opinions on Stack Overflow

Post a reply

In an effort to prevent automatic submissions, we require that you complete the following challenge.
:D :) ;) :( :o :shock: :? 8-) :lol: :x :P :oops: :cry: :evil: :twisted: :roll: :!: :?: :idea: :| :mrgreen: :geek: :ugeek: :arrow: :angel: :clap: :crazy: :eh: :lolno: :problem: :shh: :shifty: :sick: :silent: :think: :thumbup: :thumbdown: :salute: :wave: :wtf: :yawn: :facepalm: :bravo: :dance: :beard: :morebeard: :xmas: :HeHe: :trollface: :cookie: :rainbow: :monkeysee: :monkeysay: :happybday: :headwall: :offtopic: :superhappy: :terms: :beer:
View more smilies

BBCode is ON
[img] is OFF
[flash] is OFF
[url] is ON
Smilies are ON

Topic review

Expand view Topic review: opinions on Stack Overflow

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by derz00 » 31 May 2018, 20:24

Good points!

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by Cerberus » 31 May 2018, 13:22

SO and the other large Stack-Exchange sites can indeed be harsh. English.SE is also very harsh, and I can say that as I have been on that site for 8 years. You only need 5 grumpy old high-reps to close a question, and you need only 1 to post a challenging comment. I have a few suggestions:

1. Don't argue. You can't win; all you can do is not spend energy.

2. Go to the chat room of the site you're at, and ask, "do you think the following would make for a valid question on the main site?:", followed by a very short version of your question. You may be ignored. Or you may get advice about how to phrase the question to fit on the main site, and perhaps an up-vote. Or someone might answer your question in chat! Or they might say, this is the wrong SE site for that, ask somewhere else. You might try chatting up to people before asking, to build up some good will.

3. Browse a few other questions that got, say, 10 up-votes and try to copy the format. This could go like "1. This is my problem. 2. This is what I want to achieve. 3. This is what I've tried. 4. This is other relevant context".

P.S. The smaller and newer SE sites are usually a lot more open and friendly. I moderate Latin.SE, for example.

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by nameispalmer » 21 May 2018, 03:02

All this stuff of reputation system by no means was made in order to prevent asking the same questions again and again. But it also fights some well-experienced lads, whose posts just don't get a number of upvotes enough to get some reputation, and that's a shame. But there's no improvement without casualties

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by joedf » 19 May 2018, 08:45

You need to sneak in a few interesting questions that no one will answer because they are incapable then answer yourself or... put an obvious but interesting answer so they "like" you... slowly you'll gain some reputation and then you may actually ask some questions.

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by Frosti » 09 May 2018, 08:17

I read many opinions about SO in the last months. It's a reputation system used by companys to find "excellent" employees? I read advices like this: "go for SO, get a good reputation. So you get the best job!"

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by jeeswg » 08 May 2018, 20:56

@Frosti (the Codeman): You mentioned some ancient themes. If there is something of relevance, it's this:

Asterix - House That Sends You Mad - YouTube

The Twelve Tasks of Asterix - Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twelv ... of_Asterix
Find Permit A-38 in "The Place That Sends You Mad". A mind-numbing multi-storey building founded on bureaucracy and staffed by clinically unhelpful people who direct all their clients to other similarly unhelpful people elsewhere in the building.
The problem with Stack Overflow is not the people but the bureaucratic system. There isn't any other forum I use where I risk losing reputation points and where I risk losing the ability to ask a question for 6 months, simply for asking a modest/good/excellent question that is in full accordance with the rules.

To an extent it's OK to hide some aspects of the algorithms/weighting systems, so that people can't game the system to bend the rules but avoid being banned. However, Stack Overflow has got the balance here wrong many a time, furthermore, if they were explicitly clear and transparent about the rules, they might actually get the behaviour they wanted.

I might take a look at The Art of War for any relevant quotes. I don't remember any stand-out quotes from it, so it will be interesting to look at it again. Perhaps there was one, something like: if you know yourself and your enemy you needn't fear the outcome of so-many battles. I see it as relating more to competitive relationships, and not educational relationships, but dealing with the unknown links both.

If you were to consider the people angle, it's about the relationship between the master and the apprentice. To which I've just invented a little phrase. Be shrewd, leave the master if he's rude.

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by Frosti » 06 May 2018, 10:05

I thought my answer and I remember a good book I read some years before. It contains instructions on how to behave in unknown hostile territory and how to win despite this disadvantage. It also tells you when it's time to pull back.
It is the book of Shun-Tzu (孫武 Sūn Wŭ) written 2500 years ago and world famous under the name: "The Art of War". It's a small book, with lots of informations, worth reading it several times.

