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September 15, 2008 3:28 AM   Subscribe

Stack Overflow is now out of beta. Designed as a question and answer forum for programmers, it's been made to fill the gap currently filled by sites like the much hated and oft mispronounced Expertsexchange. If you're sick of having to scroll to the bottom, and you write code, then this could be for you. The site has been made by a team headed by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky. These are two uber-bloggers who've made a name for themselves talking about how to code. Of course, for haters of Stack Overflow, there are already a couple of sites to pamper to your anger. Finally, if you're wondering what a stack overflow is, then wikipedia has the answer.
posted by seanyboy (51 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
I've had my eyes on this for a long time largely through the halo effect of the two bloggers and have had access to the closed beta for a while.

I have my reservations though - the simple concept of a high-profile question and answer site is much better than the implementation which is a mish-mash of concepts thrown together with a shocking ugly, difficult-to-navigate, unpleasantly cluttered design that is one of the worst I've seen in a long time. The site also doesn't address wider tech problems which is much of the audience for these kind of sites and would have complemented it nicely. Overall, it smacks of an opportunity missed.
posted by HaloMan at 4:36 AM on September 15, 2008


I'm trying to figure out the incentive for people to answer questions. It doesn't have to be $, but there has to be *something*. Community recognition, experience points, funbux I can use to buy ThinkGeek shirts...?

...not cluttering up the system with navelgazing meta-discussion.

A laudable goal, but I think without some kind of social aspect it's going to just be a bunch of "how is dattastructure formed" threads.
posted by DU at 4:42 AM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Incentive to answer questions is provided via reputation points and an xbox360 style "gamertag" system. (Called badges).

The interface is a bit worrysome, and Atwood's inability to tinker could be the downfall of the site. It is interesting though, and I hope they do well. Although usenet is still up and going well, programmers really need a site like this.
posted by seanyboy at 4:49 AM on September 15, 2008


That should be ... inability to stop tinkering ...
posted by seanyboy at 4:50 AM on September 15, 2008


Awful. Despite the two sneering endlessly about over-engineering on their blogs, they've spent months over-engineering this, and it still doesn't appear to have any way to avoid How is babby class formed in php??

The basic problem is always going to remain: real tech experts can rarely be bothered hand-holding morons, and the morons are of little use to them. So sites for morons will sink, and sites for experts will remain uber-niche and they'd be better off with mailing lists.

It's not like AskMe, where everybody has their own little sphere of knowledge they can contribute -- I help you out where you're an idiot about the Mac, you help me out where I'm an idiot about Windows and so on. Tech's not like that. There are howling millions who NEED JAVAS APPLET FOR TIME UPDATE TO BUSINESS POST CODEs PLZZZ THX but have nothing to offer in return.
posted by bonaldi at 5:03 AM on September 15, 2008 [7 favorites]


If they can knock the evil Google-gaming ex-spurt-sex-change out of the Google results for programming questions, I will be happy. If you are not familiar with their slimy techniques, they actually serve up a different page to the Google-bot from anyone else as it comes around and searches. Thus Google's algorithm places them high for various search terms, but when you go there, they use obfuscation to make it appear that you have to send them money to proceed. So I have I have high hopes for StackOverflow, they have found a needed niche on the internet, by using the formula, "Just like X without the suckage."
posted by bitslayer at 5:11 AM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


bitslayer: scroll to the bottom of the page (on expertsexchange), it's in the post...
posted by symbollocks at 6:04 AM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Joel Spolsky has totally become douchebag lately. There was a blog post whining about how Microsoft was spending time on architecture astronauts building useless frameworks. But his main gripe, at the end, was how he couldn't hire good programmers because they were all going to microsoft and google to work on frameworks.

So in other words, he was complaining about the fact that developers were getting to work on exciting projects for a lot of money, rather then working for him on bug tracking software for less. Complete wankery.

And if you ever read his articles in INC, it's all about how you should hire "the best" programmers, and then micromanage them down to the hour. If they were really "the best" they wouldn't need to be micromanaged at all.
posted by delmoi at 6:29 AM on September 15, 2008


DU: "I'm trying to figure out the incentive for people to answer questions. It doesn't have to be $, but there has to be *something*. Community recognition, experience points, funbux I can use to buy ThinkGeek shirts...?"

