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This post is intended as a discussion on the existence of and future use of the different Stack Exchange communities, including but not exclusively Stack Overflow.

With the emergence and popularity of ChatGPT and its multiple strengths with regards to coding (despite there still being some weaknesses) including the size of its knowledge base, there seems to arise a natural question: What is the future of role of Stack Exchange?

For new programmers, the ability to ask simple code related queries and get instant feedback entails a short and direct approach. Whereas a question posed on Stack Overflow may end up being down-voted or being relegated to a similar question, whereupon the user is being forced to translate the syntax to their exact problem (which many newcomers struggle with).

Clearly the usage of AIs is riddled with deeper issues, i.e., such as credibility of output and user comprehension. Which to a newcomer are not readily available skills, but are accumulated over the course of their learning experiences.

Yet, the question still stands:

What is the future of Stack Exchange and similar communities on the Internet? Have we already generated enough data for AI to take it to the next level?

Not sure about the matter? Try finding a new post on Stack Overflow and pasting it in ChatGPT. Compare it to the question and consider how well the AI answered. Perhaps you might even find an answered post which looks eerily similar to the answer provided.

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  • Welcome to Meta Stack Exchange. I don't think that this question is a good fit for this community in its current state, starting by it doesn't share what was found and why it didn't meet the needs, or the convenience to discuss this again. Please search thoroughly at least this site (better ir if you search stackexchange.com) and edit you question accordingly.
    – Rubén
    Feb 25, 2023 at 0:13
  • Does this answer your question? Is there a list of ChatGPT discussions and policies for our sites?
    – Rob
    Feb 25, 2023 at 6:49
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    @rob I don't think they're asking limited to what will happen "within the walls" of the Stack Exchange network. My understanding is that they're asking about what will happen inside and outside the Stack Exchange network. The examples in the question demonstrate that the asker understands that we have quality standards (which is what most of our ChatGPT policies are at least in part based on). I take that to indicate that they are asking what will happen to us and similar communities in part because of our quality standards. Feb 25, 2023 at 7:33
  • @starball, in or out it's rather speculative, opinion based, but especially if it's limited to outside; and then it's OT on meta. Since we don't allow it, it will continue outside these walls; until Skynet Day. :) --- Ultimately they ask: "... What is the future of Stack Exchange and similar communities on the Internet?", so if ChatGPT replaces the Internet by simulating it (maybe that's who you are speaking to now) we'll be forced to crawl out of our shell and seek Stack Exchange-like communities in person, like hanging out at the Community Center; a fate worse than . (dialtone sound).
    – Rob
    Feb 25, 2023 at 22:59
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    Voting to reopen. I think this is a valuable question because I think it opens up for discussion on how Stack Exchange can continue to be valuable even with the rise of ChatGPT (I'm guessing that concerns from upper management about traffic dropping might be motivating a lot of the recent AI-related decisions). I'd like for more people to be able to write answers to this. Jun 9, 2023 at 8:51
  • I would agree that responsible AI use should be allowed and could lift this site to a new level, e.g. allowing many unanswered questions to get a good answer. See here for some examples: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/387575/… meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/425211/…. Trouble is, any question remotely supportive for GPT gets immediately closed on SO by some moderators that don't agree. Jun 18, 2023 at 9:58

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First of all, Stack Exchange is not here to answer any question. For example, we generally only take questions that solicit fact-based answers. See /help/dont-ask. We are not a discussion forum (see the tour). Each network site has a pretty well-defined scope on what is considered on-topic (see its /help/on-topic page).

Have we already generated enough data for AI to take it to the next level?

Stack Exchange can answer to questions related to new and emerging topics and knowledge. I'd imagine that throwing a question about a new topic or information or knowledge at an AI that is trained on past, existing knowledge will not fare well (Ex. ask it about the mechanics of a new programming language that it hasn't been trained on a bunch of information about). Sure, it could pull something out of the air, but when it's wrong, we'll be here to shake our heads and (where possible) give correct answers.

It doesn't really make sense to compare us to new AI technologies like chatbots because we aren't trying to do the same thing

For new programmers, the ability to ask simple code related queries and get instant feedback entails a short and direct approach. Whereas a question posed on Stackoverflow may end up being down-voted or being relegated to a similar question, whereupon the user is being forced to translate the syntax to their exact problem (which many newcomers struggle with).

We're not here to answer the same old questions over and over again. That's why we have a system for marking things as duplicates. On top of that, we have quality standards for questions: questions are expected to be well researched, clear, and useful (solve an actual problem). We generally close posts that don't meet those standards or are not on-topic. If someone wants to ask a question without the intention of meeting those standards, then ideally they'd ask it somewhere else instead of polluting our network. It's not that we don't welcome beginner questions- we do if they meet those standards (see for example, What is the proper way to approach Stack Overflow as someone totally new to programming?).

Not sure about the matter? Try finding a new post on Stack Overflow and pasting it in ChatGPT. Compare it to the question and consider how well the AI answered. Perhaps you might even find an answered post which looks eerily similar to the answer provided.

Hm. If an AI can answer something correctly, yes- I have to wonder whether that question had already been asked and answered before on Stack Exchange, or if the question could be broken down into multiple atomic questions where that's true. Or maybe the question is covered so well outside of Stack Exchange that some Stack Exchange network sites would shoot down the question for showing lack of research (from what I've read, different Stack Exchange network sites have different standards for how much research is required when it comes to researching through resources outside of the Stack Exchange network).

Even if future AIs try to create similar content to us, we'll be doing it in entirely different ways

If the question is a good question according to a Stack Exchange network site's standards and is on-topic for the site, even if an AI can give a good answer, I see no reason to say that the question shouldn't be given the good 'ol Stack Exchange treatment: Ask a good question -> get a good answer. Some users would benefit from getting multiple answers to a question ex. explaining a concept in different ways.

The other major benefits of Stack Exchange are our voting and peer-review systems. People can vote on answers to say whether they are useful or not (among other things), and people can suggest edits to improve posts. With both our voting system and our peer-review system, access to contribute is a privilege earned by demonstrating to others that you (to some degree) know what you are talking about (reputation). This kind of reputation system we have seems (to me) to be incompatible with some platform where content is created by AIs.

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