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Stack Overflow sold to Prosus for $1.8B (wsj.com)
2330 points by DavidWilkinson on June 2, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 846 comments

I always thought Microsoft would be a natural buyer given the tech stack and Microsoft's support for developers.

Unrelated story, I have a day one Stack Overflow account. I don't remember how I found it but I'm sure it was posted on digg or slashdot or something at the time. I had a lot of posts in the first few years about some generally broad concepts, and completely inactive since.

In spite of this, I am in the top 7% of accounts on the site, which is a nice reminder on the power of compound interest!

Same for me. Day 1. I'm user 25 on the site as I listened to the podcast about them making it. Just for answering a few questions early I'm in the top 0.76% overall.


I loved listening to the Stack Overflow podcast with Jeff and Joel. It was kinda crazy that they were doing a podcast like that while they (Jeff mostly) were building it and coming up with the name, etc. Still have all the mp3's somewhere.

Edit: I'm in the top 2%. Most of my rep. comes from interest earned on questions/answers I posted very early on.

The dynamic makes sense: the more popular the question, the more likely it is to get asked early on. That means early answerers will reap benefits from the popularity of the questions down the road.

There's definitely an "interest" dynamic to it, but there's also something like consuming the solutions with a good effort-to-reward ratio inside a search space early and then subsequent solutions get harder (kindof like a cryptocurrency?)

Niche questions do present an interesting opportunity, though. My highest-ranked answer was about rolling your own setInterval / setTimeout function for JavaScript implementations running on the JVM that didn't have them. Not a hot topic, but apparently a few dozen other people cared about this over the years.

One of my funniest work experiences comes from a coworker who had a question about an obscure RHEL 5 thing long after RHEL5 should have been abolished, him googling it, and finding an answer I had posted about a decade before when RHEL5 was in beta and I had experienced and answered the same issue.

Through the “asking and searching” phase, he was sitting next to me on a rooftop at a really stressful job, we were drinking daily on the job, and I had no idea why he suddenly started smacking my left arm and laughing to the point he couldn’t speak. He finally turned his laptop towards me and I just saw my StackOverflow profile with the icon I use at work and on GitHub and everywhere else, the picture of my first dog. He could have just spoken up (but I’d probably forgotten the answer) … he googled instead and got the answer of the person he was sitting next to.

When occasionally I have worked at big companies, now people know my dog’s face more than they know me as a person.

I've had the same experience of looking up and finding an old answer from someone I knew, but one that I made _myself_ for the exact same problem I've just hit again years later... :D

Happens to me all the time. I'm either not automating enough things, or automating too many things.

Btw, is there a simple way to backup all of ones own answers from across all stackexchange, in case the new owners mess everything up?

It has been posted elsewhere, but there is a complete data dump of stackexchange on archive.org.


I’ve had a worse experience - I end up looking for a solution to a problem only to find an unanswered question from years earlier, which was also asked by me back then :(

I've done this too. Its at the point, i figure there is no solution

If I had an dollar for searching and finding a reddit thread that I created for a question that I eventually had to find the answer to myself since somehow everyone else remembers this, I'd have at least 10 dollars.

Come on brain, you remember fucking commercials.

Hilarious and heart-warming (minus the drinking daily on the job part, of course)!

I found an answer I had posted a few years prior.

High reward for joining early is a good growth strategy.

It is also why crypto is having a run. Basically a Ponzi scheme that rewards early adopters

That isn't how a Ponzi scheme works, a Ponzi scheme directly uses fees taken from new members to pay out older ones, lying and saying it's from actual business activity.

Crypto doesn't behave any differently than the stock market (except the fundamentals are a little shakier, okay, a lot shakier).

Cryptocurrency doesn't have dividends or share buybacks which are what make stocks have inherent value.

Stocks do not need buybacks or dividends. They are rights to control a share of a company, which earns (or potentially earns) money. That’s inherently valuable even without a stock market to determine a price. You control a machine, which makes things and earns money.

Crypto is only valuable, because others think so, too. You control a place inside a distributed list. Others think a place in exactly this list is valuable, while all the other lists are shitcoins.

How do you explain the prices of Class-C shares which don't bestow voting rights to the holder? For example, GOOG trades for over 2000 a share. In fact, it even trades at a $50 premium over GOOGL, which offers voting rights. Strange.

You don’t have to control a company personally, you can also rely on other shareholders to do that. You just have to know, somebody is voting in your interests, since you probably won’t do it (but again: you could).

I don’t know whether your statement about the price difference is true and if so, I don’t know why. Maybe different free float? My statement was about inherent value not short term price negotiations via stock exchange.

I thought about an actual attack against my argument: Stocks are just shares of companies, which sell stuff that is valuable because other people think so. Some stuff might have inherent value (because it can generate money), but in the end it still comes down to people deciding something has value. Turtles all the way down.

"You don’t have to control a company personally, you can also rely on other shareholders to do that. You just have to know, somebody is voting in your interests"

How would you know they're voting in your interests?

I've never known how any other shareholder voted in any of the stock I owned. For all I know they could have been voting completely contrary to what I'd wanted.

No. Unless you own enough of a stock to vote and make a difference, stock ownership is not about influencing a company but just about hoping the value of the stock will rise, and there are many theories about why that might happen, from fundamental to technical analysis to people who invest based on the phase of the moon, divination, tips from friends, insider trading, trend following, news, etc.

Those other shareholders also want the shares to retain value, so your interests are aligned regarding my initial argument that stocks are valuable because of the voting rights.

Yes it does. Proof of stake networks (Ethereum, Tezos, etc) pay dividends + transaction fees to stakers, decentralized exchanges pay a cut of fees to token holders (with decent P/E ratios), and the list goes on.

This is an out of date view that does not match the current reality.

As a thought exercise, suppose a proof is stake currency was only used by one person. How exactly does do it’s dividends create value? In short “crypto dividends” don’t actually create any value it’s purely incrementing an arbitrary number rather than creating an income stream.

The same is true if N people use the currency without any new money coming in they can’t cash out. Therefore it’s not an actual dividend. This is why everyone calls crypto a pyramid scheme, the only way to cash out is to get someone else to buy in.

For proof of stake, I agree - I think it's useful to instead focus on net issuance. For ETH2 this could very well could be negative since the base transaction fee will be burned, and transaction fees currently are greater than miner rewards a decent percentage of the time.

Proof of stake coins that don't have much usage and mostly pay out rewards from new issuance have an interesting piece.. - they are inflating the base supply to pay out dividends that holders pay taxes on. Effectively moving normal gains from the capital gains bracket to regular income, which is sub-optimal.

For DeX's, the image is a lot better - the biggest issue here is - are fees arbitrarily high, and will they go down over time. My gut says the percentage fee will go down, but the volume increase will more than make up for this loss.

US dollars wouldn’t be worth very much either if you were the only one using them.

> The same is true if N people use the currency without any new money coming in they can’t cash out.

