If you write code, you know stackoverflow. It has become the defacto question and answer resource for software developers around the world. Then stackoverflow morphed into the larger stackexchange network, and spinoffs started appearing.
I'm a frequent contributor to the fitness.stackexchange.com site, and recently I created a proposal for creating a sailing stackexchange site. If you agree, please head over there and follow it, and ask some questions. The sailing.stackexchange.com site will only be created if there's enough interest.
- Minimally commercial.
- The reputation and points sytem is pretty accurate, and high quality answers cause valuable commentators to be separated from the inherent random nonsense that every online community is plagued with.
- The focus is on the content, not on the personalities. You can read up on people's profiles, but the overall layout is not a chatroom or forum: it's an extremely targeted question and answer resource.
- The moderation is pretty democratic without being popularist. Elections are held, high quality (judged by the community) posters can throw their hats in the rings, decisions can be discussed, and there's a lot of commentary on how the site runs (which is public).
This is not to say that forums (cruisersforum, sailinganarchy, etc) or social networks (wws) are dead: far from it. But on those platforms, the focus is on discussion. If someone asks a question about changing the oil on a Yanmar, you might get twenty replies and half way through the discussion flips to why Yanmar sucks and whatever else is better.
On the stackexchange world, you spend time crafting a proper answer, supporting it with links, references, and source material. It's just different.
Additionally although there are some regular participants on stackexchange sites, the real value is for the non-regular. It's for the person just looking for an answer to their damn question without having to wade through 50 pages of bored arm chair sailors sitting in Kansas arguing about whether toilet paper should unroll from the top or the bottom.
If you've used the stackexchange network you know how great it is, but if you haven't, check it out.
Another thing worth point out, and this is huge: the content and knowledge generated by the sailing community would be free forever. Right now, when you post on a commercial forum, that data belongs to that company. It wasn't created by them of course, but they own it. Stackexchange works differently:
The Creative Commons license guarantees that questions and answers are free to access, free to use and re-use (with attribution), and free to share… forever.
It's time to move the vast array of knowledge and skills from mariners across the world out of the realm of commercial copyright and into the public domain.
Whether or not the companies that own sailing forums are benevolent and good is beside the point. Right now it is illegal for you to make a copy of the information posted on cruisersforum.com or sailinganarchy.com. If those sites were to vanish tomorrow or be locked up in a legal dispute (which is exactly what happened a few years ago on sailnet), that's the end of the show and the information is gone.
With a Creative Commons license in place, nerd types like myself and others could backup the entire database of a StackExchange site frequently. Rehosting it would be, relatively speaking, not backbreaking.