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I'm giving a presentation on social media with a short part based on Stack Overflow. How would you describe its key principles? What are its key benefits over the traditional forum/mailing list problem resolution?

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Mar 29 '10 at 14:46

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This will probably be moved to meta.stackoverflow.com. One key feature of stackoverflow is that you do not talk about stackoverflow on stackoverflow. –  magnifico Mar 29 '10 at 14:43
    
I'd have to agree with magnifico –  David Antaramian Mar 29 '10 at 14:45
    
It doesn't have principles, it's all chaos built upon a phpBB framework. –  random Mar 29 '10 at 15:32
    
Stack Overflow is just Jon Skeet's realtime brain dump –  DVK Mar 30 '10 at 19:42

5 Answers 5

Jeff Atwood gave an excellent talk about Stack Overflow at EclipseCon 2009 that covered a lot of the bases and design rationale, including how certain features were inspired by MMOs :)

Let me try and dig up the link.

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  • Focus on Q&A over discussion (keeps individual threads targeted at individual problems, makes them easier to find later)

  • Searchable/organizable via meta-data (tags + titles allow fast & effective filtering of search results)

  • Community editable (reduces the problem of new users abusing meta-data, allows incremental improvement)

  • Ranked answers (good answers posted after poor ones can still "float to the top" vs. lost in the noise of a traditional forum / list)

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