Learning from StackOverflow.com

>>CHRIS: Hi, everyone. Welcome. I’m Chris,
I run the open source group here at Google. So, when I–when I send off–well, actually
when Allen did the hard work of setting up the room, and setting up the announcement
that Joel is coming. I got a lot of email, I got one was like, “Wow, it is really fine
that Joel’s coming here on the middle of Perth.” And I thought that was scary and funny at
the same time, because I was in the [INDISTINCT] when I got that. And then, the other one was,
“Can we get a copy of StackOverflow for our internal use?” And I was like, “Well, you
can ask him at the thing.” Which brings up questions, we have a [INDISTINCT] set up,
if you’d like to use it, you don’t feel like using your own voice and just typing, that’s
fine and for our friends who are VeeSeeing from 700 offices worldwide. So, just search
for Spolsky, I’m sure you’ll find the [INDISTINCT] page, you’re smart people. So that’s about
it. With no further ado, Joel Spolsky. Thanks.>>SPOLSKY: Thanks. Thanks for coming. Everybody
can–can people hear me? Is this is working? I’m trying to stand over here because I understand
that these scanners are trying to take an image of my brain, which are going to upload
it into a computer and run to do searches for the best sushi restaurant in Palo Alto
for the rest of my life. I’m going to talk today about StackOverflow. Let me introduce
myself a little bit if you don’t know the whole story. I’m actually with Michael Pryor,
who’s sitting here, the co-founder of Fog Creek software, which is a software company
in–I’m going to walk around a little bit because when I stand here the camera goes
on me. It’s a software company in New York City. We started about eight years ago. It
makes fog bugs which is bug tracking and project management software, used by development teams
around the world, to make better software. The–another project that we launched recently
working with [INDISTINCT], who’s a blogger at the website [INDISTINCT].com. It’s called
StackOverflow and that’s would I want to talk about. StackOverflow is a website where people
ask questions and get answers. You may not be able to see that, so I’ll back up just
to make sure–yeah, that’s [INDISTINCT] getting the whole screen here. There are a lot of
questions and answer sites and there’s couple things I want to talk to you today, this is
Google. That have to do with search, because I actually feel like search engines are kind
of failing in a particular realm of expert questions and answers where something you
could ask an expert and the expert would be able to give you a true and correct answer.
And the search engines for various reasons which still going to are just not finding
it. And a lot of the companies organized around search have tried to make question and answer
type of portals and Yahoo is famous for these, “How is babby formed?” question. Mostly which
you find on Yahoo answers appears to be adolescents asking questions about reproductive sciences.
And just to put it politely and most of which you find–and for various other reasons, the
stuff is just not working out that well on the search engines. But, what I’m really going
to do today is tell you a little bit of a story, and it’s a story about anthropology
and sociology. And the story is about how, when you have a group of people and you give
them an environment, you don’t even have to have a people, you just create an environment.
Those people will come into the environment and behave according to what you built. In
certain very, very subtle ways that you probably didn’t think about. So, these are the Spanish
steps in Rome and they’re meant to go from the Spanish Embassy to Bourbon Embassy at
the base of the steps up to the Trinita dei Monti church top. And so they were built to
be stairs but they became sort of this living room for backpackers in the middle of Rome
which many of you probably went to in your gap year. And partially it has to do with
the steps being the perfect, comfortable height to sit on. The steps are very wide so you’re
not blocking anyone if you’re sitting there. And you have a fantastic view of the Piazza
down at the bottom. When you’re sitting on these steps and so they became sort of a living
room because of the shape. And this was completely non-intentional some things–some things are
a little bit more intentional where you create an environment with the goal maybe staring
people or letting people wait on line or whatever that is that you’re doing. And some things
are even more precisely designed to create a certain type of behavior, whatever it maybe.
And one of the things that we’re learning as we move in to the era–moving from the
era of computing to moving into the era of the internet is that we’re no longer worrying
about computer-human interaction. Because that’s kind of solved problem usability, I
don’t want to say solve but usability is something which is no longer a major impediment and
there are a lot of known solutions. What’s not known so well is when you’re using a computer
and there are other people involved because it’s an email programmer, it’s a social programmer,
social networking or its web 2.0 now, I’m not allowed to say that. I take that back.
You have to think about human to human interaction that means you have to be anthropologist and
you have think about how humans work? And you have to think about stuff that ethnographers
and culture anthropologists like to think about all the time. So, that’s really what
we thought about. The environment in anthropology is very clear that the environment that you
create influences people and how they behave. And similarly the user interface, you create
for your applications will influence how people behave and you have to think about it as an
anthropologist to be able to do a good job. I’m not talking about how we did that with
StackOverflow and why it works and so on. So when you have an app like Yahoo Answers,
let’s just–I just want to poke around some of the other–this is what we did in the early
days as StackOverflow, we poked around some of the competition. The question and answer
websites to try to see like what the heck is going on here in terms of user interface
and some of these maybe accidental, ask, answer, discover. What is it about this website that
means if you really do get teenagers asking questions like, “What eats the ants if I squish?”
At least it’s not who eats the ants squish–Mahalo answers, I don’t know if you heard of this
but this the website from [INDISTINCT] who has an inornate belief in micro payments for
some reason and so the website is all about earning a dollar, a Mahalo dollar doing this,
and spending a Mahalo dollar doing that. And that creates a certain environment and it
creates questions that are all kind of like scams where you can earn $7 or get a coupon
good for $5 off at Supercuts or whatever. There are much more serious forums, this is
the sort of standard, I’m going to call it the phpBB look almost all web forums are either
using software that looks exactly like this or they’re actually using php itself which
look exactly like this. With this idea of topics and what applies and who knows and
it all looks very serious. This particular website which who’s name I will not mention
but it’s got a big hyphen in the middle of the URL and we’ll call it the hyphen website
from now on. And it is–I don’t want to officially say the resondetra for StackOverflow, it certainly
pushed me over the edge because this is a website where you ask a question usually typing
it into Google about a specific engineering or [INDISTINCT] topic. And you go–the answer
appears to exist there, and when you go there you don’t see the answer, you see a lot of
pages saying, “Please sign up, give us money and you will see the answer” and you say,
“Wait a minute, that’s not right they must be showing a different page to Google,” and
they’re showing it to regular people and there’s a secret which I won’t let you in on because
I want them to burn in hell but that particular site looks like–what it looks like because–I
mean they create a site. What does this look like? This looks like one of those corporate
enterprise start-ups, right? Like we won’t even tell you how much it costs, just go to
the bank and get all your money bring it to us, give it to us and then go back to the
bank so you can get a loan. Amazon sort of kept reading all the articles and Newsweek
magazine about how Google was just a big search box, so they made a big search box where you
can ask a question right at the top and I don’t know if that really make sense, but
people ask a whole lot of questions in here and they don’t answer. A heck of a lot of
questions and that’s just the part of like the design decision to emphasize asking rather
than answering. So we built StackOverflow and it looks kind of bizarre and there’s all
kinds of little bits and pieces all over the place which makes it [INDISTINCT] to programmers.
But I want to go over, here’s a little bit of the story concept was about the beginning
of 2008 we started coding with almost exactly a year ago we shipped, we launched in September
2008 we had a like a four-week [INDISTINCT] or something and we’ve been around for about
six months and we’re currently running six million business a lot. And I’ll go into more
