How great it would be if every site would subscribe to such high standards. Bravo, SO.
Mail providers offer sending to your webhooks or block them directly on their side (so you dont have to worry about it)
How would they know?
Not all providers offer FBLs, in that case my internet provider gets an abuse notice which is forwarded along to me. Not a ton of activity there on a 500k person mailing list, the FBLs are pretty effective.
Also, since we have the email processing system in place, it's easy to detect bounces and auto unsubscribe people. I immediately unsubscribe on a hard bounce, and wait for 5 soft bounces before doing the same thing.
I've since stopped doing it since the last thing I want to do is open up some random page belonging to the person who spammed me.
Did try again yesterday with a different spam message and had it open a tab though; Zapier was spamming me with some newsletter so I clicked "Report Spam and Unsubcribe" yesterday and it opened up this in a new tab:
Not really sure how it determines that -- I'll probably avoid clicking it just out of precaution and just report spam going forward though.
In some cases, Gmail automatically detects the unsubscribe link. If you click Gmail's unsubscribe link, it may give you a pop-up or it may automatically write an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The pop-up usually leads to a form that you have to fill to 'update your newsletter preferences'.
Most of those bad actors seem to have been weeded out, but some still might try it.
The absolute antibehavior of what you descrcribe I've recently experienced with Air Asia.
A few month ago they started to spam me with a newsletter I never requested. Last time I flew them was in the beginning of 2015 and I never subscribed for their crap.
The unsubscribe link on the mail does not work and after a significant amount of digging I found a way to unsubscribe by sending mail to email@example.com.
Only that mail to this address is never delivered.
In essence there seems to be no way to unsubscribe from their list.
I mention that because it's infuriating that "reputable" companies think they can spam away with gusto without even the possibility to unsubscribe from their shit.
Here's a hint for you Air Asia: You are not reputable! You are on the same level as pushers of fake knock-off Viagra, purveyors of fake shlock Rolexes, and Nigerian scammers! And you will never, ever get an additional cent from me.
I have had a very similar with Air France who I flew with once, through a "hacker" booking of a flight provided by Delta but through Air France's site to save hundreds of dollars over Delta's.
They actually subscribed me to four newsletters: "Flying Blue", "Hello from KLM US", "Air France USA", AND "iFly KLM Magazine United States". From those I've received ~75 messages over the past year.
Their unsubscribe links do not actually work. They prompt you to log in, but I can't log in to my account because I don't recall ever making one (and I'm diligent about storing passwords in a manager). Attempting to reset my password leads to a screen that says I'm locked out of my account for 3 unsuccessful attempts, and the only possible option is to call them. It's so broken. </rant>
IANAL, so I don't know if logging into an account would count or not. Personally, I see it as a hindrance to unsubscribing and by my reading of the CAN SPAM Act, it is illegal, but.. not a lawyer.
From https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/can... (which isn't the Act itself, but an FTC compliance guide):
Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
If their product is so great, they don't need to spam anybody, specially developers, to go look at it.
SO is doing it right. But the community will very likely not care.
> The truth is: we don’t care if our users use ad blockers on Stack Overflow. More accurately: we hope that they won’t, but we understand that some people just don’t like ads. Our belief is that if someone doesn’t like them, and they won’t click on them, any impressions served to them will only annoy them-- plus, serving ads to people who won’t click on them harms campaign performance.
Good enough, in fact, that I'm whitelisting Stack Overflow from my adblocker. I don't do it often, I don't even do it for sites I like; the reality is that anyone using an automated ad network is at significant risk of serving malware, and I don't approve even if I'm protected. I don't visit Forbes at all anymore, ever, because they broke their users basic faith in "see our ads, and we won't destroy your machine".
But a promise to serve relevant, low-impact ads, chosen by actual humans? That's something I'm willing to support.
Specifically, this isn't about manual bidding, it's about manual review, and I trust the SO people to keep out likely malware candidates about as much as I trust any site.
And yes, there are ad networks that haven't served Can't is a word I might reserve for text ads, but there are other automated networks that haven't at least.
But I can't imagine its confusing why I might prefer manual review (malware policy: "Oh god, we missed it, never again") to automated distribution (malware policy: "Thanks for letting us know, we'll take that one piece of malware down in the next day or so.")
