Saturday, February 19, 2011

How to Use Stack Exchange Area51 Advertisements

I was part of the Project Managers Stack Exchange Private Beta. We were brainstorming some ideas as to how to promote the site, and so far the ideas we came up with include a Facebook page and blog articles. The idea of placing banner ads on a blog or website is of course another creative way to help spread the word.

The problem is, the only banner ads available are within the Stack Exchange network itself. They're essentially inlined into the page using data:image URLs, which doesn't make it easy to just grab some code and place it on your website.

Armed with Chrome Debugger, I set out to see what would be involved in placing an Area51 banner on my blog.

On one of the Stack Exchange sites, I used the inspector to view the HTML for one of the banner ads. It consists of inline CSS, a DIV and TABLE element that contains a hyperlink to the Area51 proposal, and the commit percent. The hyperlink innerHTML contained the name of the proposal.

While It's possible to paste the CSS, HTML, and JavaScript in an HTML page, the only way Blogger would accept the inlined CSS was through an IFRAME. As you can see, I've embedded the Running Q&A Proposal in this article:

DISCLAIMER: Stack Exchange and Area51 images and content are property of the Stack Exchange Network and are subject to the Terms and Conditions. Use of this content in this article falls within the "fair use" section of the Terms and Conditions. You must obtain written permission from Stack Exchange prior to use of this content.

Feel free to view the source of the IFRAME to get the code. Just paste everything within the opening and closing BODY tag on your site, or copy the entire HTML page to your Web server and use an IFRAME to embed the advertisement in the desired location.

I made comments in the code to show the 3 items that represent the proposal link, proposal display name, and percent committed.

View Ad Source

Since the view source link doesn't work in the inferior Internet Explorer browsers, you can also download the code here by right-clicking and selecting "Save File As", or "Save Link", or whatever the most popular way to save files in Internet Explorer is these days.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Project Management Stack Exchange Launches Public Beta

Project Management Stack Exchange is now in public beta, meaning that anyone can now join the Q&A site and contribute by asking questions or posting answers.

The site is in need of more expert level project managers. Many questions are basic questions, but I'd like to see more questions asked that are more advanced. Most basic information about any field is available in droves; it's the specialized, expert-level information that is oftentimes more difficult to obtain.

With three years in the field, I'm no expert, but I'm also beyond many of the basic questions about the definition of change management, for instance.

However, some individuals have posted some thoughtful questions, such as How to approach a project given to new PM during execution with vague requirements?. The question involves a specific experience by a project manager and not a random what-if scenario.

The site is still in it's infancy, and it's success will be defined by it's early members. If you have experience with project management -- no matter if your field is software, construction, engineering, or some other project management field -- create your account today at Project Management Stack Exchange.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Project Management Stack Exchange Begins Private Beta

On February 7th, 2011, the Stack Exchange network launched the private beta of the Project Management Stack Exchange website, a Q&A site run by the community to address questions regarding the field of Project Management.

The site is a place where professional project managers can go to ask objective or subjective questions regarding their field. The people who run the site encourage participation by professionals who either have a problem they seek the answer to or who would like to help other project managers improve their skills.

The Stack Exchange network works on a voting system, similar to Yahoo Answers. Users who ask really good, helpful, well-written questions will be rewarded with upvotes awarded by other users on the site. Similarly, users can vote on answers given by other users.

Upvotes and downvotes affect users' total reputation score, which represents how well the community trusts the user. As a user increases his or her reputation, the number of priviledges on the site increases. After reaching a score of 10,000, a user pretty much has access to the same tools as the moderators.

In short, this means that you, the user, runs the site. With enough reputation, you have the tools and community trust to close questions that are off topic or spam, edit questions and answers to clean them up, see vote counts, create chat rooms, and much more.

Out of the 57 total questions as of the time of this writing, here are a few of the questions asked so far:

How To Resolve Leadership Conflicts In The Project?

One of My Projects Was Cancelled Very Early. Will This Be Deterimental To My Career?

Do Technical Leaders Compete With Project Managers?

The Stack Exchange network consists of 44 different Q&A sites spanning from Programming, IT, Website Management and other technical topics to music, cooking, and parenting. It began as a single Q&A site, Stack Overflow, as a place for software engineers to ask objective questions.

New sites first go through a proposal phase where the community picks examples of on topic and off topic questions. After the proposal phase, the site undergoes a committment phase where a certain number of users must commit to asking at least 10 questions or submitting 10 answers in order to help get the site started.

After the committment phase, the site enters a private beta phase. The purpose of the private beta is to seed the website with some really good questions and answers, so that when the site launches the public beta, it already has some really strong content to attract good, professional project managers.

Although the site is still in private beta, anyone can view the current questions and answers by following the link to the Project Management Stack Exchange Site.