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Stack Overflow

This is the first Web 2.0 application I would dare to call amazing. In case you’ve been on the moon in the past few days, I’m talking about www.stackoverflow.com

Idea is probably nothing new, but the way it is done is brilliant. What is it all about? Well, suppose you are a programmer like myself, and you run into some minor problem you cannot manage to solve using the 4 proven techniques of solving programmer’s problems:

  1. look into manual
  2. experiment
  3. google
  4. try to restart

I just made that up, but I like it :)

Anyway, if you don’t know how to solve it, the last resource is to ask a friend or colleague who might know. But, with StackOverflow, you get access to thousands programmers in the world, and some of them surely know an answer to your problem. And, since website is live with questions and answers all the time, you’ll get the answer really soon. A typical use case for me:

  • have a problem
  • go to SO and post a question
  • while I wait for the answers, I browse the existing questions and reply, vote, etc.
  • I check back every once in a while to find the answer and test it right away in my code
  • b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l.

This works simply because, while waiting for an answer, I managed to send replies to 5-10 other people. And once you get a critical mass, it’s a ball that keeps rolling. Simply because you know you will get answers there.

And, of course, there’s the whole rating, ranking and reputation (RRR?) system that gives you a warm feeling that while contributing to the general cause, you are building your image.

Milan Babuškov, 2008-09-17
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