4

TL;DR

What is the difference between the criteria for self-answered questions and blog post?


I have a number of topics I'd like to write about, but I'm having a hard time deciding whether I should post a question and answer it myself, blog about it or just drop it altogether.

These are the specific topics and my thoughts about it:

  1. How to enable stable SSH/SCP connections between two computers if one of them (or even both) can't accept incoming connections.

    Parts of this are already answered on the site, but none of them covers the entire setup, the stability part or the second case.

    I think this makes a specific questions that can be answered decisively with step-by-step instructions.

  2. How does shell expansion work?

    While this sounds like a question, it's a little broad. Anyway, the interesting part are the common pitfalls for new users (especially those who migrated from Windows).

    Once you understand shell expansion perfectly, it's clear why commands like

    tar xf ball.tar *
    

    or

    unzip *.zip
    

    won't work, and that it is not necessary to resort to some combination of find/ls and xargs.

    This would either make a small number of specific questions (e.g., How to unzip all archives in a directory without using pipes?) or a single blog post (e.g., Common pitfalls of shell expansion.).

  3. PCRE: How to "Find and Replace" N times without performing N "Find and Replace"s?

    This seems to be a popular topic, and there are already three questions about it:

    The first question has an accepted answer saying it isn't possible (which is correct for non-PC RE) and offers a solution based on a single sed command (that nevertheless uses N different "Find and Replace"s). It also asks specifically how to replace two text strings with two other text stings at once, which is much more specific.

    The second question is a little more general (although it was closed as a duplicate of the first one), since it asks about the new Notepad++ (PCRE), and it doesn't require to perform only a single "Find and Replace".

    The third question is more specific than the second one, since it only asks about replacing single characters.

    I have answered the third question, and I though of a way to adapt my solution so N RegEx patterns can be replaced by N different RegEx patterns, performing only two "Find and Replace"s.

    I think this could be quite useful in some situations (lowercasing words in all caps, uppercasing i's, remvoving whitespace before punctuation, etc.), but a new question would be a border-line duplicate. However, I don't know if it's really fitting for a blog post.

6

TL;DR:

  • If you can come up with a question that'd normally "survive" on the main site, you can post it as a question and formulate your own answer.

  • If it's too broad, it might be better blogging material. For example, if you have something that involves a lot of background info, explanations, a step by step guide, images, etc., then do post it to our blog if you feel like it — even if only to get attention for our blog and revive it a little (see here, here).


Quesiton 2 from your examples seems like good blogging material to me. The first one however seems a little specialized, and the third one more like a question stemming from a real problem you're facing, typical for other Super User questions.

"How does shell expansion work?" on the other hand is a little more on the "explain things" side and could be answered in extreme detail, so that'd be perfect for a canonical blog entry you can then always link to, covering multiple aspects and pitfalls – just like you said.

I have to say that by promoting the "answer your own question Q&A style" mode, Stack Exchange has pulled away some of the energy that would normally flow towards the blog, because the Stack engine just makes it way easier to write your question, then the answer, in a setting you're accustomed to. Blogging, on the other hand, involves having an account created for you, writing your post in the Wordpress editor, having it approved, posted, etc. Any editing step involves an additional login procedure.

I've petitioned to integrate the blog with the Stack engine as a means of making blogging easier and more fun, but then we'd need to be clear on where to draw the line between questions you should just post on the main site and blog topics. Right now, I believe this is up to you, with a slight tendency towards our blog, because it sure deserves a little more attention these days.

  • I know that the blog would be practically dead if it wasn't for the QotW. That's in part why I thought about blogging topic. Regarding your answer: Question 1 actually is a problem is faced yesterday. SSHing from notebook into the desktop worked fine. When it tried to set it up backwards, it stopped working altogether. Would you agree with the following? 1. Self-answered question about this specific error I was getting. 2. Blog. 3. Self-answered question. – Dennis Oct 5 '12 at 16:21
  • Sounds good! Maybe even 3 is worth a post — depends on how you formulate it I guess :) – slhck Oct 5 '12 at 17:12
  • I'll stick with the question for now. I can always blog in case it seems popular. Thanks for your insight. – Dennis Oct 5 '12 at 17:20
2

Self-answer your question on Stack Exchange site when:

  • you don't mind being a digital sharecropper and donating your content to the community,
  • you're interested in what other solutions people have to the same problem you're addressing,
  • the topic isn't something that fits the theme of your blog but you want to scratch the itch anyway,
  • you know Stack Exchange will get better rankings in Google for the question and you prefer eyeballs over ownership

Blog about it when you want to:

  • ensure your question doesn't get modified, closed, or worse, deleted,
  • ensure the question doesn't get answered by anybody else, outshining your own brilliant answer,
  • have your blog benefit from the additional content and resulting page views.

There's another option: Do both. Self-answer, then write a post at your blog summarizing and linking to your answer. Or ask the question, write the blog post as a detailed answer, then link to and summarize your blog post in an answer to the question.

  • Good points, +1 – slhck Oct 5 '12 at 15:51
  • 1
    I wasn't specific enough, I'm afraid. I had the SU blog in mind. I don't have a blog of my own. – Dennis Oct 5 '12 at 16:16

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