As a counterpoint, YFI literally buys back it's token from fees earned from users using their automated yield farming strategy. There are plenty of duds around, but that doesn't make everything a dud.

Yes, cryptocurrency can be programmed in many different ways and can be defined as several different things at once.

PancakeBunny too! I’m considering to buy the dip…

Not all stocks have dividends.

The ones that don’t are valued on the assumption that they will in the future.

Have google, Facebook amazon or Netflix ever issued a dividend?

They are likely to do stock buybacks which are the same thing. You’re certainly not buying them for voting rights - FB and Google almost don’t give those out, and ETFs don’t pass on their voting rights but are not cheaper than the underlying stocks.

When was the last buyback?

What is your basis for saying this?

Are you asking me to link the Wikipedia article for capital asset pricing?

> The [stocks] that don’t [pay a dividend] are valued on the assumption that they will in the future.

Could you please make a specific section that justifies your claim?

I skimmed https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_asset_pricing_model but I don't see anything there that validates your claim. I may have overlooked something, if so please let me know.

I'm skeptical of your claim. Based on some other reading [1]:

> To manage your portfolio, you need a way to compare your different investments and decide which are worth keeping. The dividend discount model and the capital asset pricing model are two methods for appraising the value of your investments. DDM is based on the value of the dividends a share of stock brings in, whereas CAPM evaluates risks and returns compared to the market average.

[1] https://budgeting.thenest.com/capm-vs-ddm-24472.html

You could have written "the Wikipedia article for capital asset pricing". I don't see the need to make it a question.

Your comment comes across as passive aggressive, unfortunately. I hope that wasn't your intent.

Buybacks are very popular in crypto. Its call token burning. Binance does it all the time with BNB.

Yep like the stock market and the idea of money.

and being involved with a common question

the more newbish the better

It's always interesting to see what SO posts I participated in - either as an asker or answerer - that became popular over time.

I think most of it is really down to the quality of the answers you've given combined with the vast amount of users on SO.

I'm user 537XXXX with an account that can't be more than 8 years old but I did spend a solid 6 months actively posting detailed solutions to problems I ran into - ~50 in total. And some more general answers. Which has amounted to ~4.900 points. Which isn't _that_ much. Just 490 upvotes. Or 10 per answer on average. Still - that puts me in the top 8%.

My guess is that the high percentage is more due to the sheer volume ;-)

It's also very much about timing. If you happen to write a popular answer at the time when interest in some particular tech is high for whatever reason, that gets a lot of views and upvotes early on. And once it has those upvotes, people looking for related answers later are more likely to stumble onto it.

I still get a steady rep trickle from a generic answer about WinRT back when Win8 was the hot new thing (or mess, depending on your outlook): https://stackoverflow.com/questions/7416826/how-does-windows... - but most upvotes there are from back when it was posted, and I doubt it would get anywhere as many if that answer was written today.

And sometimes, it's the tongue-in-cheek answers that score massive upvotes, like the famous one about using regex to parse HTML.

I'm chuckling at the idea that you could have possibly misinterpreted that post.

"No, int_19h, he said to NOT use regex to parse HTML!"

int_19h: wạ͈ͣ̿i̘̱͚̝̍̎ṱ̜̙ͯ̏̾̐̃ͮ,̿̑̓̒̇̄ ͈̺̯͙̰ͦ̐̎̂w̜̦̱͇̝͂̐̈́̄ͅh͚̞̯̰͑͑̐̋ͪa̩͕͑̂̒̔t̪̬̱̞̞̹͌̿́̆̑ͮͮ?͕̮͒̊̃͒̊̈


Yeah, the reputation model is nowhere near representative of the significance of your contribution. Just try not to take it overly seriously...

I got my reputation asking > 1,000 questions and answering > 1,200 , and I can't say whether I should be higher up than people with 10x less reputation than me or 2x more than me.

You're exactly where you should be. Reputation isn't an assessment of skill or knowledge, it's how useful you are/were to the site (as you state, contribution), and the site needs questions as well as answers. The person with 1000 reputation purely from asking questions is no less deserving of that score than the person that got the same score purely for answering some.

It's probably better to think of the points as something akin to money paid out by mechanical turk for doing things the site needs, including cleanup and formatting in some cases. At that point, your contribution and what it means is fairly clear.

> it's how useful you are/were to the site

One person asks a single naive question once: "How do I undo the most recent local commit with GIT", gets 200,000 reputation.

Another person answers 100 complex, delicate questions useful to high-performance computation underlying widely-available cloud services; gets an average score of 5, has 5000 reputation.

Another person occasionally asks and answers a few questions, reaching 2000 reputation, but does a lot of editing work, triages new posts, fixes up tag pages etc.

Who has been more useful to the site?

> One person asks a single naive question once: "How do I undo the most recent local commit with GIT", gets 200,000 reputation.

I imagine the person that asked the question about git was the first to ask. There's a benefit to being the first, or asking unique questions. The value of the first time that was asked and answered usefully on SO is vastly greater than the 100th time, and the value of having it at one time compared to a year later is also great. Sometimes what matters is how it's asked, so it looks like other people's questions.

> Another person answers 100 complex, delicate questions useful to high-performance computation underlying widely-available cloud services; gets an average score of 5, has 5000 reputation.

I would guess those complex and delicate questions didn't help a lot of people, or they would have upvoted, right? Whether that's because people didn't see them or it's so esoteric as to not really help many people, the result is the same.

> Who has been more useful to the site?

The person who asked a question that got a useful answer first, or that answered a question usefully first, is greater.

Stack Overflow would be a pretty shit site if the first time someone answered that git question was in 2021 and not a decade or more ago, so optimizing for people identifying, asking and answering unique questions that match the questions other people have and are easily identified when people search for that problem makes sense IMO.

In the mechanical turk metaphor, you're willing to pay a lot for someone to take out your overflowing smelly trash because that's what you need, but you're not willing to pay as much for someone to do the same thing a day later if it's not even half full and doesn't smell. You reward people more for doing the things you need.

The person who asked the naive question that a million other new git users will have at some time or another.

If that person hadn't asked the question, any number of other people would have asked it, probably a couple of days later.

And then they would have gotten the rep

They're fake points that don't matter

I like their approximate people reached metric. I've answered at lot of VBA questions which get a lot of views but not necessarily from developers who might have an account. I suspect they are mostly anonymous users and thus the answers get a lot of views but relatively few votes.

I've looked at the 'people reached' metric and wondered: does this mean that, objectively speaking, the greatest impact I'll have on the world will turn out to have been a few stackoverflow answers?

Also, if these answers contained any code, it might end up the most used code you've ever written.

Out of curiosity I've done code searches on identifying substrings and found code from my stackoverflow answers all over the place, though of course the hits tend to be in that long tail of seldom used code out there. Pretty sure my most used code would be in deliberate open source contributions.

