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How Does Stack Overflow Work? (The Official FAQ)

This is the first time I am here; this site seems a bit strange compared with traditional technology sites. It is organized by tags, not by topic.

It seems cool, but it is not easy to find the thing I want. Can you give me some advice?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Jan 23 '10 at 19:37

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

marked as duplicate by Ladybug Killer, Ether, Troggy Jan 24 '10 at 0:50

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
From the answer back at SO that didn't get migrated - stackoverflow.com/about –  ChrisF Jan 23 '10 at 19:43
    
Do you know what FAQ are and how to find them? –  Ladybug Killer Jan 23 '10 at 19:50
    
You can find most of the information you are seeking at: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7931/… and welcome to SO! –  Troggy Jan 24 '10 at 0:51

3 Answers 3

In my view, the Stack Overflow way of doing things has two advantages:

  • The tags make it easier to apply certain categories to your question. For example, if you ask about your PHP script having an issue with the connection to the Mysql server caused by a network error: Would you put the question in the PHP topic, the Mysql topic, the networking topic? There is always edge cases where any categorization attempt fails; with things like programming, where you may be touching many different areas at the same time, that's the case even more so.

  • The "traditional tech sites," as you call them, are often forum based, phpBB-style. They make it easy to get lost within a thread, where the 15th post on page 27 of a certain thread usually has nothing to do with the initial post. Even if it does, hardly anyone will ever read it, unless google happens to send them to that particular page. The SO approach prevents that kind of confusion by clearly making the distinctions "question -> answers -> that's it."

The success the Stack Overflow family of sites has had within a very short time frame seems to suggest that it has taken a good approach that is working well. You'll find your way around :-) Welcome aboard!

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Stackoverflow is organized by questions: one page for each question asked. The tags are additional details to help classify the question.

For each question, anyone can propose an answer. And anyone with enough reputation can vote on each answer (the arrows next to each answer). You can vote the answer as "useful" (up arrow), or "not useful" (down arrow), or not vote. The result is that the question-asker will rapidly see the top-voted answers float to the top.

As balpha explained, these features tackle the typical problem of other forums: that you "get lost within a thread, where the 15th post on page 27 of a certain thread usually has nothing to do with the initial post".one

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Welcome to Stack Overflow. You may find this link useful:

FAQ for Stack Exchange sites

Feel free to come back to http://meta.stackoverflow.com with any other questions about SO that you have!

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