Screenshot of Stack Overflow as of February 2015
Type of site
|Registration||Optional; Uses OpenID|
|Written in||C# |
|Owner||Stack Exchange, Inc.|
|Created by||Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood|
|Launched||September 15, 2008|
|52 (March 2015[update])|
Stack Overflow is a privately held website, the flagship site of the Stack Exchange Network, created in 2008 by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky. It was created to be a more open alternative to earlier Q&A sites such as Experts-Exchange. The name for the website was chosen by voting in April 2008 by readers of Coding Horror, Atwood's popular programming blog.
The website serves as a platform for users to ask and answer questions, and, through membership and active participation, to vote questions and answers up or down and edit questions and answers in a fashion similar to a wiki or Digg. Users of Stack Overflow can earn reputation points and "badges"; for example, a person is awarded 10 reputation points for receiving an "up" vote on an answer given to a question, and can receive badges for their valued contributions, which represents a kind of gamification of the traditional Q&A site or forum. All user-generated content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribute-ShareAlike license.
Closing questions is a main differentiation from Yahoo! Answers and a way to prevent low quality questions. The mechanism was overhauled in 2013; questions edited after being put "on hold" now appear in a review queue. Jeff Atwood stated in 2010 that duplicate questions are not seen as a problem but rather they constitute an advantage if such additional questions drive extra traffic to the site by multiplying relevant keyword hits in search engines.
Stack Overflow also has a Careers section to assist developers in finding their next opportunity. For employers, Stack Overflow provides tools to brand their business, advertise their openings on the site, and source candidates from Stack Overflow's database of developers who are open to being contacted.
The website was created by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky in 2008. On 31 July 2008, Jeff Atwood sent out invitations encouraging his subscribers to take part in the private beta of the new website, limiting its use to those willing to test out the new software. On 15 September 2008 it was announced the public beta version was in session and that the general public was now able to use it to seek assistance on programming related issues. The design of the Stack Overflow logo was decided by a voting process.
Stack Overflow only accepts questions about programming that are tightly focused on a specific problem. Questions of a broader nature – or those inviting answers that are inherently a matter of opinion – are usually rejected by the site's users, and marked as closed. The sister site programmers.stackexchange.com is intended to be a venue for broader queries, e.g. general questions about software development.
In April 2009, Stack Exchange implemented a policy of "timed suspension", in order to curtail users who either show "No effort to learn (the community rules) and improve over time" or engage in "disruptive behavior" and become a nuisance. The suspension is accompanied by temporarily setting the user's reputation score at '1' and a notation on the user's profile page indicating the suspension and remaining duration.
A 2013 study has found that 77% of users only ask one question, 65% only answer one question, and only 8% of users answer more than 5 questions. As of 2011, 92% of the questions were answered, in a median time of 11 minutes. Since 2013, the Stack Exchange network software automatically deletes questions that meet certain criteria, including having no answers in a certain amount of time.
As of August 2012, 443,000 of the 1.3M registered users had answered at least one question, and of those, approximately 6,000 (0.46% of the total user count) had earned a reputation score greater than 5000. Reputation can be gained fastest by answering questions related to tags with lower expertise density, doing so promptly (in particular being the ﬁrst one to answer a question), being active during off-peak hours, and contributing to diverse areas.
In June 2015, 125,313 posts were deleted within the past 30 days, of which about 8% were deleted by moderators.
Stack Overflow is written in C# using the ASP.NET MVC (Model-View-Controller) framework, and Microsoft SQL Server for the database and the Dapper object-relational mapper used for data access. Unregistered users have access to most of the site's functionality, while users who sign in (for example, by using the OpenID service) can gain access to more functionality, such as establishing a profile and being able to earn reputation to allow functionality like re-tagging questions or voting to close a question.
Stack Overflow has received general praise for its architecture of handling questions and answers as they are regulated by the community. The success of Stack Overflow has often been attributed to the fact the community itself self-regulates Stack Overflow.
Programmer George Olivetti criticised Stack Overflow in a study that found its policies discouraged women from being actively involved. The site encourages oneupmanship, flame-wars and down-voting which the study found makes it less likely that female users will participate. The study criticises the rewards system that the site uses. It also found instances of "gender swapping" with females adopting male or gender-neutral personas and some males masquerading as females in the belief that they will not be treated as harshly. Stack Overflow has also occasionally been criticised for maintaining a negative atmosphere for newcomers.
- Askbot (free engine)
- OSQA (Open Source Question and Answer)
- Rosetta Code (Multi-lingual algorithms)
- List of Internet forums
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The money we've raised means that, for the next ($6m / monthly burn rate) months, we can take on new projects, hire new people, and build new expert Q&A sites on a wide variety of new topics. Instead of opening sites in exchange for money, we’re about to launch a new, democratic system where anyone can propose a Q&A site, and, if it gets a critical mass of interested people, we'll create it.
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