I'm in the top 3%, joined in 2010, it's mostly all from questions though. I only posted 8 answers, vs 83 questions. When I joined I remember allot of the issues I came across has no answers, so I guess with the years to come lots of others had the same issues/questions. At the time I thought it was just me, everyone else seems to know so much. Guess we all start at the bottom at some point.

It is still one of the most interesting podcasts I’ve listened to. Jeff and Joel completely chanced how I view hardware. So far they’ve been right in that scaling out isn’t something most of us need to worry about for a LONG time. Modern computers are insanely fast and capable of much more than we think.

Most sites could run on a single mid range machine. Top 500 sites could run on a small cluster of less than 10 machines. You have to balance work to external egress to intracluster bandwidth while accounting for your total random IOP budget.

A well tuned monolith is a beautiful thing.

a CDN wouldn't go amiss either, or at least some sort of geographic mirroring

Agreed. Having Jeff and Joel on the podcast was great and the hosts really complimented each other. However, once Jeff left, that was pretty much for me though and I tuned out after a few episodes. Just wasn't the same without Jeff.

Personally, I was a latecomer to the podcast and was about a year behind the launch of SO but still in top 13 today.

After all these years, I still remember exact locations I walked while listening to that. Funny thing, memory.

That’s funny, so do I!

Method of Loci

Not quite the same as what the commenters are mentioning: an involuntary, strong association of ideas and (real) places ... still, an interesting method, which may harness the brain's ability to connect location with particular non-location thoughts.

I used to listen to every episode of that while taking walks around Berkeley. I totally forgot about it until I saw this comment!

Interesting. I'm also in the top 2%, but I'm far from being an early adopter on that site, with a userId in the hundreds of thousands: https://stackoverflow.com/users/343302/dotancohen

I was never even very active. I can only suppose that only 1 out of every 50 signups ever accrues any real significant amount of rep.

There's definitely a strong compounding effect over time. I have a 6-digit UID there, but haven't been active for years now. However, I'm still in the top 0.16%, largely thanks to a steady trickle of rep from all those old answers that are still relevant.

But any such "interest" does apply to the magnitude of the initial contribution, so merely being around for long is not enough - you had to have a sufficiently productive period of activity to capitalize on.

I'm a fan of Spolsky's writing. I haven't heard of that podcast before. I see joelonsoftware.com has some expired links. Where can I listen to this archived podcast ?

You have them on SoundCloud [1]. Note, there is a mess with numbering of episodes.

[1] https://soundcloud.com/stack-exchange

Came here to share this! What a weird and innocent time that was.

Ha, I'm user 26! So funny: https://stackoverflow.com/users/26/shawn

What's the story about the XSS vulnerability? If this is the right time for that...

I miss that podcast. The 2 of them disagreed on some technical things, which made it more interesting. Listening to them all the way to success was pretty cool.

Is there anything else out there like it?

EDIT: People mentioning that they could remember where they were when they listened to the podcast makes me remember where I was when they had Jason Calacanis on the show who informed them that they were sitting on a gold mine.

With Jeff, loved the podcast. But without Jeff, not so much.

Do top contributors get compensated financially ? This is a question that is burning me out of curiosity...

Do not get me wrong, I understand the whole point of giving back to a community, selfishly helping others and all that. But lets get a simple example: For example the famous Jon Skeet. https://stackoverflow.com/users/22656/jon-skeet

Based on the account statistics this user is a member as of today, for 12 years and 8 months. So a total of 152 months. Again according to the site statistics, Jon Skeet provided so far 35,254 answers.

Making some assumptions of continuous linear work, :-) this user in the last almost 13 years, provided an average of 232 answers PER MONTH,non-stop for the last 13 years.

That is an average of almost 8 answers PER DAY non stop, 13 years in row, while having a job at Google ( per the site account details ...) maybe a family, side interests ? etc ...

Assuming the mythical Jon Skeet, is not a team of 200 engineers at Google :-) I want to understand how a person who provides EIGHT well researched developer related answers PER DAY, non stop, for 13 years, feels about the site founders making 2 Billion while this user ( again...presumably...) gets a pat in the back and "reputation " ?

>Do top contributors get compensated financially

Not from Stack Overflow / Stack Exchnage

That's for sure

There may be employers that look at your standing and say, "hey - let's toss a couple extra $K in this candidate's offer"

..but I've not seen or experienced it

I loved this podcast. It came about when we were a year into our first startup (freeagent.com if you wondered) and it was really influential. I loved Spolsky and he was a major influence, and we ended up colocating our infra on our own hardware for 10 years and I can attribute a lot of my faith in that strategy to some of these early discussions! Worked out very well indeed.

We’re now on AWS, go figure ;-)

I'm in the top 0.35%. For a while around 2010ish I was answering a lot of questions. I've barely even logged in in many years. I don't think the percentile is very useful. SO always tried so hard to find a way to assess devs and hopefully use that to spin up the jobs board side of the business, but I feel like despite a lot of effort it just never quite happened.

How much of the billion dollars will you get?

I was active for maybe 1 year on SO. Account is dormant ever since. Your answer prompted me to check. Still in the top 0.02%

I joined maybe within the first year or so and answered one fundamental javascript question which has earned me dividends for many years. I'm top 11% without having even looked at my profile in at least 5 years. Best part is that my answer was slightly wrong and had to be corrected by a comment.

Interesting. I've barely posted/commented — in particular I've only made seven posts since 2012 (and zero since 2018) — but I guess because signed up in 2010 I'm in the top 17% of users.

Nothing to brag about, but it's definitely higher than I would've expected. The required mental model is different from what I'm used to HN/reddit — rather than posts going stale and/or getting archived, Stack Exchange and Quora are more like social wikis. Writing a popular early answer that happens to remain relevant over time is like writing a high-profile Wikipedia article and then collecting karma on it indefinitely.

By contrast, I have the 639th Reddit account and I don’t seem to be anywhere close to the top percentile in karma.

Hmmmm ... Waited almost the gestation period of a human baby before I joined, mostly to raise the quality and quantity of Perl answers. Haven't been very active recently.

As user 100,754, I am ranked in the top 0.12%, current #830 based on 2,139 answers and 33 questions


Some of my useful answers get no upvotes: https://stackoverflow.com/a/18162345/100754

And some just keep accumulating :-)


Now, if you look on the ranking pages, you'll see the following table:

    Total Rep*       Users
    100,000+   |      1,007
     50,000+   |      2,879
     25,000+   |      7,533
     10,000+   |     23,325
      5,000+   |     50,374
      3,000+   |     85,384
      2,000+   |    125,638
      1,000+   |    229,491
        500+   |    398,573
        200+   |    675,767
          1+   | 14,875,253
So, the site has 14+ million users with no real activity and the percentile ranking is based on users with 200+ points.

The compression of the top end of the ranking among active/once-active users is pretty extreme (or rather, I guess it's probably more a factor of just how many people are at the low end of the scale): I have around 1/4 your reputation but that's still good for "top 0.91% overall".

