I recently mod-closed https://vi.stackexchange.com/q/3620/205, since questions of this type (unending low-quality answers, very subjectve, etc.), are frowned upon on Stack Exchange. There has, naturally, been some dissent. What can we do to share our collective Vim experience?

  • I lean towards just throwing up my hands and accepting that SE simply doesn't want its sites to be used for sharing existing knowledge in this way. – Rich Jun 18 '15 at 12:22
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    Oy, you're replicating Emacs.SE's debate! – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 18 '15 at 13:36
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    @Gilles except we're working towards a solution. You guys started with a solution. :D – muru Jun 18 '15 at 13:54

We already have a way to share information or "tricks": asking and answering your own question. One of the first things I did when this site was launched was look in my vimrc file for these "tricks" and post them as self-answered questions. Some of them even got significantly better answers from other community members than what I wrote myself!

If I go over the answers in "Please list your single best .vimrc trick" thread then pretty much all of them can be a separate question, and some of them are already duplicates:

Sorted by "oldest":

  • 1 could be "How do I make 0 behave like ^" or some such.
  • 2 is a duplicate.
  • 3 could be "How do I configure timeouts in Vim" (there is much more to be said on the subject).
  • 4 is a duplicate.
  • 5 is very similar to this question, although perhaps not quite a duplicate.
  • 6 is a very similar to this question, although perhaps not quite a duplicate.
  • 7, 8, 10 I'm not even sure what these do, but I'm pretty sure it could be a separate question.
  • 9 could be "How do I jump to the next search match without leaving the commandline?"

The huge disadvantage of having them in a list-style like this is that I can't add my "competing" answer. For example I have a slightly different version of 9 in my vimrc. How do I add this? In the comments? Edit the post? Add a new answer? None of those options are particularly appealing.

We also have a way to sort questions and answers by votes:

So the real question we must ask is, why don't people add more self-answered questions? I have no answer to this, but we could possibly do something to encourage this (such as host a chat event).

  • I'm not sure I understand how is this different from the answer by @Rich. I believe the point I made there still stands: the question / answer model still requires people to know what they look for. shrug – lcd047 Jun 26 '15 at 17:02
  • @lcd047 Part of it is the same, yes, but it also shows how you can "discover" or "stumble upon" interesting tips: you can sort questions & answers by votes or views, and filter by tag. – Martin Tournoij Jun 26 '15 at 17:07
  • Err, the posts that get into the "hall of fame" chart get there because they have plenty of views and upvotes, not the other way around. – lcd047 Jun 26 '15 at 17:13
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    @lcd047 But how is that different from a question thread? Eventually such a thread will also gather dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of answers. In fact, I think it will be even worse, since I can filter by tags for questions. So if I'm interested in security or netrw for example, I can show just those questions (and filter them by votes/views). – Martin Tournoij Jun 26 '15 at 17:16
  • Because people can discover in a single thread things they weren't looking for, and that wouldn't make it to the "hall of fame" chart on their own. I think I made my case in the comments to the other post; I'd rather not re-hash it here. – lcd047 Jun 26 '15 at 17:22
  • I agree with this answer. IMO vi.stackexchange.com should be quick and efficient Q&As to common questions and tricks. A good place where other experiences is shared and discussed is /r/vim. BTW many posts there ought to be "transfered" here in SE ! Maybe as self-answers ? – perelo Jul 23 '19 at 21:13

Ask-and-answer new individual questions (one per trick)

The advantage is that sometimes other people have even better solutions for the same problem, and this way they'll be grouped together.

The downside is that each individual trick is probably less likely to be stumbled upon than if there's one centralised place for them.

