And while my interaction with askers is always fleeting, I'd really like to thank them for all their support. At the end of the day their words are the only encouragement I need:
Even though I'm not a very active member, I'm in contact with quite a few people I got to know from SO and even met some in person.
In my opinion it's just that communication doesn't happen mainly on SO itself.
As far as I understood the discussion
(more methods for interaction have been suggested since the beginning of SO) this is deliberate.
Isn't that why on freenode, you have communities based around particular langauges? #java, #haskell, #html5, etc. etc? Not to mention social versions, like #haskell-blah and what have you.
It is difficult to remember the dark ages where every question I typed into Google would link to Expert Exchange and it was a coin flip on whether you'd find your answer.
Very much like GitHub was the tipping point for social coding, StackOverflow was the tipping point for social problem solving about programming.
StackOverflow and GitHub weren't the first websites of their kind but they were the ones that executed it almost flawlessly.
Except for your second sentence you are praising StackOverflow.
The most recent example, in my case, was:
"Can anybody recommend some [PHP] programs for me to look at, that promote best practises, but are simple enough for me to understand?"
"closed as not a real question; It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. [no it's not] This question is ambiguous [nope], vague [no], incomplete [er, no], overly broad [no], or rhetorical [still no] and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form [no again]. See the FAQ for guidance on how to improve it [mmm, passive-agression]."
... er, WTF guys? Given the minefield that is trying to write good PHP, it's a very good question. A couple of good answers had, I note, already been given, which puts the lie to the mods' reasoning -- but they killed it off anyway, even though it was showing promise? Really?
Reeks of power-tripping or jobsworthy moderation to me.
Does stackexchange forbid questions where there's an element of opinion, because the system's set up only for questions with "one right answer"? That seems awfully restrictive in the name of a system limitation.
Especially as, as 4ad observed, the asker chooses an incorrect answer annoyingly often -- so the "best answer" isn't always actually the best. As such, it's advisable to at least flick through the other answers anyway, despite this rule.
That's not the problem on the sample question.
I see that as the issue - that there has to be one answer. It's a site that promotes the same issue that plagues reddit, the hunger for karma.
It also seems like they have a lot of help vampires as I see many questions where the correct answer doesn't have even a single upvote.
what are the best practices when it comes to PHP?
And are there recommended ways of tackling certain task?
And these are, I believe, ambiguous, vague and overly broad (not to mention subjective).
Also the third question, the one you quote, is actually a yes/no question that would be pointless to answer. So, assuming that's not the real question... what is? I believe it IS difficult to tell what is being asked here.
StackExchange is just not meant for discussion, I think. At last not as it is right now.
And the existence of the other questions is beside the point -- the title of the question is "Good examples of PHP code for an intermediate PHPer?", the body is merely exposition. I only quoted the equivalent question from the body because it had better grammar than the title.
At Stack Exchange, we do science in the small. Bite-size, fun-size units of science that shouldn't feel like work, but collectively build something amazing for a community of people who love a particular topic.
Just because echo doesn't read from files doesn't mean it's useless. If you need to read from files you just use cat instead. Sure, you can coerce both to do the other's job, but it'll be messy and only work half the time and other people will be annoyed at you. Different solutions for different needs.
That said the community+software is good at what it does. I can be sad it's intolerant of lists without needing to disparage it further.
Besides in a Q&A network, a "list question" has "list answers" where every "answer" is a "list", rather than an item of that list. Even that doesn't really work because that's not historically the way the site is actually used.
See also the following for the rationale:
No knock on SE. Quite the opposite.
But I frequently have questions that aren't SE style questions, and I wish I knew where to take them for such intelligent and informed responses.
I really strongly believe that it's an either/or proposition, you either get discussion or you get quality answers to questions. Discussion "sucks the air out", so to speak.
And since there are already so many places for discussion on the internet, it's better for us to focus on Q&A.
StackExchange is a Q&A community website. Although sometimes discussion would be appreciated, it is not what it was meant for.
