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We've created an open source (LGPL) application called ODL Studio for territory design, vehicle routing, and viewing maps (i.e. of customer points) based on Excel data. We're considering the merits of using GIS SE as a Q&A site for people needing help using this software. We've hit a stumbling block though - we'd need a tag odl-studio to be available (so we can get notifications) and we'd have to answer a lot of questions to get our own reputation level to the level where we can do this ourselves. I know traditionally tags are created when there's a sufficient number of posts on a subject but its a chicken-and-egg situation. We can't start directing users to GIS SE (via links on our webpage, youtube videos etc) until that tag is present, as most of the time we'd probably need to be the people answering the questions and hence we need the tagging / notifications. However until we start directing users to GIS SE, no-one's going to post ODL Studio queries on there.

I'd guesstimate one or two queries a week would be posted on GIS SE. As a lot of queries are similar, my hope is to build a body of user knowledge on GIS SE that future users can reference rather than create a new query.

So, is it a good idea to use GIS SE for this purpose and if so, can someone with the necessary reputation please create the tag odl-studio ?

There's some more information on ODL Studio here:

Also see this discussion Allowing GIS SE to be support for particular software products? on allowing GIS SE to be used for software products support. We would follow the practices listed under 'An Open Letter to GIS Project Teams'. So when we direct users to GIS SE, we would include strongly worded advice on using GIS SE best practice / conventions etc (e.g. single question / single post, accepting answers, formulating questions properly). We'd also make it clear that feature requests, bugs and similar should NOT be posted on GIS SE.

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Let's go by parts:

We're considering the merits of using GIS SE as a forum for people needing help using this software.

Ok, but be aware all questions asked here will be under the Stack Exchange (and GIS SE) rules, so it might happen not all types of questions you are expecting will fit here.

PolyGeo already mentioned in comments this is not like a forum. So, I'd advise you reading at least the help center page to get more acquainted about how this site works.

Also, very important, if people that will be responding here have affiliation with product/company 'x', and such answers will recommend the software among other possible solutions, it must be clearly emphasized in the answer; otherwise answers can be considered spam. This guideline is part of our FAQ.

For example, adding a disclosure of the following type at the bottom of answers:

Disclosure: I work for company 'y'.

In such cases, make sure to answer objectively, without making propaganda of it. And of course, don't just answer like 'software x can do this/use software x', but show the 'how to' process.

On the other hand, when a question is specific about software 'x', no affiliation is needed. All that it is necessary is to answer the question satisfactorily.

We've hit a stumbling block though - we'd need a tag odl-studio to be available (so we can get notifications).

Devdatta Tengshe already created the . You can now suggest a tag-excerpt and a tag-wiki to it. Make sure to try following the guidelines for excerpt and wikis (they are in the hyperlink).

Also see this discussion "Allowing GIS SE to be support for particular software products?" on allowing GIS SE to be used for software products support. We would follow the practices listed under 'An Open Letter to GIS Project Teams'. So when we direct users to GIS SE, we would include strongly worded advice on using GIS SE best practice / conventions etc (e.g. single question / single post, accepting answers, formulating questions properly). We'd also make it clear that feature requests, bugs and similar should NOT be posted on GIS SE.

That is it.

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    To clearly emphasize affiliation I think a wording that works at the bottom of every answer given by ODL staff that concerns ODL software is "Disclaimer: I am <position/role> at Open Door Logistics". – PolyGeo Mar 8 '17 at 13:30
  • -1 for an arbitrary "disclaimer" requirement. If the post is not selling anything, then such a requirement unnecessarily devalues the poster's advice relative to that of professional GIS consultants (who presumably have no conflicts of interest?). It's also not something that this site has required of employees at companies like Safe Software, ESRI, or MapInfo. – dbaston Mar 8 '17 at 14:18
  • It's also an unreasonable requirement to make a particular answer claim, through a disclaimer, to represent the official word of an individual or company, when that answer can be edited at any time by (nearly) any person for any reason. – dbaston Mar 8 '17 at 14:23
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    @dbaston, the reasons explaining the disclaimer can be found here. Of course, people can disagree, but be aware the "must disclose affiliation" is part of our FAQ. It is required from users of all types of companies/products as long as we can identify them. – Andre Silva Mar 8 '17 at 14:30
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    @dbaston, It is true answers can be edited at any time by (nearly) any person; but not true they can be edited for any reason. One of the custom reasons for rejecting edit suggestions for example says: "Clearly conflicts with author's intent: This edit deviates from the original intent of the post. Even edits that must make drastic changes should strive to preserve the goals of the post's owner.". CW questions are exceptions though. – Andre Silva Mar 8 '17 at 14:35
  • @AndreSilva, an inconsistently applied policy is worse than no policy at all. If you care about affiliation, why not start flagging the thousands of answers contributed by people who work for GIS companies? – dbaston Mar 8 '17 at 14:54
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    @dbaston Perhaps the word "concerns" would be best replaced by "recommends" in my first comment. – PolyGeo Mar 8 '17 at 15:00
  • @dbaston Edits can always be rolled back by the post owner. – PolyGeo Mar 8 '17 at 15:04
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    @dbaston, I try to help the OP starting with the right foot in this community, as he/she asked for help. To do so, I think it is the right thing to pinpoint (not neglect) that guideline. If I will flag or won't flag his/her posts, If I agree or if I don't agree with that policy is another story. The difference is subtle, but I think it is important. – Andre Silva Mar 8 '17 at 15:05
  • I think the word "Disclosure" would be better than "Disclaimer" here. Disclosure is telling people know that you're affiliated with a company, so you are answering with some authority on the subject. Disclaimer is removing yourself of responsibility which feels to me like the opposite of what should be happening in this situation. – Midavalo Mar 8 '17 at 15:15
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    @PolyGeo, good idea. "Recommends" reflects the way I think about this subject. (cc/ @dbaston). – Andre Silva Mar 8 '17 at 15:17
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    Also having your user name as "Open Door Logistics" does not disclose that you are affiliated – Midavalo Mar 8 '17 at 15:19
  • @Midavalo, edited as suggested. – Andre Silva Mar 8 '17 at 15:20
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    @AndreSilva point taken about starting out the "right" way. The risk, though, is that this could appear to be placing restrictions on new users that are not placed on existing users. Also agree that there is a world of difference between "concerns" and "recommends." I think anyone would agree that disclosure is warranted in the latter. – dbaston Mar 8 '17 at 15:33
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    Perhaps "recommending or in any way promoting" is even better wording i.e. no one needs to disclose when they are simply answering a question about their own product(s) but they do when they also include a little plug for it, or when they use their product in an answer to a question not specifically asking about it. I think this is already how we operate but may help to remove any misconception of bias against new users. – PolyGeo Mar 10 '17 at 23:20

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