There's this other website I check out from time to time that helps answer questions, not necessarily of the technical sort. It has a way to mark which answer is the best, but since there's no way to see who has the most best answers, it can't be used as a karma score. But somehow it still seems to work out alright.
posted by Plutor at 6:50 AM on September 15, 2008


But as bonaldi points out, AskMe has a tit-for-tat system inherent to it. This doesn't.
posted by DU at 7:05 AM on September 15, 2008


bonaldi, how exactly is this site over-engineered? It seems like it's incredible straightforward.

It could be quite like a programming specific askme, and there do seem to be ways to cut off noise before it really gets started, so for my own purposes, I'll keep an eye on the site.

I've got some thoughts about your crude interpretation of geniuses vs. morons, particularly in domain-specific arenas, but it'd take a long time to type out. Frankly, I'm not sure you'd benefit from it, though.
posted by boo_radley at 7:13 AM on September 15, 2008


they actually serve up a different page to the Google-bot from anyone else as it comes around and searches.

So could I change my user agent or something for when I visit that site, and see what google sees?

bitslayer: scroll to the bottom of the page (on expertsexchange), it's in the post...

This used to be true, but doesn't seem to be accurate anymore. At least not for me.
posted by inigo2 at 7:19 AM on September 15, 2008


The end result seems incredible straightforward to you, yes, but that's not the only way over-engineering makes itself evident, and the various things they've talked about in the process of building it -- even the process itself -- tell another story.

but it'd take a long time to type out. Frankly, I'm not sure you'd benefit from it, though.
You're trying to be insulting, but you're proving my point. All too often sites like that get questions that don't just need an answer, the asker needs taught. Yet the people who are best able to do it realise that it'd take a long time to type and the asker probably wouldn't benefit anyway.

On top of which, there are very few true experts in any given area, especially compared to the plzsendmethecode hordes and the sort of questions they come up with aren't going to be answered by the others on the site. Like DU says, there's no tit-for-tat.

Still, you keep an eye on it for us, eh? Maybe in a year's time you can come back and say that you've made a decision about it, but then not tell us. We probably wouldn't benefit.
posted by bonaldi at 7:29 AM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


How exactly is this site ever-engineered?

Just listen to the podcast, where Jeff talks endlessly and absolutely sincerely about the the stupidly complex system of karma and badges and modes and modding and tagging and piles and god knows what else. It's like that imaginary gameshow Ross helps Joey rehearse for.

(or Mornington Crescent if you're hopelessly British middle class, or wish you were)
posted by cillit bang at 7:30 AM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know why expertexchange hasn't been blackholed by google yet? It seems like such an obvious candidate for blackholing.
posted by Leon at 7:39 AM on September 15, 2008 [4 favorites]


But as bonaldi points out, AskMe has a tit-for-tat system inherent to it. This doesn't.

Not really, I mean people who show up without a long history get their questions answered just as well as those who have not.

Just listen to the podcast, where Jeff talks endlessly and absolutely sincerely about the the stupidly complex system of karma and badges and modes and modding and tagging and piles and god knows what else. It's like that imaginary gameshow Ross helps Joey rehearse for.

You know, back in the day Slashdot was worried about people 'gaming' the system, but these guys have clearly decided that they want to use the rules of a game to Shepard people into behaving properly. What is it called in World of Warcraft where you just sit around killing the same thing over and over to gain experience? It probably wouldn't be much fun on it's own but getting to a higher level is a goal in and of itself. Complex rules help obscure that.

I mean, who knows if it will work, but googling for tech questions is pretty weak these days, if this provides a nice set of googlable answers to tech questions, I think it might be worthwhile.
posted by delmoi at 7:51 AM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


Scoll down doesn't work (for me) but the google cache does.

A technical ~askme is possible. I know about R, stata, linux, SGE, perl, and many other technical issues. The other day I was having a really hard time because I had to make something work in python and HOW IS STATEMENT FORMED WHY NO MATCH?!
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:00 AM on September 15, 2008


bitslayer: scroll to the bottom of the page (on expertsexchange), it's in the post...

This used to be true, but doesn't seem to be accurate anymore. At least not for me.

I think I have figured out the strange behavior of that site. The first time you look at a page, it has the results at the bottom. If you try to go back and look a second time, it marks you as an enemy combatant, and no longer shows the real answers. Evil.
posted by bitslayer at 8:02 AM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


If Expert Exchange is serving different pages to the Googlebot than they are to ordinary visitors, that's a pretty clear-cut violation of Google's webmaster guidelines and should result in their pages getting nuked from the search engine.

