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What's the best time of day, or weekday, to ask questions on Stack Overflow? I'd like to know if there might be a way to maximize the exposure or the amount/quality of responses.

At the very least, it would be good to know how to avoid times that might be particularly bad to post.

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up vote 57 down vote accepted

See the blog for activity over time against GMT (back in January 2009):

Activity over the day

You might also want to look at Skeet's schedule ;-p (Meta 10k only)

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Thanks. I (obviously) didn't think to search the blog. – SurroundedByFish Jul 1 '09 at 17:00
@Marc - now that this is 2 years old, can we possibly get some new data? I can't imagine that the numbers have been consistent as the site has grown. – JNK Aug 25 '11 at 12:38
Looks like things ramp up around 9am EST (if I'm reading that right) - hardly surprising – Adam Rackis Dec 1 '11 at 20:09

I've put together two graphs covering the top 5 SOpedias (Jon Skeet, Marc Gravell, tvansfosson, S.Lott and JarPar) plus myself and Jeff Atwood for kicks. The two graphs look at Day of Week and Time of Day.

My conclusion as for the best time to ask a question? Assuming the importance of the Fast Gun in the West phenomena, then...

  • On a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday (in that order)
  • If you want Jon Skeet to answer it, then most defiantly a Tuesday
  • Between 1300 and 2100 GMT

The best possible chance of getting Jon Skeet or Marc Gravell (#1 and #2 SOpedians) to answer your question (and not one of the other tens of thougsands of users), then sometime between 0700 and 1300 GMT on a Tuesday

From the July 2009 data dump, top 5 determined by today's standing in reputation points

Answers by Day-of-Week

Stack Overflow: Answers by Day-of-Week

Answers by Time-of-Day

Stack Overflow: Answers by Hour-of-Day

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Awesome. It's one thing to see the raw numbers, but the graphs always make it seem more alive. – Kyle Cronin Jul 26 '09 at 16:44
I see you are completely tuned into my file naming strategy ;) – Stu Thompson Jul 26 '09 at 16:51
Very nice. I guess you have a bunch of meetings on Wednesdays. – akf Jul 26 '09 at 16:56
@Stu: Well, I saw that there was a "-small" in the URL, so I tried removing it and it worked. :-) – Kyle Cronin Jul 27 '09 at 0:04
Oh, and feel free to include me in your upcoming graphs. ;-) – Kyle Cronin Jul 27 '09 at 0:04
@Kyle: I've updated the above to include you. – Stu Thompson Jul 27 '09 at 7:09
@akf: It seems that Kyle and I both have meetings on Wednesdays. Conspiracy? :P – Stu Thompson Jul 27 '09 at 7:10
@Stu: Thanks - I hope it hasn't cluttered the graph too much. I find it interesting how my daily activity is almost the reverse of the rest of SO - I'm most active on the weekends and least active during the week. – Kyle Cronin Jul 27 '09 at 17:03
@Stu: Shh, don't tell them about the same thing we do every Wednesday night: try to take over the world! – Kyle Cronin Jul 27 '09 at 17:11
@Kyle: I had actually removed folks from the graphs as I was developing them because they were too cluttered. Joel Coehoorn stood out in earlier statistics as someone who bucked the trend, like you. He just does not spend much time on SO on the weekends (1.5% on Saturdays, 2.4% on Sundays)...must have a life or something similar ;) All this has inspired me to do similar themed graphs...more later.... – Stu Thompson Jul 27 '09 at 17:23
Only the top 5? Bah! I'm in New Zealand, so it might be interesting to add me for a non-western-hemisphere data point. – Greg Hewgill Jul 31 '09 at 4:23
@Stu Your links are 404's. If you still have the images, can you fix this? – marcog Jan 20 '11 at 9:13
@StuThompson They're still dead, any particular reason why/ – Richard J. Ross III Apr 17 '13 at 19:54
@StuThompson Any chance you've still got those two charts available? Thanks. – pilau Sep 15 '13 at 7:58
Well, considering you changed the image links after it was implemented, and there has been 2 comments saying the links are down since then, and the links are still down... (and I wasn't being snarky) – Dukeling Nov 24 '13 at 18:15

It may be the case that the time you post does not significantly affect the total number of views it gets. Think about the front page exposure, for example: on a particularly busy moment your question spends less time on the front page than it would at a quieter time, so I'm not sure posting at a active moment helps that much.

Now, to maximise the amount of answers early on (which leads to more exposure on front page, and, in many cases, to very high-quality answers eventually, as people compete honing their answers), follow these guidelines: ;-)

  • the topic shouldn't be anything obscure (preferably about C# or Java)
  • the question should be pretty easy (e.g. "Why isn't there a get(index) method in a Set")
  • the question might be ever so slightly provocative or controversial

(I'm not too serious about that, but it is a fact that more difficult questions, or ones concerning a little less-trodden topics, are often left without that many views, or any good answers.)

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Add two language tags. Create a flame war and get lots of answers! – Tom Hawtin - tackline Jun 30 '09 at 23:53
and maybe get your question closed...... – Gordon Gustafson Jul 26 '09 at 18:08

Four Data.SE queries show the best time to ask questions according to different definitions of "the best":

Question and answer activity on StackOverflow: Interactive and customized edition

For a week-long period, the answers look like these:

enter image description here

enter image description here

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wait, what is the horizontal axis? Whole days since 0:00 GMT? – Jan Dvorak Dec 26 '13 at 19:27
@JanDvorak That's right. 1 = Sun 12am GMT. The graph feature at Data.SE doesn't work with dates, so there are numbers so far. – Anton Tarasenko Dec 27 '13 at 2:14

I think that the best time to ask a question is as soon as you have it in a shape that is ready to attract potential answerers, because that will mean that it has more opportunity to be viewed by them.

I suspect that the "best" answerers are more likely to be using filters to view the questions likely to be of interest to them than simply watching the front page so the time of day and day of week becomes unimportant.

So my advice is to put lots of effort into your question to maximize the chance that each person who views it applies an upvote and not a downvote so that anyone filtering on net votes becomes more likely to see it.

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