I find StackOverflow suffers from a problem of questions rolling out to the dark areas of StackOverflow too quickly because:

  1. SO doesn't support threaded discussions.
  2. The badge system seems to encourage people to concentrate on recent questions.
  3. "Fastest gun in the west" syndrome.
  4. No email notifications for comments or replies; people comment and move on.
  5. Ineffective search: no way to filter search on different criteria.

After approximately 2 days, if a question doesn't get answered, it has a very low chance to ever get answered unless a bounty is set up. These questions get placed under most people's radar.

  • 11
    I don't think StackOverflow suffers from short attent-- oooh, shiny! – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Jul 23 '09 at 16:37
  • @Pesto What! Where? – devinb Jul 23 '09 at 16:40
  • @devinb: Huh ? – GEOCHET Jul 23 '09 at 16:41
  • @Pesto: No you don't! Finder's keepers. Muahaha! – Christian Mar 6 '11 at 20:18

The things you're listing as problems aren't problems at all.

  1. No threaded discussions because it's a Q&A site, not a discussion site. Questions that need discussion are questions that weren't worded properly or lack important information.
  2. Badge system encourages people to concentrate on answerable questions, and to do it quickly. What's wrong with quick answers? Low-quality quick answers will be downvoted.
  3. Again, questions are answered quickly, or comments are added quickly stating more information is needed. This is a good thing.
  4. There are notifications for comments and answers. It's the little envelope icon at the top of every page.
  5. Use Google if SO's search is inadequate.
  • 1
    @Welbog: Copy cat. – GEOCHET Jul 23 '09 at 16:43
  • I wrote it first! – Welbog Jul 23 '09 at 16:51
  • Agree except for #5. SO's search should be improved. – Lance Roberts Jul 23 '09 at 16:53
  • @Welbog: That is not true. Maybe your short attention span is to blame? – GEOCHET Jul 23 '09 at 16:56
  • @Rich B: To blame for what? – Welbog Jul 23 '09 at 17:04
  • @Welbog: Blame for copying me. QQ. – GEOCHET Jul 23 '09 at 17:18
  • @Rich B: I copied you? – Welbog Jul 23 '09 at 17:26
  • @Welbog: Yes. Try to pay attention. – GEOCHET Jul 23 '09 at 17:35
  • To what? – Welbog Jul 23 '09 at 17:41
  • @Rich B & Welbog: Hey, guys! Stop fighting and check out this shiny-- look, a bird! – Hilarious Comedy Pesto Jul 23 '09 at 17:43
  • @Welbog: Wait what? icanhascheezburger.files.wordpress.com/2007/01/stoned.jpg – GEOCHET Jul 23 '09 at 17:57
  • @Welbog: That is right. You have been challenged to a lolcat fight. En garde! – GEOCHET Jul 23 '09 at 18:30
  • If it's threaded, it's easier to follow. This way comments don't have to be prefixed with some guy's name. Also some answers are debatable, not clear... etc. I meant email notifications to comments posters, not to questions poster. These people might need to know if their comment-question has been answered. – Abdu Jul 23 '09 at 23:54

1) SO.com is not a discussion forum.
2) Recent questions should be the focus. We want good, fast answers.
3) FGITW is encouraged. See #2.
4) See #1.
5) Google works fine for me. Tag based searches on SO.com are pretty powerful as well.

And for the record, that is what the bounty is for, and works quite well for that.
It should also be pointed out that questions get recycled (or 'bumped') to the front page randomly forever after.

Perhaps you should think about posting some examples of the questions that should get answers but don't if you really are seeing a problem?


This question talks about how to pump up some interest into your older questions

How to get attention for your old unanswered questions

Basically, since it is assumed that you are still interested in a response you should be looking up answers for yourself, and editing the question with the new information that you have. That has two bonuses

Bumping: The question will be moved to the top of the "active questions"

Interest: If you have added context, or changed the phrasing, the question may come across in a way that will generate interest from people who may not have bothered before.

Make sure that you keep updating the question as you find new information, and people will return the favour.


The Unanswered page and the bounty system were both put in place to alleviate the problem of some questions not getting answered. You can also bump a question to the top of the Active page simply by editing it. I don't know if we really need even more solutions to take care of the very small percentage of questions that don't get answered. It's just possible that no one on SO knows the answer to some questions.

  • Didn't know editing a question gives it a bump. – Abdu Jul 23 '09 at 23:55

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