If you are a student, use the money you would have donated to StackOverflow to purchase a book or a tool that will help you to learn better and become an expert.
If you are an expert, contribute your time to StackOverflow (instead of money).
Money is easy to get compared to content. What helps StackOverflow grow is quality content.
I am also interested how they approach the subject of money:
> How much money we make is a direct proxy for how much we are helping our users. We focus on maximizing how we help users in order to make a great business. Very few companies have done this successfully, and we take great pride in the fact that we’re one of them.
Personally, I would love to see how this works out and I wish them well. Hopefully they can prove this model works well. Users need this model to work well for other businesses to adopt.
I've tried that before, many times. Unfortunately when you are trying to do real work those books are many times useless. Example, I kept trying to build a newtonian physics simulator so I got a Statics and Dynamics mechanical engineering book. The book was a text book for Mechanical engineering students and yet the examples they teach you are for toy problems. I could not generalize them to real world scenarios. To actually build the physics simulator I had to scour the internet until I found something that actually explained what I needed in an easy to understand manner . And that still was not enough. I still had to use more online sources to find out all the other pieces, like the separating axes theorem for collision detection.
So no, I would not rely on books anymore, at least not exclusively since they often do not provide a full picture. One last thing, books seem to be getting progressively worse in my experience. All of this is anecdotal of course.
Even if I'm going to get a formal reference text, instead of online resources, I probably want a digital copy. Otherwise, I find myself going "I wish I could do text search for this thing..." and wondering why I didn't get the version that actually allows that. When I read for pleasure I enjoy the physicality of books; when I read for technical reference I demand the interface of a computer.
* I do buy non-fiction for amusement and casual interests though, like Predictably Irrational.
It's been there for a long time. ;-)
I do, >10k rep on the security.stackexchange.com site. I just think it's an amazing platform that I'd like to support with hosting and development costs.
That's amazing! Thank you for your contributions. I meant to imply that donating money is usually the least fruitful way to contribute, in my experience. It should be your last resort; definitely not the first one.
Example: One way SO can really gain from your security expertise is for you to think about how anonymous answers can be supported. That will be far more valuable than $$$.
I posted about this here: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12961447
I would love to read your opinions about this crazy idea!
I bet that happens on Stack Overflow too. People who'll never bother to create an account find a page about a problem through Google and they have something valuable they'd add it if didn't prompt them to sign up first.
I wonder how much trouble it'd actually cause spam wise.
But, Akshat has only 18 points. Even if you're lucky enough to have worthless suggested edits accepted, it's not a very good way to earn points.
That said, Developer Story / CV has been instrumental for me and has become my canonical resume. I'm a huge fan.
If I could make one feature request... it would be a way to indicate conference attendance. It's something I give extra credibility to, for both employers as sponsors / presenters and employees as attendees / speakers / volunteers, as not everyone is willing to put in the effort to give back. [You can see on my CV that I've tried to incorporate this as an "other" at the bottom, but it feels a little out of place.]
I would love to use developer stories but more importantly, would like to integrate my dev story with my website (as this would also keep the "recommended reading" section up to date as well). If there was some way to do this (we can discuss options) without using an iframe, I would LOVE to do so.
Just to mention...I want this on my website & stackoverflow. Updating recommended reading is of a lower priority than having it on my website in the first place.
Yes, which is why I assume they didn't even bother putting up a donate button. The thing that convinced me to post anyway is that it's probably very clear to a lot of people that it is definitely worth supporting. Much more than the Archive project or the Tor project, this is something I know people use so much every day and get tremendous value from. That's why it might just work in this case, similar to Wikipedia.
It's also not exclusive, they can totally put up donations and try to attract some attention for it by posting it to their own ad system, and at the same time continue with all the current efforts.
There's a word for this, it's called 'subscription' : )
They provide a service, you pay for it.
It's how most of the world works.
I think the underlying issue is price discrimination: how to get the large numbers of those unwilling/unable to pay some value, while providing value to the higher order users as well.
It's a paradox that people will pay more for a coffee than they will something that can help them substantially :)
I avoided that word because it's the wrong word.
A subscription implies I get something that normal users don't get. I don't want that. I hate services like Dropbox where the free users get benefits for installing it on their Android or from referrals (shitty stuff) and live off of the backs of paying users. Yet here I think it's much more akin to something like open source software, which is for the general good and is worth supporting for those who are able to afford it.
