Simon Palmer’s blog

January 7, 2010

Back on Stack

Filed under: stackoverflow — simonpalmer @ 9:26 pm

I am back using Stackoverflow after falling out of love with it. I went back for a specific reason, which was entirely the right reason, namely that I had a difficult technical problem that I could not find any solution for. You can see the post which took me back here.

I got some great responses, although none of them led me to a real answer. I ended up logging a bug at Adobe about the issue. Lord knows what will happen to that and I still have a broken Flex socket server, but the experience was good enough that I have overcome my objections and re-joined the Stackoverflow community.

It is easy to spend (read waste) too much time there chasing rep points, and generally in response to questions that the posters ought really to be able to figure out for themselves. And my criticisms remain the same as they were, I have just got over them. Mostly.

There is a definite increase in the sorts of questions which start “I downloaded this code from the internet”, followed by “I have no idea what this bit does, but I changed it and now it doesn’t work”, followed by “can you tell me why”. Basically I think this is lazy and dangerous and I hope these ar students rather than professional programmers. Stackoverflow encourages this sort of behaviour because someone – probably in pursuit of rep points – will normally take the time to post an answer, sometimes a very good answer.

I’m not bothered about the rep any more, although it remains a nice idea and a very good way to get people hookes for long enough to see the real value underneath it. The self-regulation seems to be working reasonably well too and the excesses of the early days are all but gone and there are fewer people trying to be the SO police than there were – although that remains a problem.

So back on and getting and adding value. SO is now part of my technical infrastructure, which I suppose means it is succeeding.

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