details on that. [INDISTINCT] there are certain reasons that we thought search engines were
failing with various queries, this is–this is not actually particularly bad example of
it but knowing that LI is HTML tag is something that search engines don’t necessarily know.
I’ll go more into it–this is my list of problems with search that StackOverflow is trying to
solve, and we’re trying to solve all these problems at the same time. Number one, the
sign-up scams, so that’s website with hyphen where they’re trying to–they tell you that
you have to sign up and pay, if you want to see the answer and actually if you don’t.
There’s just these little road bumps like register, this is from SQL Service Central
but a lot of them have this, it’s like, “Hey we got the answer for you just one–wait–just
please register.” And that’s just a little bit frustrating and that actually reduces
participation, I think dramatically. Now, in here–now we’re going to get into some
serious things here, search engines get you a lot of wrong answers when you search for
highly technical questions and that’s the biggest problem, so here are three popular
categories, it’s the security hole a lot of times we find a piece of sample code and somebody
had said here’s the answer to your problem and it’s something like turn off your firewall
or more specifically, you know, just the typical like XSS vulnerabilities, SQL injection vulnerabilities
that you see in like so much sample code and when you see that result. You do a search,
you see–you get a result you say, “Whoa, there’s an XSS vulnerability there, I got
to tell this guy.” There’s no way to do it, there’s no way to change it, there’s no way
to fix it on a typical form software because you’re looking at a discussion that took place
four years ago. And then there’s the “Hard” problems, this is a–I don’t know how popular
it is but a Google interview question implement Rand(7) in terms of Rand(5) and I won’t go
into the details here but there’s a lot of wrong answers to this question which is awesome
because I can use this as an interview question for college students and even if they’ve researched
this question they will come in with a wrong answer because you have to have a certain
level of smarts to be able to distinguish between all those people asking their question
and providing wrong answers and people providing right answers incidentally StackOverflow has
the right answer. Multiple answers is much more common where you get to a discussion
form and somebody says, “Have you tried this?” “Have you tried that?” “Yo, I think there’s
an article about that. Here’s a [INDISTINCT] based article et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
You have no choice but to try every answer and see if it works usually in the dark until
you accidentally kick upon something that works so there’s, there’s, there’s no page
rank among answers to highly technical questions. A lot of times you get obsolete results because
there’s no page rank. When you have a very, very narrow technical question about some
very, very obscure idea that’s not working in some very obscure way on some obscure platform
that you’re programming for, there’s only a hundred people that are going to ever going
to look at that question and therefore nobody is ever going to link to the question and
certainly you can’t use page rank to link to the appropriate answer. Nobody’s going
to write a blog post about how the best answer to this obscure question in such and such.
So the authority of all these sites and page rank is [INDISTINCT] unless you know may be
the site has some rank but it’s just discussion forum. So it’s very, very hard for a search
engine to see what the right answers are. It doesn’t have any way of using it’s normal
methods and in particular you get certain common problems, obsolete results is a really,
really popular one is that Google for example knowing nothing else about two pages will
take the older one and give it a little there–well, it’s been on the internet for longer and give
it a little bit of a push. And that’s actually turns out to be fundamentally wrong with a
lot of technology so a very, very common problem we find is, how do I do such and such on my
iPhone and then you get to a lot of [INDISTINCT] no, it’s just not possible. There is absolutely
no way to write an apple application for the iPhone unless you make a webpage and access
it by a Safari and that was true for a year and it’s not true anymore but there’s a lot
of pages that still say that. Similarly if you search right now for interior photography
on Google, your number one result is on awesome article about interior photography written
by Phil Greenspun before anybody had digital cameras. So here’s my four key reasons why
search engines are struggling with these highly technical, “I’ve got a programming question.”
Problems number one and two where they have two few views so there’s no authority–that’s
really number two. There are too many ways to phrase the same problem, a lot of times
you’re struggling to find the right words that will happen to coincide of the words
that the person describing your problem happened to use. And that means that your search space
basically is kind of diffuses among all the different possible synonyms for particular–for
a particular problem and then there’s a preference for old links. So here’s nine things that
we did in StackOverflow to try to build the site that got around all these problems and
these are really these are the nine building blocks of the social engineering that we did
to try to create a site that was anthropologically correct and it would cause people to behave
in a way that it would work and it would basically solve all these problems. I’ll go through
them one at a time because there’s the key part voting. This is the easiest thing–I
mean these things are really, really easy. Every single one of these ideas are copied
from somewhere else. This one is copied from a red head by a [INDISTINCT]. Voting is the
idea that you vote up the answers that are good and it’s actually astonishing on StackOverflow
how quickly the voting gets you the right answer because other people come in and vote
up the right answers and this happened–this is a question that was asked an hour ago and
within an hour that number one question already had nine votes. So as you can see, it–within–usually
within a matter of minutes for common questions. You get a bunch in answer sort of flowing
into the best ones get voted up. There’s one little tweak of the voting algorithm which
is the person who originally asked the question has the special power to bestow upon one answer
as the official answer on to the top no matter what the votes are. And right below that you’ll
see the number community voted. So here’s an example of a question where the person
asked the question decided that that answer over there marked number 26 was actually better
than what the community thought or solved his problem better than what the community
thought was the best answer which is number 78. Rather than picking a particular topic
of programming and attacking that first or creating a hierarchy like Usenet which is
web 1.0 technology, I guess which is an old fashion technology. We decided to use tags
and if you look at the questions on StackOverflow people are pretty good in putting tags in
their questions. And there are usually two or three obvious tags to put any question.
So it allows you to say, I’m asking this question from a BB.net perspective not a Csharp perspective
or I’m asking this question, you know, I’m using–like a lot of times you’ll see these
questions and you’ll–or you’ll be searching for questioning and get to a result that doesn’t
even apply to the correct technology that you’re actually using, it’s that same in a
different domain. So we put the tags in but we did really, really need stuff for the tags.
So number one, we wanted you to be able to create a view if you’re a python programmer
we wanted you to be able to make StackOverflowing to a site that’s great [INDISTINCT] resource.
You can tell at what questions you’re interested in? What tags you’re interested in? What technology
you’re interested in? We also wanted you not to have to see things that you’re sick and
tired of hearing about. Like let’s say you just really don’t–never want to hear about
.net programming ever again. And so you can list ignore tags which you’ll never see but
then actually StackOverflow is doing all kinds of really smart stuff of these tags. So, for
example my program [INDISTINCT] is exceedingly obsolete. I worked on a little product called
Excel where I was in charge of the Micro language strategy indicated the thing called visual
basic for applications which is a way of programming the Excel which is very, very old but people
still use it. And so those the tags that I picked, you could see up there, I picked BBA
and Excel. And when I come to the site now, it’s going to look for questions that the
things I can answer not because I said I was interested in those tags but because I have
successfully answered those tags in the past because I’ve–because StackOverflow recognizes
me as somebody who can answer these obsolete questions on Excel BBA. Whenever there is
a question on Excel BBA, StackOverflow is going to try to show it to me because that’s
