I've been here a while, and done a few rodeos and, the quality of blog posts feels like its hit rock bottom at times. I admit there's some great ones but considering Stack Overflow as a company is in a wee bit of a transition, it might be a good time to go "maybe you guys should revisit it".

I do get that a big focus of the blog is to help market SO Careers and jobs related stuff. That's fine. We get reminded a lot that helps keeps the lights on.

We do also have a tradition of excellent blogs that shed light on the product - Jeff was pretty much a blogger before he started SO and it probably showed. Blogs also did a very good job at announcements - something Q&A hasn't been great at.

Many of new blogs however, are terrible. I don't want to name any names because I'm almost convinced that there's a stash of unpublished ones with these issues so blaming anyone does no good.

Many of them generic and vapid at best (though there's some tolerable ones), basically lists of links of resources that would get heavily downvoted on the QA networks. Someone said they look like buzzfeed titles - which I don't disagree with. In some cases, I'm pretty sure I've read better written, stuff by the same people who wrote the blogs in question.

Now that I've gotten all the horrible things I wanted to say... Stuff like this post is both more helpful to developers and readable, than 5 great resources for learning lolcat.

The former tells a story, its useful to developers (and as a non developer, I stopped in the middle of what started as a slightly angry rant and went "daymn" Nice work Mr Larsen.). The latter dosen't really do much more than point people at external links, and does little to sell the Careers Product in my opinion.

I do miss how we used to get blog posts about new things, and often find out about them from other users or MSO. And I really miss those old infrastructure posts on the old serverfault blog (Now rolled into the engineering tag in StackOverflow.Blog).

As far as Careers goes, the narrative as far as the blog feels lost. Its "Do these things!" "Look at these things" but never "Here's how we can help you". Almost tempted to say Careers hiring success stories would work better, but I suppose that needs someone willing to talk about it. Once again - there's no narrative, just lists, ordered or otherwise in the current posts.

Channels is the coming thing. In the terms that we used in the old days - We had the trilogy, and SE 2.0's maybe the Extended Universe now (I decline to guess which site's the Christmas specials) . Careers sometimes feels like the prequels (may it stand the test of time better) - they should be building on our story, but sometimes feel... kinda out of place. The refocus on Q&A and Channels could be the sequels - a chance to revisit the stuff that was done right but for an new audience.

So yeah, could we see more useful, less "listy" blog posts that help sell the SE model to folks? More stuff about stuff people actually face, and maybe even the network and the neat new things in the pipeline?

  • Blogging takes time. What do you want? New Question wizard, topbar and channels or a blog post? – rene Nov 9 '17 at 12:55
  • Hmm, All of the above? And more importantly, how do we influence things if we don't speak up, especially as regular users? ;p – Journeyman Geek Nov 9 '17 at 13:02
  • And also, it's less a lack of posts than what I consider major specific quality issues. – Journeyman Geek Nov 9 '17 at 13:09
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    Quality comes at a price. You can't have a webcontent editor produce write epic posts and you can't have a dev produce epic posts by the numbers – rene Nov 9 '17 at 13:15
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    "By the numbers" well... quality over quantity would be nice – Journeyman Geek Nov 9 '17 at 13:50
  • The problem is... In practice you get neither, @JourneymanGeek. The web in general and blog-readers in particular are addicted to novelty; if you can't post twice a week, the expectations for the posts you do write are insanely high. Back when I used the blog, I'd spend a week or more writing, editing and re-writing posts - and I strongly suspect only a handful of people ever read them. Ironically, to get stuff like that excellent Nick Larson post you gotta lower the bar to entry a bit: the really good stuff has a personal touch; it says what it intends without overreaching. – Shog9 Nov 9 '17 at 15:26
  • .... I have been a pretty active SO/SE user for years now and just now learned there was an SO blog. Does it actually get that much traffic? – enderland Nov 9 '17 at 18:07
  • It gets a bit more traffic than this site, @enderland. Which is pretty respectable. – Shog9 Nov 10 '17 at 0:08
up vote 12 down vote accepted

While I can't speak to all of the content on the blog, I will say that blogs do take time and some planning to write, which can take people away from doing development.

But I also noticed some things being said in chat, about the lack of engineering types of posts on the blog and did raise it with the team working on Channels. If you hadn't seen the recent post on Meta Stack Overflow about Channels, go check it out. There's a blurb that says:

...over the next month or so, we're going to be writing a series of blog posts about the work that's going into Channels. This includes insight into our thinking on the product, why people have told us they need Channels. We're also planning on sharing a lot of the challenges we've been facing, including issues around navigating between public Q&A and private Channels. As well as a dive into some of the architecture needed to make it run.

The initial plan was to just post updates on Meta, like we've done with other projects, but we decided the blog would be a better place for it, and it brings us back to where the content of the blog used to be. I believe the first post is going either today or tomorrow, and then we have others planned over the next month. We've even roped in Nick to write about all the architecture work behind getting Channels up.

I don't know the plans for blog posts outside of the Channels stuff, but we have heard the grumblings of the lack of development/engineering content and it's not gone unnoticed.

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    All good, but Channels are also external product. Ordinary users can't use Channels. This would be "nice to read" blog posts, but with zero actual value to most readers. So I'm afraid "brings us back to where the content of the blog used to be" is not really true. – Shadow Wizard Nov 9 '17 at 13:43
  • "While I can't speak to all of the content on the blog, " - I'm being kinda harsh there, so no worries. As for channels, mods have been hinting very loudly it would be shiny to have, so we might possibly have some value in knowing about it if it extends past SO. This feels like a start? – Journeyman Geek Nov 9 '17 at 13:49
  • @JourneymanGeek I hope it's a start. The concern I saw/heard has been raised, it's just finding people and time to write about stuff for the blog. – Taryn Nov 9 '17 at 14:12

Personal opinion below. Started as comment, became too long.

