Proposal: Stack Overflow Academy
This seems like a complete waste of time. Surely it'll be overwhelmed with vampires and half-asked questions, and anyone able to help will leave in disgust?
I do believe there is need for an outreach program to help people learn how to ask for help; but I am having huge misgivings about this particular solution, creating another standalone top-level site. Consider the experiences of the random Internet traveler…
A users comes across a site to ask questions about programming, or… a user comes across a site to ask about how to ask questions about programming. See the problem?
Area 51 has this problem in spades — "No, this isn't a Q&A site; it's a Q&A site to talk about making Q&A sites." So folks wandering in here looking for a bit of help return to find ridicule that they're doing it wrong, or in this case standing in the wrong line the whole time. It is a terrible end-user experience. And this will happen. Alot.
We can try to explain this away through another round of faqs and popup tooltips and a big dose of heavy-handed moderation; but that never mitigates that first-time user experience of just getting it wrong.
Look at the example question already proposed for "Stack Overflow Academy":
At a glance, these look like perfectly legitimate "programming issues". Google certainly won't know the difference; they'll bring people here in droves. You would have to parse that list very very carefully to realize this isn't a site for programming problems at all.
This whole thing is just too subtle to be a top-level detached site. People will end up here for the wrong reasons. I'm not talking about the select few people who follow these meta post and study all the faqs to learn all these nuances, but the average person we are trying to help with this site.
I don't want to overstate the problems with creating a stand-alone Q&A site to learn how to use that other Q&A site, but I just don't think this is the way to go here. Maybe something more closely integrated into Stack Overflow. Maybe.
Good idea; I just think this particular solution is taking the wrong path.
So we got to talking...
Folks have been asking for a coaching / mentoring / tutoring / purgatory system for years... I'm a bit skeptical that such a thing could work, but, hey - I'm often wrong about things I don't care about. So maybe it's time to give something like this a chance.
Here's what I'm thinking: what if we provided folks who were struggling or intimidated about asking a good question on Stack Overflow a place to run their concerns past folks who've already learned how to ask an effective question. They could get feedback on their wording, help learning how to debug and write a minimal example, one-on-one guidance.
I don't think this would be of much interest - or use - to the "vampires" who grind their way through their jobs without learning; if they wanted to put more effort into getting their questions asked, they wouldn't be a problem. But for that minority of folks who do want to learn but aren't sure where to start... It might actually be useful.
The big question in my mind is: does anyone really want to participate in such an endeavor? Or have all these requests been just "talk", the usual "this would be great of other people ran it and still others used it, so I didn't have to deal with either of them" blather.
Fortunately, that is the sort of question that Area51 is designed to answer...