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Sometimes after I've bashed my head against the wall on a problem for a long time, I find it's helpful to talk to somebody about it. It's sort of a cathartic experience to rant about the annoying bugs that I've been working on.

If I don't solve the problem, then yes, the most appropriate thing to do in terms of Stack Overflow is to look for the question/solution and if it's not there, to pose the question myself (and let's face it, if I'm bashing my head against the wall then you can bet I've already been desperately searching Stack Overflow.) If I do solve the problem, then perhaps the most helpful thing to do for others is to see if anybody has asked the question on Stack Overflow and then answer it (or even pose the question and answer it if it didn't exist before?)

However, there is a bit of a barrier to doing this as you have to find the question and see if it's been answered and worry about reputation, etc... etc... I'm thinking there's a lot more information out there that is not being compiled on Stack Overflow because of this barrier.

What if there were some forum related to Stack Overflow which you might call Stack Therapy? In this forum you could just unload on the problems you've been dealing with. You could get it all out there and have something of a catharsis that I mentioned above. At the same time, this could still be a source of information for people.

If you think of Stack Overflow as having a mission of collecting the world's programming information, then right now it is capturing the questions and answers of people that are following the rules and trying to maintain a calm demeanor. But let's face it... don't a lot of us get extremely frustrated, and angry, and sad at times when faced with the obscure API bugs of life? If there were some place to just unload these programming rants, I wonder if we could discover a vast new source of information?

Naturally, you wouldn't want this to cannibalize Stack Overflow or to devolve into some horrible StackThunderdome, but I see it as sort of place to unload problems and to empathize with all of the other programmers just trying to get through the day. Ideally, Stack Therapy could lead to Stack Overflow where the rants are redirected or eventually turned into proper questions and answers.

  • EDIT *

Just a little more clarification...

It's true that my idea is a divergence from a normal Stack Exchange format. The core idea, though, is to capture all of the information that's in the minds of people who are in no mental state to calmly pose their Stack Overflow questions. When you lift the requirements on this special site for checking duplicates or getting downvoted (this will be a safe place... no downvotes!), and you convince programmers all around the world to dump whatever is in their heads as a form of therapy then I wonder if something useful might be collected? Even just seeing that five other people have posed similar rants could be a start to recovery and, dare I say, eventual bug solution?

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closed as not constructive by Tim Post Feb 21 '12 at 19:53

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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I thought Stack Therapy was going to be related to treating Stack Overflow addiction. Now I'm disappointed –  Adam Rackis Feb 20 '12 at 21:37
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Heh! Interesting idea. But I don't think SO is the right place for this: the success of these sites is grounded on content that is on-topic, focused, and technical. It's a poor fit for rants (which much of the proposed content would inevitably be.) –  Pëkka Feb 20 '12 at 21:38
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Oh, and mandatory link: code.google.com/p/xee/source/browse/XeePhotoshopLoader.m#108 source code comments are the place to share frustrations, man! –  Pëkka Feb 20 '12 at 21:40
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Haha. That PSD rant would make a great StackTherapy post! As for therapy for Stack Overflow addiction, it seems that another StackExchange forum would be the exact wrong method for tackling it :-) –  Brian Rothstein Feb 20 '12 at 21:50
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This could be a chat.stackoverflow.com room. "The Smokestack," or some such. –  Pops Feb 20 '12 at 21:51
    
For therapy you need a doctor... :) in a group that all come for therapy, who is going to play the doctor ? if its crazy idea then its need for sure therapy, again, lets find a doctor. –  Aristos Feb 20 '12 at 22:06
    
+1 for "horrible StackThunderdome" –  BryceAtNetwork23 Feb 21 '12 at 0:57
    
@Aristos: "in a group that all come for therapy, who is going to play the doctor ?" Why, the Medic, of course. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 21 '12 at 4:38
    
I guess it looks like the scope of this idea doesn't fall under the StackExchange. Also perhaps I overreached with the global warming analogy ;-) –  Brian Rothstein Feb 21 '12 at 4:52
    
I removed my last edit, because I think it may have taken away from the the post. I really was serious about this idea, but I probably got carried away just to add a little over-the-top humor. –  Brian Rothstein Feb 21 '12 at 18:30
    
A soliloquy is precisely what your own blog is meant to serve :) Or, use chat and pastebin, fiddles, text files, etc. These types or brain dumps are just impossible to maintain. I closed this because you accepted an answer that basically said the same thing. The discussion has broadly pointed to chat, so maybe create a room? I'ts not a bad idea, it just doesn't fit in a Q&A format. –  Tim Post Feb 21 '12 at 19:57
    
Yeah. I sometimes do find answers in people's frustrated blog posts. The vague idea was to somehow carry that one step forward and organize those posts into a central repository. Sure, the Internet itself could be that repository, but I just admired what SO has done with its centralized format and critical mass and was musing if that success could also be translated to a more free form format. But anyway, I totally understand that this is outside the scope of this place. –  Brian Rothstein Feb 21 '12 at 23:22

5 Answers 5

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Stack Overflow is meant to be a site for asking questions and getting answers. It is not meant to be a catch-all, the way web-forums are. SO is successful because it is focused on it's single imperative: Q&A.