the best way they can get it, answered in. As a result of this intelligence that’s sort
of tagged base and our knowledge of the participants in the site and what their skills are we’re
able to achieve more than 90% of questions getting answered with an accepted answer.
We have editing and here’s a little diff showing a typical edit that occurred. The purpose
of editing was originally so that questions could get better and answers could get better
and better and better rather than freezing. Most form software that discussion thread
takes place in 2004 and four, five people participate and then it just remains as this
frozen artifact on the internet until the end of time and that’s why questions get out
of date. And then also is why you can’t remove errors when you discover them and the questions
never get better. So we kind of look at Wikipedia and said why if we let everybody come in and
added these entries. And make them better and better and better and the model for StackOverflow,
you know one of the early pitches was it is a Wikipedia for–where every topic is in extremely
specific, very, very long tail programming question. Where we’ll have the best–the question–we’ll
have the answer—the answers will be sorted. Anybody can come in and edit. So if you’ve
discovered that the number one answer has a flaw in it, you can hit the edit button
and fix it. And if you discover that the question is poorly written or the question was written
too narrowly or the question was not explicit enough, you can go in and edit the question
to make it a better question. And our hope is that a large body of the questions that
are in StackOverflow will become the canonical place on the internet to learn about very,
very narrow specific questions about very, very narrow and specific programming topics.
So in this particular case, this guy Martin very quickly answered the question and hopes
that he would help the person as quickly as possible. The person asking the question just
get something out there. So maybe that will help the guys solve his problem right away.
And then he came back two days later because he was disappointed that he wasn’t earning
enough points for his question because his question was kind of–or sorry his answer
was just a couple of lines saying, “Go use [INDISTINCT] don’t role your own.” which he
spelled wrong. So somebody fix role later and it’s not shown here. And because he wasn’t
earning enough points and he obviously wanted to earn some more points and they’re just
points. He went and edited his question and provided a sample code. And he got better
and earn more points because he provided sample code but–but a lot times people will edit
each others questions and this things get edited a lot and sometimes they are edited
worse which is a problem but in general the answer to questions are getting better and
better and better. In order to get people to the things that we want them to do on the
site. We have a concept of badges and this is sort of like achievements on X box 360
that sort of model. For that and it’s based on the Napoleonic quote to quote from Napoleon
saying that, I don’t remember exactly a soldier will fight long and hard for a little piece
of colored ribbon. So we get people these little pieces of colored ribbon and these
badges. If you look at my name up on the top of the screen, you can see next to that the
4,800, that’s how may points I have. And then there a little 15 and that means they have
15 silver badges and a little 28 says that I have 28 bronze badges. So you’re earning
the whole bunch of badges and anybody who sees my name anywhere appears on the site
will know that I have a certain amount of credibility and they can see what things I’ve
done and people would actually go and try to earn badges to complete the set. You too
can get every single badge on this list except for beta tester because the beta’s over. Karma
is based on the philosophy that you can’t just pay people to answer questions. And I
believe that that is one of the reasons why Google Answers never really worked because
there is sort of something fundamental Mahalo Answers I think is going to fail for the same
reason. There’s something fundamental going on here that people are willing to do for
free but they’re not willing to do for small amounts of money, they may be willing to do
them for large amounts of money. If you ask me how much it would cost to provide a day
of my consulting, there is no price but I’ve spend at least a day answering peoples questions
on StackOverflow. So, we, you know, sort of fundamentally understood that people are not
going to want to–there is no–if you try to clear a market using what I call the ECON
101 management method. A very, very small payments, like, I could give you a dollar
if you can help me with my problem. Okay, nobody is answering it, let’s try 2 dollars
that the market is not clearing this little levels but people will do things for free
in order to contribute to the world. So, we have Karma. And karma is just points. You
earn points for all kinds of things but mainly for getting you questions and answers voted
up. And so the best thing you can do on the site to earn Karma is to come and vote some
things up. There’s a few–as you earn more and more karma, you get more and more privileges
on the system that usually pretty nominal privileges but they do encourage you to–it
sort of like a human captcha until you’ve asked the question and answered a question,
you probably don’t have enough points to comment on questions or to edit questions. And so
if you come in and you like I want to comment on this, you’ll hit comment and you’ll discover
that you can’t because you need a little bit of karma very much. And that will encourage
you to go do something to earn a little bit of karma. And there are all kinds of easy
ways to do it. And in fact, the Wikipedia model, one thing that I’ve actually encouraged
people to do, you know, very explicitly is if you want to earn some quick karma and you
don’t know anything about programming, go find a question that seems to be kind a popular,
a lot of people looking at it. Look at the top 5 answers and merge them into one big
glorious answer that just created from those top 5 answers, you’re allowed to cut and paste.
And put them all together, edit it really well, write some sample code, test the sample
code and submit that as your answer. And you will get voted up and you’ll earn a lot of
points for that and that’s exactly the behavior that we want to see. We want to see people
improving the site making questions better and better. And they’re not obsessing over
the ownership of a particular question or answer. We put in pre-search, I don’t know
if there’s a technical term for this. But when you start typing the name of your question
which I’ve done here, when you hit tab, we’ll look through the words that are most likely
to be key words and then we’ll go quick search of already ask questions, and we’ll provide
them for you there. And you can click on it and you see the answer and that’s meant as
a deduping mechanism that’s meant to prevent duplicate. This is not a form for answering
the same things again and again and again, and having people said that this has already
been asked here. This is–we’re trying to create canonical questions and answers and
so we want it to be one. Or too really, really well which is sort of surprising because we
don’t have a very good search technology, we just have SQL server but it still works.
And one of the things, I mean the way I knew that, that StackOverflow is going to work
is on the second day of the beta I logged on with an actual programming question. I
typed the programming question in, in the title I hit tab and I saw the question already
been asked. And I clicked on it and had been asked, you know, 8 minutes ago and there were
already a whole bunch of answers. And the answers had already been voted on. And the
top most highly voted question and answer was actually the solution to my problem. And
that’s a phenomenon that happens again and again and again with StackOverflow. We designed
this not with the idea of the, of SEO which I think is a little bit too naīve. We designed
our site with the assumption that our homepage is Google. The front page of StackOverflow
is you go to Google and type a question. And that’s how most people find StackOverflow
because they typed the question. And so we optimized, I don’t only want to say optimized,
we built everything around this assumption. Our URL’s have the name of the question in
the URL. And they’re, you know, permanent and clean. We have whatever meditags we have
to have. We got the site maps. We’ve got everything, we’ve done everything to make our pages looks
as reasonable as possible to a search engine because we knew that that’s were a traffic
is going to come from. Indeed, as you can see here 86.6% of traffic is coming in specifically
from Google questions. There’s a little bit of direct traffic and that’s the smaller group
of users of the site, who hang out on the site all the time. And for some mysterious
reasons the other search engines are–there–while they’re there, you can look number 9, is a
live.com. I have no idea why it’s only 0.2% of our visitors, it doesn’t really make sense,
oh well. So, that was our design, that’s the front end. We were really obsessed about performance,
