Episode 10: Stack Overflow Stack Exchange Challenge

So here it is, the final episode of the self-imposed Stack Exchange Challenge, detailing my journey through the network of Stack Exchange sites. It is the site I first got involved in, and also the site where I’m most active.

With this final episode it’s time to dig into the meaty bits of the network.

What is Stack Overflow?

Stack Overflow is the brainchild of IT guru’s Joel Spolsky and Jeff “CodingHorror” Atwood. They created it in 2008, and since then it has pushed just about everybody from search results for any typical programming question (well, except for w3fools perhaps). It is a community-driven site where you can ask and answer programming questions, but with a few twists:

  • A hint of Wikipedia: editing your own and other’s questions and answers to improve them;
  • A dose of gamification and Reddit: voting for questions and answers, reputation and badges to be earned, etc;

Only after its overwhelming success did the creators decide to use the engine for other topics as well, some of which I’ve discussed in previous episodes.

So basically Stack Overflow is the first and the biggest site in the network. Time to get to it.

Current Statistics

Here are the stats for Stack Overflow:

Fact Stack Overflow
Questions 5,678,329
Questions with no upvoted answers 1,275,254 (22.46%)
FAQ (questions with most links) 580,632
Top 3 questions 5593 votes, 3576 votes, 3345 votes
Questions active last hour 900
All-time rep for top 3 users 602.6k, 460.7k, 418.9k
Meta questions 18,960

Wow! Truly the biggest site.

My Questions

I’ve asked many more question than those showing on my profile page. However, with programming, you often find the answer yourself while asking. If the answer makes the question look silly, I don’t post it (though if it’s worth answering I document it anyways). From my questions, here’s a few that are interesting:

The ticker’s at 19 currently, versus 377 answers. I think that’s the ratio I’ll probably stick at.

My Answers

I’ve answered a total of 377 questions, and counting. Some that stand out:

Looking back at my answers, I seem to shun the blockbusters, and stick to helping with smaller and more individual questions. But that’s okay. Answering is my form of kata’s.

Interesting questions

Oh dear. I’ve seen too many interesting questions, really. Some are great but not really a good fit for Stack Overflow, like “Strangest language feature“, or “using tables for layout“. One typical question (on parsing HTML with regexes) has an epic answer spawning the “Tony the pony, he comes” meme.

Just browse the questions-by-votes or even closed-questions-by-votes for a few interesting reads.


This is a great site. It was the start of a great network of sites (even though not every site in the network works equally well). But hey, preaching to the choir probably: if you’re a programmer there’s no way around Stack Overflow anymore.

And I don’t mind at all.