I've noticed in the last half year that some communities are especially hostile towards Stack Overflow. Apparently their main problems are that Stack Overflow is too Microsoft-centric (which is something I don't agree with, I think people are equally encouraged to ask questions regarding any technology, and the thriving iPhone subcommunity on Stack Overflow is a proof of that) and that the questions and the answers are of too low quality (again, I don't think that's true).

An excellent example of Stack Overflow (and Jeff Atwood) bashing can be found in this thread of the otherwise very high quality Hacker News.

I can't help but feel that there is more going on than the usual anti-Microsoft feelings and elitism, but I'm afraid I really don't understand it. What are your opinions? What could the Stack Overflow community do to please these people or is that something we want to do in the first place?

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that thread actually seems rather sane to me; where's the bashing? –  Jeff Atwood Jun 29 '09 at 11:17
    
Ok maybe this thread is not the best example but you all know what I mean. –  Tamas Czinege Jun 29 '09 at 11:23
    
Find a better example, or folks might come to the conclusion you a Jeff&Joel fanboy incapable of debate. –  Stu Thompson Jun 29 '09 at 11:33
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Whew, good thing that typo finally got fixed. On a related note –  TCPMAN.EXE Aug 13 '12 at 19:47
    
These old posts seem pretty tame compared with being called "nazis" at least once every time Stack Overflow is mentioned these days. –  Jeremy Banks Aug 15 '12 at 12:56
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closed as too localized by Jeremy Banks, razlebe, Toon Krijthe, Brad Mace, Rosinante Aug 16 '12 at 1:12

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8 Answers

up vote 19 down vote accepted

I think we just need to keep supplying quality answers.

First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win. - Gandhi

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Being hated can actually be a good thing, the worst thing you want is to have a product that people are indifferent to, you want some people to LOVE and some to HATE your product.

Being hated means your product is alive, and that people have an opinion about it.

You are never going to make all the people happy.

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Worked for Chick-Fil-A. –  user193303 Aug 15 '12 at 19:33
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I've read that Hacker News link you posted and don't find it all that nasty. Yes, there was some SO, Joel and Jeff hostile comments. But the vast majority was either positive or neutral.

Yes, there was also lots of "why this" and "why that", but it would be a mistake to equate questioning business models with hostility.

I found the "oh, I could whip that up in a weekend" comments kinda funny. But do note that other commentators responded with "then just do it, you naive kids, you!" (My gut tells me that is from folks who haven't actually taken a green field project into polished production system that scales.)

Lastly, there is almost always going to be platform zealots and folks with vested interests in competing projects whining one way or the other. But by no means was that thread a hatefest.

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It was quite funny to read the thread you linked to. This "Nothing to see, can be done in one weekend" mentality is so typical and is also the reason why so many open source software projects have usability problems, despite having some bright minds behind them. The question is, if it can be done in one weekend, why did nobody ever do that?

Stack Overflow and the system behind is a great product, and the pure fact that the software is neither open source nor free is something that leads to some people just feeling negative about it, maybe because it contradicts their beliefs, maybe because it is simply a proof that closed source software can be great as well. And that can't be.

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There are people who don't take kindly to criticism. Downvoting a person's, closing a person's questions, and negative comments about a person's post could cause that person to lash out at the community. Then of course there are the people who generally think the idea of this kind of website is bad for whatever reason. It's best to let these people vent, close/ignore their comments, and move on.

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People are going to be hostile towards other websites that tend to cater to the same subject matter or work in the same methods. There has always been friction between Digg and Reddit because of their similar styles. There was friction between Digg/Reddit and sites like Slashdot.

A lot of this just comes down to territorial fanboyism. Just like you have PlayStation fans denouncing the Xbox and vice versa. People will find reasons to hate the "competition" even if they aren't good reasons or the hate isn't justified in the least.

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:shrug: just my two cents: Stack Overflow is a lot more friendly than the newsgroups — I'll take downvoting any day before incessant belittling and sarcasm. I'm a raving Microsoft-hater, but I just put all the M-$oft tags (C#, .NET, Silverlight, etc.) on my ignore list, and I'm happy as a clam. (Plus, you get to use Markdown/WMD here!!!)

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Subscribe to the Twitter RSS feed for the search "stackoverflow", and you'll see that the negative comments are less than 1% of all comments.

And like Stu said, most of the bashing on Hacker News or elsewhere is from people that just have beef with Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood and aren't really bashing Stack Overflow itself.

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