I remember seeing some old post (or a few) about how Stack Overflow was socially engineered. You know, the "special sauce" that makes it so good.
Can you help me find these?
Start here: Choosing your own adventure
When you're done with CH, start again here.
That's a lot of blog-posts + podcasts to chew through, but it should give you a pretty good idea of why and how SO came into being the way it did. However, if you get through all of that and still need more... There are twenty-two thousand Meta threads for you to read