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Does anyone see stackoverflow as wasteful of peoples time?
How do we make it less wasteful?

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2010/04/the-inefficiency-of-the-all-call.html

"You interrupt 100 people to reach one, or you get ten offers of help (or someone to buy your hockey tickets) when one was all you needed."

"I'm looking for this tool. Anyone know where to find it?" 300,000 people see it, 230 tell you the answer, but of course 229 of those contributions are wasted.

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"New post from any famous IT blog" + "stackoverflow" = "a new discussion on meta each time", obviously. –  Gnoupi Apr 28 '10 at 18:39
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@Gnoupi: Seth Godin has nothing to do with IT. He's a marketing guy. –  mmyers Apr 28 '10 at 19:06
    
@mmyers - my bad. I assumed that wrongly after seeing this name repeatedly on HN. –  Gnoupi Apr 28 '10 at 19:33
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Non-sequitur alert: The link provided isn't remotely connected to the question. –  Randolpho Apr 28 '10 at 20:00
    
If this is a poor question that merits a -9 downvote, why do the answers merit up to +7 upvotes? Without the question there wouldn't have been the answers. –  Jon Schoning Oct 22 '10 at 16:07

6 Answers 6

If SO is acting as an "all call" for you, then that's your fault. SO doesn't broadcast over a PA system. SO doesn't IM you. SO doesn't even email you, unless you ask for it, on a specific question, and even then it takes its sweet time in doing so.

If you're sitting on SO hitting refresh every 5 seconds and find that new questions are wasting your time... Then stop reading new questions and go do something else.

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They don't force people to watch StackOverflow (yet).

People who come on it to answer questions have a will to hear/read questions, to provide answers to them. As such, it's not a waste of time, because that's exactly what they meant to do.

Also, with tags and votes, people have a way to filter information to go to what interest them.

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Maybe not Stack Overflow, but I think every programmer should be forced to read TDWTF. –  Randolpho Apr 28 '10 at 20:01
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@Randolpho - I think every programmer is already forced to, during work time. –  Gnoupi Apr 28 '10 at 20:10

Searching before you ask a question makes it much less wasteful of people's time. There are somewhere near half a million answered questions on Stack Overflow. Most of the time I search Google or SO, I find what I'm looking for before asking.

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It's not inefficient for the one doing the calling. It's probably maximally efficient for them since they get answers so quickly, and that's really the point of SO.

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Who do you suggest is being "interrupted"?

Evey single person who reads your post, or even just the title asked to see it. Or rather they asked to see Stack Overflow content.

To keep Stack Overflow efficient we do what we've been doing: close the duplicates and the junk.

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Stack overflow et al have saved me (subjectively estimated) about 3-5 times what I have put into them.

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