Episode 9: Meta Stack Overflow Stack Exchange Challenge

This is the second-to-last episode in my Stack Exchange series, and it’ll be about the Meta site for Stack Overflow: the flagship site in the Stack Exchange network. A blog post about a meta site: that’s Meta For You.

What is “Meta” Stack Overflow?

It’s a place where you can discuss¬†Stack Overflow and its sister sites. Jeff Atwood a.k.a. Coding Horror (one of the co-founders of Stack Overflow) long opposed having such a site at all, because discussion leads to internet maddness. He finally turned¬†after he saw the error of his ways. The community has mostly proven herself and built a great meta site.

Current Statistics

Let’s go straight to the nitty gritty!

Fact Meta.SO
Questions 54,154
Questions with no upvoted answers 6,179 (11.41%)
FAQ (questions with most links) 18,493
Top 3 questions 1222 votes, 1027 votes, 659 votes
Questions active last hour 6
All-time rep for top 3 users 226.7k, 157.8k, 96.0k
Meta questions n/a

That’s a lot of content! Some additional interesting facts:

  • The most-used tag is [discussion], a whopping total of 20,949 questions (39% of total!).
  • After that, tags 2, 3 and 4 in ranking are -as expected- [feature-request], [support], and [bug] respectively.
  • The fifth tag with 7,239 questions is [status-completed], which is 13% of total and a respectable 50% of all [feature-request] tagged questions.

All in all a very active site.

My Questions

Much to my own surprise I apparently have asked 10 questions at the time of writing. The top one is a decently upvoted feature-request (NotImplementedException), but I guess all my questions are rather boring: minor bugs and that kind of thing.

One question that stands out a bit: the one with a whopping 9 downvotes. My intentions were good, but the community apparently hates the Fastest Gun In The West vigorously.

My Answers

Again, my participation is much higher than I remembered. Mostly boring stuff again too, with a few minor suggestions on bugfixes and feature-requests. The only one I’m mildly passionate about is on using italics: semantics over style any day!

Interesting Questions

One of the most interesting questions is one that’s deleted. There used to be a question on “What Stack Overflow Is Not”. An old version can still be found using the WayBackMachine. It was a controversial move to delete it, somewhat abrupt, but turned out for the best in my opinion. You can read the explanation here.

Community Wiki

This is actually a great list of questions, explaining the most curious features of the Stack Exchange system, often in great detail. It’s slightly awkward to format a help center using this Q&A system for everything, but it does leverage the Stack Exchange engine pretty well to get community involvement.

Conclusion

This is a very active site. The community obviously loves the place. I think it’s a great place for its purpose, but I try to spend as little time as possible on Meta: the “real” sites are far more interesting.