Stack Overflow is considered a Collaboration platform (it says on the main page) but I am having some problem with that definition as I think this is actually a Cooperation platform.

Cooperation: Each actor helps the others to realize their goals by adjusting its policies in the anticipation of its own reward. Each actor is not necessarily out to help the other,though; it is the anticipation of bettering one's own situation that leads to the adjustment in one's policies. Milner, Helen. “International Theories of Cooperation Among Nations: Strengths and Weaknesses.” World Politics 44, no. 03 (1992): 466–496.

Collaboration is a process in which autonomous actors interact through formal and informal negotiation, jointly creating rules and structures governing their relationships and ways to act or decide on the issues that brought them together; it is a process involving shared norms and mutually beneficial interactions. A. M. Thomson and J. L. Perry, “Collaboration Processes: Inside the Black Box,” Public Administration Review, vol. 66, pp. 20–32, 2006

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    We edit each other's posts, and comment on them. That is effectively collaboration, IMO. Jul 16, 2012 at 12:14
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    On the other hand, we also downvote, close and delete each other's content if it is poor enough. That's closer to resistance than collaboration, in this particular case. Jul 16, 2012 at 12:34
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    I think you're getting your definitions from the wrong sources. Is answering each others programming questions really analogous to nations changing their laws and policies? Jul 16, 2012 at 12:42
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    @FrédéricHamidi: Well, on some occasions it's less resistance, but outright civil war. Jul 16, 2012 at 12:55
  • @BilltheLizard Actually there are many definition of both terms. International Relationships have more research on the subject of cooperation than other fields (ei. Project management) I believe this is due to the interdisciplinary nature of the subject with fields such as Biology (evolution) or subject like Game Theory. Explaining the term on such context might help me to generalize faster/better.
    – kriztean
    Jul 16, 2012 at 13:40
  • Does the answer to this question really matter? The semantics of description doesn't change the way the sites work. The copy on the homepage is not academic text, so I'm confused about why you're trying to use political science terminology to describe SO/SE. What are you trying to accomplish here?
    – Laura
    Jul 16, 2012 at 15:46
  • @Laura you are right the homepage is just label. But it seems to be that everybody uses that label to describe what happens in here. Studying what is happening in SO help us to make it better. One of the methods we use to gain understanding is comparing with other fields and when the definition of some concepts (collaboration, cooperation, etc) don't match, this comparison becomes too complicated. That's why I believe it matters. I have no interest on changing the homepage description.
    – kriztean
    Jul 16, 2012 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


From the stackoverflow homepage:

frontpage printscreen

collaboratively is an adverb:

characterized or done by collaboration.

collaboration is a Noun:

The act of collaborating.

collaborating is a verb:

Present participle of collaborate.

collaborate is a Verb:

To work together with others to achieve a common goal.


Let's collaborate at this Q&A site, and provide bulletproof contents.

I believe that this proves that stackoverflow is indeed an collaborative website.

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    There is no collaboration, only ZUUUUUUUUUL!!!
    – Yawus
    Jul 16, 2012 at 13:23
  • @Zuul I think the part of the common goal is the one I have more trouble with. In each single interaction (Q&A) users might be having the same goal; finding the best/correct answer. But in the system itself, users might be trying to obtain different goals; getting the most Badges; creating a name and reputation that might help them to find new jobs; or their goal might be to have fun. Stackoveflow does tick many of the features I would consider elemental for a collaborative environment though.
    – kriztean
    Jul 16, 2012 at 13:31

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