Monday, February 16, 2009

Check Out Stack Overflow

I’ve recently become quite addicted to the website  It is a joint venture between Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky.  There is an accompanying podcast if you want to hear about the creation process.  The site itself is a question and answer site for programming questions.  Want to know how to do a simple Perl hash equivalency comparison?  Ask.  Want to find the best book on C# for experienced programmers?  Ask.  There is quite an active community and most questions are answered in short order.  You don’t even have to sign up to ask your first question.

If you want to stick around longer than one question, you can answer questions and earn reputation for doing so.  Greater reputation means more abilities on the site.  At one level you can change the tags on questions.  At another level you can vote to close questions.  Still more reputation and you can actually edit the text of questions.  Reputation is granted by users voting for the best answers and questions.  It’s amazing how addicting it can be to try to raise an arbitrary score.

The site has only been open for  a few months and already it is a treasure trove of knowledge.  Joel recently stated that the site gets something like 2 million uniques a month.  As I write this, there are approximately 90,000 questions that have been asked.  Almost all have answers.  This is crowd sourcing at is best.  Once people start linking to it in large numbers, expect to see it shoot up the rankings of programming-related searches.

There are downsides to Stackoverflow’s popularity.  Questions don’t stay on the front page for long.  I suspect they will have to create sub-pages for different topic areas the way Reddit did with its subreddits.

1 comment: