowhere to be found.

The term "endianness" should be a good example to use for a search term, because it is completely unambiguous and only appears in a software engineering context.

I have to Google "What is CPU endianness?" with the exact title within citation marks to get Codidact appear at all, then as the #1 hit (the other hits being SO posts by me where I link to the Codidact post, as well as some SO scraper site).

This can't be right.

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2 comment threads

This is huge. I get SO results to almost every technical question I Google, but have never heard of ... (1 comment)
Be careful of thinking that SEO is a meritocracy. Certain sites might always be favored because they'... (3 comments)
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Just my two cents:

  1. I found this community because of someone's username on Stack Overflow. That's probably a good start. However I then typed 'codidact' into Google. The first result was codidact.org, the third result was codidact.com. I would have expected it the other way around. Also codidact.com's homepage is the page for all communities, not the software site. So again I had to scroll down to find that. I'm not sure about codidact, but my impression of stack exchange is that's it's based on stack overflow as a base. Probably the highest user count is in stack overflow. So I would think that's the community you want to build the most, and thus it should have front page importance across your site. But that's up to you to decide.

  2. The way I first discovered stack overflow was through google search results. Same with coderanch. Personally, when I have an issue, I don't go onto stack overflow and search for an answer. I go onto google. If the answer I want is on a stack overflow page, that's good. If it's somewhere else I don't care. I only care I can find my answer. So what I'm saying is, good visibility in google search results is a good way to get people to visit your site. They are going to care more about the quality of your answers that whether you're stack overflow or someone else.

Growing the community that can answer questions is another issue. Not sure what you can do about that. Probably all the disgruntled people from stack overflow who left or wanted to leave would be a good start.

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History and culture (1 comment)
I totally agree. I suspected the Codidact posts are not searchable on the web. I have just tried sea... (1 comment)
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I just submitted a proposal to DuckDuckGo here for a new "bang" for their search syntax. If approved:

!coddsw search_term

will trigger the following URL:

https://software.codidact.com/posts/search?search=search_term

I did the same for EE Codidact (here the announcement).

I chose the prefix codd because it was not taken and no existing bang begins with that prefix, so that if someone wants to propose bangs for other Codidact sites, they could use the same prefix. For example coddphoto for Photography or coddphy for Physics.

Hope this helps a bit.

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After a few years of casually using stack-exchange sites and wandering around on coda-dict, I feel there are mainly three components to the quality of the content on each of these sites:

  1. the knowledge base
  2. the community
  3. the game

The Knowledge Base

I think most answers to this question focus on this aspect of the site. It is also an important aspect, especially if communities end up building (parts of) their knowledge base using sites like this (I think Tex - LaTeX Stack Exchange is a nice example of this).

On top of the other propositions that have been made here, I would like to propose to just ignore questions from "other sites" when looking for an answer. I believe most developers rely on a search engine and the internet to get a quick answer to their questions. Most obvious answers should be in the official documentation and can be found there. In this case, there would be no real need to ask a question. Otherwise, you would probably end up on stackoverflow where your question already has an answer. Instead of just clicking the link and reading through the available answers, I think it might not be a bad idea to ignore these links and just formulate your question on codidact. Afterwards, you can still collect your answer from other sides and move on, but at least the knowledge base on this platform will get a chance to grow.

The Community

This is one of the aspects that I personally have little experience with. I am more of a casual user that has occasionally helped with cleaning up review queues (on stackecxhange). However, this is also seems an important part for people on these sites. If I understood things correctly, the community building has been outsourced to discord. Discord might indeed be a better place to build a community, but it prove to be a barrier to enter the community. I personally do not really care for this aspect, but I do feel like I might be missing parts of the experience by not joining discord. Some sort of Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO), if you will.

From my perspective, there seem to be two issues with the current implementation of the discord solution:

  1. I remember reading about discord somewhere, but at this point I can't remember where I read this and how to join. If the idea is to organise the community via discord, it might be useful to have a more accessible/prominent link to join the community. Ideally, there would be some kind of discord integration on the site so that you don't have to leave the site to check what's happening on discord.
  2. I can't remember what the purpose of discord is supposed to be. Maybe it would be good to clearly specify what is happening on discord. On one side, this should reduce the FOMO if discord is just providing non-essential extras to the experience on this platform. On the other side, it allows users to make a more informed decision about whether it is worth setting up discord for these extras.

The Game

One part of the stackexchange network that seems to be less present here, is the gamification of Q&A. There is still the reputation that can be gained by asking and answering questions. However, there are no badges or other "perks" that can be earned by contributing to codadict. For people who do not care that much about the community aspect, like myself, this removes a lot of incentive to be really active.

By gamifying the experience on the site, the bootstrap might be a more enjoyable experience. After all, as long as there are no questions to answer, users could "level up" by voting on existing questions, revisiting older questions, doing moderation tasks. This might keep people active on the platform until there are more questions to answer again while keeping them active.

Design

Apart from content, there is of course also the appearance of things. I must admit that I personally do not like the design of the site:

  • the content is not centred horizontally (especially annoying when scrolling down this question),
  • colours are too harsh for my liking,
  • no dark mode,
  • too much visual noise around questions,
  • reading a comment thread opens a new page,
  • questions are not visible when writing an answer,
  • ...

Content should of course be the focus point of a Q&A site, but I am afraid that the first impression (for many) is mostly dictated by the appearance and user experience on the site. Maybe it would be good to allocate some (more) resources into setting up a solid design.