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by Frosti » 06 May 2018, 09:32

Stack Overflow is like a Roman Arena. You are the new gladiator. You have no idea of the rules and certainly not from the tricks. And then comes a veteran gladiator and his servant entourage, just killing you without warning. You are uninteresting because you simply did not understand the game. And while you are still dying they still say to you, because you still have not understood, "Do not take it personally!". Do not take it personally! You are not worthy of her fame. The Emperor doesn't care, he wants great games! He wants to see the most cunning and terrible human beast in his arena, and maybe he wants to hire her later in his company and gild her. He thinks if he gilds the beast he can control it. He only forgot or never knew one thing. There are no new stories, only new people!

And the moral of the story is?

1. You do not even go to a forensic psychiatric clinic and ask the inmates to solve your problems and that too without protection.
2. And if you're a monster, you're definitely not in this place to help others with their problems.

In this place you will find those who only know themselves. The old game of power and money - as in a Roman arena - exciting for the audience.

Have nice days with nice people here on this forum!

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by jeeswg » 05 May 2018, 20:45

- @derz00: FINALLY. Many thanks for drawing this article to my attention. Curiously, the day you posted I was thinking of mentioning on this forum my intention to work on a basic forum, just for fun, but possibly as a test forum for one to be used for work and as a potential prelude to my own Stack Exchange alternative.
- @swagfag: Indeed.
- @nnnik: I know what you mean. For my Halloween costume last year I went as Stack Overflow. The AutoHotkey forum feels a bit like a second home. The Stack Overflow forum feels a bit like a demilitarised zone.

- The article is well-written and makes some good points, however, one concern with this article is that it blurs the distinction between unwelcoming and offensive behaviour, therefore treating neither issue seriously.
Stack Overflow Isn't Very Welcoming. It's Time for That to Change. - Stack Overflow Blog
https://stackoverflow.blog/2018/04/26/s ... to-change/
Too many people experience Stack Overflow¹ as a hostile or elitist place, especially newer coders, women, people of color, and others in marginalized groups.
- (As an aside, I found the use of terms like 'marginalized groups', 'Zuckerbots' and 'Drinking the Kool-Aid' (an indirect reference, 'a glass pitcher'), most unfortunate/demoralising/problematic for an 'uplifting' article such as this that aims to be touchy-feely about social interactions and inclusivity.)
- It turns out that there have already been various (failed) initiatives aimed at improving the culture (rudeness/offensiveness), this is useful to know. Unfortunately there is no reason to believe that they are going to succeed this time.
- Worse still, they have fundamentally misidentified not only the solutions, but the problems.
- The fundamental problem that people complain about is the 'robot' element (the non-human element, the systems: reputation points system, question review system, permissions/ban system etc) and not the human element (the random acts of unkindness, the person-to-person hostility).
- Btw people expect a bit of hostility on the Internet, Stack Overflow isn't to blame for that. However, when it's a user with 10,000+ reputation points, and users don't want to challenge them because they're afraid of mass retaliatory downvoting, that's when it's a problem.

- An option to flag behaviour that is simply 'unfriendly'. If a user gets hundreds of these then there is a consequence: ranging from a link to a 'be nice' video to a public tribunal where they can be challenged by other users.
- A user's reputation is only hit after 5+ downvotes, whereas 1-4 downvotes slows down their reputation growth, e.g. 4 downvotes: you need 20 more reputation points before your reputation can increase, e.g. 5 downvotes: the same plus your reputation is reduced by 5 points. The worst 'social evil' of Stack Overflow is the edginess about losing reputation, to use hyperbole to underline the problem: this is the main source of poison on the world's most poisonous website.
- A user can only receive say 100 points from upvotes for a single thread, otherwise, people can acquire an inflated reputation. This is a very serious problem with the website, reputation points *must* constitute some sort of reliable indicator of reputation. People must not be able to game the system.
- A *useful* and full/extensive list of rules and *tips* for posting questions. Also the 'unwritten rules' should be considered, how would the typical reviewer/power user perceive the question.
- A *useful* 'question-is-answered' indicator, e.g. a question is marked one colour if 5 power users have determined it answered, otherwise another colour if the OP considers it answered. (The power user indicator is more useful than the OP indicator.) At the moment there is no useful indicator as to whether a question is answered or not, in general I ignore the indicator, the OP tagged the wrong answer, a semi-complete answer (the best answer available at the time), or no answer. Potentially users could vote an answer as either useful or as a complete answer to the question.
- Perhaps: more generosity with question lifespans, inactive threads deleted less quickly, some questions may be valid but esoteric. Some questions are deleted after a month, sometimes it takes me 3 months to answer a question because I'm busy.
- Perhaps: more generosity with question bans: the ability to ask a question every 3 months, versus 6 months only for more severe cases. A flaw with the system is that some programming languages are less well-known so questions receive virtually no upvotes. A system that eventually forgives historic 'bad' questions could be worth considering. Also, questions are often downvoted not because they break the rules, but because of the culture of the forum, therefore it makes sense to be more forgiving of earlier questions when the user doesn't yet know the 'unwritten rules'.
- The review process is infuriating and can last a week, but I can understand that this isn't something that is necessarily easy to fix. Perhaps though, some measures that decrease unnecessary pressure/unease can be found. Perhaps a greyed out stage where the question is under review, but people can still post comments (I can't remember exactly how it works, and I don't want to be reacquainted with it either), and/or more clarity about how long the review process will last/what the deadlines are.
- Does the EVP actually use Stack Overflow? I see no questions or answers. Anyone seeking to reform Stack Overflow should experience how infuriating, slow and nauseating/pressure-laden it is to use.
User Jaydles - Stack Exchange
https://stackexchange.com/users/140824/ ... b=accounts
- Anyway, they can listen to what I said, or waste another 5 years, and let the website continue to rot, and pat themselves on the backs for more failed initiatives ('at least we did *something*, ineffective yes, but we tried').
- I'll leave three slightly hyperbolic points to underline the Stack Overflow effect, and how it could be changed.
- Stack Overflow is unique in that it has put off tens of thousands of people from becoming programmers.
- Stack Overflow is severely undermining the reputation of the IT industry and all the people that work within it.
- Stack Overflow has wasted more of my time than the next ten websites combined.

