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Stack Overflow's Incremental Development

Stack Overflow has developed incrementally over the last 30 months. Many of those changes are in response to certain demands and experiences that have been examined as they've been discovered.

While an incremental development strategy is reasonable and can produce good results, taking a step back and examining the system as a whole can provide significant insight that may lead to even better strategies.

Use Cases

One perspective to use when trying to get a 50,000 foot view of the total system is to consider user use cases. Understanding what the user wants to accomplish when they come to the site, how they currently attempt to accomplish it, and how we intend for them to accomplish it can provide some useful insight into how our current system may be succeeding or failing for some users.

We do this to some degree on an individual basis, but only look at it through the perspective of a single new feature. That's treating the symptom, rather than the root cause, though, and while it may provide relief a longer term perspective is needed to make the site operate as smoothly as possible.

Purpose of This Question

This question is not intended to analyze the use cases, but to gather a collection of use cases, or "Stories", that describe a certain user with a specific goal. A follow up question later would examine particular stories, but for now let's just figure out who uses the site and what they're after.

Please edit the community wiki answer below to add a user story. A user story should consist of a short paragraph that describes the user background briefly (and only the things needed to know how the user will interact with the site), what they're trying to accomplish, and what brought them to Stack Overflow.

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You said 'Please edit the community wiki question below'. Do you mean edit the answer and have only a single answer? Just want to clarify. –  xiaohouzi79 Feb 3 '11 at 21:32
    
@xiaohouzi79 - Thanks for the note, yes I meant that everyone should add their use cases to the one cw answer below rather than add another answer. –  Adam Davis Feb 3 '11 at 23:28

1 Answer 1

Users new to Stack Overflow

  • Beginning programmer with a problem. Googled the error or line of code, and landed on a question which seems close, but doesn't resolve this user's problem.
  • Programmer with moderate to difficult problem, used to forum or mailing list style problem discussions, hasn't found answer elsewhere and wants to post the question here.
  • Expert here due to suggestion by colleague, no particular purpose except to check it out.

Users with some experience with Stack Overflow, 1-2 questions, no answers

  • User who wants to learn something new and/or entertain themselves

Users with experience with Stack Overflow, 150+ rep, several questions and answers, votes and comments

  • User checking to see if there have been any answers or comments since last logging on

Expert Stack Overflow users

  • User looking for questions that he/she can answer to gather upvotes and reputation.
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Please feel free to edit the existing cases and add new cases. I've suggested a formatting style, but if you have a better idea go forth and format! –  Adam Davis Feb 3 '11 at 21:05
    
@jjnguy Thanks! Good use case. –  Adam Davis Feb 3 '11 at 21:18

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