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I think most people have noticed that Stack Overflow has a heavy bias towards C# and to a slightly lesser extent Java. Given that the purpose of Stack Overflow is to provide a Q&A site for all programmers (One site to bind them all.) How can we go about attracting more developers with other fields of expertise?

I'm mainly a .NET/Java developer, but I occasionally have to delve into other languages. I think the number of people who can answer questions in these realms (especially the ones to do with the setup of a developer environment) without having to say "I'm not really an X developer" is quite low.

Should Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood partner with prominent Java, Delphi, Perl, PHP, Python, Ruby, etc. bloggers? Or at least have them participate in the podcasts in exchange for them mentioning Stack Overflow? Maybe they could guest star on their podcasts and talk about the benefits of the community that we've been building?

Note I'm not saying there aren't any people with these skills. There blatantly are, there are just less than there are C# and Java developers.

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+1 to getting prominent bloggers on the podcast. I'd love to hear Jeff and Joel interview some iPhone and/or Android developers. –  Bill the Lizard Jul 14 '09 at 13:03

3 Answers 3

There is some discussion about how people answering questions that they really don't know that much about, could be hurting the site. That discussion stemmed from a well known Perl programmer Jonathan Rockway's blog post about that being a problem.

On that discussion, jrockway's response was this:

As to how this kills the site, I know a number of people who are active contributers in the Perl area who are just turned off by this. The see a question, formulate an answer, and then see six slightly-wrong variants. This just makes them mad, and they move on to something less frustrating. It happens to me, for sure

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Just have to get people to vote the bad answers down. Unfortunately, no matter how expert a user is, they still only get one vote. –  Cade Roux Jul 14 '09 at 16:33
    
It would make more sense to post comments somewhere on meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4733/… than on this answer. –  Brad Gilbert Jul 14 '09 at 16:51

Informing prominent bloggers about SO, talking at user groups about SO, word of mouth, doing some reviews/articles for magazines - but I do think it's not only J&J but our responsibility.

But then I look at the Tiobe index, and it seems to me, that the numbers of questions pretty much follow this index. I didn't do the math, but could it be that the represenation of people just about matches the usage of the languages? If so, it will be kind of hard to get more people from other development systems. It would seem that the percentage of programmers participating in SO from each camp would somehow not deviate too much.

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I don't know if I trust that index, I have to believe Cobol is higher then 22st place if you take into account mainframe developers. –  Jared Jul 14 '09 at 14:21
    
It's ordered by mentions on the internet. So yes, there might be languages misrepresented here - mainly older ones- but it gives a feel. –  malach Jul 14 '09 at 14:47

Some smaller techs already have a good support community around them. They have to. SO becomes a kind of default place for people who know about it already and are learning something niche without knowing where else to ask questions, so there are questions on SO about them.

If you know about these things, the best way to encourage these users is to answer the questions well.

Another way would be for SO to provide an API (don't know if they do or not) so fringe techs can plug their support site into SO should they want to.

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