Edit: There is no need to downvote the person, though. To me he seems to be contributing to the conversation.
Fair enough - but there are very, very few value creating engines that can feasibly exist in such a context.
Wikipedia is one.
Stackoverflow probably could not.
Someone mentioned it creates 'billions' in value, well, that's probably not too far off.
There's nothing wrong with people paying for things.
But to your point - it would be nice to find a way to do intelligent price discrimination. Students, hobbyists get it free, other entities can pay. etc..
I don't think that would work for Stackoverflow either because there is an inherent 'open-ness' that it needs ... that said, again, there's nothing wrong with paying for things.
It's difficult to estimate its contribution to the world economy quantitatively, but I'd definitely say billions, many many billions.
I agree that they make an enormous contribution to the world economy. Joel really did knock it out of the park -- remember expertsexchange? His goal was to get rid of that and it worked.
Didn't you quit your job and program it while Joel was still mainly focused on Fog Creek day-to-day?
Community feedback was a huge part of that feedback cycle once the beta was live.
You left out the other co-founder: codinghorror !
Joel [and Jeff Atwood] really did knock it out of the park -- remember expertsexchange? [Their] goal was to get rid of that and it worked.
A thought provoking example I had pointed out to me recently is the GPS system, which was built and is maintained by the US government but is a free public service. The amount of public value from it is astronomical.
SO actually shows you fewer ads the more reputation points you have.
I did once follow a Google ad about 10 years ago, but in my defence I was just surfing cool tech and the image looked interesting. Of course I didn't buy anything, who lets advertisers tell them what to buy?
Yes, that's an entirely credible idea. To use the first ad I found as an example, maybe I'm debugging an annoying issue with migrating my MongoDB cluster and I notice an ad for a managed MongoDB service and realize I'd rather pay them to deal with this.
> Of course I didn't buy anything, who lets advertisers tell them what to buy?
I do! There are millions of useful services out there and ads are an effective discovery tool.
I suppose that they get high quality ads (i.e. pay lot more than the average ad + highly relevant so people click it).
I've seen the quality of advertising plunge to depths I never imagined in the last five years. I yearn for the days of "Punch the Monkey" level dribble rather than the pure poison we see today.
How is it that with more tracking, more compute power, more data than ever the ads are so appallingly stupid?
I've never seen an ad for a conference I should probably go to, or of a service that looks interesting, or of a product I want. Not in the last five years unless I've expressly visited their site and got tagged by Google, in which case all I see is ads for that.
Instead I'm barraged with bullshit news stories, weight loss products that are total garbage, wrinkle removal creams of dubious origin, and "suggested links" which never, ever deliver on what they promise.
The whole advertising industry is in shambles.
The sales person was very persistent and available while the negotiations were happening to use their service (yes, you can get discounts). As soon as I paid, she disappeared and was never to be heard from again. No follow up at all.
I also got zero good jobs references for an extremely profitable tech business in the heart of downtown financial district in San Francisco. All the people who applied were basically spam and that wasn't any better than just posting on LinkedIn or HN for free.
Not really a complaint, just one small data point to consider.
Moderators are the real lifeblood of StackExchange. They spend countless hours ensuring their respective Sub Exchange hums along. Yes, it's a volunteer "job", but it's a job none-the-less - especially since once you become a Moderator, it's more-or-less expected you have certain responsibilities and obligations. Given StackExchange makes a pretty healthy profit off the efforts of the "volunteers", and given StackExchange is a for profit company, it seems fitting they should have to pay for the labor that creates their profit.
Currently, StackExchange kicks back and rakes in money via various avenues, but then doesn't have to pay staff to actually manage the growing plethora of Sub Exchanges.
We all give companies grief for underpaying or mis-classifying employees, but somehow everyone overlooks StackExchange.
I believe it an accurate statement to say, StackExchange would not be a thing today, if it were not for the innumerable hours worked for free by a growing army of "volunteers".
Moderators not being staff means that the community has more say in how the sites function, which is a thing people want.
It's hard - communities want to police themselves, not be dictated unto by a controlling body. As soon as you start paying the moderators, they are under your sway.