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    Yes, that's the way to produce something useful. One question per problem. That way the answer can be found by people who have the same problem. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 18 '15 at 13:36
  • @Gilles: I think the way you describe this solution ("one question per problem") doesn't apply to the question closed by OP and which generated this meta question: "Your best .vimrc trick" is something really cool to share but isn't a particular problem. That would imply to accept one question per topic which might (or not) lead to some abuse or some messy content. – statox Jun 18 '15 at 14:09
  • @statox Yes, exactly. The question whose closure started this discussion is a bad fit for SE. There are millions of questions on SE which show that one topic per question (and also one question per topic, but this isn't the issue here) works. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 18 '15 at 15:33
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    These so-called tricks are solving some sort of problem the original author was encountering, so describing that problem in a question (and possibly self-answering) is the right approach. That actually adds useful information that can help find relevant answers rather than wading through a ton of unrelated "answers" to a single, overly broad non-question. If someone just wants to find random, quick tips about Vim, then they can use their favorite search engine. – jamessan Jun 18 '15 at 18:43
  • You can't "find" these, some of them are one-liners that are not obvious until you're knee-deep into vim. – firedev Jun 19 '15 at 2:53
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    What makes these things useful tricks (with an emphasis on useful) are the answers, not the questions. Some particular answers are useful because apply to an entire class of problems, rather than solve a particular situation. You can't discover these answers by searching for questions, even when you actually have a clue what you're looking for (and with Vim you almost always don't). You also can't tag them, first because you can't tag answers, and second because the corresponding tags would actually be meta-tags, and according to @Gilles the very idea of using meta-tags is evil. Cheers! – lcd047 Jun 19 '15 at 9:08
  • @lcd047 Could you give me a few examples of tricks that don't solve a particular situation? – Rich Jun 19 '15 at 10:51
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    @Rich in <600 characters, limitted formatting? nnoremap <silent> <M-j> @='"zdd"zp'<CR> - This is a macro to move a line down. It allows you to give it a repeat count. What makes it take a count is the enclosing @='...'<CR>. The @='...'<CR> can be used to make many (most?) other macros take a repeat count. It's a generic trick, its usefulness far exceeds the answer to the particular problem. – lcd047 Jun 19 '15 at 11:08
  • @lcd047 "How can I make my macros take a count?" – Rich Jun 19 '15 at 11:12
  • @Rich Then people asking "How do I write a macro to move a line down?" won't find it. – lcd047 Jun 19 '15 at 11:19
  • @Rich Here's a more conclusive example. One of my more detailed answers is this. It shows a number of IMHO useful tricks, on a relatively little understood topic. So far my post has gathered a grand total of 2 upvotes and 74 views, in 3 month. Does that means nobody cares about errorformat? Apparently not. Would anybody searching for general information about errorformat stop at that particular question, out of a 200-messages long list? I really doubt it. – lcd047 Jun 19 '15 at 11:42
  • @lcd047 Re: the errorformat example. I'm not sure if I understand what you're proposing should be different from the current situation. That question, despite not generating much traffic, hasn't been closed. Are you suggesting you'd post your entire answer in the "best .vimrc trick" question? Just individual parts of it? – Rich Jun 19 '15 at 12:58
  • @Rich I'm not proposing anything, since I don't believe there is any real will to change anything. But yes, I do believe that the question / answer model that you suggest basically keeps undiscoverable most tricks that are not verbose enough to be self-descriptive, and that putting (or linking) them all in a single place where people could browse them and make their choices would largely address that problem. – lcd047 Jun 19 '15 at 13:15

Start a blog

Stack Exchange sites can have blogs! Let's start one!

At the moment, it seems new blogs are no longer being created. However, Grace Note's comment says we can discuss it, and they will weigh in if we have interesting ideas on keeping them active and integrated.

  • Who can contribute to such a blog? – lcd047 Jun 18 '15 at 9:00
  • @lcd047 I haven't the faintest idea. My main sites, Ask Ubuntu and Unix & Linux don't have one. The linked post doesn't explain much, either. Something to be explored. – muru Jun 18 '15 at 9:02
  • If only a select few can post and comment, that's pretty much useless for anything else that site announces and the like. – lcd047 Jun 18 '15 at 9:05
  • @lcd047 ah, the main problem with blogs, from what I can see on AU, is the opposite: finding contributors who're willing to post regularly. A blog that updates once every quarter or semester isn't much. – muru Jun 18 '15 at 9:08
  • Any chance SE's blog infrastructure includes stuff for people to submit posts that can then be edited/approved by the blog owners? (Like Tumblr does). – Rich Jun 18 '15 at 12:24
  • @Rich I'll check. I knew that the blogs existed, but I don't know the mechanisms behind them. – muru Jun 18 '15 at 12:35
  • Official blogs aren't done any longer, the existing ones can keep existing but no new ones are being started. It's been announced by SE staff on some meta somewhere, I don't have the link handy. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 18 '15 at 13:39
  • @Gilles this: meta.stackexchange.com/q/244467/270345? – muru Jun 18 '15 at 13:42
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    I am not against a weblog as such, but I don't think weblogs are intended for sharing technical information as such, but rather for opinionated content, background stories, interviews, and other content that doesn't fit in an answer. If it can fit in an answer, then it should probably be an answer and not something else. – Martin Tournoij Jun 25 '15 at 16:20
  • @lcd047 you might be interested in meta.vi.stackexchange.com/questions/1316/… – muru Feb 16 '16 at 18:21

Open a chat room

Chat rooms need not be private or transient - they remain open and public as long as they're active. They are also searchable. Limited formatting is a problem.

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    The other problem with chatrooms is lack of hierarchy. Chat is linear, one can't see all comments to post nr. 7 grouped together. – lcd047 Jun 18 '15 at 8:58

How about...

Ask them in meta instead of the main vi.SE site

(and migrate to meta those that have alreay been asked)

We could even promote having one such question every now and then to build community integration.

FWIW, photo.SE uses meta to have a weekly image-of-the-week contest and surprisingly enough, it seems to work just ok.