I have a similar experience though, I haven't been active for many years, and have a handful of very simple answers to common problems that still make the reputation graph pretty linear.

>So, the site has 14+ million users with no real activity and the percentile ranking is based on users with 200+ points.

Maybe there more people like me who create an account just to do one thing. And the next time they create a new account?

Eventually you choose "Sign-in with Google"

I was there a few months and I had 20-30 points. I left because of grammar nazis.

My point is the no real activity is bad intepretion of this chart.

Something about how mean people are with voting keeps it this way. It's just very hard to get a vote at all. I happened to get a gold badge today for 10k views on an old question. Of those 10k people 17 decided to upvote.

Possibly related: SO requires you reach some number of upvotes before you yourself can upvote. When I use SO and try to upvote a useful answer I'm always reminded that I don't have the privilege of upvoting.

This is (part of) why I upvote anything even remotely helpful, explaining that some command switch does (or doesn't do) X, or syntax clarification, or even having the best formatted and/or written answer, asking a question I didn't know I had, and so on. I'm not a power SO'er, but I have some privileges and I do try to help the site be good.

It's kind of like Craigslist for me in that random people like me are also the source of poor-quality and low-effort participation, one-sentence or obviously-homework questions. However, I do realize the structure of the site and the Ponzi-like nature of voting there makes the n00b experience difficult if you want points and privileges. But at the end of the day, question choice and moderation are the comb and brush of informative crowd-driven sites.

That said, I assume there is plenty of action to be had if you're participating in cutting edge, new version, or new technology topics. Unfortunately that conflicts with the low-effort/homework population who I assume are constrained by their curriculum and so they have only C++ questions to ask. By that token I wonder how many questions even remain to be asked of common and popular topics like Java. It could just be that SO is "full" in certain topics.

The way to grow an economy is to participate in the economy, but this acquistion is no doubt going to change things for me.

I also speculate that there's a certain mindset that sees unmonetized ratings (or even points) as a market failure, which is what generated acquisition interest.

> This is (part of) why I upvote anything even remotely helpful, explaining that some command switch does (or doesn't do) X, or syntax clarification, or even having the best formatted and/or written answer, asking a question I didn't know I had, and so on.

I recall listening to the stackoverflow podcast and Jeff was asked about his threshold for upvoting.

I recall he said he upvoted something like all answers that were nor spam. Since, people are trying to help for no benefit to themselves, so why wouldn't you at least give them that?

I have given up on participating on SO because more often than not I am told I don't have enough reputation to do something (I don't know if it's commenting or giving an answer or giving an upvote but there are some questions for which answers are wrong or need some updates and I can't participate. So I just don't by default. I think I can't upvote on some stack and I find this weird).

I'm with you. I've never had an active account on StackOverflow. I created an account once or twice after coming across a question where the "accepted" answer was incorrect, or where it was badly missing something about the big-picture, and I was appalled to find that they don't let new accounts answer questions -- you have to comment or upvote (or something?) before you gain the right to answer a question.

Fuck that. I'm not going to waste my time farming karma for the privilege of answer questions for complete strangers that I happen to know the answer to. The moderation on stackoverflow is a complete mess -- it reminds me of the powertripping that you see on Wikipedia, but maybe even worse because there's far less room for interpretation when most of the questions are technical in nature.

This has been my exact experience. So to me it's always been a read only site.

Adding my voice to the quorum, same here.

The threshold is very low.


You need 15 points to up vote which means you need to have received 2 up-votes yourself on either a question or answer or have edited 7 questions/answers and had those approved. It's quite easy to hit those numbers. Once you have 1000 points (I think) on any site and you join a new site you get 100 points by default which means you always have those base privileges wherever you are.

The threshold is very low.

Well, not low enough for me. After a few attempts to answer some questions early on, I gave up. Read only for me. I don't even remember what the problem was.

Why making contributing difficult and consuming easy? I guess it worked for them. Counterintuitive, but nice jackpot.

Because contributing has no value unless your contribution is actually good, and often there's a lot of crap that's negative value because it's wrong or off-topic or spam.

Having a barrier greatly helps overall quality.

Having a barrier helps manageability of the site, so from a business' perspective it's been good, indeed.

Don't forget that a site being able to be managed & stay in business is also good for users.

It wasn't good for the users whose questions I wasn't allowed to answer, but you have a point.

So downvote the contributions, then -- but you can't do that if they can't be made in the first place! Read-only site for me too.

Then again, same stupid "earn points before you can post" system here on HN too.

As far as I can remember it's always been this way: very low barrier to entry. All you have to do is make an account to ask and answer questions.

I don't know why you had a hard time posting. Maybe you're thinking of commenting?

The counter is ExpertsExchange: very difficult to do both.

No idea, but I was just trying to answer some questions. I remember vaguely that I needed some points to help and I needed to help to get the points, so... I shrugged and let it be.

If a question is very popular, a lot of people think it's like a normal forum and post “me too” answers. (Or, at least, they used to, before everyone knew Stack Overflow.) So there's a mechanism to “protect” questions so you need at least 10 rep (on that site – the “you contributed lots on another site so probably aren't a spammer” bonus doesn't count) before you can answer.

Very few questions are protected.

The first post on SO for most accounts tend to be from Newbs. The people see the question and think Read The Fucking Manual and downvote. Then you have zero karma and you can't do anything else.

The problem is that the Newb doesn't even know where to start in the manual.

If you want, I'll give you some points by making a bounty on some old question and giving it to you. You have to answer it though.

Thank you, but this was never something that I wanted to do for my own interest.

I just saw someone with an unsolved problem and found out that I'd had to go through loops to help, so I gave up.

Actually it seems that owners became rich and it's now a popular site without my help, so I guess it can still survive without me :)

As helpful as you no doubt would be, until you interact with SO in some way you're indistinguishable from a misleading moron.

That wasn't a problem in any of the other forums I've contributed to. Go figure!

I'm someone with 15+ facebook accounts and who knows how many stackoverflow accounts. I don't really care. And if I try to comment and don't have the 15 points then I just leave.

Do you just forget your passwords? Why would you make so many SO accounts?

Why would they -- SX, that is -- need so many different sites?

Are you suggesting you use a different account per SX site?

No, I don't, but I'm suggesting that the UI could well be (or especially, earlier have been?) confusing enough for a lot of people not to realise they could use the same one on them all.

Just, say, google some programming question, get directed to SO, create an ID and post your question. Some time later, google an OS -- or maths, literature, whatever -- question, get directed to a different SX site, and repeat the process before (or wholly without) realising they're parts of the same whole.

Possibly do the same a few more times, and hey presto, you have umpteen SX IDs.

Seems utterly plausible to me. Not you?

> No, I don't, but I'm suggesting that the UI could well be (or especially, earlier have been?) confusing enough for a lot of people not to realise they could use the same one on them all.

There was a time when SO used their own openId server/backend.