I also don't think it'd be easy to create a fair remuneration system that didn't incentivise the wrong thing, or create pressure on moderators that they don't currently have.
No, and have never been. I have no dog in that race - but as a long time Stack Exchange user, I witness these people's hard work every day.
It's terrific that they're doing this. The first two links are what the CAN-SPAM Act requires. The "feedback" link is not a result of complying with CAN-SPAM, but is a good idea for any online business.
We looked at advertising with them about a year ago and their options and response were both underwhelming. It wasn't possible to geo-target, it wasn't possible to advertise on most relevant sites (e.g. SoftwareRecs), and their upfront budget requirements weren't compatible with how we normally do things, which is to run a small test campaign to see what sort of traffic an outlet can drive and then expand if it goes well. On top of that, the response from their sales reps was curt and the last message in conversation, once it was clear that we aren't going to drop 50K, remained plain unanswered. So, YMMV.
- Based on your targeting concerns where we failed to adequately meet your request (geo, site, budget), I'm going to assume you tried to purchase advertising through our self-serve option. We offer self-serve specifically for advertisers who want to work with budgets below our minimum of $5,000 per month. In doing so, we hope to allow clients who still want to target our users an option while preventing our salespeople from burning out or being unable to provide an excellent advertising experience due to an excessive client load. Please remember: the long-term success of the Ad Sales team is reliant on the success of our clients and their ability to interact with Stack Overflow users in the smartest, most mutually-beneficial way possible. That takes time.
- Targeting via our self-serve option is limited to global run-of-site. This means ALL tags and ALL countries. Any advertiser looking to reach specifics types of users-- mobile, web dev, cloud-- will see better results working with a sales rep and spending that $5,000 minimum, as impression volumes will be too low to make a real, measurable impact through self-serve. We see greater success for self-serve clients with (a) products that benefit ALL developers and/or (b) products related to some of our larger tags on the site, front-end tags for instance, as the largest volume of impressions go to the largest tags when targeting run-of-site.
- Self-serve is currently limited to sites that have a large impression volume, ie: Stack Overflow and Super User. We don't currently offer any advertising on many Stack Exchange sites, and SoftwareRecs is one of them, unfortunately.
- If you can share the interaction with our team with me, I'm happy to look into it and make steps to speak with the entire team to ensure we're doing everything we can to have your experience with us be a positive one. If you're so inclined, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or to reach me directly, email@example.com.
Whenever I've looked at introducing a new advertising channel, I always start with a test run of a few hundred dollars to see if it's worth investing more. I'm not going to drop $5k on an ad without knowing if I'll get any results at all.
It seems like you only offer two options for someone like me:
1. Run a test campaign without targeting and therefore get suboptimal results. This likely just lost you the sale of a bigger campaign (where I might get good results with targeting).
2. Risk spending $5,000 on a channel which doesn't give effective results. This isn't a risk I'd usually be willing to take.
Maybe you're targeting brands who are big enough to experiment with $5k buys or who don't test channels. Either way, I'm really not sure what the value prop is on the self-serve option.
Are you shy about mentioning that you only want large advertisers; it's not possible you don't realise the ordering only makes sense for such companies, is it?
Or did I miss something?
Geo-targeting is a must unless one's trying to build a "brand awareness" and need to spray everyone in sight.
In particular, in a context of trying to actually sell some professional/work software it's a norm and a common sense to target North America and Western Europe first and foremost. Conversely, and putting it bluntly, serving such ads to India is like feeding money into a shredder. So geo-targeting is absolutely essential.
I wish they would have a "luxury" option for like 49.99 a year where students could ask like unlimited questions.
Is this crazy?
Your question has been asked and answered, probably several times. You're getting banned because you refuse to learn about and use the search function.
Flooding SO with beginner questions lowers the usefulness for everyone.
This is not a problem that can be solved by throwing money at it.
I've seen folks post questions on meta about how to get out of the ban (used to be a very regular occurrence, a bunch a day). I've seen folks post on other stack exchange sites asking how to get out. People even get emailed for this. All to ask questions which are answered perfectly well by the page they were linked to in the ban.
I've seen this so often that I can still remember the goo.gl URL that the old FAQ used to be behind (http://goo.gl/C1Kwu).
