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I manage support for a master data management product. We have customers who have asked for a more public community site to share questions and answers in preference to or in addition to the existing technical support channels we offer.

dba.stackexchange.com seems like a natural place to accommodate this. But before I start directing anyone to use this site for that purpose, I wanted to check in with the moderators and regular users first.

Some of the questions I expect would undoubtedly fit here. "How do I write a view to show only a certain type of customer in PostgreSQL or MS SQL Server?" Everyone will welcome such a question here.

But something like these are less obvious: "How do I split this Golden Customer Record into two separate golden records? How to I enforce that changes to a record must be approved in a workflow?" The answer would explain how to configure our tool (data modeling type issues) as well as how to use the application (click here, click-and-drag there, etc).

An expansive reading of the needs of "Database Administrators" should include master data management and fuzzy matching and all the questions I anticipate. But a narrow reading could easily say, "Telling someone how to configure fields in a form to conditionally display or how to render in markdown is really not the stuff of a DBA."

So the question [finally]: Is it appropriate to direct users of an MDM platform to ask their questions here even when some of the questions won't be pure database questions?

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If you want 2 more cents, I say "No, you probably shouldn't do this"

For my part, it sounds like the kinds of questions you have in mind are pretty basic and potentially proprietary at times. Perhaps some on-going training or knowledge sharing is in your future - which IMO makes for a more friendly & enriching workplace anyway. I've had some success in the past with the lunch and learn model for "miscellaneous" knowledge-sharing.

You might also look into StackOverflow teams if you really like the SO/SE model but aren't sure about sending your co-workers into the wild for support. Each of the SE nodes is it's own community with it's own idiosyncrasies and thinking of the entire web of networks as a one-stop-shop for support can be a recipe for frustration. Teams might allow you to familiarize your Team with the SO/SE format for day-to-day low level Q&A. If you find you've got a well-groomed, generalized question that fits one of the bespoke SE networks, then by all means share it out!

TL;DR:

Stay away though from funneling people here as the first stop. Wait to post a question to dba.se (or another SE network) until you can show clear proof of effort.

Before you post to a new SO/SE network you're not familiar with, it can be good to refresh yourself on how to ask a good question. For dba.se in particular, I like to really polish up my MVCE. For more (highly upvoted) reading on this - please see the following...

...based on these references, I think the community opinion is (unsurprisingly) - that you should be a part of the community. Don't use SO/SE as "free support option". You don't need to be an expert to ask a good question, but you need to have some idea that you're asking for a favor (information/help) from people who you may be able to help later. If you're not sure whether or not to ask, you can always browse by chat. We're building a network of good Q's and helpful A's, so try and make your question generalizable & helpful to someone who might have a similar question in the future.

  • I do indeed want the 2 extra cents. Thank you. Your answer contains very helpful information, but in certain respects it doesn't seem directly applicable. You wrote sending your co-workers into the wild for support, but my question does not propose directing co-workers into the wild. You wrote Don't use SO/SE as "free support option". But the suggestion is nearly the opposite. My suggestion is rather that my team monitor dba.se for questions and answer them. Am I reading your answer correctly? – mdahlman Jan 9 at 16:31
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    @mdahlman you are reading my answer correctly, but it seems I’ve terribly misread your question. Encouraging your team to teach as a method of learning is a brilliant idea. Sadly it’s well outside the scope of a comment reply to advise on the best ways to use SO/SE to that end, but I’ll try to find some productive citations and report back with an appropriate edit. – Peter Vandivier Jan 9 at 16:47
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    circling back, can I suggest you either edit the OP to clarify your intent or - given that both @Michael Green and I seem to have replied at least partly based on the assumption that you're looking for a blessing to ask 101-level questions - maybe ask a new Q? Defining the bounds of pseudo-proprietary support could be quite a helpful meta topic, but maybe have a quick look at our main help page first. Any questions for your product that match that, ask here. If it's not on-scope for dba.se, consider another network. – Peter Vandivier Jan 9 at 21:05
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For my two cents - I'd be OK with this.

I'll remind you of what's on-topic for DBA.SE, specifically the "advanced" part. "What's a view and why would I want one" are likely to get short shrift here. That would not be a good support experience for your customers. You know your users and their abilities, however.

As for your product specific questions, well, we're happy to have questions on SSMS and scripts from independents (sp_Blitz, Hallengren etc.) so why not yours?

If you proceed then please also participate. Create tag(s) for your product and document them in the tag wiki. Have your users document their association with the product. A line in the each profile should suffice. (A number of Microsoft employees are regulars here and this seems to work.) Perhaps you could encourage them to tackle some questions on other topics, too, while they're here? And please don't flood the site with a lot of employee-generated pseudo-blog material.

  • Thanks for the response. We would very much take this to heart: If you proceed then please also participate. It's not yet clear whether directing questions here is appropriate... but if we did, then we would certainly monitor actively for those questions. Peter's and Paul's product-support link lists How do I? as the first example of questions that belong here. That matches with the types of questions I anticipate, so it remains plausible that directing users here may make sense. – mdahlman Jan 9 at 16:42

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