Find the answer to anything with StackExchange

Find the answer to anything with StackExchange

Summary: When you hear the word "forum", what comes to mind? Ugly websites, lengthy wait times, dead ends, and 1999.

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When you hear the word "forum", what comes to mind? Ugly websites, lengthy wait times, dead ends, and 1999.

The guys behind Stack Overflow have redefined the web forum into something interactive, easy-to-use, and surprisingly reactive.

On Stack, you simply ask a question about any programming topic, tag it, and someone in the community will answer the question. Sometimes you will three or four answers, and you can vote up an answer if it's accurate. Users get reputation points for answering and asking questions, which add a competitive and addicting element. Questions are organized by tags, which makes the site easily searchable and browsable.

It's really helpful if you have a problem that you are stuck on. Chances are, someone else had that same problem and they will give you their solution.

A posting on Slashdot proclaims that Stack Overflow has a few new flavors. They are taking this question and answer platform and applying it to every possible topic.

"StackOverflow, the successful question-and-answer website for programmers, is now over a year old and its top user has just passed 100,000 reputation points. Now one of the creators of StackOverflow, Joel Spolsky, and his company Fog Creek, are developing a software-as-a-service form of the StackOverflow engine called StackExchange to support any topic you want. The software is currently in private beta, but the first few beta sites have surfaced. Topics include business travel, the home, parenthood, the environment, finance, and iPhone game development."

Two interesting things to note about the Stack platform:

  1. You can only use OpenID to login. There is no signup form on Stack Overflow. Instead you use open authentication to start using the site.
  2. You can't make friends. What is a social network if you can't make friends? Interestingly enough, there is really no point to add anyone as a friend on the Stack sites because all you are doing is asking questions and answering questions. If you want to make friends with someone, click on their user page and add them on Facebook.

Building your own Stack platform is not free, but for the 1 million page view limit, it's only $129 a month. StackExchangers can override CSS, insert HTML, and even use any domain name they want. If you want more info about this project, check out the Meta StackExchange.

This is an interesting endeavor by Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood.

They blew my mind with the first iteration of Stack Overflow, and then they built similar coding sites more focused on front end web development. Now they are branching off into more avenues, and it's really exciting.

The semantic web is about answers, and these guys understand that. The future of the web is coming, and this idea will be relevant for a while. Access to accurate information is the end goal. What do you think of this project? Are you a user of Stack Overflow?

Topics: Software Development, Browser

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10 comments
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  • Message has been deleted.

    Mr Piston
  • StackOverflow rocks

    I get really good answers on there. I think it is a wonderful piece of software, and I would like to see it used for more things. I hope they are successful with this.
    T1Oracle
  • Yahoo Answers Reloaded?

    ...hmmm... looks a lot like Yahoo Answers. Did it come before YA or after? Either way, it doesn't matter. They both serve the same purpose, one has a much larger audience than the other.
    kckn4fun
    • Yahoo's version can be annoying.

      Stack... sounds more utilitarian, more useful.
      RpDnn
    • Similar concept to Yahoo Answers, I suppose

      But much much MUCH better wheat-to-chaff ratio.
      Yahoo Answers has too many bad answers by some yahoo.
      davidmeridian
    • That's like calling a Mercedes S500 a "Ford Model T reloaded"

      Stack has a rating system for questions and answers, as well as badges, reputation, and escalating privileges for high rep members. It goes far beyond the useless drivel that is Yahoo Answers. Yahoo Answers is flooded with bad questions and terrible answers.
      T1Oracle
    • Yahoo Answers

      I like the idea, but Stack has a much more definitive platform. Yahoo
      Answers is a mess.
      Andrew Mager
  • RE: Find the answer to anything with StackExchange

    I've yet to find a question that Ask can't answer.
    Snak
  • SnippetGood

    Another StackExchange beta has risen:
    http://www.snippetgood.com
    dvogler
  • Alternatives

    If you like StackExchange, you should have a look at YouSaidIt. It has similar features but provides better expert features. You can "feature" experts or invited guests and allow people to ask them questions.

    It can be easily customized and integrates into any domain. With StackExchange all that seems to change is the color. They are pretty much the same. Check out www.yousaidit.com and look at some of the examples - they are unique and integrated entirely into the the existing site design.

    Whereas StackExchange was designed to be a stand alone website, YouSaidIt was designed to become the social hub of your existing site.

    Oh... and finally, you can use OAuth to integrate and create a single sign-in or use Facebook to login (amongst other options).
    cbseattle