Stack Overflow Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

With summer just around the corner, Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky are up to no good, as usual.

The site is called stackoverflow.com, and if you haven’t heard about it, you soon will - if you’re a programmer, and if you don’t live under a rock.

It’s always dangerous to over-promote a thing before it actually exists, and stackoverflow.com is still very much a work in progress.

(By the way, I am not in any way affiliated or associated with stackoverflow.com, in case the above sentence made it seem like I am.)

I can’t think of two guys better suited to realize a project like this than Jeff and Joel.

But what is stackoverflow.com?

In Jeff’s words:

Stackoverflow is sort of like the anti-experts-exchange (minus the nausea-inducing sleaze and quasi-legal search engine gaming) meets wikipedia meets programming reddit. It is by programmers, for programmers, with the ultimate intent of collectively increasing the sum total of good programming knowledge in the world. No matter what programming language you use, or what operating system you call home. Better programming is our goal.

Have you ever searched for a choice tidbit of programming knowledge on Google, and stumbled across what looked like a picture-perfect result - exactly what you needed - only to find you were blocked from viewing the content by a site that required you to pay to view the answers?

I have, many times. I call it getting shafted by experts-exchange, and it’s bugged me for years.

It’s not that I’m against the experts-exchange “pay to get answers” approach. If that business model can be made to work, more power to you.

But the deliberate falsification of search engine results in order to encourage clicks, only to reward those clicks with a blatant “you must now pay us $X or we won’t show you the answer” is about as low as it gets.

My prediction (you heard it here first) is that within two years stackoverflow.com will be a household name - among programmers. Considering it doesn’t even have an official logo yet, I think that’s a fairly aggressive statement.

My other prediction: experts-exchange will go the way of the dodo bird if it doesn’t get its act together. You can’t charge for the same content the other guy is giving away for free, especially when the other guy’s content is better.

If you’re interested in learning more: check out the two podcasts currently available or stroll on over to blog.stackoverflow.com.

See you on the message boards-

Posted by on April 27, 2008 in Uncategorized,

Comments

  • CodifyTheChad says:

    Any idea when stackoverflow will be going live? I couldn’t find a date on Atwood’s blog, or the other one.

  • Anonymous says:

    @codifythechad I believe Jeff twittered that it "will be done when it’s done"

  • Alan says:

    James: does this mean you won’t be participating in the ASP.NET, MSDN etc forums anymore.. those forums are how I found your site in the first place (just something to consider)..

  • Coding the Wheel says:

    CodifyTheChad: what the anonymous poster said.

    Alan: I think a lot of forum sites have a large community, which they (mostly) take for granted. Or, even if that’s not the case, the signal-to-noise ratio is rather low, and many of the users aggressively punish new posters for asking redundant questions. If every such poster were to quit and go away forever, of course, these sites would disappear.

  • Santi says:

    Joel Spolsky plays in a different league. Jeff Atwood is very entertaining to read but as a programer seams an amateur. It is a very strange joint venture. Lets see how it evolves…

  • Ed Fitzgerald says:

    I disagree. Atwood cares too much about programming to be a bad programmer.

  • Santi says:

    Ed: I am not saying Atwood is a bad programmer. I haven’t seen any code written by him. It is his arguments about no need learning C, how he recently described MVC, his favourite books, etc.
    Anyway, I read his blog and I enjoy it.

  • Poker Bot says:

    Sorry, disageee too one this one

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