Way back when (about 6-7 years ago), I was an avid member of The Hyphen Site. It was a great resource, and its community had a lot of charisma. For example, the "Lounge" area was often hilariously geeky. I feel like it was way ahead of its time in terms of adding a "game" layer (points) to encourage answers.

But I stopped contributing when they did a big commercial-looking redesign (and so did a lot of other members). Since then, they also ceased to be a convenient resource because of the requirement to register to see answers and because of the distracting ads (yeah, yeah: Google cache / free registration / scroll to the bottom). In my mind, The Hyphen Site failed. No one at my workplace treats it as a valuable site.

Stack Overflow is similar in concept to The Hyphen Site, but I'd hate to see Stack Overflow follow in The Hyphen Site's footsteps. How will Stack Overflow succeed where The Hyphen Site didn't?

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    I don't think SO can fail due to the same commercially motivated anti-user alterations. The possible problems here are too much user choice and hence community tendencies to overregulate, a bit of featuritis, and expert desaturation due to quantity. (area51 helps)
    – mario
    Feb 13, 2011 at 3:42
  • Interesting. What do you mean by "too much user choice"? Also, I haven't noticed any feature bloat so far? The interface seems pleasantly simplistic (almost to a fault!).
    – anon
    Feb 13, 2011 at 5:11
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    Not exactly a duplicate, but related: What Experts Exchange thinks of Stack Overflow. In particular, see this answer by an EE mod and the comments it garnered.
    – Pops
    Aug 15, 2011 at 18:52
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    The "EE failed" label is of course subjective, the EE business model is working well, maybe better described as thriving, and there are many happy EE users + experts. For mine SO and EE have a very different + complementary appeal. EE is geared more to heavy duty users, especially those in corporate support roles and has significantly more traffic and expert depth in key topics. Whereas SO offers a deeper expert and questioner experience with a focus on community (+1 on priveleges) and a much cleaner and easier to navigate interface. Plenty of room for both - no "evil" at either.
    – brettdj
    Sep 18, 2011 at 2:41

1 Answer 1


The short answer is that everything you contribute is to our sites is permanently licensed under creative commons, which means we can't put it behind a paywall.

Also: we're not evil.

  • But didn't they have to do things that only appeared "evil" in order to survive? They likely explored as many other revenue streams as they could before resorting to offending their community.
    – anon
    Feb 13, 2011 at 5:09
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    You'd be surprised how often greed is the only reason
    – Ivo Flipse
    Feb 13, 2011 at 5:45
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    @Ivo Things cost money. Employees cost money. You need to make money to pay for things. You get paid for your work, I presume?
    – JCL1178
    Jun 16, 2011 at 4:40
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    Your are spreading wrong information Jeff: the license CC BY-SA 3.0 that Stack Exchange uses doesn't prevent from commercial use, which means Stack Exchange has the legal right to put its content behind a paywall. Oct 4, 2015 at 18:23
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    @FranckDernoncourt: While that's true, it's also true that SE has no legal right to keep anything behind the paywall. Anybody who felt like could pay a modest fee and scrape all their content, no problem, then turn around and offer that up for ads. (This already happens, of course, but copycat sites would be far bigger competitors if SE wasn't free to use.) Dec 19, 2015 at 3:41
  • @NathanTuggy Untrue. SE could prevent users from scrapping. Aug 3, 2016 at 16:29
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    @FranckDernoncourt: That would conflict with CC's provisions that allow redistributing. ""Reproduce" means to make copies of the Work by any means…", and the license specifically grants that right. So no, SE cannot legally prevent scraping without changing licenses. Period. Aug 3, 2016 at 18:42
  • @NathanTuggy They can prevent a user from retrieving more than X pages from that website in less than Y seconds. Aug 3, 2016 at 18:49
  • @FranckDernoncourt: Sure, but any amount sufficient to allow ordinary use is also enough to make an awful lot of content available secondhand, even without, e.g., using multiple users across multiple IPs. Aug 3, 2016 at 18:52
  • @NathanTuggy Sure, my only point was that your claim "anybody who felt like could pay a modest fee and scrape all their content" was untrue. Aug 3, 2016 at 18:53
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    That may not age well. Jun 13, 2023 at 17:50
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    oh, it definitely will age well, as long as I'm alive to fight for it. Jun 14, 2023 at 0:11
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    @JeffAtwood Do you have any actual power in your fights for it, now that the company was sold years ago, and you’re no longer in charge of it? Jun 14, 2023 at 13:17

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