I am starting to get annoyed with the sites that use the SO data dumps because they are polluting the search results from search engines. It does me no good when I click on some result and it's just the same SO question and answer I read on stackoverflow.com seconds ago. What bugs me is the title of the listing was different which suggests to me I will looking at something different. Some sites do use the same question title , which is good.

Now I have to scan the domain names from the listings and avoid the sites which are basically copies of SO. Some of these sites rank high up in the results. I am not sure why unless because they have indirect affiliations with SO.

My question: Do these sites harm SO when visitors visit these sites as their primary destination for Q&A thus robbing SO from possible ad revenue?


You said it yourself:

It does me no good when I click on some result and it's just the same SO question and answer I read on stackoverflow.com seconds ago.

You've already clicked on the SO link, therefor they've already received any potential ad revenue. If you had clicked on the syndicator first, then that IS an issue - that the SO guys have already dealt with.

It's a poor state of affairs that people feel the need to do this, but if they follow the rules then it's perfectly permitted, and it's a small price to pay for not becoming a digital sharecropper (IMDB anyone?)

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  • +1 for the digital sharecropper link, ended up spending 30 minutes on coding horror – amelvin Jan 24 '11 at 23:58
  • I was already on SO then I went to Google to look for more answers. I didn't click on SO from a Google link. I am sure some people don't start at SO. – Tony_Henrich Jan 25 '11 at 17:47
  • @Tony - if you started on SO, then they've definately already milked you for advertising dollars, so again, there's no real issue here – Mark Henderson Jan 25 '11 at 20:20
  • I am talking about people who don't start at SO and who start at SO clones. – Tony_Henrich Jan 26 '11 at 17:20
  • @Tony - if they're starting at google and working their way down the page from first to last, they will always hit SO first. If they're just going to click randomly, then there's nothing anyone can do about that. – Mark Henderson Jan 26 '11 at 19:17

If these other sites are aggregating content from a number of sites, improving the knowledge in a certain area and then adding value in some way (perhaps by exposing the content to further comment and moderation of some sort) then there is a case for them.

But blindly copying the SO dump and little more is not helping anyone.

It might help if the clones actually stated what they were going to add to the SO experience before being given license to use the data - but maybe that horse has bolted.

I guess Google won't blacklist SO for displaying content that is repeatedly used elsewhere) by clones), so I don't think SO is materially damaged. But if the casual SO browser is kept from SO by having a poor user experience at a clone, then SO is indirectly weakened.

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  • Some clones claim they offer better experience or improve upon SO's experience or they aggregate from different sources. It seems to some people these are better sites than SO. – Tony_Henrich Jan 25 '11 at 17:49

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