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.
Here are the stats for Stack Overflow:
|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|
Wow! Truly the biggest site.
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:
- Can the (plain) throw statement in C# cause exceptions? A theoretical question (so almost off topic for Stack Overflow too), but I couldn’t resist asking. Quite a high upvotes/views ratio.
- Prevent needing to add NuGet.exe to source control. This question makes me happy. Every so often an upvote drops in, signalling someone happy to have found my post and sharing my pain (and solution, hopefully).
The ticker’s at 19 currently, versus 377 answers. I think that’s the ratio I’ll probably stick at.
I’ve answered a total of 377 questions, and counting. Some that stand out:
- Necessary to add link tag for favicon.ico? This question gets a lot more views and votes than I had expected at first, because it seems so simple.
- Starting and stopping services [Android]. Ahhhww, my first answer ever!
- “The specified report server url could not be found” error while deploying to reporting server. Interesting because it’s an example of a question where the answer isn’t accepted yet decently upvoted.
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.
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.