It was confusing because you had one openId stackexchange account to sign-in into something but still had to create an account on each stack and you could login from any stack but not with your email but with the openId account... for which you used your email to login... so the URL jumping around was confusing. Add one forced logging out when cookies expire or something and it was frustrating just to log in because you could be logged in into SO but not into SU for instance (despite using the same login but with a different identity).

I could log in with another openId providers but the details are fuzzy.

I can't downvote your comment here on HN, presumably because I don't have enough reputation. And HN doesn't even tell me.

You can comment without any problem. Downvoting is not the main usage of HN, like answering questions is on SO (or commenting, it's a wonder that they still allow any kind of activity for people without karma, too bad the only allowed activity is making questions, that will be incorrectly marked and downvoted most of the time).

I think you need 100 points in order to downvote. HN generally prefers to upvote good content rather than to downvote bad content.

you need >500 points

I've got close to 600 ... yet only see the downvote option on very new posts

It's a mitigation to the "bury brigade" problem digg used to have. I think a relatively low hurdle is a good balance.

For me, I just don't use it often enough to log back in. It's largely been supplanted by browsing issue trackers and reading the source.

At the same time, google search results are massively less useful now and if I don't get a hit, I'm going to reach out to the source.

To that extent, I think SO has the same problem as Google - it will regress to the mean.

This is also because google search results will be flooded with SO mirrors that rerender content but with more ads.

I like logging in and bookmark answers I might need later.

Didn't you also need a few upvotes on comments before it would let you post an answer?

The other way around. You can't comment without a bit of reputation. You can always ask and answer questions.

I suspect it's because so many people use SO for work. When I'm at work I'm not thinking about being a good SO user and upvoting a good question or answer, I'm focused on getting my answer and getting back into the flow of my work.

On the other hand if I'm casually browsing twitter or instagram I'll gladly like posts that are interesting and there's no cost because it's recreation time.

This person has freely put in the effort to provide a solution to a problem you have at work, and you can't even be bothered to click the upvote button?

Also, maybe this is just because I'm just a forgetful idiot, but on numerous occasions upvoting has proven beneficial to me. I'll be searching for the solution to a problem and I find that I've already upvoted a question which relates to my issue - then if there's an answer I've upvoted, that's probably going to be the best one.

Can't upvote on SO without spending ??? hours farming karma. People start answers with "don't have enough reputation to comment, but in response to the other answer [...]". Left the only answer on several questions, probably averaging 0.2 upvotes per answer.

My high priority work questions: mostly no answers, even years later. I wrote a self answer, years later one or zero upvotes.

I ask a question with an example, the only answer "solves" the example and ignores the question, I self answer correctly when I figure it out on my own, years later no upvotes.

Several questions I arrive from Google are closed without an answer, or duplicate to a completely offtopic question. Or it's an XY question where I still need an answer for X but I don't have the secret question Y.

If you're not actively gaming SO for karma, it can be kind of a wasteland for anything but read only.

Oh yeah, if you don't have enough karma to upvote then I totally agree (especially if you've put in the effort). I was assuming that you had upvote privileges.

As a rule of thumb here in HN, the number of visits of a post is like upvotes*100+50. There are a lot of lurkers.

[In particular, I don't have an account in SO.]

Is there public data behind this, or your estimate?

I wonder how many of those 10,000 views were from logged in users? I’m guessing there are a lot of people who use Stack Overflow without ever creating an account.

Not completely true. I’m active on SO and other stack exchange sites as a consumer and bookmark tons of questions. They sync with https://Larder.io for me too. I can’t upvote though.

It's gotten brutal. I was learning a new language last year and all my posts were downvoted out of the que.

It looks like GitHub Discussions is sort of filling a similar niche--I'm guessing they're banking on being able to build that out for less than $1B--since they already have GitHub, they don't benefit as much from the StackOverflow user network / brand. I think that makes sense.

Easy to build out the platform, difficult to build out the knowledge base (especially since so many areas have already been covered on SO)

Sure, GH lags SO considerably on the size of the knowledge base, but I don't think that's very important since, due to the rapid pace of tech, content rapidly loses value with age (consider all of the jquery or flash content, or content pertaining to old versions of libraries or frameworks).

What matters more is the rate at which content is generated, and I think GH has a pretty competitive story considering that people naturally want to ask the project maintainers/community questions directly (as evidenced by all of the GitHub Issues which are formulated as questions) and considering GitHub's significant share of those maintainers/communities. I posit that new content will increasingly appear on GH Discussions.

Please don't mistake this for some exaggerated "GH is going to kill SO" argument--SO will do fine, but there is a compelling story for why MS wouldn't spend $1bn on SO.

> Sure, GH lags SO considerably on the size of the knowledge base, but I don't think that's very important since, due to the rapid pace of tech, content rapidly loses value with age (consider all of the jquery or flash content, or content pertaining to old versions of libraries or frameworks).

This is a weakness of SO and really the whole knowledge base business model (Q&A or not). You think you're building up this network-effect moat. "We have the best question-askers, answer-givers and answered questions. So everyone comes here!"

But, knowledge goes stale. "How do you X in JS?" is different than it was 10 years ago. People don't want a historical archive of how it was 10 years ago, they want to know today!

Then, like you say, GitHub brings in a whole new weird angle. Why ask on some other site when I have a spot where the maintainers and users hang out? Since my loyalty to SO is approximately zero, I'm just as likely to click on the Google result that takes me to GitHub if it looks more promising.

> Since my loyalty to SO is approximately zero

That's you though. It's not about loyalty, it's about Stackoverflow almost becoming a verb like Google. Many many people are used to using it, it's brand is very powerful. I don't see some competing tool stealing lots of mind share. Btw the thing about talking to maintainers directly is already done on small communities on discuss pages (ElixirForum for instance), on Discord, IRC and many other channels. None of it actually hurt SO.

TomTom and BlackBerry had great brands, marketing and great software stacks. I still correct the google maps voice when it tells me to take the third exit on the roundabout. It’s “roundabound”. The people who ran those companies didn’t see anybody stealing their businesses either. Yet they are well and truly gone.


> I still correct the google maps voice when it tells me to take the third exit on the roundabout. It’s “roundabound”.

If it's saying "roundabout," I hope you're not correcting it to "roundabound," because "roundabout" is the correct word.


Yeah what? Maybe it’s some local dialect.

Not sure TomTom had as dominant a brand for navigation as Stackoverflow has for Q&A. Stackoverflow is pretty much alone in this space still which is pretty amazing when you think about it.


Ah no I meant technical/developer Q&A of course

Brand is not a moat.

How do you define a moat? For me it's anything that gives a company an advantage over it's competitors. It can be patents, tech, but also brands. Take Coca Cola for example. Now obviously it has a moat right? Where is this moat coming from then? If you think about it it's mostly the brand, not anything to do with taste. Same can be said about different beers or about Nike, Levi's, Apple (arguably) etc etc.

