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Would anyone be interested in a feature that generates QR Codes for questions to increase their visibility? With the proliferation of smart phones, this may actually be an effective way to bring more people to the site.

Specifically, a QR Code could be

  • accessed via a link below a question alongside link|edit|retag|flag.
  • accessed via a link below an unanswered question along with the text Know someone who can answer? Share a link to this question via email, twitter, facebook, or linkedin.
  • displayed in the right column next to the question.

My original idea was to have these QR Codes visible on public transportation, where many high-tech workers have free time to kill on their smart phones. Why not try to answer the question of the week on your way to work? The problem with this, of course, is that advertising space on public transportation is not free; nevertheless, I thought that the idea was worthy of discussion.

QR Codes could also be placed on public billboards, such as those on college campuses. What better way to introduce the programmers of the future to Stack Overflow?

All this being said, I'm not really arguing that Stack Overflow is in dire need of more traffic; I just think that there are merits in the use of QR Codes to promote Stack Overflow and am curious about how much interest there is in the idea.

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Where would we put them? Can you give us some ideas on how they would be used? –  Bill the Lizard Aug 11 '11 at 17:18
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You've now addressed where to put them, but not the more basic issue of "how would this benefit anyone?" –  Brad Mace Aug 11 '11 at 17:29
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I understand where they could go on the site, but where would you put them physically so that people could scan them? I admit that I don't fully get QR codes yet, but don't you have to put a print out of the code somewhere to be scanned by an optical reader? –  Bill the Lizard Aug 11 '11 at 17:33
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@Bill the Lizard: I have seen Web sites that display QR Codes on the Web page. They don't have to be printed out beforehand, but they can be "scanned" directly from the computer screen. Many mobile phones have cameras for this purpose; they take a picture of the computer screen and detect whether the picture contains a QR Code. –  Peter O. Aug 11 '11 at 17:36
    
@Peter: I understand that, but don't those normally give you a coupon or something that you take with you? Is this just a convenient way to transfer a URL from your computer to your phone? –  Bill the Lizard Aug 11 '11 at 17:48
    
@Bill Yes it is. Very convenient. –  John Aug 11 '11 at 18:37
    
@John: Thanks. That's probably painfully obvious to anyone who uses them, but I just wanted to make sure I wasn't missing anything. –  Bill the Lizard Aug 11 '11 at 19:02
    
What are QR Codes? –  Cody Gray Aug 12 '11 at 3:56
    
Um... I also updated the tag wiki, if anyone would care to accept my edits. :) –  Chris Frederick Aug 12 '11 at 4:26

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

This sounds like a great candidate to start as a browser plugin or user script. Doing it that way would give you a chance to explore how this would work & feel to the user and most importantly get feedback from users. Furthermore, tracking downloads of the plugin/script would also give you an indication of the interest level of such a thing. Also, posting it on stackapps would provide for some valuable community exposure.

As far the technical side of things, scraping the permalink DOM elements should provide everything you need to generate the data for the QR code, and I'm sure there are web service APIs you can call out to for the actual image generation part of this.

The other key part would be to monitor how many times the URL is accessed via the QR code. To do that, you'll probably want to pipe the URLs through a URL proxy service (e.g. a shortener) that allows you to gather analytics on the requests made. I say this is key, because you could go through all it takes to get these codes on the site, but if little-to-no traffic originates from them, you've learned their actual value/usage.

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I just printed out an QRCode for http://crypto.stackexchange.com and glued to the whiteboard in the university's computer pool. But I don't really have a way of measuring how much this would be used.

Here is a QRCode for this question (from http://qrcode.kaywa.com/):

http://meta.stackexchange.com/q/101949/156902

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Why not link the QRCode to a URL shortener that will give you some usage statistics (instead of linking directly to the question)? I have seen one of the big names in URL shortening do this, although I can't remember which one. –  Pëkka Aug 11 '11 at 18:25
    
To measure usage, you would need to first pipe the URL through a url-proxy service (e.g. a shortener) that allows you access to analytics on the url's request. –  ckittel Aug 11 '11 at 18:26
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goo.gl can do that. Just add ".qr" to the end of the URL. goo.gl/Vv4K2.qr –  Al E. Aug 11 '11 at 18:41
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Wow, it's a whole new way of obfuscating URLs. –  Cody Gray Aug 12 '11 at 3:57
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Obfuscating arbitrary data, really, but it sure beats typing URLs manually on a phone. –  Chris Frederick Aug 12 '11 at 4:53
    
@Pekka, a bit late, but both bit.ly and goo.gl allow for suffixing a plus character after a URL to see statistics. (But: Google needs one to be logged in, with some random Google account.) –  Arjan Jul 27 '12 at 23:18

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