I have personally never used it and am unaffiliated with it, but a friend suggested it and has found it useful. He explained it to me as a dedicated, personal Stack Overflow.
Also, why are these posts getting downvoted? The title of this article is "How We Make Money at Stack Overflow".
Do you guys remember experts exchange.com?
It made me quite angry when they locked up my content. I switched to posting solutions on my blog then. Now I tend to stick stuff on Stack rather than blog it.
10,000,000 ÷ 300
= 1,000,000 ÷ 30
= 100,000 ÷ 3
Or 1e07/3e02 = 1e05/3.
StackOverflow is so powerful resource on the Internet, alongside with Wikipedia and Internet Archive.
I wish I could donate two ways:
1) Yearly or monthly (subscription) donations, like on Wikipedia
2) I would be extremely happy to donate authors of some great, life-saving answers. I feel so excited when I find the right answer after searching a solution for hours.
Just shut up and take my money!
So they do direct deals mostly, which is antiquated and probably to preserve their branding as a "tech site".
> Did you know we have a lot of unpaid inventory on Stack Overflow every month?
This is what trying to guess your avails with direct ends up doing. Leaving inventory unmonetized. Typically, you get paid less for less of your inventory trying to do monthly manual trafficking.
All they do is display, so it's rather silly to quibble about CPMs in the 25 cent range...until you look at the traffic and realize that translates to real money.
You lose control over what is being shown, you are diluting your brand and you are at risk of alienating your users.
At Stack Overflow we are not willing to make this trade off.
Automation costs are actually administrative costs (platform fees), which have recently increased via unmonetized opportunity cost models (opportunity being a specific technical term in advertising). SO is not fully or optimally monetizing, probably because they prefer to keep the old tech they are using and/or the staff that has been there since early days. It's also possible they want some dejour/nonstandard controls. Saying they are making an informed tradeoff is simply incorrect. Saying they are making a (unspecified) choice, then not really talking about that choice, is what the article skirts.
Sub 10k/mo for platforms at 2 billion opps per day is AOL and SpotX. That schedule doesn't matter at the volume SO works with. Fees and Opp costs are not the issue with the unmonetized inventory.
More importantly, the automated stuff is a huge security risk, and will generally annoy your users when someone puts out something they shouldn't, even if it's not a security issue.
Sure, they could saturate the pages with more crap adverts no one wants, and they would sell for less (because they would be less effective), and they'd piss off their user base.
SO has long been one of the very, very few on my adblocking whitelist. I don't dislike adverts as a core idea, but 99% of advertising online is invasive, annoying and useless.
> I am extremely protective of our users. You can ask anyone who works here. It’s is my very strong belief that we have a built up a trust with the community that is not easily earned and is impossible to replace. I want to work for a company that respects that trust, and I do.
I can see that they believe in this. As I wrote in my Quora answer https://www.quora.com/Is-Stack-Exchange-still-growing-in-201...:
"They are gaining a lot of goodwill because they have committed to attach a high value to user experience over monetary gain (they learnt from sites in the past that lost their community because they plastered the site with ads. Needless to say, those sites eventually failed)"
I remember other sites that did something similar but they got lost on the way and sold their users away and ultimately fell to disrepair because no one came back.
I hope they continue to stay true to this course.
> We don’t because if we don’t have anything even remotely good to show you, we shouldn’t.
> And we don’t want to use an automated system that selects some ads for us. We looked at this. It didn’t allow us the control we required to maintain the level of quality we want to maintain. We have intentionally left a lot of money on the table. Sacrificing quality is not what we want to be known for. We believe there are better ways.
In my limited experience with online advertising, one metric that almost all advertisers ask for are page views.
I believe this is a fundamentally flawed metric. It can be gamed easily and ultimately targeting ads by page views lead to a suboptimal user experience.
I would rather not show an ad than show an irrelevant ad.
SE is bigger than just page views. It’s a successful ecosystem that has a vibrant community behind it that will grow and nurture itself.
It's great to see that their management would rather not show an ad than show an irrelevant ad.
> If you have time though, I’d appreciate if you told me why in the comments so I/we can do better.
Introduce anonymous answers.