we know their getting fast answers and the site being snippy and snappy and quick and
stuff like that was important so here’s a technology stack that we use–that is actually
built on a Microsoft stack. The performance I know you guys don’t use it that much here
but the performance of Csharp which is a compiled language is just ridiculously good. This entire
site is serving six minutes–16 million pages a month and we’re doing it off two servers
which are almost completely unloaded so we’ve got ton of head room on this two servers,
one server is a web server, the other server is running Microsoft SQL server 2008 and they’re
both [INDISTINCT] zions but the–and you know there were a lot of optimizations that went
in there, but you know no matter what people say this is a pretty good stack and one of
the things that I’ve always been concerned about is if you start building a technology
like this, using a Microsoft stack you are going to pay for a window server license.
That’s a lot of SQL server licenses which are 5,000 bucks for every box that you put
out and the idea that you could possibly use a larger number of cheaper computers and use
open source products which are free, it suddenly occurred to us on the other hand, when I compare
our performance to similar sites like that are running on the open source stack we’re
using about one tenth of the hardware that they are unfortunately and maybe that’s because
they are not good programmers but in terms of just the tight queries that we’re doing
and stuff, the Microsoft stack is actually appears to be paying for itself, in terms
of reduced hard work. We thought that a really important part of making StackOverflow happen,
was get people getting questions answered on day one and it was really important to
me that we get a critical mass on there on day one so that one people tried it out, there
was actually somebody there and the questions actually got answered. So, I think a lot of
these other sites like Amazon, Ask, Google answers, Yahoo Answers, et cetera. Whatever
marking power they had behind them, because those were sites about all possible questions
and they didn’t really have a way to get all possible people involved in the site on day
one, they suffered from what I call the empty restaurant syndrome. You’re walking you know
up and down university, heading downtown Palo Alto trying to pick a restaurant to go into
and one of them is empty, and you will not go in there in any circumstances so a restaurant
turn knows that on day one they got to have their friends to at least fill up the window
tables so that it looks like there’s somebody in there and that was pretty important to
us and so one of the reasons why I asked Jeff Hatwood, to be a partner in this site because
between Joan software and Coding Horror those are the number one and number two most high
traffic technology blogs that are written by an individual who lives in either New York
or California and hey–just kidding. We have–we have, we actually have a lot of traffic , I
had it about a million visitors a month and he had probably about a third of that but
that was a lot of programmers and so we started doing this podcast which you can listen to,
it’s a weekly podcast where we’re actually basically designing a site and he’s giving
me a status reports every week and that’s podcast on IT Conversations and it was just
another way of making sure that when we launch there would be, you know, maybe 20-30,000
people listening to this podcast. So here’s the status report, here’s what happened with
StackOverflow, here’s how it worked out as of about a week ago we’ve had a 136,579 questions
have been asked 91% have been answered. My definition of answer is not that’s somebody
typed in an answer, but that somebody typed in an answer and somebody else uploaded the
answer so you got to have enough vote for it to count as answered. This to me is really
good, if you look at the questions that are unanswered there either on obscure topics
or sometimes they’re just like way too hard. Number of posts has been growing linearly
more or less we’re at about 800,000 our post is either question or an answer similarly,
the number of registered users this is the smaller community of people that just come
to the site all the time, they create and counsel themselves we actually use this is
awesome–we use to open ID just because we wanted to push it really, really strongly
and it was actually successful. We don’t have any log in mechanism other than open ID but
as you can see you can logged on just by two clicks if you have say, Google account which
is nice. So the number of registered users have created accounts on the system is around
60,000 right now and those are sort of the core group of people and then we got sort
of a larger group of people who just finish the site. The Uniques now is over three million
a month, over three million unique visitors a month and mostly probably unique just means
we set a cookie and if it’s still there but if is often Google [INDISTINCT] so whatever
Google analytics means by Unique visitors. Our–the best information we sort of triangulated
from a number of sources, the people that work and develop relations in Microsoft have
a number that they use which is nine million professional programmers in the world there
are nine million professional programmers in the world. So I don’t how to get three
million is but it looks like we’re getting a bout 30% of them we’re using StackOverflow
in some way [INDISTINCT] perform and not generally–actually this is a large crowd. How many of you ever
used StackOverflow or seen StackOverflow in search results? This is kind of a good group
I’m guessing that about 40%. So, when I asked the same question at the MIX conference in
Las Vegas and it was about 30% in that room. So, I have a feeling that in about first six
months, we’ve gotten into about 30% of the professional English speaking programmers.
We don’t have any language sites. The number of visits is over 6 million a month, page
views is about–running about 16 million and of course, growing pretty steadily there.
Here’s where the traffic comes from. The large–the larger part, the 86% is directly from Google.
And then, you know, this obviously refers to certain number of people. But direct traffic
are the people that I think of as the participants in the site. These are the people I’d like
to hang out and answer questions in order in karma. So the last slide, what–where we’re
going in the future, StackOverflow was designed to be specifically about programming questions
and if you try to ask a question that doesn’t involve code, like why does my computer blue
screen every night at midnight? You can–you’ll get kicked out and the question will get closed.
And so we’re building a new site called Server Fault, which is the system admin version of
the site. It’s for system administrator questions. Our goal is specifically for professional
system administrators. People whose–that were not–where we don’t want the user at
home who’s trying to figure out how to plug their iPod directly into the printer. We’re
trying to get the actual people working at their job because what we found, almost from
the Yahoo Answers experience is it this kind of site only works when it’s people that are
doing something professionally. In other words, they really care about getting the right answers,
they care about expanding their personal professional knowledge and they’re taking this seriously
in a level that the teenagers asking sex questions on Yahoo don’t necessarily care about. That
much–there are few other things in the future, none of them are clearly determined, that’s
really just sort of a couple weeks in the future. That thing’s going to launch. In a
long term, another part of the–this sort of a different direction. This StackOverflow
could go in one direction is, you know, more towards the software product. Another direction
is creating lots and lots of vertical StackOverflows and all kinds of highly technical industries.
For example, the StackOverflow for tax accountants in the United States for example, who have
questions about the tax law. And then the, you know, another possible direction is–as
a recruiting market place, which I won’t go in too much detail but we’re actually accumulating
quite about it–quite a lot of knowledge about who’s good at what technology’s in a programming
realm knowledge that could be very useful to programmers that want to get hired or programmers
that want to hire other programmers. So, that’s really all I have. I’ll turn it over to questions
if there’s anybody wants to–how do I? Start in front row?
>>[INDISTINCT]>>SPOLSKY: Where the center tabs is, it’s
just like any other tabs that you type in works. But there’s an auto complete so it
tends to, you know, as you start typing, you’ll find the existing tab and I think there’s
a mechanism for merging existing tabs. I think we have some kind of official question system.
>>Were you seeing any bad [INDISTINCT] policing so far?
>>SPOLSKY: The questions was, are we seeing any bad user behavior or as a community pretty
self policing so far? We’re definitely seeing some bad user behavior and we’re constantly
adjusting algorithms just try to fix it and I would say, you know, we’re trying to have
a Google-like approach of looking for algorithms that solve problems or other than individually
