Sitecore Stack Exchange vs Slack - What should I use?

If you haven’t heard or signed up for Sitecore Stack Exchange or Sitecore Slack Chat - then stop right now, click both of those links and sign up!

There is a vibrant community of amazing Sitecore people hanging out in both area’s that are ready to help anyone with Sitecore problems, questions, troubleshooting or just posting random and weird stuff - Mike Reynolds & @jammykam I’m looking at you here…

So Why Both?

So why do we have 2 communities full of the same people and which one should you use?

The simple answer is use both - they both fulfill 2 different roles for the same community.

When Should I use Sitecore Stack Exchange

Sitecore stack exchange has been running now since mid September 2016 and since that time nearly 2000 users have signed up, asking 2173 questions with a 90% answer rate! That is awesome! And really that is what SSE is for.

If you have a question about Sitecore, whether it is code, best practice, content editing, configuration, xDB… well you get the idea - if its a specific question, then SSE is the place to ask it. But that is the important bit - SSE is designed for SPECIFIC questions that can be answered, they can be as complex as you like, but they must be answerable without a lot of conversation. SSE is a Question and Answer site - not a conversation/troubleshooting site.

Who is SSE For?

Really who is SSE for? Initially you may think its for you - you ask a quesiton and get an answer and move on. WRONG - that is only half the reason - the biggest reason that SSE exists is that someone else might have the exact same problem tha you have! Because you have asked a beautifully deatailed question and got an awesome answer - when a new developer asks google the answer, your SSE post is the highest ranked result - or at least in the top 10 - this is the REAL reason for SSE. For others to learn from problems that we have solved! SO….

Good SSE Examples

Some good examples of this are these:

What if the question is a bit more vague tho? What about questions where the answer is opinionated? Well that is fine too - as long as the question is… you guessed it… answerable

And these questions don’t have to be about coding or even directly about using the CMS - as long as its related to the Sitecore CMS, Sitecore or a supporting module and is … say it with me… answerable - Please ASK!

Bad SSE Examples

So we’ve looked at what you can ask, what about some examples of questions that don’t belong on SSE. In this I’m not going to link to any actual questions, or copy them here - this is not a place to put others down! But there are times when questions just don’t fit the format of SSE. Let’s look at some examples of this:

  • What are the best practices when using Sitecore/xDB/Solr/other feature - So why is this bad, put simply because it is not answerable (there is that word again) in a single post - this is where the line between an opinionated post like “what is the best way to do xxxxx” is different from “What is the best practice for xxxxxx” - there is a subtile difference here. If you want to know the best practice for something spcific like setting up DI, configuring Glass Mapper etc.. that is fine. But when you ask for best practices on something vague or broad like Sitecore, Solr etc… - that can’t be answered in a single post - so its not a format for SSE. This is a question for Slack - it involves a conversation, a thread, many people involved.
  • I just installed xxx module and now I’m getting a runtime error xxxxxxxx” - Initially, this might seem like the perfect question for SSE - and it might well be, BUT if to answer your question there needs to be some diagnosis or a lot of questions, it might be best to ask this on Slack first and then if it is something that might be helpful to others, add it to SSE with an answer once you have one. This is a more tricky line to work out - sometimes, its worth asking the question and then moving to chat or SSE to diagnose the issue. REMEMBER - always add the answer when you have one to SSE otherwise its of no use to anyone.
  • XXX feature is not working - how do I fix - really… unless you have spent at least 2-3 days googling/diagnosing yourself you shouldn’t be asking this anyawy - but also, same reasons as above - ask in a format that works for this - Slack or the Sitecore Community Forums.
  • Will Akshay Sura be my friend - if you are asking this on SSE, then the answer is NO

Rember - SSE is not for Conversations - its for Questions with direct Answers!!!!

Sitecore Slack Chat

So now we have looked at SSE - where does that leave the Sitecore Slack Chat channels??

Really for all the stuff listed under what not to ask in SSE and more! Do you have a problem with Glass Mapper that needs some diagnosis? Look for the #glass channel in Slack - what about that SOLR problem that you have spent the last week on? #solr is the place to be. Are you just deparate to be Akshay Sura’s best friend - well don’t ask here, cos he hates us all!

Also - do you want direct access to some of the best and brightest minds in the Sitecore world? Just look at some of the people that are regularly on the Sitecore Slack Chat:

I really could go on forever with this list… There are 183 Sitecore MVP’s regularly active on the channels. If you are not a member of the Sitecore Slack Chat - you are really missing out.

There are so many great sub channels - some really good ones are the #blogfeed - any new blogs are listed here, #stackexchangefeed - lists all new questions on SSE, #helix-habitat - anything you want to know about Sitecores new guidelines are here!

I think the my favourite thing about the Sitecore Slack Channel is the number of Sitecore employees that are regularly active members, and so willing to help us all out with questions we might have about the platform or implementation.

When To Use Both

I’ve mentioned it already in this post, but sometimes you will want to use both Slack and SSE for your question. Right now the Slack chat is a fluid, living thing! Because we are on the free version of Slack there is a message limit of 10,000 messages - it only takes a few days for this limit to be hit, so anything 4-5 days old on Slack is probably gone, never to be seen again.

SO - if you chat about something on Slack and get an answer that others might benefit from - PLEASE - ask the question on SSE and post the answer too - then it is there for all time, to benefit future users of Sitecore - OR alternatively - write a blog post about it. Or even do both (just make sure you link to SSE if you do that). The key here is to make sure that others in the community benefit from your experience and we all create better implementations for our clients!

TL\DR; So where does that leave me?

It leaves you with the knowledge that if you are not active on BOTH channels, then you are not using the resources available to you properly!

Both SSE and Slack are essential resources for ALL Sitecore developers, and anyone that says otherwise is lying to you!

Please - be a part of our amazing community. Come and join the fun. Most importantly - make sure you are using the RIGHT resource for your need - don’t just ask something on SSE when it is best suited for Slack, and don’t leave something on Slack that is good for the rest of the community to know - make sure it is publicly available in a format that will not expire, like SSE.

WAIT! What about

The Sitecore hosted community site is a great in between of Slack and SSE - its a forum, so designed for having conversations and getting answers that way - its also more permanent than Slack, so it may be a good place to chat if you don’t want the conversation to disappear after a few days.

  • Slack - get answers fast, chat about random stuff, keep up with the community etc…
  • Community Forums - Not as immediate as Slack, but a permanent record of your conversation. Officially supported by Sitecore
  • SSE - For questions and answers, NOT for conversations, debugging etc…

Happy coding!

  • Richard