PS: I am aware that someone put time and effort in designing the site as it is now and I appreciate the effort, but it just does not tick my boxes.

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1 comment thread

Discord is chat (2 comments)
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I realize this might not be feasible, because course all of that hinges on the possibility to get some acceptable data on a users behavior on other sites, but for me the biggest hurdle is that to contribute here I have to start over building trust and gaining abilities. That took some serious time over at the other Q&A site, the prospect of doing it all over is very daunting to me.

So my suggestion is give people with a sizable fake internet currency pile on other Q&A sites a migration bonus.

A few options how that could work:

  • Plain reputation bonus (maybe a flat 100, maybe something relative to their points at the other site)
  • Lower ability requirements (ie if you've proven you can do good edits (flags, ...) elsewhere you're likely to be able to do good edits here)
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2 comment threads

Abilities are different here. (1 comment)
It isn't tied to reputation (1 comment)
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Emphasize and expand content that competitors fail at or deliberately exclude.

This section of What type of questions can I ask here? is already a big deal, but it could be bigger:

Best practices, as long as clear "best" criteria are provided. Examples: fastest execution, least memory use, widest tool support for a target, IDE for a certain language and operating system

Software development is an art, not a science. Attempting to reduce it to black-and-white technical facts is futile and actively harms understanding. Stack Overflow's aggressive exclusion of "opinion-based" questions severely hinders the transmission of knowledge. A medium for transmitting the deep insights of long experience is something the world desperately needs, because formal education has always failed at it, and long-term professional relationships that create a business case for employers investing in their employees are a thing of the past.

Novices often frame a question as "What is better, X or Y?" This is a teachable moment. We can factually discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different solutions, the history of their popularity, and the real-world reasons you would choose one over the other. On SO, such a question would be closed immediately.

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2 comment threads

Art (6 comments)
Agreed (2 comments)
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Not having a single sign on option greatly increased the friction in adopting the site for me.

This was further compounded when the sign up process failed the first time. Which I believe was a bug that has since been addressed because I have since made my account (obviously).

Apologies if this already in the works. Another thing I don't see is a roadmap of things that are planned.

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3 comment threads

SSO (4 comments)
sign up every time not good (1 comment)
roadmap (2 comments)
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A note on first impressions:

I really like that popup windows like when you click "react" are closed by clicking "react" again, not just anywhere else on the screen. This makes the site feel solid to me, and less prone to error. It also works really well with Vimium where you can't easily select a non-action part of the screen.

What I have been fighting with is how comment threads work. Maybe a popup offering a tutorial for new users would be nice. Really though, I want to be able to reply to a comment from the question page; not have to go to a separate page two clicks away.

I like that the main level header size is not obnoxious, making it usable.

Update [7.22.22]:

I like that post urls are short and shareable as is. I use Vimium so grabbing a link on codidact becomes a quick yy. As opposed to massive SO urls that require hitting share and copy to get something reasonable.

It'd be nice to be able to "follow" or "save" users. This is a fun way to follow and learn from the activity of bright users. No feed BS; just looking for a way to "bookmark" these users within the bounds of my codidact account.

I would like a quick way to return to the codidact topics page from within a topic.

I like that you have to actively hit "mark as read" or "mark all as read" in your inbox, for the same reason I like to have to click "react" again. Too often with other services have messages "disappeared" on me, causing me to have to track them down through my browser history.

Update [10.26.22]:

I think there should be voting accountability and traceability. You should be able to see who upvoted and downvoted posts. Even better would be requiring comments for downvoting or a selection from a menu of reasons. A downvote with no context does not help the reader nor the writer.

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2 comment threads

Resolved requests (2 comments)
Thanks for the feedback! (2 comments)
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This may be a minor thing to some but it's a huge annoyance / barrier to me - we need to change our scoring system to be human friendly.

score +0.57142857: How to add user and a group in Docker Container running Macosx

8 decimal places is just incredibly silly and unprofessional.

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2 comment threads

Huge barrier? Seriously? (5 comments)
Agree that it is excessive; and the software is open source (1 comment)
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S.E.O. - Stack Overflow has fantastic SEO, and this is a self-feeding cycle. Currently codidact isn't adding json-ld or oembed information so that these posts won't show up neatly in search engines or in social media posts (like discord): https://search.google.com/test/rich-results?url=https%3A%2F%2Fsoftware.codidact.com%2Fposts%2F290279

Better Nomenclature - "Codidact" is hard to say and referring to communities is harder than saying "SO" and "Security Stack Exchange". Consider a more condensed name (https://shop.gandi.net/en/domain/suggest?options=1&search=Co) like co.ninja or co.guru. This will make subs appear as more prominent - software.co.guru looks nice and is easy to say.

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+0
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Give software.codidact.com its own domain

Stack Overflow is by far the largest community on Stack Exchange and likely serves as the main base of users (covered in metal.carratt's answer). I see software.codidact.com as prominent enough to get its own domain name, so it shouldn't feel like just another community under Codidact and I don't like to type a long URL software.codidact.com every time to view the front page.

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3 comment threads

What about software.co.ninja? or sofater.co.guru? https://shop.gandi.net/en/domain/suggest?options... (1 comment)
On Stack Exchange, Stack Overflow is around 15 times the size of anything else, and the distribution ... (1 comment)
Typing the long name (2 comments)

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