There have been requests over the years for an online forum for Wireshark. I’m not too crazy about traditional forums, particularly for support. You often end up digging through a lot of not-so-useful content to get to the information you’re looking for.
(If you can see where this is going and are impatient, you can go straight to the new support Q&A site now. Otherwise read on.)
Last year Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky started Stack Exchange, a collection of question & answer sites including Stack Overflow, Server Fault, and Super User. SE fixes everything that’s wrong with traditional form software. Useful answers can be voted up by the community, and “hot” questions are listed first.
Stack Exchange is wonderful but they require you to host your content on their servers. This is goes against my control freak sensibilities, so I had to look elsewhere for a solution. I found OSQA. The software is still beta, but it’s quite functional and becoming quite popular.
Here are some of the things you can do with OSQA:
Vote questions and answers up and down
This means that the good stuff floats to the top. Additionally the person who posted the question can select one answer as the best.
Comment on questions and answers
This lets you have a traditional forum-style linear discussion when you need it.
Tags let you categorize questions. For instance the python tag on Stack Overflow will give you all of the Python programming questions.
As you ask questions and provide helpful answers you gain karma points. This lets you do things like…
Power users can correct, clarify, or otherwise make helpful changes to things others have posted.
Q&A sites aren’t for everyone. They tend to work best when you have a bunch of helpful, active, and knowledgeable people willing to exchange ideas in a particular field. As luck would have it this describes the Wireshark community to a tee.
Go try it for yourself at http://ask.wireshark.org.