'A bit of that good old Stack Overflow hospitality.'
'Stack Overflow kindled my love for programming and for the wider programming community.'

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by nnnik » 03 May 2018, 23:46

Stack Overflow isn't very welcoming is an understatement.
It feels like a place where they burn newbies at the stake.

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by swagfag » 03 May 2018, 19:42

EVP of Culture and Experience at Stack Overflow

I mean.....

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by derz00 » 03 May 2018, 19:30

Here's a recent interesting blog post. It contains more interesting links on the same subject.

Stack Overflow isn't very Welcoming

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by jeeswg » 01 Apr 2018, 23:18

AFAICS, plenty of normal people do use SO and do have unpleasant experiences. See this thread for an example. I simply picked the most recent post. It seems pretty accurate to me.

The last question I posted to Stack Overflow got through in the end, and has no downvotes, but it's easier to set up a bank account.

Why StackOverflow sucks | The Programming Works
https://sergworks.wordpress.com/2012/09 ... low-sucks/
lol I looked up “Stack Overflow sucks”, because It wastes a LOT of my time (professional developer). Here’s the formula:

1. Ask question.
2. Four immediate comments questioning your question, waxing philosophical. argument breaks out in comments.
3. Convoluted answers with wildly ranging, overly complex code.
4. Question is edited to the point where several answers and comments no longer match original question.
5. Said answers and comments are down-voted zealously.
6. OP posts that they figured it out, then runs away from the stupidity, and gets down-voted for not answering his own question, even though it’s been changed.
7. Closed as off topic.

I’m just going to block SO from my networks, and figure out how to exclude it from my search results. I’m legitimately amazed at some of these mods I see who chill there ALL DAY LONG with track records of just closing EVERYTHING. and btw I’ve read the meta, read the FAQ, read the rules (because I thought hey, maybe I’m doing something wrong, or we all are). I downvote the meta and the FAQ for being unclear, ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably understood in its current form.

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by guest3456 » 01 Apr 2018, 22:58


Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by jeeswg » 01 Apr 2018, 22:25


Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by guest3456 » 01 Apr 2018, 22:16


Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by jeeswg » 01 Apr 2018, 21:46

Awh, poor Guestie, did you think I didn't know?
[EDIT:] Curiously, because of time zones I suppose, based on comments I saw, I think it might have started on 31 Mar, and it is still here on 2 Apr.

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by guest3456 » 01 Apr 2018, 18:40

jeeswg wrote: One thing I've never accused Stack Overflow of, is of having bugs. You would think with so many programmers there, and so many useful curated answers, they would have avoided the problem. But then again, we all make mistakes, especially Stack Overflow.
its clearly intentional, as an april fool's day joke

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by jeeswg » 01 Apr 2018, 16:48

Ask the duck!

You’ll need to explain your problem.
Do you have a microphone?

Yes No

[if you click yes]
Quack Overflow is listening…

Explain your problem out loud. Speak naturally.

[if you click no]
Quack Overflow is listening…

With the magic of the internet,
you can just explain your problem anyway!
Speak naturally.
Ah yes, I noticed this. You get different response texts, but both say that 'the duck' is listening. A user wants clarification and gets 8 downvotes. The better the meta question, the more reasonable or normal it is, the more reflective it is of general opinion, the more likely it is to get heavily downvoted. Thanks for sharing.

One thing I've never accused Stack Overflow of, is of having bugs. You would think with so many programmers there, and so many useful curated answers, they would have avoided the problem. But then again, we all make mistakes, especially Stack Overflow.

I mainly check Stack Overflow to see if a certain programmer has been active, recent activity suggests that they've been working on a program that I use.

Re: opinions on Stack Overflow

Post by derz00 » 01 Apr 2018, 16:32


Never saw a virtual rubber ducky before! I'll have to try it next time I have a problem...