I believe they show the answers at the bottom of all pages when the HTTP_REFERER is Google, specifically to get around this issue, although that's treading a pretty fine line.
posted by Bluecoat93 at 8:02 AM on September 15, 2008


people who show up without a long history get their questions answered just as well as those who have not.

It's not that people here prove that they are knowledgable, it's just that for whatever reason askers here tend not to be entirely clueless like a lot of the askers are on Yahoo Answers or tech Q&A sites/newsgroups.

AskMe also has a very low number of "Do my homework for me please" type questions, which is one of things that make it more enjoyable than most similar sites.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:09 AM on September 15, 2008


I'm remembering that scene from Becket where he declares lord so-and-so excommunicated. I imagine something similar for expertsexchange at google. The robes, the monks, everything.

Larry Page: Experts Exchange, seized upon the bot of the Holy Googlecorp and unlawfully did serve it misleading pages. Furthermore, in the presence of Experts Exchange, and by its command, its servers seized upon the short attention span of the user and demanded money. This is the sin of pagerank cheating. In that Experts Exchange has rendered no act of contrition or repentance, and is at the moment, at liberty in the land, we do, here and now, separate him from the precious body and blood of GoogleSearch, and from the society of all Google users. We exclude him from our Holy Mother Adwords and all her clickthroughs, in heaven, or on Earth. We declare it excommunicate and anathema. We cast it into the outer darkness of forgotten pages. We judge it damned with the MSN and his fallen angels and all the reprobate spammers, to eternal fire and everlasting pain!
[slams candle to the ground]

PerlMonks: [chanting] So be it!
posted by a robot made out of meat at 8:19 AM on September 15, 2008 [7 favorites]


I'm confused, is the site up yet or not? The link just brings me to a page with a cartoon and a link to the blog. The blog has a notice telling me to go to beta.stackoverflow.com which is just the previous page with the cartoon again. What am I missing here? How do you get to the actual forum?
posted by octothorpe at 8:22 AM on September 15, 2008


Thank you bluecoat, that explains my experience exactly.
posted by bitslayer at 8:23 AM on September 15, 2008


I spend a few minutes every day in the MSDN IE development forums helping people. I may start answering IE tagged questions at SO. I consider myself an expert in that area (since I worked on the damn thing). I sort of feel like it is my duty to help people who are struggling with its terribly designed and poorly documented extensibility model.

What's my incentive? One incentive is Karma.

Another, and possibly more important one, is these doorstops are writing software that may one day end up on your computer (or the computer of someone you love). I would much rather spend 15 minutes a day explaining why they shouldn't be installing WindowsHooks and subclassing windows they don't own and have them build their crapware the right way. If I prevent one stupid thing from going into their code, it may prevent thousands of crashes.

True, I can't teach everyone COM. I can't teach everyone good programming style. But if I post correct examples, maybe they'll learn something by osmosis.

And only about 2/3rds of them are really the navel-gazing slines. A good chunk are young people, college age, interns, etc, who really may be smart but are just inexperienced. Since we'll be working with them in a few years, we owe it to ourselves, as well as them, to spend some time answering their questions and mentoring them along.

Likely much of the site will be the idiots leading the if-my-IQ-were-any-lower-I'd-be-a-plants. However I don't know of anyway to counter bad information other than with good information.
posted by jeffamaphone at 8:24 AM on September 15, 2008 [6 favorites]


Not really, I mean people who show up without a long history get their questions answered just as well as those who have not.
It's still tit-for-tat though, in that people are more prepared to invest in answering if they know that when the time comes they'll be helped when they're in need. It's a positive feedback cycle. Other question sites feel much like people are just answering to pass the time, they're not really investing in the work.

The trick is getting the positive cycle started. AskMe had a good chance because it was seeded with MeFites, but even at that there was still a degree of chance involved, I think. The $5 thing helps too. You have to really want help to pay to ask a question.
posted by bonaldi at 8:37 AM on September 15, 2008


Octothorpe: The site is up, but it's possible your DNS doesn't know it yet.
posted by seanyboy at 8:54 AM on September 15, 2008


Jesus, that's a messy interface. Each post has Votes, Answers, Views, Title, Tags (which are replicated in the side-bar and is therefore superfluous), Last Update Time (I assume - it might be Post Time, it's not labelled), Username (again, might be last posted or first posted), then some random number I have to mouse over to find out is "Reputation Score", Silver Badges and Gold Badges (WTF?). And that's for every post on the front page. I had no idea it would be that bad.

