Why We Love Stack Overflow (www.stackoverflow.com)

DevToolsGuy / Monday, April 29, 2013

Stack Overflow is a programming focused question and answer site, first launched in 2008 by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky. It was originally set up as an alternative to Experts Exchange, quickly growing to become a hugely popular site in its own right. The site currently has over 1.5 million registered users, and more than 4 million questions have been asked since it launched.

The site is a big favorite here at Infragistics; our developers use and contribute to it all the time. So, to show readers of our blog how much we love it, we thought we’d list the top five things we love about it.

  1. You can only post questions
    • The first thing we loved about Stack Overflow, right from the beginning, was its insistence on a closely defined ‘question and answer’ format. This isn’t another ‘message board’ site, another forum, or general place to hang out online. Posts have to be “practical, answerable questions.” This keeps the usefulness of content really high.
  2. Source code
    • It is very rare to come across a post that doesn't include source code. That includes questions and answers. Again this sets the site apart from other similar alternatives. A question or answer that comes with a code sample is 100 times more useful than one that doesn’t.
  3. Badges
    • As people use the site, post and answer questions, and generally contribute they earn ‘badges.’ They are a great way to learn a little bit more about the people using the site, and to help you work out whether to up/down vote answers. There are now tons of badges, and they include:
      • Commenter - Someone who has left 10 comments
      • Copy editor - Edited 500 posts
      • Publicist - Shared a link to a question that was visited by 1000 unique IP addresses
  4. Tags
    • Tags aren’t a unique concept to Stack Overflow, but they are implemented really well on the site. They are a simple way to find interesting questions, and a quick look at the ‘Tags’ pageshows the sheer wealth of content now indexed by the site:
      • C# - Over 45k questions
      • Java - Over 40k questions
      • PHP - 38k questions
      • JavaScript - Nearly 37k questions
      • Android - Over 32k questions
      • jQuery - Over 32k questions
  5. Reputation and community
    • We absolutely love the sheer genius of the Stack Overflow community, and are constantly amazed by the quality of answers we see on the site. There really is an enormous amount of very good code being written across its pages. We don’t quite know how the guys have done it, or how they keep it up, but the founders have built a community of very knowledgeable people that keep coming back. Long may it continue.