just plucking out individually users or problems. So we’ve got all kinds of methods. There’s
a place where you can like temp–like if you behave badly and we warn you and you don’t
recover from that, then we put you in a penalty box for a week while you don’t get your points
until the end of the week. And there’s all kind of stuff going on, they’re mostly–it’s
obviously self policing because of this number of questions, it has to be reasonably automatic.
But we pretty much found, most them, we’re pretty much cured at this point. We’re pretty
much on top of the typical problems like spam. Yes?
>>So on dory, we have a question.>>SPOLSKY: Okay, sorry.
>>[INDISTINCT] dory room.>>SPOLSKY: Okay, dory it is.
>>What aspect of StackOverflow’s user interface designer are you most proud of?
>>SPOLSKY: What aspects of stack overflow’s user interface…
>>What makes you so great?>>SPOLSKY: …am I most proud of. I’ll just
pick one thing. Well, you know, really it’s just every time I hear somebody saying, “StackOverflow
is awesome, I asked a question, and got an answer. And when I asked questions, it just
blows me away that you’d see the–start seeing answers like in three or four minutes, coming
in.” So the fact that, you know what the truth is, I used to as a programmer, I used to have
not the patience to post a question through discussion forum because I knew that it would
take a half of a day to a day to get an answer. And I would really just sit there and Google
for a long, long time trying to find the appropriate answer, rather than asking it. But what’s
awesome about StackOverflow is the act of asking a question is also the act of searching
for an answer. And so for an answer is there you’ll find it and if it isn’t, it’s just
one extra click to actually commit to asking that question and then you will actually get
an answer within the usual amount of time, I mean you don’t have to go to lunch, the
answers will start coming in pretty quickly–yes?>>[INDISTINCT]
>>SPOLSKY: The question was, as we–have we considered licensing as to large corporations
for licensing for internal, as an internal technology. We don’t really have the resources
to do that right now, we’re sort of talking to various people that might be interested
in providing various resources its time to [INDISTINCT] I won’t go into–in too much
detail but that’s something we don’t have the immediate time to do just because were
about four people working on this but in the long run it completely make sense.
>>The next question from Devon Mollins, what aspect of StackOverflows initial design that
you’re least proud of? What makes you say…>>SPOLSKY: That sounded like the first one,
what I am least proud of in the design. Boy. I’m stomped is just–let’s see, there are–personally
it sort of bothers me that right now we are closing questions that are off topic without
having a place to send people so if somebody ask the question that isn’t really programming
question but StackOverflow is a perfect technology to get an answer to this question but it’s
not a programming question the community will jump on it and close aggressively in a way
that it’s not necessarily newbie friendly and say go somewhere else I don’t know where
but go somewhere else and we just don’t have a place to send them right now so were hoping
that Server Fault will get all those system administrator questions we’ll give them a
home but that’s a sort of an aspect to the community that’s a little bit too focused
in my opinion on the purity of the home page only being programming questions–questions
for the room–yes.>>[INDISTINCT]
>>SPOLSKY: What is our current or future plans for modernization? We are, not–we don’t
really talk about that too much, I should say that we have a little bit of advertising
on the site pretty much only people that have aggressively banged down on our door and literally
deposit the money in our bank account without our permission and so they got little advertisements
and that is not enough to keep us start running, like I said it is four people and two servers,
doesn’t take a lot to run this and you know our primary goal is getting answers to program
our questions. On the other hand, with the community of you know basically a third of
the world great programmers, we think there will another modernization opportunities,
we are never ever, ever going to charge to go to the site, we’re never going to have
interstitials, we’re never going to have advertising that has any kind of motion in it like flashing
ever, not just flash but like animated gist not on the either and the basic core aspects
of the site will always remain free for everybody permanently, we got another dory onw.
>>Yeah, yeah, from Guido Van Rossum, I’m sure you’ll referring people to your blog
post quote things you should never do part 1 was ever part 2?
>>SPOLSKY: Things you should never do part 1 is a–is a–is a–is a riff on the History
of the World 1 on Mel Brooks movie, there is no number two and that’s the joke and you
may have to wait until the end of time to determine if there is some things that you
should never do part 2 but I think–you know what the two, probably the number one thing
you should never do part one, the things you should never do for those in the audience
have done [INDISTINCT] I wrote a long, long time ago saying, “If you have working code
that is large, lot of people are depending on does a lot of things,” you don’t just start
from scratch, you got to try to somehow find a way of moving the existing body code you
have into new code and may be you rewrite every line but you don’t start from scratch
because you lose too much knowledge that you spent and you have to fight pretty hard for
that working code you have and the time I wrote that probably the number one victim
of that was the Netscape, the major Netscape, the Mozilla rewrite which in my mind lost
them about three years in a time in which Internet Explorer gained almost 9% market
share and it is true that Firefox eventually came out and kind of recovered and sort of
caught up but the only reason Firefox caught up is because the Internet Explorer team have
been disbanded for five years and wasn’t working, so they kind of locked out but you don’t–you
don’t stop, you don’t–you don’t rewrite things from scratch and I think at the time I got
an email from somebody saying, “Have you looked into Pro6?” And so this was eight years ago
that I wrote this and if I–and then that was a complete rewrite of [INDISTINCT] that
I believe is not yet shipping, I’m not really a profile or [INDISTINCT] has been pretty
much forgotten so, yeah, there is nothing that you can do is that bad to a software
product and you just decides to start over–yes.>>[INDISTINCT] hardcore professional programmers?
>>SPOLSKY: So the question is what kind of UI changes we have made for–were focused
on sophisticated consumers rather than hardcore professionals. The first thing is I don’t
think this site is going to work for gardening questions ever, it might work for gardener
questions like professionals but for gardening questions this is probably not the right kind
of site, it has to be professionals that are sitting in their desk doing something professional
and a professional in there desk doing something professional will probably learn a slightly
complicated UI [INDISTINCT] get there, stuffed on so they’ll probably overcome this. That
said, there’s a bunch of programming specific stuff that’s in StackOverflow. For example,
the programmer seemed to be really, really good at tagging their questions and when they’re
not so good at tagging their questions anybody can edit it and add tags. But surprisingly
we didn’t even have to explain what tags were. We don’t have to tell anybody, guide them
in somewhat tag should be. They get in there and they’re tagging it and they’re tagging
it correctly and they just sort of understand that. And I don’t think that would apply in
other fields you have to come up with some other method other than tagging probably or
something a little simpler or I’m not sure maybe the Flicker experience that will be
different. The other thing is that because we’re focus programmers we knew that a lot
of this questions we have sample code in them. So we have this big old control that uses
sort of a Markdown syntax and shows you a preview of what you’re going to get from your
Markdown. And so you’re actually riding in a slightly awkward language called Markdown,
which is sort of beyond simplified HTML. But it’s not an easy way get here by a stretch
of imagination. And we have not had a single programmer complain about that or have any
kind of problems about that in any way [INDISTINCT] performed. But I don’t think that Markdown
is necessarily the right approach for gardeners.>>Juxtapose on February 27th, suggested that
the number of questions answered posted per month isn’t increasing as you would expect.
Does this worry you or it’s a steady increase in the data bank of pertinent questions answers
are good enough that’s from John Street.>>SPOLSKY: Yeah, I’m not really sure about
this because I haven’t dug enough into the numbers and I don’t know enough statistics.
All I have is growth charts that I was showing you a minute ago or I’m showing something
that is–I don’t know is that linear? Is that exponential? Is that the beginning of an exponential