I'd much rather see a title and a summary than all that cruft.
posted by Leon at 9:02 AM on September 15, 2008


You're trying to be insulting, but you're proving my point. All too often sites like that get questions that don't just need an answer, the asker needs taught. Yet the people who are best able to do it realise that it'd take a long time to type and the asker probably wouldn't benefit anyway.


Well, I'm glad you sort of picked up on that -- I was trying to illustrate how you, bonaldi, were coming off: needlessly arrogant.

I'm not sure why answering a question with "What you're asking for is extremely basic, please check out resource a,b, or c for remedial information." would be unacceptable in those cases. If the asker persists in plzsend-ing, then he takes a hit socially. This is pretty much how perlmonks worked -- everybody got a good chance to learn and improve, but there was also the expectation that such a process was a two-way street.
posted by boo_radley at 9:24 AM on September 15, 2008


Someone please tell me that I'm not the only one who read it as Expert Sex Change...
posted by joedan at 9:52 AM on September 15, 2008


I've only been very dimly aware of this project until now, mostly from references to Coding Horror, so, huh. Interesting? I like the idea of this being the non-scum-of-the-earth version of EE, so if it gets any traction at all I'll count it as a win on that front regardless of anything else.

But it does seem awfully busy. Which is not necessarily bad, but it's not necessarily good either and I'm curious how much of the culture that develops among the regulars is going to be one of community helpfulness vs. community gamesmanship and jockeying. Are the incentives going to attract the sort of regulars they want?

From the ad hoc FAQ on reputation:

What reputation do I need to gain new abilities?
+15 to upvote
+15 to mark offensive
+50 to add comments to a post
+100 to downvote
+250 to close your own questions
+500 to retag others questions
+750 to edit community posts
+2000 to edit others questions and answers
+2000 to delete comments from a post
+2000 to view offensive counts
+3000 to close a question
+4000 to lock a post (not implemented yet, but coming)


This is awfully granular. It makes more sense as an incentive-to-grind structure—the WoW comparison, yes, or Progress Quest if you want to be more cynical about it—which, again, not necessarily a bad thing, but it's inviting people who are going to be motivated by a gamerish desire to play the website, so to speak and the question is, is that a good thing? Is that going to be a successful move for them?

Fundamentally, we're talking about trusting users with community power. What if they took that list there and simplified it to something like this?

- 0-100: new user (no or very basic abilities)
- 101-1000: journeyman user (voting rights, full control over own content)
- 1001+: trusted user (full rights to community editing)

It's less flashy—you don't get to level up as often—but there's also a more straightforward communication in such a structure that what we're talking about is establishing personal responsibility and trust with the community well-being. Less of a game and more of a social contract.

The counter-argument may be that that's just not likely to attract the numbers and the sorts of people they want to make the site go. And my thinking is obviously pretty strongly influenced by what works on Metafilter (and Ask Metafilter in particular), where we have what is by comparison an essentially binary trust structure: you're trusted until you're banned, and that's the whole deal. I don't know if my reaction to their rep structure is unduly colored or merely duly so by that, though; while I can understand the desire for a somewhat more granular approach to user trust in what may well be a more wild-west demographic, it seems awfully fiddly as stated.
posted by cortex at 9:55 AM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


Well, I'm glad you sort of picked up on that -- I was trying to illustrate how you, bonaldi, were coming off: needlessly arrogant.
Shit, I'm forever doing that, but I'm sorry if I did it in this case -- I'm not trying to say that I'm one of the programming geniuses or anything, I'm definitely mediocre there and am talking about people far more skilled than I am; the real sources of good answers.

I'm not sure why answering a question with "What you're asking for is extremely basic, please check out resource a,b, or c for remedial information." would be unacceptable in those cases.
Because a) the answerer's time could be better spent, b) it's highly probable that the reason they're asking is because they can't understand resource a,b or c -- they need taught, not links, c) it's not even that the problems are necessarily basic

The real problem is with scaling within the particular domain. There are plenty of people who are at low or low-middle skill levels. (The "hi, I am just learning to program in language and I need to ..." questions). There are a few wizards. There are a chunk inbetween. So all the need flows upwards -- the middle have to answer the low, the wizards have to answer the middle.

But who answers the wizards? What incentive is there for them to stay, especially when the site inevitably and inexorably becomes besieged by the volume of low-level questions? And if there are no wizards to learn from, why would the middle stay around? There's no fun groping around for a solution with people equally as confused as yourself. ("Hey maybe try...").