And by all means, if you find an accepted answer to be wrong, downvote and comment it! The whole point of StackExchange websites is to rate questions and answers!
When asking questions, I try to make them good enough so that other people will find them useful in the future, and it's great when I get a like-minded answer. Some examples:
Ideally, a group of people could pick any topic and essentially write several books (beginner and advanced) by asking lots of questions. At least that was my initial belief. Say, for example, you wanted to learn elisp, and you typed: "Hello world in emacs", well I've got that answered:
I didn't quite get a book with Elisp, but I did throw down quite a few breadcrumbs:
AWK Example: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2260294/awk-print-2-1-in-...
Extract URLs: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1642184/extracting-urls-f...
Parse CSV/Gen HTML: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1541682/lisp-script-to-pa...
Wrap Selection like Textmate: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1558178/wrap-selection-in...
MySql (Unanswered): http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1532365/mysql-queries-fro...
Generate a Quiz: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2264286/generating-a-quiz...
Open Browser: http://stackoverflow.com/questions/1532365/mysql-queries-fro...
Generate a Quiz (Common Lisp): http://stackoverflow.com/questions/2264267/generating-a-quiz...
Can a dog have the Bhudda nature - is a good question but it's not really a problem.
How do I connect to a wifi network without an SSID in Ubuntu is a problem - even if it is a less good question
A piece of advice for all the startup/business founders here on HN. When you send personalized communication to your users, be it a personal email, or something as superficial as putting your handwritten signature on a bunch of papers, you make us very happy.
As a frequent user of the general WWW, I could not recommend enough you do this.
I'm a student at Penn State which is a ranked CS school, but not necessarily Stanford or MIT. I noticed a stack of Fog Creek recruiting pamphlets in the lobby to our CS building. Inside each one was a signed letter from Joel. Students are inundated with literature at career fairs and events, but this was the only one I read entirely and then saved.
Could he really be signing letters sent out in "stacks"? One would assume that many more schools than just Penn State got such stacks. And then on top of that he's sending out hundreds of these hand-signed letters to top members of all the different new SE sites?
Even if he isn't really signing each personally, there's still a good message here, but I'm now curious as to whether or not he's really signing all that stuff.
I couldn't agree more with your comment. I liked the letter so much I put it in a frame I had lying around and I mounted it on my wall. I think a lot of startups should heed your advice and provide this same kind of "WOW" service. Letting your users know you respect them can go a long way for a company that really means it.
The T-shirt, however, un-intentionally misspelled the site's name (see http://meta.english.stackexchange.com/q/1926); they sent out another batch of shirts several weeks later, so I now have both a good shirt and a special limited-edition shirt.
A lot of questions were migrated from SO to programmers when it started.
SO opened up programming to the masses by treating knowledge as something to be shared and not something to be hidden.
Again, thank you.
Without SO It was not possible for me to earn a project. Thanks Joel!
Wow, didn't know that there are so many different SE sites, thought there's just one.
Anyway SE, its Q&A system and the community are just incredible.
The SE guys do a podcast which gives an insight into their business.
I'm a college student and was in dire need of a portfolio for future interviews (the SO logo on the front is an awesome touch). The surprise package made my day.
Photo.SE, for instance, has a program where one can be reimbursed for equipment rentals if you write a review/how-to of the equipment for the blog (with prior approval). Of course, only one person gets the nod for any given item, but it's a great way to try a new lens or piece of studio equipment at little or no cost, and provides an educational resource for the community at the same time. It's not a program that scales well—very few of the other SE sites are nearly as focused on tools (pardon the pun)—but it's definitely the kind of touch that makes SE different. Others will (partially) reimburse for conference attendance and that sort of thing, provided that you've made a significant contribution to the site and come back with the goods.
It's just token stuff in the grand scheme of things (the odd fifty bucks here or a hundred bucks there, and not very often) but those are the kinds of tokens that make a difference.