Should Stack Overflow be expanded to include user-submitted papers and articles, which can then rake in higher scores based upon the quality of their work? Authors of tutorials/papers could be granted the "Author Badge," and maybe even the "Golden Educator" with 10+ articles averaging 10+ upvotes.

The great thing about Stack Overflow is the community, which could determine the acceptability of any article, and post comments/corrections to content found therein.

Why? Authors here carry weight. If I see that Jon Skeet wrote an article on .NET 4.5 and C#, I will be more compelled to read it than I would Joe Smith's blog. The community here is already providing quick-and-simple answers to each other every second - why not stop playing catch-up with each other and actually practice some offensive-education?

Besides, I like the model of up-voting questions to illustrate quality. I don't know of any tutorial site even remotely similar to what Stack Overflow would offer. All authors have a history of activity, reputation, etc. Their papers are each weighed independently by its subject matter, clarity, and usefulness.

I honestly see great potential in this. Sure, it's kind of been done before, but then again, Stack Overflow wasn't completely original - and yet it blew the competition away when it launched.

  • In other words, we should bolt Reddit on to the SO engine? I'm not sure this is such a hot idea. Commented Jun 30, 2009 at 1:10
  • 5
    The acronym SOFlow makes me eyes bleed.
    – Tom Ritter
    Commented Jun 30, 2009 at 1:16
  • Tom, eye bleeding pretty much ensure an acronym will stick around forever. Commented Jun 30, 2009 at 1:37
  • 2
    @Kyle: I think he's rather talking CodeProject than Reddit
    – fretje
    Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 8:56
  • I have tried posting tutorials in Q and A jeopardy format. Its a gret idea! but, It doesn't work. People look at them one day, but the next day they get no views. Tell people to go to other places for tutorials, because they will not do well here unless a new feature is added. ;D Commented Jul 27, 2009 at 0:14
  • @Kyle I don't think the proposal sounds all that much like reddit; hopefully the setup would be more like ArXiV + peer review than reddit
    – Glen_b
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 4:20

5 Answers 5


Just think of it like jeopardy: your answer must be phrased in the form of a question.

Go ahead and write and submit your papers or essays, but submit them with an intro that states the problem your essay addresses.

  • 1
    I have tried posting tutorials in Q and A jeopardy format. It doesn't work. People look at them one day, but the next day they get no views. Tell people to go to other places for tutorials, because they will not do well here unless a new feature is added. ;D Commented Jul 27, 2009 at 0:13
  • I tried it once, and it was pretty well received.
    – Bart Kiers
    Commented May 23, 2011 at 5:58

I really think that this would be a great use of a modification to the Stack Overflow engine. Now, I wouldn't include it in a questions-and-answer section. I think it would be a great section to the site separated on its own (or maybe even on its own domain). I won't comment on badges or points, I'm sure something will be offered that is well thought out.

Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky and the greater team now employed have done an awesome job on the question + answer site with feedback, editing, and specific design goals. However, sometimes I get the urge to write an article to stuff information down peoples throats instead of waiting for them to hopefully not understand something and ask a question. However, the current site layout doesn't suit this well, it suits more proficiently a quick question and answer site with fairly general questions and maybe some code examples.

However, on an article based website I would expect to see similar goals (voting, editing, commenting), with site design geared towards an author to community approach. The Stack Overflow design that carries over is that old and outdated articles can be edited and modernized, bugs fixed, grammar clarified by a community working together to provide great information, but it may not fit so well within a question and answer format. And most importantly, articles that are just plain WRONG can be removed from public view, or are very clearly indicated.

And perhaps it's best to fill in the relevance to myself... I'm a fairly amateur developer, but I work in an engineering group for a CDMA and a brand new HSPA network in Canada. As such, I know a lot about gotchas and specifics to writing applications against mobile broadband networks, things where we've threatened to send customers $100,000 bills for applications that just behave badly on our network, that a regular TCP/IP application developer would see as completely valid. This is information that is also not necessarily readily found in the public domain due to the way service providers treat their networks as closed eco systems. I wouldn't mind writing an article or two about this, where hopefully the well informed can research articles relevant to them that may not fit within the context of a question that they'd otherwise just "wing-it".

I could ask a question, and answer it myself, but for a question / answer site that still just feels wrong, what would feel right if I asked a question and while waiting for a response had found the correct solution, then I would create an answer saying this is how I solved my problem, as a response for anyone who has a similar question.

  • I agree, Kevin. I think you're mixing apples and oranges if you use the Q&A system for Articles. I do like your suggestion of this possibly being an outside-site, giving it a sense of autonomy. I would love to see some of the members over at SO share more than a series of exclusive answers to simple questions here and there. Rather than demonstrating how to cycle arrays, chain methods, define classes, authors to article could give more high-level solutions making use of several smaller topics along the way.
    – Sampson
    Commented Jul 2, 2009 at 10:31

Well... Why?

I mean, there are already other sites that do this fairly well. Once you cut out the value of Answers by building them into the question itself, what does Stack Overflow's Q&A system bring to the table?

Can't help but think this sounds like the guy with the hammer looking for a nail...

  • 3
    Well ... you could say that to Google in 2004: "Why to make Gmail? I mean, there are already other sites that do this fairly well"
    – Miroslav
    Commented Nov 19, 2012 at 14:06
  • Actually I think there are a lot of places that do what I think is being proposed really badly. I also think you're misrepresenting (and seemingly deliberately) what is being proposed -- it's no more "a question with an answer in it" than Documentation is "a question with an answer in it". One might have easily said 8 + years ago "Why make another Q&A site for programmers?" -- the answer is that nobody did it right before.
    – Glen_b
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 4:26

Say you want to write a tutorial on writing a simple file system, post a question along the lines of "How would I go about writing a simple file system?", and then write your tutorial as an answer to that.

It's been said numerous times (by Mr Atwood and the likes) that using Stack Overflow as your own "programming notebook" is a perfectly valid use of the site, so long as you make everything fit with its Q&A-style.

From Jeff Atwood's post about the start of the Stack Overflow private beta:

Yes, it is OK and even encouraged to answer your own questions, if you find a good answer before anyone else.

There's also a related question on Stack Overflow about exactly this, "Is it poor etiquette to answer your own question?".

If you write a good answer (even to your own question), the community benefits (more good answers == good), and you'll probably get lots of (well earned) reputation points for it. Everyone wins.


The value of StackExchange is that it can consolidate and standardise the level of quality of technical information, so whilst a great deal of sites already do exist it is very hit and miss.

An example of how it would be of benefit would be based on my experience where I found the 'core' of the information I needed on StackExchange and then was able to build up a solution to a technical problem that could easily be of benefit to others, and indeed probably better explain the technical issue than the original question. So I would love to have the ability to write a short tutorial on building JSON classes for example without structuring as a question and answer type of dialogue.

Indeed, if someone has answered a question well, there would be definite value of linking that question and answer to a further tutorial for those that just want a little more than the 'answer'

So yes, it would be useful provided the papers were short of tutorial nature and structured in a manner that made them consistent and as a consequence easy to read and would have the benefit of consolidating the questions and answers we are all familar with.

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