I thought I was going to see a graph about how Stack Overflow was trouncing Experts-Exchange (EE) and grinding them into the ground. Well, they are but I also see something unexpected.

Throw away your preconceived notions for a moment and take an unbiased look at this graph posted over at blog.stackoverflow.com...

alt text

I see a site which was losing viewership long before Stack Overflow came along. But more interesting is that, about the time Stack Overflow started, EE received a stay of execution from their free fall. Maybe even a bit of a lift.

This graph clearly suggests that EE is about to be overtaken. I wonder if their one-year+ "bump" in viewership had anything to do with Stack Overflow?

Was there a renewed interest in this market space prompted by the new player?

Has Stack Overflow given EE a bit of unanticipated publicity by "calling them out?"

Has all the side discussions that you can get EE answers without paying made them more relevant again?

[Insert witty conclusion here -- I got nothing.]

  • 7
    your data is insufficient to draw any conclusion either way. If we were any good at wild and unsubstantiated predictions, we'd be day-traders instead of programmers.
    – Rob Allen
    Aug 22 '09 at 0:59
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    Sometimes I feel like a day trader on these sites.
    – TheTXI
    Aug 22 '09 at 1:03
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    It would be nice to date the various changes in free answer availability at EE (including visibility in google's cache) to their traffic. Aug 22 '09 at 1:11
  • @Rob Allen - I changed the post up a bit to ask questions rather than pretend to give answers. Aug 22 '09 at 1:17
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    Can you include a link to where the graph is being generated? Aug 22 '09 at 1:26
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    @Bill the Lizard - Last word before the graph: blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/08/us-versus-hyphen . I'll make it more prominent. Aug 22 '09 at 1:29
  • @rcartaino: Thanks, I completely missed it before. Aug 22 '09 at 2:07

I think your last question makes the most sense.

Has all the side discussions that you can get EE answers without paying made them more relevant again?

I've seen this graph (or one like it) turn up on Digg, reddit, and Hacker News several times in the past year. The comments always include the information that Expert's Exchange does include the answers at the bottom of the page when Google is the referrer. This sort of discussion seems to have spread the word that you don't really need to search with "-site:ExpertsExchange" anymore.

I think the publicity they've gotten from the emergence of SO has helped them in the short term, but we can all see where this graph is headed. SO will overtake EE very soon. I predict that within one more year (and maybe sooner) the EE line in the graph will have continued on its downward plummet again.

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    Also understand that this graph is not necessarily a measure of their success. They have a different business model than Stack Overflow and more viewers does not necessarily translate into more subscribers. Aug 22 '09 at 1:20
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    I'm sure they value paid subscribers more than sheer traffic volume, but I also suspect that traffic is a leading indicator of their future success. Aug 22 '09 at 1:26
  • @Bill the Lizard - Perhaps, but not if the increase in traffic is due solely to being exposes as a "pseudo-free" site. If their "deception" has been exposed, perhaps more people are now willing to follow the Google hits to their site than before. But there are now free alternatives to ask questions (i.e., SO). Hard to say if any ancillary increase they get in subscribers from increased viewership will pay for increased costs of the hosting the freeloaders. Aug 22 '09 at 1:44
  • I find it hard to believe that anyone didn't know that the answers were right on the page. The very first day they moved to the "obfuscated" posts it was clear the answers were still there.....
    – womp
    Aug 22 '09 at 2:28
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    @womp - I've run into a number of people who didn't scroll all the way to the absolute bottom of the page; they gave up before that, and wrote EE off as useless.
    – retracile
    Aug 22 '09 at 3:21

I couldn't resist to show current status :)

enter image description here

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    Looks like EE has flat-lined. PADDLES!! Apr 6 '12 at 22:36
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    I don't have any filters blocking EE from results, and I can't remember the last time I saw them show up in search results. I'm sure Google's creepy personalized results have a bit to do with that however.
    – Tim Post
    Apr 7 '12 at 5:33
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    @AdamRackis: You know it's ESC not EE!!! Apr 7 '12 at 14:29

It's because of Joel and the Podcast

I didn't know you could skip down past the ads to the answers until Joel mentioned it on the podcast.

Thanks Joel, I love that site now!

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    as usual, I blame Joel too Aug 22 '09 at 5:59

It's also possible that the increased traffic at EE as a result of SO is because SO users are searching for answers that result in EE hits. I can tell you that many times I have gone to google looking for an answer to an SO question and clicked on an EE link (I always kick myself after :) But, perhaps many SO users go to EE in search of information they use to answer questions on SO.

  • The same has happened to me (without the kicking myself after part, I don't feel bad about using their bandwidth).
    – Treb
    Aug 22 '09 at 8:59

I kinda wonder if there's a copyright suit brewing: EE's just buying their time looking for enough EE content to show up on SO. Because of course that does happen. Conversely, the reverse happens as well. Also, everything we all understand about DMCA Sec. 230 says it wouldn't get anywhere. But still...


Perhaps is the fact It got interest from other audicences.


Just to not lose on that regard, Jeff have registered:



Aw you mean I answered all those questions on EE for nothing?

To be serious though. I can't exactly say what made me stop going to that site or why I find StackOverflow so much more appealing.


When searching for an answer for Superuser I have looked at the EE answers at least a couple of times, if my behaviour can be extrapolated to more users that would explain it a bit.

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