Good question. It might be a difference in degree rather than a difference in kind. Consider the social media space: if you want to build a Twitter clone, you could do so in a pretty short amount of time with a pretty small team. You could buy ads to get everyone to know your product's name. Those ads will bring in enterprising early adopters, but no matter your ad spend or the quality of your platform (you could even include an edit button for pete's sake--and for free at that!), you're very, very unlikely to unseat Twitter. The reason is that Twitter's product isn't its platform or even its brand--the product is the social network i.e., the network of users and the interactions between them. That's moat.

> If you think about it it's mostly the brand, not anything to do with taste. Same can be said about different beers or about Nike, Levi's, Apple (arguably) etc etc.

Brand is king in fashion (and to a lesser extent, low margin consumer products like cola or cereal) because fashion is largely about signaling status. I don't think this effect extrapolates to SO.

I think Twitter is mostly about momentum, everybody is there and people dont want to start over again. A competitor will have the critical problem of having zero users. I am not sure the connections between users matter that much. Not all brands is about status. How can cereal be about status for instance? A lot of the crap we buy and services we use is just habit and acquired behavior. Sometimes status signaling is part of it and sometimes it isnt. Is capncrunch about status lol?

I think it's perhaps a little clearer to frame it this way:

SO has a network effect moat, not a corpus-size moat (I don't know that SO was ever thinking the size of its corpus would stave off competitors--they probably were correctly assuming that their user-base was their moat). The network-effect moat keeps the rate-of-change of the corpus higher than competitors, which is where the value is (not the size of the corpus). This moat has held up really well apart from (maybe) GH Discussions, which seems (to me) likely to succeed because GH has a similarly large network of experts.

We agree on the corpus-size not being a moat, and maybe SO does themselves.

More directly, I question StackOverflow's network effect. Compare it to Craigslist, IMO the best example of network effects ever. It is their sheer size that has entrenched them. They're also not vulnerable to groups moving to another platform (rise and fall of everything from AIM to Snapchat).

I don't actually search StackOverflow. I end up there through Google. If Google starts pointing me somewhere else, or the search previews start looking better for somewhere else, I'm going there. It's not like if I try to sell a single bag of concrete on anywhere but craigslist, which would end in failure.

I'm sure in the M&A docs there was some disclosure like "75% of our traffic comes through Google. If Google started directing people to other sites, that would have a material impact on our business."

SO has a SEO moat.

As soon as the answers I need start appearing in some other site, I will use the new site.

> But, knowledge goes stale. "How do you X in JS?" is different than it was 10 years ago. People don't want a historical archive of how it was 10 years ago, they want to know today!

I want both! With commentary!

And SO is particularly hostile to this, with their "duplicated question" giving canonical status to obsolete answers.

Good point. When I wrote that comment I was imagining the value of something like Datomic, which could let you see the result of a query at any point in time. In 2014, how did someone answer this question?

GH Discussions is great when the question is closely tied to a particular repo. I don't see how it competes with SO for things like design patterns, algorithms, programming language usage, etc.

I wonder how much of SO fits in the "particular repo" category? Not so much for my interests, but I imagine the chunk for popular web frameworks is huge.

Anecdata incoming: a few years ago when I was doing stuff with c# it seemed like everything I needed was already on SO answered by some dude with like a million kudos or whatever.

Recently I need some python + mariadb answers and most of the top ones are out-of-date enough that I can't even use them (deprecated packages). I was a bit surprised TBH.

Also TIL GitHub Discussions is a thing.

“Average technology has 3 answers a week” factoid actualy just statistical error. average technology has 0 answers a week. Jon Skeet, who lives in cave & answers over 10,000 each day, is an outlier adn should not have been counted

Yeah, GHD has not been well-marketed, but I've used it a couple of times and it has been very useful. I have similar experiences where SO questions can be pretty dodgy based on age--for example, for Rust I rarely bother looking at answers from 2016 because so much has changed since then. Some technologies are more stable than others.

Usually a highly voted answer that is no longer correct will be updated through time. I don't have any data to support this claim but it's what I see happening.

Probably, but that furthers my point: that "update" is new content. The original content is not especially valuable; the new content--the user activity--is where the value is.

I'd say a lot of that stuff increases with value to an individual over time, but has less demand.

Some of those SO discussions are the only references to ancient legacy code that is useful, when asking any questions about it today would not get any answers.

So, depending on how we calculate value, if we ignore demand, it can be more valuable.

Is it just Stack Overflow or Stack Exchange over all? If the latter, that's a lot more content that doesn't expire that quickly.

The latter. The initial wordings described multiple q and a sites in the article.

Right, but MS probably isn't interested in that content for its software dev portfolio.

SO is OK for very narrow questions that have concrete definitive answers. Unfortunately, SO's self-appointed police force will shut people down for any deviation from "the rules" (as they interpret them), or sometimes for no reason at all.

Github issues, on the other hand, seems to be receptive to open-ended "why" questions which would be smacked down hard on SO. Github has a higher barrier to entry. You have to know where to go, but if you're in the right place it's a much nicer community with more classy and professional conduct. Also, it doesn't have a gamification aspect to it, unlike SO, and thus fewer irritating/persnickety types are attracted to Github because they can't really score points.

One's about discussions; the other isn't.

Sure, but BOTH about solving problems and getting answers. That's the important thing.

The culture of SO become incredibly weird and IMHO will eventually sink it.

If you zoom out far enough you can always find a shared level of abstraction, but I don't think that's helpful.

I must agree, their reach must be insane! Although my last question was like 3 years ago, I do visit it at least twice a week for quick answers.

I feel like most “often asked” questions has been answered. I very seldomly find that creating a new question is necessary as most things is covered in past awnsers. However for package related problems, GitHub issues has become the go to.

In my experience probability of getting a useful answer, especially for a question about a specific library, is much higher on Github Discussions.

And that's why this line of concern is worthless: SO already exists. GHD can refer to that all day long without having to reinvent the Library of Alexandria (which in hindsight could have used a backup, but still).

Unless..."Prosus" pulls a Google+DejaNews and obscures SO's availability or paywalls it or, or, or...

Could they potentially integrate the existing StackExchange content, given that it’s creative commons licensed?

For people who read SO (rather than ask and answer), SO is useful in the places where the documentation is lacking.

The way to integration that content into an existing project would be to document it better - possibly with a FAQ for development questions. That doesn't really need CC licensing (its helpful, but not essential) in that people who want to contribute documentation can already do so.

Just pull up a SO tag for the library, find the top voted question, and figure out where it goes in the docs.

Q&A shouldn't be used as an alternative to documentation.

I'm actually glad MS would not also own SO. Github has been basically fine under MS ownership so far, but it seems like we're headed into a period of massive corporate consolidation, and I'd be happy if not all the developer tools are controlled by one interested party

I totally agree with you. Legislators should watch out for too much power consolidation here.

I am not sure, if developer tools are on the watchlist of state regulators, nor am I sure, if they should be.

