How many people have worked at a location that has blocked stack overflow?
Because I have worked with an organization of about 2500 people, not all of which were IT. One day, management went on a mad whitelisting crusade and blocked about 98% of the internet, including the stack exchange network.
IT ground totally to a halt, across all our branches. No programming, no sys-admining, no help desk.
Stack overflow is not a programmer social network, and it is not a Q&A site.
It's the new textbook. Developers and sysadmins used to keep hundreds of kilos of dead tree libraries with them because only the textbooks contained the arcane knowledge like "component X was actually not implemented properly, and will crash under Y circumstances". Languages and libraries never advertise that on their website.
Post-stack-overflow developers and admins use stack-overflow as their source of kooky corner cases and badly explained concepts documentation. They don't have or need the dead tree books.
So considered harmful? In my experience any IT staff who say they don't rely on stack overflow are lying.
IT managers typically give the reasonable-sounding response "It's no problem to add sites. Just let us know which ones you need and we'll add them after we take a look."
To which I say "Great. Give me your home number so if I'm chasing some weird error at midnight during a big release I can call you every five minutes to get you to add entries as I look for a solution.
> Programmers seem to have stopped reading books. The market for books on programming topics is miniscule compared to the number of working programmers.
Not to say that there aren't a few useful answers at ServerFault/StackOverflow, but the moderation and design has made it hostile to all but the most simple questions.
I think the worst aspect is the endless "your premise is flawed, you should do <this> instead" answers. I often formulate toy examples, or ask questions out of curiosity rather than practical need. Somehow, users always latch on to the irrelevant part of my question instead of answering the part I care about. It's gotten to the point where I put big disclaimers in my questions to steer users away from those useless (to me) responses.
I got so annoyed with this pattern that I now consciously avoid writing anything that's not a direct answer to the user's question. I wish others would do the same.
Sometimes I will write a very broad answer, especially when it's apparent the person doesn't seem to have looked into finding anything, and just asked a question on SO, which happens a lot.
The problem is that not everyone is a very good teacher or judge of when it's proper to give advice. So you get a lot of people who don't know the answer and instead provide some workaround using technologies they do know and are comfortable with, which isn't necessarily helpful.
In text-based communication, deciding what is important is 100% on the reader - and while to you someone may be responding to irrelevant parts of your questions - to them, it is what they found interesting and thus important.
In face to face communication, the onus of importance is far more shifted to the speaker, because based on tone and facial expression - combined with societal norms - the listener has a much easier time seeing what you find important and a much harder time being able to only latch on to the irrelevant tidbits.
> where I put big disclaimers in my questions to steer users away from those useless (to me) responses.
I have found myself doing a very similar thing - essentially trying to convey the information that gets lost of text to insure the reader can understand what I want to convey is important.
Stack overflow is for asking real questions and solving real problems.
Above is a bit toungue-in-cheek, but it is true in many cases. I don't find SO as the definitive answer site for that reason, but there is a lot of good information there.
This doesn't happen in SO, but it happens often enough in other forums.
That or bombarded with "just google it" replies.
He's saying that people who contribute heavily to the site with answers, knowledge and moderation are probably better off spending that time doing something more productive.
And with the gamification system keeping them at it, it harms them when they could be doing something more productive than chasing Internet points.
First of all, this guy continued answering and asking questions since he published this article, so I guess he changed his mind about deleting his account. http://stackoverflow.com/users/2189331/jdevlin
Secondly the italic bits about how he should be allowed to delete questions because he created the content make no sense. All SO questions and answers are collaboratively created so he can't claim ownership.
I agree the moderation is out of hand, and it should be easy to delete your account (but what's this about a link that "got misclicked")?
But those posts have his name on them. He is judged by them, and he in some way has to stand by them. I don't know that deletion should be an assured right with all user-created content, but no one should be publishing someone else's content under their name without their continued consent.
I disagree. That's the deal when you add content to one of these kinds of sites - you don't own it. And you know that going in. And there are valid reasons to disallow it: if people start deleting their own answers the conversation becomes (in some cases) impossible to follow.
It's kind of silly to be so heavily invested on a site like this and then expect them to change the rules when you're ready to move on.
I don't think I'm necessarily hinting at a copyright issue, though I think some control over attribution is pretty fundamental to it, but the point I'm trying to make is that the right of attribution is a stronger one than SO's right to maintain high-quality content. There are a number of ways that right can be accommodated, and it is the job of the publisher to figure out how.
Anyway, I would say a user has a stronger right to delete content than other users' have to keep their connected content up.
You can always get to older content even deleted content through the regular Creative Commons data dumps that the whole Stack network publishes torrents of. You can also, if you sign an NDA, get a more complete data set for research purposes.
This is pretty obviously not what happened here, though.
I am so over titles of the form "* considered harmful" when it has something to do with someone's opinion and IT/computing.
Please just stop.
I'm not going to waste my time ... especially when your site is ad-laden and slow. The funny part is that this is probably a consequence of Adwords not allowing asynchronous ad updates on a page. They needed me to navigate through 52 pages to increase their impression counts.
Very sad ... and now back to my regularly scheduled uBlock.