This is pretty much exactly what happened at Yahoo Answers, and again the solution is seeding. Joel and Jeff hope that by seeding with their combined audiences, they'll avoid this problem. Having read the comments on their blogs, looked at the state of their site and the unbelievable amount of social-programming cruft therein, I'm not nearly as confident.
posted by bonaldi at 10:00 AM on September 15, 2008 [2 favorites]


The incentive for the wizards is a sort of targeting -- they can produce content targeting the middle -- merlyn and damian essentially exploited the site to figure out what people would pay for, and produced that content. In fact, I remember that merlyn would frequently drive people to his website and to his publisher's site (linux magazine, iirc) with a lot of answers he gave. And it worked; I had a subscription to the magazine for his column, and I picked up Conway's book on OO perl, which is still relatively mindblowing.

At least we can agree that yahoo answers is terrible. :D
posted by boo_radley at 10:22 AM on September 15, 2008


What reputation do I need to gain new abilities? (Cont'd)
+5000 Tightrope walking allows the character a 75% chance to cross 60' on a rope or other narrow bridge at up to a 45 degree angle.
+10000 Pole vaulting allows the character to overcome obstacles, starting at 9', using a running start and a pole.
+20000 The character can jump 4' up or 9' forward on a run; from standing, he can jump 5' forward.
+30000 Can use tumbling to attack (6%) or evade (10%) a troll. Tumbling can also be used to absorb damage from a fall, with an initial 25% chance to fall 10'.
posted by benzenedream at 10:53 AM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


If for no other reason, "customize google" earned my undying love for being able to filter out expertsexchange results from searches.
posted by maxwelton at 12:14 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hope this goes well. Currently, it seems to be suffering the same weakness that a lot of programming nerd meetup things do -- there are a lot of people asking questions or making statements just to put themselves out there and spurn uninteresting conversation, or to hear themselves type.

I really see no need to type the same answer a fifth time to someone else's question, or to ask the same question that's been addressed a thousand times elsewhere ("Why use StringBuffer instead of just a String in Java?" is seriously on there, wtf) but I think over time there's the potential for a decent signal/noise ratio.
posted by mikeh at 1:19 PM on September 15, 2008


Ha! Thanks to this, I found out that one of my very old usernames (From 1999!) was registered on experts exchange, and is apparently grandfathered in from all of the nonsense that got layered onto the site in past years.

WHOO
posted by boo_radley at 1:51 PM on September 15, 2008


Weird...you can't actually register - you have to have an OpenID account elsewhere. While certainly easy to come by (they even explain where and how to get one), this strikes me as either 1)an incredibly bad idea and confusing or 2)brilliant and a great way to keep people who can't follow directions off the site
posted by niles at 2:51 PM on September 15, 2008


Jeff Atwood is living proof that "practice makes perfect" does not apply to everyone.

He posts increasingly inane things to his blog Every Single Day in the sincere conviction that it will make him a Better Blogger. He even made an inane post linking to the blog post that convinced him of the practice when he started doing it! The quality of his already mediocre work plummeted immediately.
posted by blasdelf at 3:12 PM on September 15, 2008


I really lost faith in Jeff Atwood when he wrote his PHP sucks article. His argument seems to be that, if you look at a list of all of all PHP's functions in alphabetical order, there are a lot of them, and that therefore PHP can't be used to write enterprise level code. Oh, and other people say PHP sucks, too, so it must be true.
posted by !Jim at 3:45 PM on September 15, 2008


Does anyone know why expertexchange hasn't been blackholed by google yet? It seems like such an obvious candidate for blackholing.

Or for overly PC disgustingly liberal Dallas councilmen, an obvious candidate for whiteholing.
posted by jock@law at 7:09 AM on September 16, 2008


I suspect AskMe works better.

ExpertSexChange isn't the only site that plays Googlebot-specific tricks - Windows IT Pro does it too. I like to install the User Agent Switcher extension in my Firefox and add Googlebot/2.1 to its list of agent strings, just for those rare occasions where a search result that hits either of those sites looks like it might be useful.
posted by flabdablet at 9:40 AM on September 16, 2008


Look at that list of powers. It really does look like they have Everything!
posted by JHarris at 6:44 PM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


Granted, attempting to unseat Experts Exchange is a good thing. But, there's no there there.

