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I know that it has been discussed a lot that StackOverflow is NOT a social networking site. But, I'm wondering if it is wrong for people who design tools to be used with StackOverflow (Greasemonkey Scripts, external tools, etc) to continue to add features that make the site more social.

Let's say I have a greasemonkey script that allows me to 'favorite' users, and makes it really obvious if the question was created by one of my favorite users. This could be used for keeping track of their questions/answers because you think that they are a good source of information, or you think they give good questions/answers that you can learn from.

But...

A script like this could make it really easy for people to upvote their friends or form alliances that would unfairly give them an advantage.

Is it right to release stuff like that? It adds 'social' capabilities to the site, but they could be used for both good and evil. Do you stay clear away from evil? or you just hope it is used for good?

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4 Answers 4

Yeah, i don't think it really fits... SO doesn't make a lot of sense as a social club.

If you want to subscribe to the feed for a user whose posts you enjoy reading, go for it; but i don't see any point in going out of your way to emphasize arbitrary posts by a user while merely browsing through Q&A.

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I don't think you need to worry about ethics of releasing scripts - unless they create an abnormally heavy load on the server (which would adversely affect all users, until the moderators spotted it and banned your IP.)

I won't be using it personally, but I should not and do not care if others are using scripts to find and upvote their friends' answers. If this causes any real problem it will probably reveal a bug or design flaw which can then be fixed.

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Why does everyone assume I 'have' that script? lol. You're right, but I never said that! –  Tyler Carter Jul 31 '09 at 17:30
    
@Chacha102, you said "Is it right to release" not "Is it right to create" –  Perpetual Motion Goat Jul 31 '09 at 17:32

I'm clearly a huge fan of scripts. In all honesty, when I sit down to use SO on another machine, I'm a little lost. On my machine, I have constant access to all of my favorites, questions and answer (all searchable). On other machines, it takes several steps to find the same material. On my machine I have all of the SO sites networked in the header, which is absent on other machines. Bottom line, I've made SO easier to use for myself, and I don't think the team would have any issue with that, assuming you don't abuse their site/server in the process.

Out of sight, out of mind :)

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I think scripts like that undermines some of the intentions with SO/SF/SU. It's not a social site first and foremost, more of a help service, for example as an alternative to experts-exchange.com and such sites. Upvoting should refer to the quality and helpfulness of the questions/answers, not whether it's from a friend or not.

Of course, scripts like this will be created, and there's probably not much SO can do to stop it, but I suppose it will be frowned upon.

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