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I know it's a Q&A site, but does it fall under the umbrella of social networking? There's a raging debate here at work, so I thought I'd put this question to the community.

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I'd like to go on the record as thinking that this isn't a social networking site!! –  DaveDev Sep 22 '10 at 13:35
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If they're considering blocking social networking sites (pure speculation on my part, which tells you the kind of place that I currently work at) then I'd argue very strongly that SO is not a social network. –  Bill the Lizard Sep 22 '10 at 13:52
    
good point @Bill, fortunately they're not considering that. StackOverflow & the rest of the StackExchange sites are the few that aren't restricted by WebMarshal (or as it's otherwise known, WebNazi) –  DaveDev Sep 22 '10 at 15:38
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Social networking on a site frequented almost entirely by geeks? Seems counter-productive to me... –  James Aug 19 '11 at 13:14
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if you want counter-productive, you should go to reddit.com –  DaveDev Aug 19 '11 at 14:25
    
@DaveDev: To your question: Look here. That's why –  genesis Aug 19 '11 at 15:11
    
@genesis-φ: thanks - makes sense. I'll modify the question to remove the edit (an enquiry into why this was getting attention today, almost a year after after it was posted) –  DaveDev Aug 19 '11 at 15:17
    
BTW where did you spot that your question is "getting" more attention? –  genesis Aug 19 '11 at 15:18
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My notification bar at the top was lighting up any time someone answered a question or added a comment. –  DaveDev Aug 19 '11 at 15:19

6 Answers 6

up vote 18 down vote accepted

According to Wikipedia:

A social network is a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations) called "nodes," which are tied (connected) by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as friendship, kinship, common interest, financial exchange, dislike, sexual relationships, or relationships of beliefs, knowledge or prestige.

So I'd say no. It would seem like connections between the nodes is the definitive feature of a social network and we don't have that.

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Agreed. The only "connections" SO really has are tags, and those link questions, not people. –  gnostradamus Sep 22 '10 at 14:24
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"a social structure made up of individuals [...] which are tied (connected) by [...] common interest..." Does that not describe SO? –  Purag Aug 24 '12 at 1:53
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@Purmou In that way, forums are also social media, as are many sites that have users and discussions. Actually, now that I think about it, are forums social media? –  Little Big Bot Sep 27 '12 at 16:34

No, it is not. It's a Q&A site.

  • We can't connect to friends.
  • We don't have a means for private messages.
  • We don't share pictures of our dog, kids, or house.
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... although sometimes we share pictures of ourselves in pyjamas ;) –  Jon Skeet Sep 22 '10 at 13:37
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Point, but luckily there isn't a badge for that ;-). –  Toon Krijthe Sep 22 '10 at 13:38
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for newcomers: the easteregg Jon referred to :) –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 22 '10 at 13:39
    
I like this answer. –  Daniel Daranas Sep 22 '10 at 13:40
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I should have just retweeted this answer. It says basically the same as mine. –  Bill the Lizard Sep 22 '10 at 13:45
    
I like your comment, @Bill the Lizard. –  Daniel Daranas Sep 22 '10 at 13:47
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I like the fact that Daniel likes our comments and answers. ;-). –  Toon Krijthe Sep 22 '10 at 14:00
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gamecat likes this –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 22 '10 at 14:01
    
I would just like to disavow any responsibility for, interest in, authority over or knowledge of Jon's post. Well, the "knowledge of" part ended 30 seconds ago, but the rest is still true. –  Pops Sep 22 '10 at 14:17
    
@Pop: it was bound to happen :p –  Tobias Kienzler Sep 23 '10 at 12:00
    
For how long have Web2 and social network meant posting private pictures? –  SystematicFrank Jul 23 '12 at 9:36

I'd call it an anti-social networking site.

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Only if you equate social to fun. Or if you're on Math Overflow, I guess. –  Aarobot Sep 22 '10 at 14:52
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I would post a comment to this, if I didn't hate talking to people so much. –  gnostradamus Sep 22 '10 at 14:54
    
@gno: But you just posted a comment... or is it OK as long as the comment is hostile in nature? –  Aarobot Sep 22 '10 at 15:08
    
Antisocial would be: maintaining links with people we don't like, posting compromising pictures of them and sending hate mail. You can call it Disgracebook, or flunkedOut. –  Toon Krijthe Sep 23 '10 at 12:27
    
Its not a social website period, and it doesn't actively fight against social network. Its purely a Q & A site. –  Justin Jan 14 '11 at 13:53

It is not a social network due to the main ideological rule on which Stack stands - it is the value of question and value of answers you should care about. Nothing else really matters. Personalities just doesn't matter.

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Stack Overflow forms a social structure, wherein we have patterns that define our relationship to the site and to each other.

While social networks almost always exist within every social structure, social structures need not formalize or recognize the networks that form within them. Stack Overflow is a good example of a social structure that does not recognize the social networks that are formed within its cultivated social structure.

Social networks come in a variety of forms, and for very broad definitions Stack Overflow comes close. However, one of the defining characteristics common to nearly every social network is that people define specific interpersonal relationships within the social structure.

People are forming such relationships within Stack Overflow, but the site and software do not formalize these relationships.

I wouldn't say that Stack Overflow is a social network until the site and software themselves formally recognize those relationships.

In fact, far from supporting social networks, Stack Overflow has a few features that discourage social networks from forming within its social structure. If you want to talk to a given individual, your only on-site option is a public comment on one of their posts. While you and someone else may share in common your knowledge of Ruby, unless you encounter them off site you may never know that you also share the enjoyment of, say, painting. Chat fills the gap a little bit, but only for those that choose to participate.

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Stack Overflow does not provide a non-public means of user-exchange. Thus I guess you can apply a lot of pre-existing analysis of twitter user exchange to SO.

The public-only means of communication definitely helps the aspect of transparency a lot.

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