Great question! There are several different uses we envisioned for the GitHub Community Forum. To give a tl;dr answer to your question, here are some examples of use cases (more details below):
With these use cases in mind, read on for more details on what you’ll find in the GitHub Community Forum today and in the future.
A Different Kind of Discussion
The GitHub Community Forum provides a place in which our users can talk with each other in a more fluid way about ideas, questions, and other topics. We’ve heard that users are sometimes unsure of where to ask questions (“How do I…?”), or share new ideas (“I have an idea, but I want to see what others think before I start writing…”). Issues don’t always lend themselves well to these kinds of discussions; however, a forum presents a place designed specifically for these types of conversations. In the past, we’ve not had a GitHub-owned space for users to engage with each other in this way. The GitHub Community Forum is our way of providing this to our users.
More than Just a Forum
The GitHub Community Forum is more than just a place to ask and answer questions. This is a space to learn and grow together - and have some fun, too. We’re doing all of these things in a number of ways.
The first iteration of the Community Forum that you see today, consists primarily of forum discussion boards, but you’ll also notice something else: the GitHub Original Series. The GitHub Original Series is a series of articles written by GitHub Staff, sharing tips, tricks, and advice on a variety of topics, including GitHub features and workflows that we see our users asking us about a lot in private email support. With these articles, we hope to share with our users valuable information relevant to them in a more proactive and narrative way.
Additionally, the GitHub Community Forum provides a way for our users to be rewarded for engaging with and helping one another. The Community Forum is outfitted with the functionality to “rank up” and earn rewards by taking certain positive actions within the Forum. Our first iteration of this is simple, but we are excited to expand upon this moving forward.
Future Feature Plans
Last, we plan to implement many new features in the future that we think will help our users learn and grow, not only as GitHub users, but as better and more skilled developers. We are looking to add contests, polls, and better processes and tooling for taking user feature requests. Additionally, the Community Forum will adapt to its members needs; Community Forum member activity and feedback will directly help inform what the Community Forum evolves into.
I hope this gives you a better idea of what we envision for the GitHub Community Forum. If you have any feature requests or ideas for what you might like the Community Forum to look like in the future, we’d love to have your feedback. You can submit it to us via our contact form here, and those of us working on the Community Forum will see and respond to those suggestions and requests. Note that in the future, we’ll be looking to take such feature requests via tooling in the Community Forum itself, but for now, we’ll be handling those requests via email.
Thank you very much for asking this question, @chrisparnin. We’re excited that you’re here!
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So this is not intended to be a feature for projects, but more like a social tool for people using Git and GitHub at different levels.
I can see the possible value in this forum, however, it is my firm opinion, without more clearly defined rules about what's on-topic, the quality of this forum is just going to go down.
Taking a quick look at the Project Development Help and Advice Board, what I see is a terrible version of StackOverflow. StackOverflow has a huge, carefully designed system of reputation, question closing, flagging, etc. Even with all that, keeping the quality up is pretty hard. I personally don't see the point of duplicating what SO is already doing on GH Community Forum, since we'll probably end up with an inferior alternative. However, without clear rules about what's on-topic, I'm afraid the GH Community Forum (especially the Project Development Board) will disolve into a terrible version of StackOverflow.
I am relatively new to coding and don't work in a development environment. I can honestly say that Stack overflow is not "beginner friendly". Hopefully the powers that be at GH will be able to construct an algorithm that takes users' Q & A's into account when "ranking" them. In both ways - ie +score for good and constructive answers and communication as well as - score for bad communication.
I surf Stack overflow endlessly for solutions and I have honestly never asked a question there in three years. There are a lot of egotistic trolls there who just seem to hunt for 'noob' questions so they can show them how 'dumb' they are with their ridiculous questions.
Some people forget we all start at some point. Hopefully this forum will be more inviting as I have many questions and no-one to ever discuss it with. A different point of view makes all the difference at times.
I totally agree with @degreeck about the StackOverflow sites. They can make a new user feel uncomfortable even asking a question sometimes, although there not quite as hostile as the Arch Linux Forum, a forum shouldn't project a, what I would call a hostile environment for new users to the point your scared to ask a question about a topic thinking you'll be critized more for your lack of not properly wording or formatting the question you want to ask.
I can honestly say that Stack overflow is not "beginner friendly".