It's the new year already in some places, and that means new year's resolutions. So, I began thinking... what major changes will 2011 bring to the StackExchange network?

Here are some of my hopes. Some are reasonable, others are... interesting:

  • v2 of the API - This one's already scheduled. I had to mention it for completeness.
  • More StackExchange sites get their own domain name - Ask Ubuntu is currently the only StackExchange site to have its own domain (apart from *.stackexchange.com). It would be nice if some other sites got some decent traffic and moved on too.
  • Live question lists - It'd be cool if the home page 'auto-refreshed' so that new questions surfaced automatically. Just thought I'd throw that one out.

Please share any other hopes and dreams you have for the network in the coming year.


Information Rot

This is actually on my plate now. With close to 1.2 million questions, Stack Overflow contains a growing number of out-of-date questions with out-of-date answers and useless and/or duplicate answers.

We need to build an incentive system to clean this mess up.

  • 1
    Sounds like a challenge. – uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Jan 1 '11 at 2:37
  • It just hit me that that's a huge amount of questions. This is a really big problem... we need to find a way to "archive" out-of-date questions and get rid of those answers that you describe. – Maxim Zaslavsky Jan 1 '11 at 3:24
  • 1
  • There's a need to decide what “clean this mess up” means first. Does it mean sticking strictly to closing new questions in favor of old ones, or does it mean closing old ones and saying that new responses in this area are better off done with some newer Q? Or something else? (I don't think it means doing lots of deleting of questions though; that upsets lots of people.) – Donal Fellows Jan 1 '11 at 15:24
  • Does this also include abandoned questions that got insufficient following up to answer and deleting old off-topic questions? Since why would we want to keep them around? – Ivo Flipse Jan 1 '11 at 15:44
  • @Donal, by clean up I mean ... improve old out-of-date content as a priority, come up with a way of dealing with duplicate answers, remove useless answers (like thank you, same problem). Also we are exploring ways to gather contributions from all the anonymous visitors. – waffles Jan 2 '11 at 10:03
  • @waffles: I wish you the very best of luck with a difficult but important problem, and hope that the solutions don't damage the other good things about SO (will they? I don't know but there's always a risk). – Donal Fellows Jan 2 '11 at 11:33
  • Find better ways to identify duplicates. There are questions of which a new incarnation is asked literally every day.

  • Find ways for Tag Wikis to be used more. Create reasons for people to actually look at them.

  • Find ways to make the users of niche areas on SO happier to contain "separationist" tendencies of starting new Area51 sites on programming sub-topics that belong on Stack Overflow.

  • Encourage downvoting, and discourage sympathy upvoting on bad questions.

  • well for point #2, certainly blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/01/… has helped. I agree that #3 is very difficult and we are thinking a lot about that. #1 and #4, I'm not as concerned about but we will certainly be monitoring them. – Jeff Atwood Feb 11 '11 at 7:11

Non-Sucky Search Function

The cause of various other problems (duplicates, novice questions, finding syntax constructs) is the site search, which relies on a simple text OR-match, not relevancy, thus making people eschew it.

(But I guess I'll make this into a separate quest..)

  • Find a way to better encourage voting on questions
  • Reduce the number of duplicate, beginner, "obvious" questions being asked
  • Add documentation and navigation to get to features like /reputation or tags/synonyms
  • 4
    voting is huge. we need more of that. – studiohack Jan 1 '11 at 3:08
  • we have plenty of badges for voting though (plus, don't forget Electorate which is awarded for only question voting) blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/10/vote-early-vote-often – Jeff Atwood Feb 11 '11 at 7:14
  • @Jeff Yes, Electorate did just encourage me to spend a multi-week binge voting on almost only questions. That was...really hard. :) – Phrogz Feb 11 '11 at 14:16

For my personal interest I would like to see interface translation tools to enable foreigner sites.

  • 3
    +1 this is going to involve much more than UI localization, though. Communities would have to be built, and moderated – Pekka Jan 1 '11 at 19:52

I'd like to see the data dump generation process automated and run on a regular schedule. Last year it was mostly completed sometime in the first week of the month, but December was skipped. I get the feeling that there's still at least some manual process involved in the data dump, but this is really something that needs to be able to run unattended.

  • Whilst it would be good to see more regular data dumps, for something that happens only 12 times a year then full automation seems over the top. – 8128 Jan 9 '11 at 10:03
  • 1
    @fluteflute - pretty much any regular task should be considered for automation. What happens if the designated person is off sick (for example)? The data dumps seem to be a prime candidate to me. – ChrisF Jan 9 '11 at 15:47

World Peace

And by world peace I mean a unicorn for everyone.

If this needs to be put off due to lack of resources, then my next desire is for

Clear, consistent, up to date documentation

Moderators (and by extension, everyone) should have a single point of reference for all the power they wield, including how and when to wield it.

The documentation should either be maintained by someone who has access to the commits to the code base, or be maintained by the community from an official feed of every change made to the code base that is publishable (ie, we shouldn't be surprised when we notice different functionality).

We need a better FAQ index, and a better system overview so that someone completely new to the site and terminology will be able to learn about it to any depth they desire on any topic they desire (ie, they shouldn't have to read through reams of unrelated FAQs to discover what they should do if their comment for the moderator flag is too long - they should be able to pick a topic, and drill down to discover everything about it quickly without having to read random material, or worse ask another duplicate question)

  • Only one unicorn? What terrible poverty you speak of! – uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Jan 9 '11 at 20:25
  • @George - Unicorns these days are really the white elephants of our time. They are expensive to maintain, perform no service or function, and you can't easily get rid of one, unless you manage to sneak it into a black-market unicorn meat factory. Sure, they have automatic mod-powers on all SOIS sites, but most people who are serious about controlling the destiny of their questions and answers already have five or more 10k rep sockpuppet accounts, so, really, they're just expensive lawn ornaments. Necessary for world peace, sure, but not much else. – Pollyanna Jan 10 '11 at 19:19

Knowledge Base Dashboard

Having a growing number of Stack Exchange sites to follow, I usually feel lost when I need to search and retrieve some answers I gave, questions I asked or simply marked as favorites.

It would be cool to have a personal Dashboard that allows me to search on all of this stuff.


I'd really like to see Area51 mature, with more regular users and more proposals going live. I don't have many specifics (except a firestarter badge) but would like to see progress on using / assigning rep and more promotion of proposals.

Great that it (Area51 and whole StackExchange) exists and is free! Thanks to all contributors for the great work so far!


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