curve? I’m not really sure. It doesn’t worry me at all as long as I see–I mean like literally
every week I go and I look at Google Analytics and you know we’re kind of doubling every
four months. And it’s been that way since well, fourth month. Let me take a question
from sort of far the back because I’ve been just doing in the front rows here, really.
Is anybody–anybody in the back? No, too quiet. Here’s one over here. Yes?
>>[INDISTINCT]>>SPOLSKY: Right, so obviously there are
old questions that are boring and nobody ever goes to. There are old questions that have
become the canonical place on the internet to ask a particular very interesting question
about a very common programming problem that people hit. And a lot of the questions are
like I’m seeing this particular crash what could it be? Oh, you got this bug on your
code. Okay, and that’s never going to be interesting to anybody ever again. So, there are sort
of different classes of questions. The only tracking that we really have for that. It’s
when you see a question we track the number of views and we’ll show it to you right there.
How many views that question ever gotten? And occasionally you’ll see questions that
have tens of thousands of views and those are usually popular questions like what is
your favorite programmer’s cartoon? So, let me bring that up. What is your favorite programmer’s
cartoons? So, that ones got a 585 votes. It’s been viewed a 120,000 times. I’m surprised
that these facts are the questions come out. First, I kind of liked the–I kind of like
the little Bobby Tables one personally. So, yeah I mean they’re certainly like questions
like this will get slashed audit and dig and all that kind of stuff and it’s going to be
high and Page Ranked even because everybody’s linking to it and so forth. So, there will
be questions that are like super, super popular questions that just die a innocuous death.
One thing that we are seeing is that–we are becoming the place of choice for new programming
technology questions to be asked. So for example when the iPhone came out. Apple made the–iPhone
developers [INDISTINCT] and said that they won’t talk to one another and provided them
with a very, very crappy forum that nobody liked for asking each other questions. And
so they all came to StackOverflow because basically they just launched and we’re kind
of a number one resource for iPhone programming. And what you see a lot of these days is when
a new programming technology comes out rather than trying to build their own forum or their
own place to get questions after their own community support users. They’ll just guide
their users by saying hey use the tag whatever it may be. So, whatever the technology has
called them. And so newer technologies tend to just sort of organize around StackOverflow
around the tag rather than trying to make their own forums. And we expect to see a lot
more of that whereas older technologies like Visual Basic 6. Which is now completely and
utterly obsolete and not even supported anymore. Still have a gigantic body of knowledge in
the website with a hyphen and not very much knowledge in StackOverflow and that’ll probably
be that way forever. And I don’t even know if we have any cobalt questions. Just so there
maybe intensely obsolete technologies, yeah, when I get 44 cobalt questions.
>>Once you have a large expert user base, I think it’s very hard to add new features
or change new products. Are you guys facing this problem and if so, how do you experiment
with new features?>>SPOLSKY: Once you have a large user base–okay,
that was on the microphone, so, I don’t have to repeat that. The what–I kind of feel like
at this point we’re sort of tweaking. And we have a couple of places where the conversation
about new features takes place. Well, basically about three places. We don’t want StackOverflow
to have questions about StackOverflow because that’s not the topic, that’s off topic by
definition. It’s not a programming question. So, there’s a user voice site where future
requests come in and there’s some conversation about this future request on user voice. There’s
the podcast, that Jeff and I do and people will call in with questions and people will
email us and we’ll talk about new features as they develop. And there’s a StackOverflow
blog where new features are introduced and the comments at the StackOverflow blog are
really where most of the discussion about new features takes place. But at this point
we’re not–we haven’t done anything that I think would really shock people and–like
not be able to use the site. We haven’t made it a Twitter clone on the homepage. So, anything
else from the room? Yes.>>[INDISTINCT]
>>SPOLSKY: When somebody edits a responds it was highly marked. How do you know it’s
still good? Well, you can’t. But it’s like Wikipedia, so you can search the history and
sort of see. There is sort of this weird concept because we’re a combination between in some
ways like a blog or a personal site were there is authorship and sites are written by–questions
are written by a particular question–by a particular person. So, all these questions
here, sort of have an ownership to the questions and the answers will have an ownership. But
we have this concept over here called the community Wiki. At a community Wiki is a question
or an answer that has either been put in community ownership where nobody [INDISTINCT] the points
and nobody owns the answer. Or has been forced into community Wiki mode for various reasons
of question is getting–one thing that we don’t want to happen is somebody ask what’s
your favorite program as cartoon and then gets 585. Oh, this wasn’t the number 1 answer,
I’m sorry, this is the question itself. This is the number 1 answer 812, and that wasn’t
a recognized. That’s a number 1 user answer. Things will eventually get into community
wiki mode because we don’t want somebody earning a billion points of Karma just because they
ask a really popular and slightly off topic question to get unto dig. So, if a question
gets edited to much or an answer get edited too much and there [INDISTINCT] for all these
things that are very complicated and they are all documented somewhere, well we’ll take
away the personal ownership for that one. Anything else?
>>MARR: Yeah, Ivan Marr here. Why are you saying–this is an anonymous question, why
are you saying that kids at Google and Microsoft are working on hopeless and useless architectural
astronomy on quote. So, as if it were something bad.
>>SPOLSKY: I don’t understand, I have don’t have the search for that.
>>MARR: You use any search engine you like.>>SPOLSKY: Yeah, I’m going to try to find
a search engine here, no, if there is one in it. Does anybody have a search engine [INDISTINCT].
Why are kids on at Google architecture astronauts what the heck, I can’t spell.
>>MARR: I’m sure the L suggests it.>>SPOLSKY: That’s not it though. I wouldn’t
say that. I can’t remember. I’m sorry. I’m not going to be able to answer that one right
now. Is that it? But this isn’t me, this is my discussion [INDISTINCT]. Why Google and
Microsoft–let’s see what this guy says. His got a link, only this was it. On grove, okay,
I’ll click on grove. Live mash, got to get rid of them. Oh, yeah, Google being on [INDISTINCT]
salaries to the kids with ultimate [INDISTINCT] experience in python. That’s actually true
your starting salaries are too high guys, especially out of college. Yeah, I don’t know.
This was mainly because this is over think a bit. But Microsoft and Google are really
like gigantic vacuum cleaners at Stanford and Berkeley and U-Dub. And it really is and
I’m going to stand by this, it really is the case that no matter how useful the stuff is
that you’re working on Microsoft design to a large extent it’s much harder for small
companies to get good people because of the presence of Microsoft and Google. Which for
a long time were in a mode of hiring as many people as we could possibly get under all
circumstances. And honestly, I bet you have colleagues that are working on things that
you think are probably not as important as some other start-ups you may know. So, that’s
the best I can do to defend that one.>>You probably got time to one more question.
>>SPOLSKY: Sure, one more.>>There’s one from the audience, then were
done.>>SPOLSKY: Any one who wants to raise question?
Does any one want to know what’s the starting salary is it for Google for a new [INDISTINCT]
this year? Yes.>>[INDISTINCT]
>>SPOLSKY: What we want to embedded executable codes sample safe in the answers. Right now,
I think, I don’t exactly know what you’re proposing but I think we’re about to code
in the source code and so we do have a way to embed the source code. We definitely be
interested in ways to make the embedding in source codes better. We’re using a little
tool from Google actually. And having actual source code on the page, it’s sound like a
pretty bad idea even if it’s safe. No, not necessarily. And when you think about the
type of questions that people are asking here, seeing it then run the browser, I mean that
would probably be applicable only to, you know, CSS questions or JavaScript questions
but to the majority of the type of code that people are really asking about here. All right,
well, thank you very much for coming. I appreciate the attention.

