Proposed stack exchange site for Interactive Fiction

I’ve started a proposal for a stack exchange site for IF. I think a stack exchange site would in many ways be more useful than this forum, mostly because it’s easier to search for questions, so that we won’t spend a lot of time giving the same answers again. If you’re a user of Stack Overflow or any of the other stack exchange sites, please consider following the proposal, adding sample questions and voting on the ones you like!

Could we have it named just “Inform” instead of “Inform 7”?

We recall that there was a proposal for an “IF Q&A” stackexchange a few years ago:

The proposal failed but it’s worth re-reading the discussion from that time.

I7 is a more focussed topic than IF-in-general. By the same coin, it’s a narrower set of potential questions. On the third side of the coin, we’ve gotten a lot of I7 questions here over the past three years – real, not potential – and some of the answers are “see previous thread”. Stackexchange has better support for that kind of discussion.

Hmm, yeah I should probably make it for Inform 6 too. We’d to allow it for inclusions in Inform 7 anyway.

I do remember that old proposal now. I wasn’t on stack exchange back then. In principle I wouldn’t be opposed to making it for TADS and all the other systems, but my feeling is they get a whole lot less repeated questions than Inform.

How much use would the Stackexchange site be if most people don’t migrate over there, though? Seems like then it would just be twice as much work to see if your question had already been answered.

ETA: And looking at this, I doubt that it would hit 15 questions a day, 150 users with 200+ rep, or 1500 visits a day, even if it became the exclusive venue for Inform questions.

EDIT 2: And is it still the case that when a Stack Exchange site doesn’t make it out of beta, they shut it down and delete the site with only a downloadable zip file of all the questions and answers to show? Because that would make a Stack Exchange for Inform positively baleful if it didn’t take off. All the hard work people put into answering questions would wind up in a format useful only to archivists.

The data could be put somewhere else, if anybody wanted to.

Would there be a problem in the format? The thread I linked seemed to suggest that importing SE 2.0 datadumps into… something was non-trivial, but perhaps that was if you wanted to host an ongoing SE-like community rather than a static archive of questions and answers.

I wouldn’t be concerned if it never made it out of beta… I think we would get enough for it to be used and stay as a perpetual beta like many of the others. Some have been in beta for years I think. But I guess we’ll see how much interested there is. It may never get to the beta stage, but I suspect that if it does it will survive.

Why would people use if people aren’t already posting their Inform questions on stackoverflow or

A few people do use stackoverflow. I see it more as a successor to this forum though.

I would like to see an IF-themed Stack Exchange site, but I also see virtually no chance of it ever happening because of the activity requirements.

It would be more realistic if someone installed one of the many clones of the engine independent of the Stack Exchange network.

You could be right.

My view is that this only has a chance of succeeding if it’s broadened to all Interactive Fiction.

Out of the existing Stack Exchange sites I can see only a very small handful which are about specific software:

  • TeX/LaTeX
  • Ubuntu
  • WordPress
  • Mathematica
  • Magento (an e-commerce platform)
  • Tridion (a CMS)

Inform seems much smaller and more specialised than these, so may struggle to attract the critical mass of questions and answers required. But if the site can include topics on writing IF in general, that makes more sense to me (otherwise, those questions would surely be off-topic and have to be closed or migrated to gamedev or something).

Full disclosure: I now work at Stack Exchange (but on the Stack Overflow Careers team, not the Q&A side of things).

Anyone think it shouldn’t be broadened to all IF?

I think it should be wiser to keep open source tools for this purpose. The forum is already good enough, but some more tailored pages for repetitive questions could add some value. Why not use which you can install on your own server? This way it would prevent the service to shut down the board if they consider it doesn’t bring them enough cash (which is probably the real reason behind those board closings)

An SE site would only be shut down if it wasn’t being used enough during the beta period. See

It certainly wouldn’t be about bringing in cash, because:

What would count as enough? From the literature SE Beta site that I linked earlier, it seemed as though “enough” would be 15 questions a day, 150 users, and 1500 visits/day – which seems to me very far out of reach for Inform. Perhaps that’s an argument for adding all interactive fiction; how many questions does textadventures get about Quest daily?

@matt w, it’s a little hard to estimate given the discussion format (people ask new questions in ‘old’ threads quite a bit), but I’d say a few a day.

There’s not a single SE site that only deals with one language. If there’s no site for example that specifically deals with Java, why should there be one that deals with Inform?

Currently, Inform questions (and any other programming language questions) are on-topic on There’s a tag for it:

There are only 3 unanswered questions with that tag - to look at all of them see … ageSize=50 - still only 20 Inform 7 questions in total on SO though.