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Joel on Software

Stack stats

by Joel Spolsky
Sunday, December 13, 2009

The higher someone’s Stack Overflow reputation, the more likely they are to have submitted a CV to Stack Overflow Careers:

This is not entirely surprising, of course: the more time someone has invested in Stack Overflow, the more likely they are to (a) know about Stack Overflow Careers, (b) be willing to invest $29, after all the hours they’ve already sunk, and (c) have the confidence that their CV is going to impress the kind of employers that are using the site.

Still, the participation rate in Stack Overflow Careers is pretty impressive, and it somewhat confirms the claim we’re making to employers, which is that when you search for CVs on Stack Overflow, you are looking at some pretty gosh darn good programmers.

While I’m rattling on about statistics, here’s a little bit of data about Stack Overflow traffic itself that you may not have seen.

We use Quantcast to measure our traffic. Currently, they’re showing us as the 740th ranked site in the world (of all sites), with 6 million monthly unique visitors, 1.9 million from the US. And the growth is pretty steady, except for a couple of weeks at the end there which reflect the holiday season:

Comparing our traffic to our big competitor is difficult because they don’t use Quantcast, so we have to rely on Alexa, which has a reputation for particularly terrible data, but here’s what that looks like:

Are there any sites out there for programmers with more traffic than Stack Overflow? I haven’t found any, using the available data... even msdn.microsoft.com has less, according to Quantcast, but I find that hard to believe.

In either case, having decided that Stack Overflow was the biggest programming site in the world, I thought, “hey, it should be easier for us to get ads.” I asked our ad guy, Alex “DailyWTF” Papadimoulis, if Microsoft had bought any ads. They’re about to launch Visual Studio 2010, which is probably going to have the biggest marketing campaign (in dollars) in the history of developer tools, and you’d think they’d want to spend something at the biggest programming site in the world. Here’s what he wrote back:

“Microsoft is doing huge spends, but they’re going through McCann for the VS2010 launch (IIRC). Agencies really don’t like us. Now if we go to video units with fly-over… oh they’ll start loving us!”

What he’s referring to is the fact that we don’t accept any kind of animated ads on Stack Overflow, because, well, they’re evil, so we lose a lot of revenue from advertising agencies who are looking for the most aggressive possible ways to get in people’s faces. Whatever. Don’t care. We hate animated ads and I’m pretty sure our users do, too.

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!

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