62 thoughts on “Learning from StackOverflow.com

  • April 29, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    WTF? 20:48

    There's also pieces of webcam footage

  • April 29, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    i wounder what they do if the question is too abstract:
    Person A) Whats the best programming lang?
    Person B) What do you want to do?
    Person A) …

  • April 29, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    damn shame that they used the cheapest tinny mic in the entire google universe. God forbid they should drop a dime on an SM-58.

  • April 29, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    You probably didn't hear about them due to ignorance.

  • April 30, 2009 at 12:20 am

    The answer to your question is addressed by Joel at 17:35 – 18:15

    Good question!

  • April 30, 2009 at 12:35 am

    Joel is actually really well known, as is Fogbugz and Stack Overflow. Fog Creek software is typically held in the highest regard for developers… a place they'd love to work. I'm not sure "cunt" is the right label for a guy who's not only successful, but also pretty generous in terms of providing solid info for the programming world for free.

  • April 30, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Yes that "hyphen" website is always there and always annoying, it's terribly obnoxious

  • April 30, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Re the perl 6 rewrite: its kinda hard to go from not having a VM to having a VM without a lot of reprogramming. Especially when you're changing a but-load of syntax in the progress.

    Also, you can't use the Mozilla rationale, people who work on perl6 do so because they want to, not because they're paid to. Perl 5 is still growing an improving.

    Perl 6 is almost an entirely new product.

    And dead? HAH!

  • May 1, 2009 at 3:06 am

    What's up with the crazy, random video editing to clips of people doing boring things?

  • May 1, 2009 at 7:00 am

    If it's a new product, they should have called it a new product (Ocen, perhaps). That way, if it doesn't work out, they can always go back to Perl and make a version 6 without any loss of face or confusion amongst the audience as to which version is the sucky one. One of the Office products apparently did the same complete rewrite thing in the early days, but because it was a fork and not a rewrite the problems the Mozilla team had didn't eventuate.

  • May 2, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    This should be downloadable. YouTube's pipes can't keep up and it looks like it's going to take an hour to buffer up.

  • May 2, 2009 at 7:36 pm

    The biggest features that were added to Perl 5.10 were straight out of Perl 6 syntax. They are both going to the same place, syntactically. Last thing I knew features for 5.12 have requested things from Perl 6 as well. It's never a bad thing to have long range language goals. If the VM ever gets there, it will be a plus.

  • May 4, 2009 at 2:05 am

    rand(7) using rand(5) (ruby?),rand(7) URN 0-6,rand(5) URN 0-4
    alg has to cover the space 0-6 with numbers 0-4
    summation rand(5) would alter the dist (towards normal due to central limit)
    ans: rand(5) followed by rand(5) gives 25 ordered pairs, so map it to 0-24 (call it mrand(25)), 0,0 -> 0, 0,1 -> 1 … 1,0 -> 5…4,4 -> 24
    if the number is 21,22,23,24 call it again, otherwise answer = mrand(25) mod 7

  • May 4, 2009 at 2:06 am

    Once again we're shown why Joel is a pro-grammer that's gifted enough to have vision beyond the coding world. Sharing weaknesses of search for techs, & gladly offers solutions implement in StackOverflow. Thanks Joel, wish we all had the golden ticket to your ideal design environment.

  • May 4, 2009 at 2:27 am

    live and yahoo had unusually small percentages do the fraction of coding who use them.

    Why would a coder use a suboptimal search tool?

  • May 5, 2009 at 2:34 am

    Why Joel do the talk and not Jeff?
    it supposed Jeff knows more than anyonelse about SO.

