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It is said on Stack Exchange Company Page that the company is behind the largest technical community on the Internet. How was that determined?

  • 21
    That's... marketese. – yannis May 20 '13 at 19:06
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    According to the user page, there are 1,926,000 user accounts on Stack Overflow (give or take a few socks). – Robert Harvey May 20 '13 at 19:08
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    We defined the term "community" technically and we are the only group that fits that definition, so we are technically the largest community. – Ben Brocka May 20 '13 at 19:08
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    @RobertHarvey So where's the list of the sizes of all technical communities in the world to compare that number to? – Servy May 20 '13 at 19:08
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    @Servy: In your back pocket. No, really. Have a look; it is there. – Robert Harvey May 20 '13 at 19:10
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    @RobertHarvey HOW DID YOU KNOW IT WAS THERE!!! OMG! – Servy May 20 '13 at 19:13
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    @RobertHarvey if it's just registered accounts, wouldn't GitHub be bigger (3M+ users). – tshepang May 20 '13 at 19:14
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    When you're writing your own marketing bumph and can define community and technical it makes little difference... the only word not open to interpretation is largest. – ben is uǝq backwards May 20 '13 at 19:16
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    @Tshepang SE has 3.4 million, so at least we're almost there. ;) – Bart May 20 '13 at 19:17
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    There's a unicorn with a StackExchange shirt on that page, who in their right mind would have to "read" any further after that?! – TronicZomB May 20 '13 at 20:43
  • @Rob I thought the mods nuked all the socks! Have you been slacking? – Undo - Reinstate Monica May 24 '13 at 14:59
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    What's the point of the bounty? What are you actually expecting out of an answer? It's a statement that can neither be proven true nor false, but makes SE look good. What else is there to say? – Servy May 24 '13 at 15:19
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    Clearly it comes across as slimy market speak. Some people, probably including the bounty provider, prefer to be associated with organizations that do not make any attempt to bend the truth. Make clear statements of facts rather than unclear statements of sort-of-arguable-facts and these people will be happier. – Brian Webster May 28 '13 at 18:30
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    I love several of the StackExchange sites, but I don't consider it a single community. It is a set of communities. I'm also not sure that it is the largest. On 2012-12-19, GitHub announced it had over 2.8 million users, and there is definite conversation and interaction that goes on there. However, it seems that StackExchange sites are more present in search engine results than GitHub. Also, it would seem that total time spent on all StackExchange sites by all users is likely greater than total time spent on GitHub by all of its users. – Gary S. Weaver May 28 '13 at 18:57
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http://www.alexa.com/topsites/global;2

StackOverflow is #60 currently. You could say it's market-ese, but no higher ranked site is even arguably a "technical community." You're only rival would be sub-communities within larger sites, such as Facebook, but to my knowledge nothing like that really exists at large scale (and if it did, being at large scale, I would probably have heard of it).

In short: It's market-ese in the sense that SE didn't really need to be rigorous to make that claim. But any "reasonable person" attempts to be a little rigorous are consistent with their claim. So, I don't think it's misleading or wrong or disingenuous. Perhaps when some prominent rival (...like what?) makes that claim the two titans will start busting out metrics and rubrics and such.

I agree Alexa is not a good measure of "community size" although it made a good rubric by which to illustrate. It's not at all my intent to go through whatever metrics we can come up with; I strongly suspect SO will pass by a "reasonable person" test any metric that itself would pass a "reasonable person" test.

Regarding the word "technical" please note the full claim:

As the company behind the largest technical community on the Internet, we've been able to attract some of the top developers, sysadmins, and designers in the world.

Which very clearly puts the focus of the word "technical" on technological matters. You could maybe sort of try to argue that IMDB counts as "technical" in the sense that it involves domain expertise - and only in the sense that they are discussing technical matters of cinematography, make-up, etc. and not movie and film knowledge in general - but the claim is clearly not interested in that liberal definition.

  • There is like 10 different versions of google in that list. Same goes for amazon. What are the criteria used to make that list ? How do you know there is not a community bigger than SO after #98 that's not there just because of the unknown criterias used to build that list ? Also, but no higher ranked site is even arguably a "technical community." : IMDB ? – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd May 28 '13 at 17:58
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    @returnPhaDaPhunk Alexa is well-known, you can research their criteria yourself. And you're missing the full point of my post. I'm aware the metric I posted wasn't rigorous. That's my point. This wasn't done rigorously. I explicitly stated that. My point is if you come up with 10 ways to answer this question they're probably all going to point to SO as the winner. I stand by my claim. IMDB does not pass the "reasonable person" test as either being "technical" or a "community." I don't even know where you're coming from with either of those terms applying to IMDB. – djechlin May 28 '13 at 18:02
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    IMDB is a community of 43 million registered users. They go on this site to rate, comment and review (protip : this is the community part) movies, actors,directors or anything cinema related (protip : this is the technical part). I know Alexa is well known I was just wondering what criteria they used to judge which site is better than another to make sure it would not rule out any other technical communites. But I'm sure you knew all that. – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd May 28 '13 at 18:10
  • @returnPhaDaPhunk see edit. – djechlin May 28 '13 at 18:26
  • Still.. Do I have to remind you that we are talking about StackExchange here and that there is a Movies & Tv site ? So I guess it counts... – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd May 28 '13 at 18:30
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    @returnPhaDaPhunk The exact claim is "As the company behind the largest technical community on the Internet, we've been able to attract some of the top developers, sysadmins, and designers in the world." Very clearly the focus of the word technical is on SO, SU, serverfault, etc. – djechlin May 28 '13 at 18:49
  • @returnPhaDaPhunk see edit, yet again. Anything else needed to be absolved of your downvote? – djechlin May 28 '13 at 18:55
  • Alexa counts number of visitors to a site, and I think the majority of such visitors don't participate. That is, I don't think such a count matters when we discuss size of community. – tshepang May 29 '13 at 3:21
  • @Tshepang my answer already states, "I agree Alexa is not a good measure of "community size" although it made a good rubric by which to illustrate. It's not at all my intent to go through whatever metrics we can come up with; I strongly suspect SO will pass by a "reasonable person" test any metric that itself would pass a "reasonable person" test." – djechlin May 29 '13 at 3:25
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+100

How was that determined?

It was determined by the Marketing department at Stack Exchange. You won't find a list of "largest technical communities" anywhere.

If there was one, Stack Exchange would certainly be near the top if not the top site with it's impressive near 2 million registered user accounts (note that many users have multiple accounts).

The thing is, on the company page, the words were chosen wisely.

  • Technical -

    Having special skill or practical knowledge especially in a specific field.

  • Community -

    An interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location

Both these terms are open to various interpretations and that's why they were used. Each Q/A site represents a community of regular registered users posting questions and answers related to a specific field about which you must have certain knowledge to participate. So it fits the description.

  • A precision that seems to be lacking here : the number of registered users isn't a number of different human people. I know some guys who don't remember their account and simply create a new one each time they ask a question. That's sad but it's hard to convince users of the benefits of having a real personal account. – Denys Séguret May 28 '13 at 18:30
  • @dystroy could not agree more. See edit. – ʞunɥdɐpɐɥd May 28 '13 at 18:32

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