The way it currently works on Photography:

  1. The top answer to the poll is set to be the photo of the week
  2. The selected answer is moved to a separate hall-of-fame question
  3. Downvoting the answers is forbidden (only upvotes are considered to determine the score)
  4. Users can submit one photo per week, without repetition
  5. Minor edits are allowed
  6. Photo critiques are supposed to be done in chat
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    The Photo poll actively discourages discussion of photos there. It recommends using chat for critique or discussion of a posted pic. And it has a process for removing posts. We could do a 'Vim tip of the week' thing, I suppose. – muru Feb 12 '16 at 9:21
  • @muru Yeah, something like. I think it really could work. Of course we'd have to agree on our own rules and mechanics for posting a tip-of-the-week. – Roflo Feb 12 '16 at 15:57
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    I've been thinking about this, and the more I do, the more I find it interesting. Make a new meta post, let us discuss this. – muru Feb 14 '16 at 10:13
  • @muru, can you or Roflo put a link to the new question here if/when it gets created? I'm very interested in this idea as well. – Wildcard Feb 15 '16 at 8:34

The most upvoted Vim questions on Stack Overflow (and that's where you find the best answer) are open-ended.

I suggest letting those questions be because they are in my opinion a great way to build the community.

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    -1: Old big-list questions often are highly-upvoted, since people find the answers interesting and vote (i.e., they are often opinion polls). That says nothing of whether the posts are well-maintained, or of the quality that fits SE. – muru Jul 28 '15 at 8:13
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    That says something about how interesting the questions are for the member of the community and that's the only thing that counts. – romainl Jul 28 '15 at 8:50
  • No, the opinions of those who maintain the community also count. Without both, the site can't function. – muru Jul 28 '15 at 8:52
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    "also", yes. "only", no. Closing a highly upvoted question because it doesn't fit some rule is abuse of power and only means that the rule must be changed. – romainl Jul 28 '15 at 8:55
  • Why? Why can't it mean these members of the community should post such questions elsewhere, such as Quora, where such questions are more than welcome? – muru Jul 28 '15 at 8:58
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    Because this SE site is an effort to centralize all the vim questions that would otherwise be scattered around many other SE sites. It is at the same time broader (for sysadmins, tex-using scientists, programmers, hackers...) and hyper-specific. The rules should therefore be more relaxed in order to address more needs. – romainl Jul 28 '15 at 10:26
  • Exactly. This SE site. So, I don't see why this SE site should follow (what seems to me to be) a core principle of SE sites. – muru Jul 28 '15 at 10:37
  • Because the pages that attract the most traffic on other SE sites are pages that don't follow the rules. – romainl Jul 28 '15 at 10:46
  • If those pages are closed or locked, doesn't that mean that's the kind of traffic that SE doesn't want? – muru Jul 28 '15 at 10:48
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    Are you SE? I'm not and I pretty much don't care about what they want or not. Open-ended questions would provide value to the community. – romainl Jul 28 '15 at 12:07
  • Did I say I was? – muru Jul 28 '15 at 12:26
  • Maybe I'm wrong but you seem to put SE's interest above the community's. – romainl Jul 28 '15 at 13:17
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    "most upvoted Vim questions on Stack Overflow are open-ended" -> Well, going through the first 2 pages here I only see a few "open-ended" questions... In any case, I'm not principly against more "open-ended" questions, but this specific questions suffers from a number of problems (as I've outlined in my answer). Some answers are duplicates, and some are lacking in quality (and one is just wrong) IMHO. There is no real way to add my "competing" (better) answer. – Martin Tournoij Jul 31 '15 at 11:33

Re-open the post as an exception

We promise to keep it well-maintained, with high-quality, descriptive answers.

  • Am I the only one to see this as a problem with the current policy, rather than one with the particular post mentioned above? – lcd047 Jun 18 '15 at 9:03
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    @lcd047 That, IMHO, is a question for Meta Stack Exchange. – muru Jun 18 '15 at 9:08
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    Quora's best posts are the ones like this. I wanted communal knowledge to filter top tricks, as Vim has notorious learning curve. – firedev Jun 18 '15 at 9:26
  • @Nick for that, I feel a blog is the best way. Pick a feature or a trick, post explaining how you'd use it or how it works, etc. Once a week or every two weeks or so. – muru Jun 18 '15 at 9:29
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    @Nick I'm not sure if the SE format works all that well for that purpose. Yes, for the first page or so of answers the best ones float to the top, but once 3 or 4 good answers have reached the top, they just continue amassing more and more votes, when sometimes really good answers on later pages don't get any, because of the default display order. – Rich Jun 18 '15 at 12:16
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    @Nick Stack Exchange is awful for that kind of thread. I just posted an answer on another meta site on that very topic. Many sites have tried them and utterly failed. – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 18 '15 at 13:38

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