    Also, You can see Experts-Exchange's answer at the bottom of each question, no need to pay or register.

  • May 14, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    yeah? and? so? you see anybody else building somethiing like stackoverflow and being successful at it?

  • May 16, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    kudos to googletechtalks for their great series, and Joel, who really fills this entire talk to the brim with concentrated details about the anthropology and design of a question and answer site. No time is wasted. I have been amazed by the immediate success of stackoverflow — after following the pre-launch blog I stopped watching it but then rediscovered it in google search results shortly after it launched.

  • May 16, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    I really like the point of recognizing that the Google search pages are really the front page for the site, and how they optimize for that (proper meta tags, meaningful permalinks, etc.).

  • June 10, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    Every time I ask a question, it gets deleted for not being programming related. If I'd found the answer on Google, I wouldn't be asking, numbnuts! 🙂

  • June 10, 2009 at 5:45 pm

    i love how joel spolsky understands human interactions on computers… UI.

  • June 13, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    What is that hyphen website?

  • September 28, 2009 at 12:42 am

    A.K.A. Expert Sexchange.

  • December 25, 2009 at 6:36 pm


    yeah but its kind of annoying they appear frequenty on the first results…

    but i guess if they could keep the answer/questions quality and make a profit in other ways then direct charging the users, i would find it alright…

  • March 16, 2010 at 4:15 am

    sad how he promised there would never be interstitial ads on stackoverflow and now there is…

  • April 15, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    @maximz2005 why?

  • October 10, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    sn50.com all the way!

  • November 11, 2010 at 4:23 am

    The secret of expert exchange is that "The answers are down at the bottom of the page you have to scroll down".

  • January 10, 2011 at 10:48 am

    @alihammadshah I figure that out after a while, but it's changed now… There are no anwers at the bottom…

  • February 16, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    @alihammadshah I thought you had to set googlebot as your user agent.

  • March 30, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I love Stack Overflow.

  • May 2, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    @maximz2005 Expert-sex-change 🙂 hehe

  • May 7, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    I laughed so hard when he brought up Windows Live search in the questions. Great reaction and sense of humor.

  • September 7, 2011 at 3:57 am

    Why in the heck does the video keep cutting to the break room, then to somebody's webcam at their desk, etc?

  • September 10, 2011 at 11:59 pm


  • April 1, 2012 at 4:09 am

    The video feed switches to the video source with the peak audio. The problem is that the remote viewers aren't muted.

  • April 24, 2012 at 3:54 am

    Too many vote-down Nazis and cliques for C++ related questions. C++ programmers on SO are some of the RUDEST people out there in the chatrooms too. You can ask a real-time question in the C++ Lounge and they will either add a smart ass remark or don't answer at all. But in Java or Android, people are a lot more friendly with their answers and suggestions are more willing to work a problem out with you.

  • July 26, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I use Google's Personal Blocklist extension to block experts-exchange results from my Google searches.

  • September 13, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I was wondering that also. I suspect a Day 1 intern has been put in charge of the A/V edit desk controls for this Google Talk session 🙂

  • October 6, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I asked a question about C# about 1-2 month ago – no answer yet.

  • October 23, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    Stackoverflow is just an advertising network. They need question and answers which are useful for there ad network.

  • November 2, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    That's a pretty dumb remark considering you only see minimal sidebar advertisements after you have gained sufficient reputation (ie > 200). And… a lot of the sidebar advertisements promote Open Source projects (ie not revenue generating).

    Maybe you're seeing so many ads because you're nothing but a lurker. Maybe if you spent less time trolling on YT and more time learning stuff you could contribute something of value.

    Your newbsauce is showing.

  • November 3, 2012 at 2:14 am

    It is full of rude people.

  • November 3, 2012 at 3:04 am

    I disagree. It's staggering the degree of time/effort/quality some users will put into answering a questions. If you take a little time to frame your questions in a clear and coherent manner you will always get good answers. I'm not sure where you get off saying they're just an advertising network, they run the bare minimum of ads and provide an invaluable Q&A platform for developers ranging from the beginners to the most advanced.

  • November 6, 2012 at 10:15 am

    I have met many skilled programmers, Managers, some who run/own a software company. They don't waste time in programming forums like Stackoverflow.

  • November 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Ok I got your point, YES, we are rude. But….few days ago user with like…30 rep. points (beginner, YES!) asks question. I answer (spending 30 minutes typing code for him (thats a lot of effort on SO)), he upvote (and 2 guys more) and accepts answer. Next day he withdraw his accept and upvote, obviously showing 0 gratefulness. Reason in his comment was like…."You helped, but I found alternative solution". Sure…no problem…very "motivating" for me to answer his next question (*irony*).

  • November 20, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Good programmers are not available in programming forums.

  • November 20, 2012 at 9:43 am

    If Jon Skeet or Seth Ladd are not good programmers…then I don't know who is. P.S. stackoverflow is not an forum. It's like saying: "Twitter is a forum" or "9gag".

  • December 29, 2012 at 10:35 am

    You'd be surprised.

  • January 31, 2013 at 5:57 am

    it used to be expertsexchange dot calm until they put the hyphen in.

  • March 11, 2013 at 11:32 am

    Or for example in the last too months everything I ask Google shows the first 2-5 results, sometimes all 10 results(!) for a scam website askmefast (.) com – that's lame.

  • April 2, 2013 at 12:47 am

    I hate stack overflow because there are a group of members moderators they act like a dictator

  • April 2, 2013 at 12:49 am

    if they don't understand your question or they don't know it…they will vote it down or delete it.

  • April 17, 2013 at 4:46 pm


  • May 3, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Lower statistics are more vulnerable to be skewed.

  • May 3, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    91.3% have been answered.

  • September 9, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    LOL! So you came with question like: "Someone make me an application…"

  • September 12, 2013 at 4:30 am

    Stack Overflow is sooo well designed and is just a breeze to use.

  • December 7, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    StackOverflow Sucks! OR Maybe it's for EXPERTS, not me!
    I posted two 3 questions on it. All are marked as "off topic" in THEIR logic. Now I could not ask any question on that site.

  • August 23, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    StackOverFlow is one of the most communist website in the world. They will mark you for any offense for no reason. They will delete your comments if you prove someone  wrong. They give user way too much power.

  • September 5, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    No, StackOverflow is not friendly to newbies. But it is very useful for getting answers to your questions (as long as they are on topic for the site).
    More than 90% of the questions I try to get answers to on StackOverflow are already asked and answered by someone else. This saves a lot of time and effort since I do not have to formulate my question and I do not have to wait for someone to answer.

  • September 5, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    51:01 It took 4 years before they implemented that feature. http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/269753/feedback-requested-runnable-code-snippets-in-questions-and-answers


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