What do you think is the total time saved on debugging, Google-searching, testing, etc..., by all of the developers of the world collectively as a result of Stack Overflow providing quick, reliable answers to their issues?

  • 9
    If we factor Meta in, it would be 0. Also, stackoverflow wasn't invented IMHO, just as a Ford Mustang isn't invented.
    – perbert
    May 20, 2010 at 17:15
  • 4
    Perform an empirical study. Have you and your team exclude all research on SO for a month. After that time period, research all issues on SO (for questions/answers that would already have existed during that time frame) and see what the time difference is. (I know, small sample, but it's a start.) May 20, 2010 at 17:58
  • 2
  • 1
    SO brokes the internet, but don't worry the System Lord of the Internets will fix it. May 20, 2010 at 19:08
  • LOL @Lance. I haven't seen his rants the past few days. Maybe he's just saving up for a new round of craptastic fun? May 20, 2010 at 19:17
  • @Josh, you just missed a great one today, but it got deleted quick (after it got to -19). May 20, 2010 at 19:24
  • @Lance: Damn, those are always so much fun! :-) May 20, 2010 at 19:28
  • @Josh, when you get to 10k, you can check it out, just look for the one about cars. May 20, 2010 at 19:31
  • LOL @Lance again! It's taken me 10 months to get above 1K... I should have enough rep in 2020... :-) May 20, 2010 at 19:35
  • Don't feed the troll by glorifying his rants. @lan
    – Gnome
    May 20, 2010 at 19:40
  • @The Cat: I know, you're probably right. But if we can't derive pleasure out of his incessant trolling than I feel like he wins May 20, 2010 at 20:10
  • @Josh: When he derails others (negatively or otherwise, such as 'love-to-hate him'), he wins. SO is uniquely positioned among similar tools to vote down, close, delete, and otherwise community moderate trolls so they have little impact (and hopefully eventually give up, talking to an audience of 3 isn't as entertaining as an audience of 300). Or to use a cliché: hate isn't the opposite of love, apathy is.
    – Gnome
    May 20, 2010 at 20:50
  • @The Cat: Ok. I see what you mean, well said. It doesn't cause me to like to laugh at him any less, but you do make a good point. :-) May 20, 2010 at 21:12

6 Answers 6


From a Absolute perspective: Negatively Infinite.

The time caused by the addiction, outweighs the time saved on question searches.

From a Relative perspective: Infinite.

I've had problems solved here, that I would never have solved without the help, after days of looking all over the internet.

  • 3
    Which just about amounts to "immeasurable". :P May 20, 2010 at 17:25
  • @mat, Yes, you were right on. May 20, 2010 at 17:39
  • +1 for Negatively Infinite! May 20, 2010 at 19:02
  • $\infty-\infty=\text{undefined}$ Apr 5, 2012 at 1:59
  • If you did learn something or people had problem solved caused by your addiction then it's not time lost. Jan 22, 2019 at 19:40


  • 5
    +1. Who knows whether it's even positive or negative? :)
    – MarkJ
    May 20, 2010 at 17:16

For the time saved searching, and the knowledge gained: priceless.

For everything else, there's a card with two circles with SO and SF colors kissing on it.

  • 2
    -1 for copyright infringement
    – Earlz
    May 20, 2010 at 18:27
  • 2
    +1 for copyright infringement May 20, 2010 at 19:03
  • Nicely done, Gnoupi. Hopefully nobody from MC saw what the response looked like before! May 20, 2010 at 19:46
  • I'm pretty sure "For everything else, there's a card with two circles with SO and SF colors kissing on it" infringes upon some copyright. Wasn't there some commercials with that slogan for Master Unicorn?
    – Bob
    May 20, 2010 at 19:53

It's approximately

1 / ± 0

Jon Skeet can give you the precise answer.


About 1% of the time lost because of the invention of the internet :)


The company has offered a number for the amount of times a developer got help, in the about page it currently says:

50.6+ billion

Times a developer got help

So if you consider each of those times 1 minute it would give roughly 96.270 years.

The number itself has been discussed on Meta Stack Overflow, see "46.8+ Billion Times a developer got help" - how is this calculated?

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