I know of very talented developers who would like to answer questions without setting up (throwaway) accounts. Spam is a non-issue here unless spammers model answers like good answers (of which we have a pretty large set to train from)
>Spam is a non-issue here unless spammers model answers like good answers
Many people give answers broad latitude as far as "goodness". Users can also be easily confused: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/337843/review-audit-..., and even moderators are sometimes inclined towards leniency: http://meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/333722/how-is-this-q...
A multi-layered system, starting with some filtering right at the beginning, is, I think, the best way to keep illicit ads under control. Stack Overflow has very high value as a target for spammers and very low amounts of spam compared to that value; I'd really like it to stay that way.
I hate having to register at every new site, too, but I don't think it's entirely unreasonable if you're actually trying to post.
Or, if you are worried about spam, you could allow signed in users to "post a question|answer anonymously". This would not allow users to see who posted the question, but would allow things like statistics (to track spammers and the like).
But, I'd guess what you're probably after is something else entirely: a way to have an account, and post answers using that account, but not have those answers associated publicly with that account. This has been requested a few times over the years, but... It's a bit of a troublesome idea:
- Spam / trolling (the kind performed by humans, not bots) often depends on being able to stay just a little bit ahead of the folks who are trying to stop you. Anything that can buy you a few more minutes of activity before being blocked can upset that balance; sure, we could remove anonymity for moderators, but there's a psychological impact here: if you think you can get away with something, you're more likely to try.
- Reputation is tracked on a per-account basis, and most of the accounting there is public: again, this serves multiple purposes, both for the author themselves (they're encouraged to become "invested" in the site by contributing in exchange for privileges) and for the greater community (privileges aren't handed out capriciously, they're earned in ways that can be tracked).
- What about things like edits and comments? Presumably you'd want to be able to respond to comments on your answers, or make edits that correct problems - for "unregistered" answers, that's solved by giving you a temporary account that retains edit rights, comment rights, etc. (at least until you lose the cookie); if you posted anonymously under a normal account, would your edits and comments also be anonymous, or would you show up incongruously as yourself?
- We periodically publish a full set of data on posts, comments, edits, etc. that anyone can use; we'd have to decide whether or not to preserve anonymity in this data, and not just for authorship but also for edits, commentary, etc.
It's a big can of worms, which is why we've so far avoided opening it... But I do see the advantages as well.
Disclaimer: I work for Stack Overflow.
Joshua, thank you for the response. I was going to reach out and point you to this sub-thread, so you saved me time.
There are some excellent programmers I know who would like to post answers on SO/SE without being able to trace the source of answers to them.
The reasons can be many: some dont want to be bothered with random people tracking them down and contacting them to as involved as having the ability to say (as an example): "ahem, don't depend on this API because it's going to be deprecated in the next 3 months".
I am sure there are other useful reasons.
People might be concerned about misuse and spam, but I have been told Smoke Detector has been doing a pretty good job with that.
A random idea: SO is full of developers who are ready to give back. Why don't you ask the community how they can implement a solution that is not too bad?
Thank you again for the comment. Really appreciate the thoughts.
No need to crawl anything.
You can find it on the internet archive:
Seems like it came straight from PR land to me.
> We help companies build their brand and source technical talent through our business products: Display Ads and Talent.
Is it now shameful to make money, so you have to defend it when you do?
Weird that a previously flagged article made it to the top slot:)
This sums it up well.
SO has the goal of being a Q to A catalog. You're not contributing unless you are asking a new, answerable question or providing and answer to a new or existing question.
There are tons of people asking questions that are already answered, tons of people asking questions that would take a book to answer, and tons of people asking questions that are subjective and time sensitive. All of this needs to be closed and removed.
The fact of the matter is that tons of questions have already been asked and answered. In fact unless its for a newer technology there are probably not that many left to ask. Because of this about 95% of all new content ought to be removed. In fact you will find a vastly different culture if you stick around the GO tag vs the Java tag.
But the issue is there is a never ending trickle of people who don't realize the above. They sign up and start asking answered or impossible to answer questions, trying to start discussions, or trying to make you debug their specific issue.
You either ignore them or try and help them understand the site by telling them to RTFM.
This system has had some issues and may still be adjusted, but I think it's a lot closer to the mark. I've probably gained close to 1000 rep so far from documentation I contributed to but did not author.
That's interesting. I wasn't aware of the trickle down karma like that.