Once upon a time, Jeff used to write blogs about actual things he did, and features of Stack Overflow, e.g. moderation, email notifications, etc. The rest of the team followed his lead and posted useful and interesting things about SE/SO itself, e.g. Reputation and Historical Archives by Josh.

Big changes were announced back then by blog posts, e.g. new top bar back in 2013.

These days, none of this exists. It has been replaced with blogs that just advertise/promote various products of Stack Overflow. There are rare posts about new features, e.g. How Stack Overflow Redesigned the Top Navigation but most features go without any blog post announcement, e.g. the network wide new top bar which is nothing like the Stack Overflow top bar. That's a great miss. Even if they'll post blog posts about new features, they will be drowned and buried beneath the others, with charts and calculators, which are nice for some and useful for others (and I do respect those who spent time and efforts to write them!), but as this discussion made me realize, not great anymore. Not in the way it used to be. The focus shifted from the actual development of stuff and the Q&A part, to the money-making products of Stack Overflow the company.

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    I'm not really convinced, least off of the sentiment I often hear from power users, that it works well there too. – Journeyman Geek Nov 9 '17 at 7:38
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    Good observation. I seen that now Joe Friend update us a lot on meta, blogging some of his update could be a suggestion. – yagmoth555 Nov 9 '17 at 11:06
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    Something worth keeping in mind: when Jeff started the blog, meta didn't exist. The blog was meta: discussion, debate, even the first elections were all conducted there. Even after meta was created, it didn't work terribly well for announcements until we added network-wide featured posts in 2014. Since then... Well, for me it's a question of who I want to talk to: folks who enjoy talking crap in blog comments, or folks who enjoy using Stack Overflow. – Shog9 Nov 9 '17 at 15:08
  • @Shog9 oh, forgot meta is not as old as SO, I wasn't around back then. This does explain things, but still... the "new" blog has a different aura to it. – Shadow Wizard Nov 9 '17 at 15:49
  • Meta is pretty brilliant for insiders. Its also an oddly handy way to get a conversation going. Announcements though... reactions vary I guess? And I often find its easier to dig something out of the blog (granted mostly historic things) than meta. – Journeyman Geek Nov 10 '17 at 0:53

The editorial staff who managed stackoverflow.blog for the past year or so are no longer with the company. With this change, we are revisiting our blog strategy entirely and starting fresh. I personally am excited to take this on and make some big changes. Feedback from the community has been noted and will be taken into account as we make these changes.

We'll always be talking about things regarding the community, insights into what we're building here at Stack Overflow, and posting finds from our data science team. Additionally, we'll continue to talk about topics like how developers can excel in their careers - but in a new way.

Look out for some posts from me crowd-sourcing opinions on what topics you want to see more of.

  • For what it is worth, but I'm already told I read too much in this answer, to me it reads like the now fired/let go editorial staff is to blame for the blog failure and you're going to fix it all. Sounds unfair to anyone who worked on it in the past and it is unfair to set high expectations. Just be honest and realistic, that is much easier for all of us .... – rene Nov 17 '17 at 16:06
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    @rene From the outside looking in it can be kind of difficult to determine what led us from the once sort of 'stream of consciousness' that Jeff used to post to the blog to the kinds of stuff we published in support of our Jobs / Talent platform. It wasn't anyone's fault, everyone was just doing the best job that they knew how to do in order to meet the tasks they were given. It was our fault cumulatively for not realizing that new folks didn't bring as much as our original 2008 DNA as we thought they would to what they were doing. – Tim Post Nov 17 '17 at 16:10
  • @rene not at all. Nothing was a "failure" and I am not a super hero here to make things perfect. What I mentioned is that the blog strategy will change. With that, so will some of the content. My goal is just to inform everyone that we are changing things up, some of which were related to the original poster's complaints. – Rachel Ferrigno Nov 17 '17 at 16:13
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    So no one is to blame, everyone was just trying to meet goals and use the tools available to them, it just didn't quite register with enough people that "this doesn't look as much like us as we thought it did". When everyone was so busy, well, sometimes you look right at things but don't see them. That's all, no one needs to be blamed for anything, we just need to refocus a bit there is all. ' – Tim Post Nov 17 '17 at 16:13
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    Fair enough. I don't want to sound grumpy either. I do hope it will work out.. Let's try to make it fly then, together. Thanks for the feedback. – rene Nov 17 '17 at 16:26
  • ehh. I don't think blaming specific people is fair, or productive. Presumably, I'd have made the same post at some point, whether or not the staff who posted stuff were still around - and I admit, while the timing was prompted by the layoffs, that SE's talking about refocusing back on QA and QA related products was just as important a reason for me. Blame helps no one - feedback on the other hand does. I don't think its 'fair' to the old blog team to blame them, especially under current circumstances. – Journeyman Geek Nov 18 '17 at 0:24
  • @JourneymanGeek I was not blaming anyone,but instead saying that a change is happening and that we're reevaluating our editorial strategy. I wanted everyone to know their opinions are being heard and that things are changing in some of the areas you addressed. Thanks for your feedback! – Rachel Ferrigno Nov 18 '17 at 0:29
  • Naw not you. Was referring to another comment – Journeyman Geek Nov 18 '17 at 0:48

The SE blog posts I most enjoy, in addition to the ones about new features (not much of that lately) and the "making of" posts (infrequent), are the ones from the SE data scientists that analyze trends and talk about the SE data itself. That's pretty cool, and seems like a good way to get people to look at the relevant posts, tags, sites, etc. I hope someday that these kinds of posts will broaden beyond Stack Overflow to the other 170 sites on the network. I realize the scale is different, but maybe there are things to be said about groups of related sites?

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