The vast majority of users never post an answer or a question, and most of those that post only once or twice never get upvoted (or get downvoted more than upvoted), so their reputation stays at 1.

I think they said a couple years ago that over 50 or 60% of registered users have 1 reputation.

After all those years of being merely a reader I felt like transitioning from reader to contributor recently and the amount of roadblocks you get at reputation one is simply too much. There's an answer you think could become more useful with your comment warning of a pitfall to be aware of? Sorry kid, no can do, you need to grind away with top level answers before you can spread you finite wisdom in the small print. This level of gamification puts the subset of contributing users through a heavy self-selection filter and I would expect that the subset that makes through would turn out far worse (spammy, eager to game the system) than what we see. Have the thresholds always been this high or did the walls grow higher over time?

Just positively edit a few questions. You'll get rep for that.


Questions by new users usually need a lot of editing so there is no shortage of things which need editing. You'll get 15 rep after 7 approved edits. Things will accelerate from there.

For what? I've already built up the internal momentum to go out of my way to fix someone being wrong about something trivial on the internet, and now you're telling me I need to invest my time on even more trivial pedantic bullshit (like editing wording on an accepted answer) just to gain the privilege to make a top level answer?

You'd think that with such strict rules, StackOverflow would have very high quality questions and very high quality answers. But it actually doesn't. One aspect of being a good developer is catching a stackoverflow answer in a mistake and being capable of rejudging the rest of the answer section as a result (ie: scrolling further down and finding the correct answer that has zero upvotes).

You'll notice that anyone can write an answer (or ask a a question) with zero interference. There is no rep barrier to contributing an answer.

If you want to participate in other ways without answering or asking questions then there are still ways to do that.

Was it always this way? It's been a few years since I last gave it a shot.

Yes, since the very start. I'm 95% sure. That's been the big selling point from what I can remember: there is a very low barrier to entry (make an account)

Then I must be misremembering, but I'm unsure how. I'm sure that I've had the experience of wanting to contribute to SO to correct bad information and being unable to do so due to low karma, and that was enough to keep me off the site.

A lot of people want to treat SO as a forum and instead of contributing an answer with the right information try to comment on a post.

Many times, people try answering questions in comments when they're unsure of an answer rather than trying to say "this is the answer" and create an answer of their own that is sufficiently in depth to be helpful to others.

Other times, new users try to ask questions on the comments of "I'm having this problem too, do you have a solution yet?" or, while they do try to ask for clarification on the question - do so on questions that are stale.

Lastly, comments were often (in the days of 0 rep comment permissions) targets of spam that could go undiscovered.

The way that SO decided to solve these problems was to add a bit of friction to leaving a comment. This meant that users who were trying to contribute answers were directed to answers; users who were trying to ask questions on stale content would... get frustrated and go to a question where there is sufficient information; and automated spam would be that much harder (requiring an investment of time from the spammer).

It's not an ideal solution, but from the standpoint of a site with volunteers curating and moderating the content, creates fewer problems for the people who invest the time than other solutions do. Burning out those people who invest the time is one of the things that has concerned people in the company concerned about the existing community - losing them would have SO devolve into something that more closely resembled the software development section of Yahoo answers... or https://www.answers.com/t/computer-programming

I don't get it really but I think a lot of people have a similar experience. So while technically you are allowed to post an answer/question the moment you join there must be something else standing in the way. I don't know what that could be but so many people wouldn't complain if there wasn't something.

I played Stack Overflow years ago and have a ~0.3% ranked account, despite not really posting in years. It's amazing how little the ranking seems to have changed in the last 10 years, wavering around in the top half percent whenever I've peeked. I don't know whether the number is dishonest, or whether the new stars and new signups just happen to hold it in status, never sending it to 0.03% or 3%.

Same. I think what happened is that the early users answered all the most frequently occurring questions, and the questions honestly haven't changed much. I think my most popular answer is like how to diff with git. People are using git even more than they were when SO started, so it gets upvoted regularly.

Yeah, the continued upvotes for the same old questions doesn't surprise me, doubly so given the nasty culture of trying your best to close all new questions. Today, if someone posts a question, it will be closed as a duplicate (whether or not it actually is), or as too broad or too narrow. My main SO contribution in the last several years has been votes to re-open, which don't tend to get enough to actually re-open.

My real surprise isn't the continued flow of points, just the apparent stasis. I could imagine being at 0.003% by now, for instance, from this phenomenon.

Some of my oldest answers have hundreds of votes and required minimal effort to answer well... some of the newer answers have less than ten votes, since they're much more niche (even if they take 10x the effort to answer well).

A lot of the early broad answers got those huge upvote counts and make the early users who answered them stay in the top percentiles.

There really should be some karma decay system to prevent early users hogging 5-figure reputation. I didn't do much there in the last 5y but I am still way up in reputation.

I don't see how you can call it "hogging". Having a high reputation doesn't prevent anyone else from getting a high reputation too.

For me the reputation points are a proxy for how helpful I've been to other people overall. I like being helpful. Suddenly seeing that score go down for absolutely no reason would be very disincentivizing for me.

SO had quite some toxic moderators who came in early and dominated everything because of their 5-fig karma. It drove me away from helping out there.

Gradual 5 year drop-off for effective karma might do community good. As such any post older than that would have zero effective karma, but you could still show historic karma. Maybe this would make moderation better for new users as old hostile ones lose their power if they don't keep participating in the same pit as rest new userbase...

I think this idea combined with the “is this answer still relevant” flag that was recently added would work well. I see no reason to devalue old but still good answers.

Sometimes you're forced to work with older technology, and it's nice that you can still find answers to questions that many would consider obsolete. I'd hate to see a clean-up effort that makes that information go away forever.

Same. “Top N%” looks to just use score, and momentum on old answers is a big deal. I’m top 0.24%, with my score having increased by about 50% (25,000) in the last 3½ years (as far as their little chart shows), overwhelmingly because of momentum on old answers from 2010–2015—for during that time I’ve only made a handful of edits, three question, and six answers, three of which were for my own three questions.

Ironically I was one of the first ones too but never really participated since I didn’t think the site would actually have lasting power. Never ask me to pick the winning horse.

Same thing with Bitcoin. I knew about it from the first day, but never mined any since it was such a dumb idea. Face palm.

What are some esoteric things that you think are stupid right now? Asking for a friend.


Mined about 100 on some old Radeon. Sold them at $30, because I thought they peaked. Trying not to think about that too much:)


Don't be too hard on yourself, it's next to impossible to guess which things are going to be transformational and which aren't. Look at some of the early early emails from Linus Torvalds on linux. In his mind the original linux kernel was just a cool toy that other devs could play around with. He invented linux and even he never saw it becoming the OS of practically the entire internet.

I don't think many people who do something big and attribute the success to their own foresight are being truthful.

> In spite of this, I am in the top 7% of accounts on the site, which is a nice reminder on the power of compound interest!

That's how I'm in the top 5%.

