[A picture of private offices at Fog Creek Software] Alert! This ancient trifle retrieved from the Joel on Software archive is well-past its expiration date. Proceed with care.

Joel on Software

stackoverflow.com

by Joel Spolsky
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

What is stackoverflow.com?

Nothing, yet.

But here's the concept:

Programmers seem to have stopped reading books. The market for books on programming topics is miniscule compared to the number of working programmers.

Instead, they happily program away, using trial-and-error. When they can't figure something out, they type a question into Google.

And sometimes, the first result looks like it's going to have the answer to their exact question, and they are excited, until they click on the link, and discover that it's a pay site, and the answer is cloaked or hidden or behind a pay-wall, and you have to buy a membership.

And you won't even get an expert answer. You'll get a bunch of responses typed by other programmers like you. Some of the responses will be wrong, some will be right, some may be out of date, and it's hard to imagine that with the cooperative spirit of the internet this is the best thing we programmers have come up with.

Jeff Atwood and I decided to do something about it. We're starting to build a programming Q&A site that's free. Free to ask questions, free to answer questions, free to read, free to index, built with plain old HTML, no fake rot13 text on the home page, no scammy google-cloaking tactics, no salespeople, no JavaScript windows dropping down in front of the answer asking for $12.95 to go away. You can register if you want to collect karma and win valuable flair that will appear next to your name, but otherwise, it's just free.

When I'm building a new product, my policy has always been to keep quiet about it until I have something to ship. But this isn't really a product. This is a free new community site for programmers around the world and we need your help to design it, to program it, and to build it. We want to hear your suggestions, hear your ideas, and we're going to build it right in front of your eyes. Thus, the vaporware announcement.

Every week, Jeff and I talk by phone (he's in California, I'm in New York), and we're going to record those phone calls and throw them up on the web for you to listen in on, and call it a podcast. We have a lot of trouble keeping on topic, so the podcast may be interesting to you even if you don't want to hear about stackoverflow.com. The first episode is up right now. Eventually I imagine we'll figure out this newfangled "RSS" technology and you'll be able to actually subscribe and get fresh episodes delivered into your ears automatically. All in good time.

Jeff's Announcement

PS I'm still CEO of Fog Creek full time. StackOverflow.com is a joint venture between Fog Creek and Jeff Atwood. He's the full time CEO which means he's calling the shots. I'm sort of a consultant on this one.


Have you been wondering about Distributed Version Control? It has been a huge productivity boon for us, so I wrote Hg Init, a Mercurial tutorial—check it out!

Want to know more?

You’re reading Joel on Software, stuffed with years and years of completely raving mad articles about software development, managing software teams, designing user interfaces, running successful software companies, and rubber duckies.



About the author.

I’m Joel Spolsky, co-founder of Fog Creek Software, a New York company that proves that you can treat programmers well and still be highly profitable. Programmers get private offices, free lunch, and work 40 hours a week. Customers only pay for software if they’re delighted. We make Trello, which lets you organize anything, together, FogBugz, enlightened issue tracking software for bug tracking, and Kiln, which provides distributed version control and code reviews. I’m also the co-founder and CEO of Stack Exchange. More about me.

© 2000-2014 Joel Spolsky