In a previous post, I talked about why I declined to commit to the Software QA Area 51 site. I had in mind at the time that a Stack Exchange software testing site should be unabashedly about software testing. After thinking about it a while, though, I have begun to question if a software testing Q&A site is really a good idea at all.
When I think about the success of the mothership site (StackOverflow.com) I think that it’s because the area of concern is well defined, large, and there are accepted answers to the questions that are posted up there. There’s also a rich body of accepted common knowledge in all the various sub-areas of the site.
Taking the criteria I mentioned for Stack Overflow, I’m not sure if the area of concern is well defined, at least in the proposals that I’ve seen so far. There’s the Area 51 proposal I talked about earlier that I don’t think is well-defined if it aims to be be a software testing site. As far as large goes, I see now that there is a separate Area 51 site proposal for Selenium questions. IMHO, that should be a part of a softwware testing site. Having a site just for Selenium is too narrow. Most importantly, I worry if there are really accepted answers to a large enough number of sofware testing questions to sustain a site like Stack Overflow for software testing. I mean, if you ask questions about exploratory testing will experts really respond with answers or polemics?
This last point in particular is really what raises the question for me. In the software testing world, is the profession even far enough along for correct answers to be given to a large number of practitioner questions? I think we’re getting there but I don’t think we’re there yet. From what I see on Yahoo groups related to testing, the testing community on Twitter, and blogs I see a lot of ideas forming but coalescing doesn’t seem to be happening yet.
I’d love to be proven wrong on this but at this point in time I don’t think we’re ready yet.