What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 127 Stack Exchange communities.

In the last weeks I discovered ProjectEuler (nice idea) and I needed to delve a little into algorithms. Wikipedia was of great help here, as it documents quite a bunch of them.

But, Wikipedia articles' style was... hmmm, not exactly what I needed. While I enjoyed the rich extra info, the historical references and math equations, what I was really looking for were the concrete implementations, preferably in C#.

So, that's how this idea came to light: how about SO developing a Wikipedia-like branch, but strictly programming oriented?

An article on Atkins sieve for example could start by describing the algorithm then continue with implementations in various languages, C#, Python and so on. There are many answers on SO which include references to this algorithm, with links to other related questions or external sites. Why not have it all together in a nice community article?

Of course, this would not be limited to algorithms. Paging SQL results or precompiling .NET assemblies could have their place as well...

Tagging could really help, if an article and a question have common tags, related articles could show in the sidebar, like for related questions. Or, a new feature could be added, to mark a question as a good candidate for an article; answers to that question (and related) would make a good start for creating the article.

What do you think?


EDIT:

Some answers below point to the jeopardy mechanic. Yes, it is possible but, IMO, it doesn't answer well the issues mentioned below.

How would the jeopardy thing work? Somebody decides it's time to turn information into wisdom, by consolidating answers to an interesting, general enough question. He starts a question then compiles the best answers into a single one, structured like an article.

First and biggest issue, visibility. What differentiates this question from the others? It will get a visibility window for a few hours then it will only show in the related section, blurred into a dozen other questions. A "normal" question is not as proeminent as an article, visually promoted by SO as such.

Second, information scattering. As this will only increase over time, the effort of building a coherent, covering answer to a given problem will be burried deeper and deeper and, as such, become fruitless.

A third issue would be text's structure. While the actual Q/A editor is good enough for formulating simple questions or answers, it misses the functionality to build something like an article: ToC, sections, references, etc.

share|improve this question
1  
    
I'm sorry, although I've searched for similar questions, I didn't find that one. However, my proposal is quite different: I'm proposing a wiki collaboration while your proposal looks more like a blogging system. –  Sorin Comanescu Aug 15 '09 at 13:25
add comment

5 Answers

Aside from the fact that SO is already a programming reference place, I have to say that it is getting a little bit old to see suggestions from people who want StackOverflow (or Jeff & Co) to be the end all be all of everything at once.

Is it really so wrong to ask for the site(s) to focus on a single good thing and not try to be everything to everyone? Didn't we learn that web portals aren't as great as we all first thought they were? Lycos? Excite? Yahoo?

share|improve this answer
1  
I agree. It just doesn't seem like something that SO should do... Somebody else could build this as a separate site with the Creative Commons data dump, right? There are tons of ways that the knowledge in the SO sites could be organized and cataloged and that might be a job for others. –  casey Aug 15 '09 at 16:47
add comment

While I do think that Hooked's answer has some merit to it, I also think that for the most part, StackOverflow information is very scattered. If I wanted to look up how a bunch of information on a particular subject, I would have to jump from question to question. It is also very possible that the information is incomplete, because each question has its own problem it is trying to solve, not necessarily just trying to spread information.

I think it might be a good idea to have a website that basically contains SO answers, and then fills in the gaps. But I think that might also stray a little far away from the SO culture.

share|improve this answer
1  
Your premise assumes that a user looking for information cannot ask his own question. That is patently untrue. –  Hooked Aug 15 '09 at 2:30
add comment

Wikibooks already does that, uses the same wiki software as Wikipedia, and it's run by the same non-profit. Look at Category:Algorithms and data structures and Subject:Computer programming.

share|improve this answer
add comment

This seems like a redundant idea.

The point of SO having a search function (not to mention search engine indexing) is so that people can see the answers to previous question.

If you have a question that is unanswered, ask it. If it is answered, high-fives all around. I assume you suggest this because you want to learn non-specific material, but that is what textbooks are for.

You can, however, post a question w/ the answer just for other people's reference. This is actually encouraged:

It's also perfectly fine to ask and answer your own question, but pretend you're on Jeopardy: phrase it in the form of a question.

I think SO functions perfectly in its niche as it is.

share|improve this answer
    
I think most of the stuff in Wikipedia is covered by textbooks, yet this site is one of the most useful achievements of the web era. –  Sorin Comanescu Aug 15 '09 at 12:41
add comment

Another similar existing project is Rosetta Code, a wiki that maintains implementations of various algorithms and other programming tasks in many programming languages (including some fairly obscure ones).

share|improve this answer
add comment

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .