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What do you think is the total time saved on debugging, Google-searching, testing, etc. by all of the developers of the world collectively as a result of Stack Overflow providing quick, reliable answers to their issues?

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8  
If we factor Meta in, it would be 0. Also, stackoverflow wasn't invented IMHO, just as a Ford Mustang isn't invented. –  perbert May 20 '10 at 17:15
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Perform an empirical study. Have you and your team exclude all research on SO for a month. After that time period, research all issues on SO (for questions/answers that would already have existed during that time frame) and see what the time difference is. (I know, small sample, but it's a start.) –  Michael Todd May 20 '10 at 17:58
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1  
SO brokes the internet, but don't worry the System Lord of the Internets will fix it. –  Lance Roberts May 20 '10 at 19:08
    
LOL @Lance. I haven't seen his rants the past few days. Maybe he's just saving up for a new round of craptastic fun? –  The Unhandled Exception May 20 '10 at 19:17
    
@Josh, you just missed a great one today, but it got deleted quick (after it got to -19). –  Lance Roberts May 20 '10 at 19:24
    
@Lance: Damn, those are always so much fun! :-) –  The Unhandled Exception May 20 '10 at 19:28
    
@Josh, when you get to 10k, you can check it out, just look for the one about cars. –  Lance Roberts May 20 '10 at 19:31
    
LOL @Lance again! It's taken me 10 months to get above 1K... I should have enough rep in 2020... :-) –  The Unhandled Exception May 20 '10 at 19:35
    
Don't feed the troll by glorifying his rants. @lan –  Gnome May 20 '10 at 19:40
    
@The Cat: I know, you're probably right. But if we can't derive pleasure out of his incessant trolling than I feel like he wins –  The Unhandled Exception May 20 '10 at 20:10
    
@Josh: When he derails others (negatively or otherwise, such as 'love-to-hate him'), he wins. SO is uniquely positioned among similar tools to vote down, close, delete, and otherwise community moderate trolls so they have little impact (and hopefully eventually give up, talking to an audience of 3 isn't as entertaining as an audience of 300). Or to use a cliché: hate isn't the opposite of love, apathy is. –  Gnome May 20 '10 at 20:50
    
@The Cat: Ok. I see what you mean, well said. It doesn't cause me to like to laugh at him any less, but you do make a good point. :-) –  The Unhandled Exception May 20 '10 at 21:12

5 Answers 5

up vote 13 down vote accepted

From a Absolute perspective: Negatively Infinite.

The time caused by the addiction, outweighs the time saved on question searches.

From a Relative perspective: Infinite.

I've had problems solved here, that I would never have solved without the help, after days of looking all over the internet.

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3  
Which just about amounts to "immeasurable". :P –  Matthew Jones May 20 '10 at 17:25
    
@mat, Yes, you were right on. –  Lance Roberts May 20 '10 at 17:39
    
+1 for Negatively Infinite! –  The Unhandled Exception May 20 '10 at 19:02
    
$\infty-\infty=\text{undefined}$ –  Manishearth Apr 5 '12 at 1:59

Immeasurable.

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5  
+1. Who knows whether it's even positive or negative? :) –  MarkJ May 20 '10 at 17:16

For the time saved searching, and the knowledge gained: priceless.

For everything else, there's a card with two circles with SO and SF colors kissing on it.

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-1 for copyright infringement –  Earlz May 20 '10 at 18:27
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+1 for copyright infringement –  The Unhandled Exception May 20 '10 at 19:03
    
Nicely done, Gnoupi. Hopefully nobody from MC saw what the response looked like before! –  Grant Palin May 20 '10 at 19:46
    
I'm pretty sure "For everything else, there's a card with two circles with SO and SF colors kissing on it" infringes upon some copyright. Wasn't there some commercials with that slogan for Master Unicorn? –  Bob May 20 '10 at 19:53

It's approximately

1 / ± 0

Jon Skeet can give you the precise answer.

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About 1% of the time lost because of the invention of the internet :)

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