My old posts that are still relevant get votes. Every time I log in there is a new notification about how many more points I have.

Yeah, top 3% for stuff like being the first person to ask about terminal colour codes and explain typedef.

Hard to see that many new questions with such broad appeal that weren't already asked or answered for any new users to get their rep as easily

In 2013, I asked a question that I then answered myself. It turned out to be a fairly common question and my response now has more than 101k views.

It's remarkable as perhaps the lowest effort/highest benefit to others online action in my life.

> In spite of this, I am in the top 7% of accounts on the site, which is a nice reminder on the power of compound interest!

I'm also in the top 7%. That's down from 12% or so from five years ago. However, I haven't gained many points during the same interval. That leads me to believe it's not about compound interest but new users joining.

Same here, also 7%. But I benefited from a recalc of the question vs answer points. You might have as well?

> I'm also in the top 7%. That's down from 12% or so from five years ago.

Isn't being in the top 7% up, not down, from being only in the top 12%?

His point stands nonetheless.

The "top n-%" contribution would also improve if the lurker userbase increases. No need for continuous up-votes of old answers

Up in standing, but 7 is less than 12, so numerically down.

It's relatively easy if you really take the time to answer questions.

Around 2016, I wanted to get deeper into some tech and used the learning curve to answer SO questions. I basically stopped the same year, but I am still in the top 8%, used to be top 1% for a couple of months.

Contribution rate must be an extremely uneven distribution.

> Contribution rate must be an extremely uneven distribution.

Probably another case of the 1% rule[0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1%25_rule_(Internet_culture)

*power of compound interest + first mover advantage. If you're the first to ask a silly question that is a common stumbling block for beginners, you're bound to get a steady stream of reputation for life. There's diminishing returns for those arriving later, as low hanging fruit are depleted. For example, see https://stackoverflow.com/q/927358

> In spite of this, I am in the top 7% of accounts on the site

This isn't hard since the majority of people are just browsing the site instead of contributing to it, e.g. I'm in top 0.09% from just answering support questions for our product from a minority of users who prefer asking on StackOverflow instead of our Customer Forums.

I asked a question on math.stackexchange 8 years ago and that question got really popular and now I'm in the top 34% ranking of folks on the Math site. I don't really know a lot about math but people really like the TREE(3) function.

Similarly, I answered a few hundred questions some years back when I was running mobile at Mapbox and they were growing, and now I’m in the top 8% despite not doing much the past five years. Interesting.

Top 3% for me, I guess on the strength of being early in the iOS ecosystem, inactive for a decade

My questions seem lame and my top answer is my own question: https://stackoverflow.com/users/108512/andrew-johnson?tab=pr...

You just made me check - "top 0.84% overall". Haven't posted in a long long time and it looks like my points keep growing pretty much linearly.

I don’t remember how I joined but my profile is apparently older than the official launch date according to Wikipedia? Anyway, I used it heavily for a few years, then pretty much stopped entirely in 2012. And like you I’ve continued to rack up karma, such that I’m still in the top 0.06% somehow. It’s kind of nuts.

>You must create a new Microsoft 365 hotlive account to reply to this message.

Top 7% as well, but most of that came from shitty questions (both by my own standards now and SO standards) that happened to get a little traction so I don't put much stock in the score.

Microsoft or Salesforce. Most of the value over the past few years has shifted from general programming topics to platform-specific StackExchange communities.

Well, those internet points are at least likely to be harder currency than the highly inflationary retweets, upvotes, or likes.

Microsoft has GitHub and I have to admit, I look more into OSS code than I search something on StackOverflow nowadays.

I'm a little bit active as in asking questions and sometimes answering questions I google and find the solution to. Yet, 50% of my rank points comes from one answer I made soon after I created the account.

Owning both GitHub and StackOverflow would be one hell of a combo for Microsoft. They'd really have almost the entire worldwide developer community in their hands.

Except no pay out for you. Maybe the next big site should be backed by crypto or something with token rewards so you make something by building the sure with content?

I'm top 4% and I haven't posted on the site in over 2 years. Every time I log back in though I see I have 100s of new points or whatever they call it.

It's surprising what sorts of things people will buy for prestige - that might be worth a good deal of money for resale when you're looking to retire.

I doubt it. I'm in the top 0.07% with 300k+. Even such an account is worth nothing. Almost never did a recruiter pay attention to this. My low-rate GitHub account has a much bigger impact.

Do you feel like a digital sharecropper[0] now that the company has sold, or are you happy what you got out of contributing?

[0] https://blog.codinghorror.com/are-you-a-digital-sharecropper...

Those questions, anybody having spent time answering thousands of questions had to think about it. When you realize an SO account isn't really worth much for your brand, you may realize other benefits of your participation: the rare pleasure of really helping somebody (sometimes, not when answering trivial questions), the enjoyment you get from a very fun game (if you're into it) and the knowledge you build for yourself (I forced myself to watch some tags just because they were about technologies I didn't knew and that I wanted to learn). IMO you have to stop when it becomes boring. I stopped participating for 3 or 4 years before I learnt Rust and felt the need to see what other people were asking about the language and the approaches other people had to solve problems.

> The last thing I want to do is exploit Stack Overflow users for corporate gain, even accidentally. That's horrible.

Not horrible enough to stand in the way of $1.8 Bn, though.

That’s definitely not true. I’m getting contacted by recruiters (and occasionally directly by companies, including for my current job) because of my Stack Overflow profile.

That said, my profile is very clearly linked to a real person, I don’t see how resale would even work (not that I’d consider it).

Do you feel there was a certain threshold you passed which made recruiters see your profile and start contacting you? E.g you passed 10k score or won some gold badge in some framework?

Hard to say in hindsight. I’ve been getting contacted by recruiters mentioning my SO profile for more than a decade, but I’ve also been active on Stack Overflow since the very beginning, and earned a lot of reputation very early on (and much less since). I’ve since dropped of the first page of top users (second or third now) but I can’t tell whether that’s led to a decrease in contacts (it probably has but that’s been balanced by an increase due to seniority in my field).

One could try selling answers as Non Fungible Tokens, especially if you have some wierd ones. Lots of geeks have crypto to mess around with, and might want to pay for some bragging rights. Which is the only NFTs can really hope to be good for.

Hahah, neat idea. I can't think of a more "NFT-able" answer than this one https://stackoverflow.com/questions/1732348/regex-match-open...

Same, I'm "top 0.20% overall" on askubuntu.com because of some simple questions I asked in 2010 (inactive since).

And a nice reminder of being an early poster to popular things.

I always thought Microsoft would be a natural buyer given the tech stack and Microsoft's support for developers.

The heyday of SO is long over and all the serious Q+A takes place on GitHub, which MS already owns.

Many repo owners close discussion that ain't bugs or feature request because of moderation workload.

Me too! My user id is 26 :P

(this is not compound interest.. )

compound interest is interest proportional to how much you already have. This is like fixed absolute interest. Not sure why I was downvoted.

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