There are a fair number of developers at my company who are unaware of Stack Overflow. I plan on giving a presentation introducing it in a general way to a developer user group.

  • What are some topics that I should cover in the presentation?
  • Is there anything you wish you would have known when you first started using SO?
  • Anything I should purposefully leave out?

Aside from these starter questions I'd appreciate suggestions on anything you think might be relevant.

  • 7
    Each slide must have pictures of Unicorns or Waffles... – William Hilsum Sep 23 '10 at 2:04
  • @Wil but of course! – ahsteele Sep 23 '10 at 2:05
  • @Wil: s/or/and/. – ЯegDwight Sep 23 '10 at 11:28
  • @RegDwight Who said there can't be two Uncorns or/and Waffles per page!? – William Hilsum Sep 23 '10 at 13:50

Before covering the mechanics of the site, I would consider discussing why the site works. They're almost surely familiar with forums and chat rooms. Start with the problems of those systems and how Stack Overflow solves those problems:

  • Best answers float to the top
  • Focus on the information learning
  • De-emphasizes protracted discussion and social networking
  • Reputation rewards good behavior and encourages better posts
  • etc.

Here is a good essay outlining the problems of traditional forums:

(blog) Robert Scoble's "The chat room forum problem

And how Stack Exchange addresses these common problems.

(video) Joel Spolsky's @ Google Tech Talks: Learning from Stack Overflow

  • First show a video of people attempting to find answers the wrong way (with a bit "Is this you?" caption) and failing hilariously. Keep the blood to a minimum, though. – mmyers Sep 24 '10 at 21:24

Focus on the main ideas of the site, and don't dwell on unimportant things. (Like memes, sorry). Some things that I would touch on:

  • How to ask a (good) question
  • Brief markdown summary
  • How to provide (good) answers
  • How to learn more than was covered in your presentation
  • Reputation overview, just the highlights
  • What comments are for
  • What voting is for
  • Navigating the site. Different views

Those are the important things I would mention.


I'd begin by explaining it this way:

Is everyone here? Okay. Today I want to introduce you to a valuable resource called StackOverflow.


This is Jon Skeet...

I'm a firm believer in starting with the basics.

  • See also: Welbog. – Welbog Sep 23 '10 at 13:36
  • @Toronto: ...and Jeff Atwood. But we'll learn about him when we get to the lesson on "Notable Contributors." Today is Jon Skeet day. :) – uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Sep 23 '10 at 17:28

Just tell the developers how to ask good questions that help them get there job done.

  • Tell them to ask the question before they have spend all days looking for the answer.
  • Tell them what a good questions is.
  • Clear and to the point
  • Only asks about one small topic
  • Clear and short code to demonstrate the problem
  • That the process of writing a good question will often lean them to the answer. Etc
  • But they should do a quick google first to try to find the answer etc..

You could try telling them that if they have programming questions, they should ask it on Stackoverflow before asking other developers in your company, they should then email a link to the question to any other developers in your company that may be able to help. The answer should then be put on StackOverflow.

You may also offer to put a bounty on any question that is important for you company, provided it is well written.

Then tell them about up voting all helpful answers and marking the best answer.


This might help: advice for new users: What advice would you give new people joining a Stack Exchange site?

I know this is pushing my own question but it's now community wiki. =:-)

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