Saturday, September 12, 2015

Another StackOverflow milestone

I've crossed the 10,000 reputation level on StackOverflow.

My father would say, and rightly so, "who cares?"

There's a couple reasons I do care, though, so maybe others find them interesting.

Firstly, advancing through the levels at StackOverflow gives you access to more tools and power on the site itself. This is relevant to me because I use StackOverflow a lot (obviously) for my professional work. I probably go to the site two or three times a day to search for answers to common programming questions. So the more access that I have to the guts of StackOverflow, the better I'm able to take advantage of it for getting my own work done.

Secondly, StackOverflow is a pretty interesting site, in general. In many ways, it tries to do similar things to a site like Google, or a site like Wikipedia, or sites like Quora; namely, StackOverflow is trying to get people to work together to

  • organize their own pool of information
  • help each other to get their questions answered
  • preserve their findings and knowledge for the future

But StackOverflow goes about this giant problem (arguably, THE giant problem that human beings have) in a very different way than those other sites do.

And I kind of like StackOverflow's approach, so I (broadly speaking) prefer to patronize it than those others.

And I am also interested in seeing how the StackOverflow experiment plays out, because I think it's doing some pretty interesting things and generally is a lot more pleasant to use than Google (with its subtle mind control over my search results, tilting them towards advertising and commercial interests) or Wikipedia (with its endless writing and re-writing and power struggles) or Quora or ExpertsExchange (with their paywalls and barriers and teases and come-ons).

I think I'm not the only one who sees StackOverflow this way; as Jeff Atwood admitted when he started StackOverflow seven years ago, StackOverflow consciously set out to kill off some of the worst of those other types of sites, such as the frustrating ExpertsExchange.

From the view point of (a small amount of) history, StackOverflow has at least partially succeeded: ExpertsExchange, if not completely gone, has changed dramatically, even if it was quite painful for the people who were actually involved with ExpertsExchange.

StackOverflow, of course, is changing too, and the world is changing (as are Google and Quora and Wikipedia, etc.). So what does the future hold for this giant experiment? I have no idea, but I'm sure that, before too long, more change will come. But for now, StackOverflow is still behaving in a way that works for me, so I'm still there.

So, anyway, there you go; that's enough about that.

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