As a casual user of both sites, I have had pretty much only positive experiences. I use both sites are starting points for ideas not the final truth on a subject. When one invests a lot of time into something, one usually becomes emotionally involved and that can lead to conflict in these massively collaborative projects. The only time I post to either site is when I am looking for an answer and can't find it -- if the question is not posted I'll post it myself or if I figure it out later I'll go back and post the answer (or edit the page in the case of Wikipedia). My usage is pretty sparse, but I have never experienced moderators lashing out at me in any unfair way.
: Especially with Wikipedia I tend mainly to use it as an aggregation of links to other more trustworthy sources. With SO, I test the answer myself before blindly using it.
But anyone can bring this up on meta, if they have data, if they have examples, and lobby for change.
It's interesting how some sites manage to be strict and not horrible while other sites don't manage that so well.
I'm not sure how that culture is nurtured. Setting expectations is important - but you can't do that for all gajillion sites; and you can't do it after you've left.
Leaves them wide open to be dominated by a newcomer.
And to the article writer: once you wrote a question and people responded it is no longer "your" question. It belongs to the community: as an example I'll give you a 3 lines question that was answered by a few paragraphs answer including screenshots, links etc. Who put more effort into it? the OP or the guys that answered ? Now, if you delete such a question - you're deleting all the useful comments and answers as well. And yes, if you try to do that for multiple questions in a row - it looks suspicious and you should be stopped!
As for the "attitude" towards new users, this happens only when the user posts a bad question, and by bad I mean:
1. impossible to understand
2. impossible to reproduce
3. already been asked multiple times
or alternatively, posted a question that is far from perfect but can be improved - but then he/she bails off and not respond to comments.
In all the scenarios above - I'd rather have this question put on hold, until the user improves it.
And in general, when you join a community you should put minimal effort in learning the guidelines of acceptable behavior - if you don't like it - don't use it.
Personally, I find these guidelines useful and helpful.
All in all, I like the interface, I find it as a GREAT resource of learning and developing my personal skills, and unlike the author - I LOVE SO.
This is not true in my experience. Several times in the past month, I've googled for some problem or other and found a StackExchange question with my exact problem and several useful solutions, which had been closed because a moderator deemed it insignificant or overly broad. I understand the need for community standards in a site like this, but if your standards are getting in the way of the actual questions people want to ask, you need to change the standards, not crack down on legitimate use.
"Harmful" though? Have we already forgotten "experts-exchange" so soon?
We're working with him now to figure out what happened.
There's an automated process that confirms the request via email and starts a timer that, if not cancelled, removes the account. For accounts with a non-trivial number of posts we hold them for manual confirmation just to prevent unfortunate accidents (there's no undo - more on that next) but all it involves is an affirmative response from an email associated with the account.
The longer answer is... This is one of those very early design decisions that, in hindsight, was probably sub-optimal. Ideally, account deletion would amount to nothing more than flipping a bit on a database record, at least in the short term - if someone regretted their decision a day later, no harm done; just flip it back. But things are not ideal, and deleting an account actually purges rather a lot of information that can't easily be restored - so given that a non-trivial number of users do change their minds (especially those with a long history of activity that will be lost), it's worth everyone's time to make double-sure before hitting the big red button.
We've slowly been improving the process over the past few years, but it's still no where near ideal from anyone's perspective. I could go into more detail, but... Can sum it up with, "We're now only wasting ridiculous amounts of time on this instead of utterly insane amounts of time".
Blog posts are always fun, and certainly brighten up what is otherwise a dreadfully boring task, but... not really the best way to get action if that's all you're after.
As the community moderation approaches began to migrate from the lighthearted to the grim-faced bureaucratic, I migrated away.
While I have derived value from SO, I derive more value today from reading documents and manuals than I do from StackOverflow questions.
SO is a victim of its own success, it's too big and has a DMV like user experience. But if you act like a jerk, you shouldn't expect a warm response.
But it's funny because when you join those sites, they make it clear that any content you may find in their website is not their responsibility, as they are just a place for people to express their opinions, and any texts you find are owned by it's authors. But once you don't want your opinions there anymore, suddenly your texts become their texts and you're a dick for preventing them from making money of your content.
This seems like desired behavior, no? Quick answers ought to be a goal for Q&A sites.
I really hated it, when my questions (or questions, I wrote answers for) where closed down. You invest effort and time to write a question or answer -- but all is senseless as soon as 5 people kill the question. And also it takes forms that every question that is just a small degree beyond the "group norm" will be taken down in short time without that anybody can do something about it. 5 "Soup Nazis" (as somebody else named it) or just people that do not read carefully suffice (there is nearly no benefit, to do so -- there are some "attention" checks, but those mostly will guide you to adhere to group standards and less likely will force you to really understand the question).
I did not find out completely, but it even seems that when some moderators vote to leave questions open and 5 others vote to close, it is closed. That would be the most ridiculous thing!
BTW: I give you an upvoting, at least here, because the voting system should not only reflect opinions, but interesting views.
There are a couple of limitations on that though. The first is that the downvote really is merited. The second is that if it's at all reasonable, you do add a comment explaining the down-vote. Nearly the only exception to commenting when downvoting should (IMO) be when there's already a comment pointing to the problem, so the added downvote is just to help the score reflect the answer's (lack of) quality.