What you're suggesting is better done on a forum. Which Stack Overflow is not.

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Yes, I really appreciate what StackOverflow has done with its focused mission. It's such a great place to find answers. When I think back to the old days of desperately searching google groups forums for answers, there's just no comparison. So I'm not talking about modifying StackOverflow, but more of a sister StackExchange site whose purpose it to collect all of the less organized programming meditations/rants into one place. That's what's so great about StackOverflow. It has really achieved this critical mass that makes it very useful so you don't have to search many different forums. –  Brian Rothstein Feb 21 '12 at 0:56
    
@BrianRothstein: Personally, I've always been of the opinion that SE should have a forum attached to it the way we have chat attached to SE now. Granted, that's never going to happen, because of the presumption among most SE persons that "forums=evil". But it would make having actual discussions much easier. –  Nicol Bolas Feb 21 '12 at 0:58
    
The worry must be that it's so easy for Internet forums to turn into the StackThunderdome that I mentioned in my post. And maybe I'm just being very naive that people will seek to empathize with other programmers because they can relate. But the core idea is a forum for venting that could maybe also provide information and clues to solving problems. The key difference is that you're posting for yourself as a catharsis. You're not trying to be noble at all. Just dump your frustrations at the end of the day for your own selfish reasons. But... the info could also help others! –  Brian Rothstein Feb 21 '12 at 1:06

The chat rooms seem to do a decent job of this (at least that's how we use the Server Fault chat room much of the time).

There's also Eliza over in The Couch. She used to be very happy to have people come and vent their frustrations, but it looks like @balpha fired the doctor about a month ago. Probably because she was writing a tell-all book about the seedy side of Stack Exchange...

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But what if instead of ranting to some people at a certain place and time, we were able to add our rants to a searchable rant knowledge base? That way, we could both achieve some sort of emotional satisfaction from the rant, while at the same time possibly helping humanity. –  Brian Rothstein Feb 20 '12 at 22:02

It just so happens that I'm going through a pretty rough patch right now for other reasons (and that I don't mind mentioning it here). I'm using my time out of school to continue answering questions and serve my newly-acquired moderator role which I'm very proud of, along with undergoing actual therapy with a psychologist of course, so don't worry too much about me.

Personally, I've found the very basic premise of Stack Overflow — asking and answering technical questions about my topic of passion, programming — therapeutic. Maybe that's why I'm finding myself doing so well on the site if I might say so myself: it's because I love helping an online community of folks who do the same thing I love doing.

Now, I'm not saying that you should torture yourself further by looking at other people's potentially crappy code when you're about to rip yours a new one (I've been there), but sometimes it can help you feel better if you can help others with their coding problems. You may prefer questions in a different language or platform (that you're familiar with) from whichever you're working on, or you may prefer questions in the same language or platform that you're working on.

Whichever works for you is great. As an example, I personally enjoy questions anytime, regardless of whether I'm working on a Web app or something else. I haven't written much production code in a long time, however, but I'm fine with answering questions with that tag.

Just throwing this out here as a little suggestion, really. I'm just trying to let everyone know that, sometimes, what really helps is to go back to the basics. Of course, YMMV, but if it helps me, I'm sure it'll help at least one other person here.

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Disclaimer: MSO is decidedly not where I'm going to share about my actual personal problems. I think I'll get along just fine. I've already mentioned that I'm actually undergoing therapy, so again there's no need to worry too much about me. –  BoltClock's a Unicorn Feb 21 '12 at 4:32
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+1 Very much agreed about answering questions being therapeutic in a weird sort of way. I think it's a natural consequence of the fact that you're A) learning something, and B) helping others...simultaneously. I joined Stack Overflow and really started participating in earnest while going through a rough patch in my life, too. Thankfully, my life is more or less back to normal now, but I'm still here once in a while because I'm hooked! –  Cody Gray Feb 21 '12 at 4:40

You should use a blog for something like this.

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This can't work for one simple reason. Using this site is free. And part of the reason that therapy works, is that it is expensive. So as long as stack therapy is free, people are not likely to be cured and come back each day...

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