From the announcement of Stack Overflow, before the site was even in private beta (https://blog.codinghorror.com/introducing-stackoverflow-com/):
> Stack Overflow is sort of like the anti-experts-exchange meets wikipedia meets programming reddit.
The community elements of the site are nice, and I have made some friends there, but "wiki of programming answers" is much closer to the original vision of the site than "community".
There is content that doesn't belong and content that does, this is established by the company at a broad scale and customized for various boards by the community.
I haven't seen the case where content belongs but is denied because you're not well enough know or w/e. If by old boys club you mean long standing members are preventing new members from changing policy then yeah thats true.
Another thing you're failing to realize is that that plenty of people who do RTFM, become contributors, and stick around. More than enough to keep up with demand.
> that get the boot because they've been addressed(poorly) previously
This is a valid complaint. I believe SE needs the Karma system to do a better job at rewarding cleaning up existing questions.
> At what point do you start just running a Wiki of programming answers, and not a community of programmers.
Its more we want a community to create a q/a based wiki. There needs to be a question answering community (no need to focus on the asking one it will come) and strict question moderation helps attract and retain the answering community. Retraining and attracting 15+ year industry vets is much more vital to SE's health than retraining new users.
I have to admit some skepticism of this idea.
It has been discussed on HN recently: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12576124
joekrie 51 days ago [-]
I find it to be a great resource if someone has already answered your question, especially if I find it via Google. As for asking questions, it's a bit off-putting to be immediately downvoted without explanation, and to not get a single answer.
Point is, it's good resource to free-ride but not actively participate.
city41 51 days ago [-]
That's basically the point of the site. I think SO's owners are ok with this trade off.
FWIW it wasn't always like this. I have a lot of points on SO mostly acquired about 5 years ago. Back then SO was a much friendlier, and much more interesting place to participate in. I haven't actively participated in about 3 years or so.
CaptSpify 51 days ago [-]
I've always thought this described it best: SO is a great place to find answers to your questions, but SO is a terrible place to ask questions.
Let's be honest, reading the docs should be everyone's first step before posting a question. So many questions follow the template of "I want to know how to do this but I don't want to put in any effort." The volume of those kinds of questions are what drove me away - not the moderation.
Python standard docs are not great, trying to remember how to use capturing groups on regexes for example (which I use maybe once or twice a year), it takes wading through three or four screens worth of text to get what I want. The Stack Overflow answer is likely to be far more concise, and will give me the example I am needing near the top of the page.
I am still pretty highly ranked on SO (top 1%), but I haven't been active for nearly two years now.
You have just nailed the problem with their gamification.
It takes effort - and thus time - to write a good answer. Since everyone is trying to score the easy wins, you get a flood of mediocre boilerplate answers. In the time it takes you to write a quality answer, the question has been answered multiple times. Likely one of these boilerplates has even been accepted by OP.
For a company that obviously considers the long game over immediate and cheap gains, they haven't managed to impart these values to their userbase.
Incidentally that was also my gripe about SO job ads two years ago. (Iow. when I considered posting something.) At the time their candidate search only allowed to search by answer scores. I had pretty simple needs: What if I'm not looking for developers who can recite trivia? What if I want to seek out the thoughtful ones who actually know how to ask good questions?
Their answer at the time: sorry, we don't have that.
It shouldn't even be that hard: eliminate the insane outliers and jackpots, find the people with matching skill sets who consistently ask decently scored questions.
Why read the docs when you can google for the exact single question you have and be looking at the answer a second later?
Especially on technologies you are diving into just to quickly do something, and that you don't have time to learn in any depth.
Unlike most manuals, it's a fairly short and incredibly well written document. Anyone who reads and follows most of it will be a very valuable user to the community. In fact, following it's process might lead you to figuring out your own questions before you submit sometimes, at least that's how it's worked for me. Sure, it requires effort, but it makes for a better experience all around.
[Many questions that I see get downvoted are authors that make no attempt to follow the guidelines, or have asked a question easily answerable in the standards docs for that language or library. Still, I often answer these personally to provide a bit of hand-holding because what's obvious to someone who's been working with a language for 5 years might not be to someone who's been with it for 1. It's hard to draw a line around obviousness. In any case, if you follow the guidelines you're likely to receive help.]