It doesn't look like a community at all. I am consistently trying to figure out how Matt and friends do so well at this, but--I haven't really come up with anything that doesn't have obvious counterexamples. How do you build a community?
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:51 AM on September 17, 2008


How do you build a community?

The million dollar question. I am sure Matt has presented on this many times before. In Mefi's case I bet that strong active mods + the $5 speedbump help keep things from getting too unriuly which give the site a chance to grow organically.
posted by mmascolino at 12:21 PM on September 17, 2008


Listened to the Stack Overflow podcast with cortex. To summarize:
cortex: "I really feel like the existence of MetaTalk as a backchannel has been instrumental in the succe-"

Jeff Atwood: "PEOPLE CAN VOTE ON EVERYTHING"

Joel Spolsky: "I agree, Jeff. So Josh, how do you guys keep the spam down?"

cortex: "Well, the moderators have a variety of predictive tools that let us zero in on potentia-"

Jeff Atwood: "PEOPLE WILL JUST VOTE ON IT"
et cetera.
posted by potch at 11:15 PM on September 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Heh. That wasn't really the feeling I got from them, but definitely the group-voting-will-handle-it part of their community plan at this point is very different from the mefi approach, and yeah, I don't think it's something they're planning to change soon.

The podcast; I join the call at about twenty minutes in. It was a fun discussion, and I'm glad Jeff didn't see my initial less-than-glowing comment as a reason not to have me on, heh.

What I did think was interesting on that front is that I don't think they have resolved the issue of how to deal with metacommentary, though there's clearly some interest there. If you look at only the questions tagged with "stackoverflow", you can see an ad hoc, mostly pre-open-beta thread of metacommentary brewing.

Obviously that stuff'll never go completely away—people are going to want to talk about the site on the site—so whether they deal with it by setting up a discrete channel for the stuff or by like ghettoizing it with downvotes so folks will have to go hunting if they want to find it, I don't know. I'm very curious out it.
posted by cortex at 6:21 AM on September 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


the OpenID requirement is a brilliant speedbump. It's one of those things that i've been meaning to setup forever, and this gave me the kick I needed to install my own simple php OpenID server.

However, you can also answer questions without an account, so the speedbump is also easily avoided. So maybe not so brilliant.

Oh, and the last post on a vi topic is a picture of tub girl. Charming. And because it's been voted 'down', it is right above the comment box where you have to look at it.

I'm hoping they aren't patting themselves on the back quite yet, since they need to do a lot more iterations.
posted by kamelhoecker at 1:16 PM on September 18, 2008


I think folks here are being quite a bit too hard on Stack Overflow; I've spent a bit of time on it over the past few days, and I see the nucleus of something that will likely work really well. Yes, the karma thing is a bit odd and might be a bit overengineered; yes, the difference between a comment and an answer is both unclear and unnecessary; yes, there's no metacommentary channel right now. But you can be sure that SO will evolve, organically, around the needs of its community; I've no reason to doubt that.

And I have to say that the quality of a lot of the answers is surprisingly good, definitely above average and at times approaching phenomenal. I've been paying attention to the areas in which I know a bit (Java, PHP, Javascript, Eclipse, a few others), and I'm impressed enough that I'll go back there regularly.
posted by delfuego at 1:42 PM on September 18, 2008


Oh, and a few places where I think there's natural room for growth:

If SO is going to live by the karma system, Jeff and Joel need to figure out a way to make it hard for people to ignore it. For example, there are a ton of great answers that the question-askers never mark as accepted -- these are clear instances where someone asks a question, gets what they want (a good answer), and moves on without participating in the feedback process. It'll happen a lot, you can be sure, but Jeff and Joel need to figure out a way to make it less likely to happen, since a lot of users are banking on the karma system to help them work their way up through the ranks.

Also, they really need to figure out what the difference is between comments and answers, and decide whether that's worth it. The fact that there can be answers to a question, and then comments about individual questions and answers, unnecessarily divides up the conversation. All things said, the site is about generating conversation about topics (questions), and creating forks in that conversation does a disservice to the end result.
posted by delfuego at 1:47 PM on September 18, 2008


But when do I learn Magic Missile?
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:07 AM on September 19, 2008


Also, they really need to figure out what the difference is between comments and answers, and decide whether that's worth it

Yeah, I don't get it. I also don't get why comments require 50 XP, while answers require none. That's a weird distinction for someone going to the site for the first time.
posted by smackfu at 2:47 PM on September 19, 2008


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