What does Stack Overflow want to be when it grows up?

I sometimes get asked by regular people in the actual real world what it is that I do for a living, and here's my 15 second summary:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://blog.codinghorror.com/what-does-stack-overflow-want-to-be-when-it-grows-up/

Also this is for y’all

(from the Computer History Museum)


While I agree with your statement “By this I mean questions and answers on Stack Overflow are not primarily judged by their usefulness to a specific individual, but by how many other programmers that question or answer can potentially help over time” it is unfortunately at odds with thr current functionality where the asker’s selected answer stays pinned to the top. The OP is probably in just about the worst position to judge the usefulness of each answer to the programming community at large.


I just want to thank you for the creation of SO. I’ve been a programmer for more than 15 years and I cannot even remember how harder it was to solve problems before SO existed. It has been a fundamental difference, and I try to contribute as best as I can.


@codinghorror knocks it out of the park, again.

But then I would agree with him, I’m an old curmudgeon… :slight_smile:


Wow. If I had any doubts before, this shows that you truly are disconnected from the decisions being made now.

A lot of what you’ve said about it being for professional and enthusiast programmers hasn’t been true for years. There’s been a constant push to accept all askers, to the detriment of the professionals.

I couldn’t agree with Izkata more. This site today is absolutely overrun with students and beginners.

In the spirit of sharing ideas, I think trying to integrate SO more with the upstreams projects would be interesting. Sometimes projects also react to questions in SO, fixing bugs, adding code or clarifying documentation, and I imagine a “ping back” mechanism useful, so the original question gets a reference to its clarification/implementation/fix upstream.

Regarding the usefulness of SO, I’ve personally always used SO in “tier 1” mode only (except for one contributed answer). It basically boils down to this: what I need to ask is most usually already asked, and might (most frequently) or might not have a good answer attached to it. Questions that haven’t been asked yet are usually too specific, and following a bit on the previous two comments I don’t have much hope the bulk of the SO community will be of much help for those few unasked questions (who would see them in the first place?).


One day, I will destroy Stack Overflow with this: https://github.com/cirosantilli/write-free-science-books-to-get-famous-website


Thanks! We’ve added that to Read The Plaque: http://readtheplaque.com/plaque/stack-overflow-plaque

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It would be great if companies used stackoverflow rather than yet another instance of a forum with a separate login and reply tracking. Certainly there might need to be some ability for the companies to moderate / approve questions because they often use product support as part of their marketing.

Isn’t what you and @Rodrigo_Tobar are describing, basically Stack Overflow for Teams?


Some googling led me to TryCatchStackOverflow. In 20-some different programming languages and frameworks.

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Does “teams” allow for existing stackexchange accounts to be used? I’m interested in avoiding the creation of yet another account, having to login, etc just to ask questions about resin.io, winamp, ReadyNAS, etc, etc.

My concern for Stack Overflow is that it will get scraped by google, married to browser click events and through some ML algorithm, and is subsumed by a technology that anticipates coding tasks. (straight-jacket size M)

I was thinking more on an integration with third-party sites like GitHub, where a commit could point to a particular SO question that triggered a code/documentation fix/addition, so it would be visually clear in both sites that the question was “officially addressed” by the upstream project.

Despite acknowledging the issue of patting oneself on the back, this post is mainly just that. The actual idea at the end about a beginner site is less than half baked. And he has already made self-back-patting posts like this, so I vote that we mark this post as a Duplicate.

Well, actually, if you read the article, you’d note that more than one idea is proposed. One in each bold header section, near the bottom of that section.

Since you didn’t read the question, I am thus flagging your answer as not an answer :wink:

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@codinghorror, you’re right, you did express multiple ideas. Sorry I didn’t read the post quite carefully enough.

Still, you could have just said something like “I’m the cofounder, we have achieved amazing things, as almost everyone is aware” but rather turned it into that in-depth review of all of the great things. This is basically a duplicate of https://stackoverflow.blog/2018/09/27/stack-overflow-is-10/ And then with the false humility – everyone knows that StackOverflow content is created by millions of contributors and not you.

But the idea of revamping the ask page has already been proposed by StackOverflow and been covered in depth and been talked about for years in other posts by other people. So that is a duplicate. The concept of improving the beginner focus, again, has been detailed in many other posts. Another duplicate.

I think that really this should have been broken up into multiple posts, but again, unfortunately, they would still be duplicates. So I recommend close as duplicate.

Since the web was built by programmers, it makes sense the web would have utility for them. SO is the realization of that potential. I’ve followed Joel for years, and remember when SO got started. It took a while before I started using it daily, but I do now, usually starting with a google search.

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