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I think most of the current 158 users are DIYers. That is fine, but I became worried when I started to see responses like this:

Unless you have the tools and knowledge, let the pros handle this one. I don't think this is really a diy project, there is a reason the installation cost is so high. —Answer 342

Although it may be true that installing an air conditioner requires special training, I worry that we may be defining the site as a DIYer/amateur/enthusiast site and that is will not be interesting to contractors/pros/experts. What do you think—is it important to attract experts? If so, how do we define the site to make it more appealing to them?

  • How do other sites do this? Or even broader: what other good DIY community sites exist, that we can learn/steal from? – Jan Fabry Jul 23 '10 at 14:53
  • This is a very fine line to walk on a site like this, giving too much information to diyers could cause personal and property damage. I would not want to be the guy to give detailed instructions to an amateur, and have them kill themselves or others. – Tester101 Jul 23 '10 at 15:54
  • If professionals ask questions they will most likely be detailed and specific, and will probably only be answerable by other professionals. So I don't see a problem with discouraging diyers from biting off more than they can chew. – Tester101 Jul 23 '10 at 16:06
  • @Tester101 How do people become experts? By not trying things? That's half the fun of DIY – Joe Phillips Jul 30 '10 at 0:09
  • @Joe Phillips: Some jobs should not be attempted without proper training. – Tester101 Aug 2 '10 at 16:00
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Frankly, I'm not that optimistic that the site is going to attract a lot of repeat traffic from contractors and professional repair people.

Almost without exception the ones I have worked with aren't exactly the type to Google things when they are stumped, or use computers more than they absolutely have to. I've been trying to hire some repair guys lately to do some work and very frequently sending them an e-mail (if they have an address) is worthless, you pretty much have to call them.

That said, I think it will be very valuable for the DIY community. As such, I think being fairly liberal on the scope of topics to allow more "honey-do" items that aren't strictly "home-improvement" probably is a good strategy for the success of the site.

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To be fair, the question being asked was:

We got a bargain on a brand new 6.2kw Split System Inverter Air Conditioner.

The quotes we've received for installation are almost as much as the unit cost itself.

Is this something I should be brave enough to attempt myself? It's a back-to-back installation.

The asker explicitly wanted to know, from a DIY perspective, if a pro would recommend another pro. The answer a pro would give is: "YES". We need to remember that these Q & A sites are about seeking expert ANSWERS not necessarily expert QUESTIONS. The cooking meta had a discussion about this: https://cooking.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/289/asking-beginner-level-questions

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I'm ok with this staying towards DIY. Full-time contractors often have different kinds of problems from DIYers. While we can learn from each other, when it comes down to a choice, I think the site should focus on DIY even if that causes us not to attract a large professional user base. I'd rather an answer say "this is really outside the realm of DIY" rather than provide a lot of information that DIYers really can't use.

One thing I'd have appreciated more from the quoted answer would have been why this is too big a project for DIY. Is it dangerous (how so?) Are there a lot of tricky codes or laws involved (reclamation of refrigerant perhaps?) Those are the kinds of answers DIYers need. So I appreciate the frank "yeah, don't do this" response, but more information, targeted specifically at DIYers, would be helpful.

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I think this includes a discussion on self-promotion. It is listed in the FAQ and there is a suggestion for a policy on Stack Overflow, but should we take the same position?

There is also a difference between contractors and vendors. The latter sometimes have very good training material and trainers, I think it would be useful if we could engage them in the discussion. I could not find a SO policy on company names in your username, but maybe there is an advertising opportunity for SO the company here?

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Sometimes an answer references an article written by a professional individual writer, like The Natural Handyman, or Ask The Builder. Would these people be interested in joining the community? They probably want to know "what's in it for them", so we should discuss this first, and then maybe write them an e-mail to invite them?

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