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Podcast 46


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Spolsky: OK, hey guys it's the StackOverflow Podcast episode number 46.
Atwood: 46, yes.

Spolsky:  I'm Joel Spolsky, and this is Jeff Atwood.

Atwood: Yes.

Spolsky: All you guys are just sitting because there's some nice comfy chairs, right? None of you have ever... Anybody here listen to the podcast? Maybe? You guys heard of StackOverflow?

Atwood: Cool

Spolsky: Audience...?  audience...?  For the people listening from home, all sixteen of you, we have an audience of 10,000 people, at least. It goes about as far as I can see.

Atwood: Right. Joel can't see very far.

Spolsky: We gotta keep it going though, 'cause this is a podcast and people will get bored.

Atwood: Yeah, sorry. We'll keep it going.

Spolsky: Do we have any Coding Horror... no, you're Coding Horror. Do we have any StackOverflow news?

Atwood: No, well there's no news because I had that human baby event.

Spolsky: How did that work out?

Atwood: So far so good. We have a human being.

Spolsky: Don't turn your head ever. Because what happens is you cut out of the mic which is based on your head being in a particular position.

Atwood: Well, I like to think of having a baby as like launching a rocket into the future. It's like you have this baby and it's like, Go! You get to take care of all that stuff. All these problems we're creating, you get to fix them.  So, good luck that.

Spolsky: The baby's in charge.

Atwood: Baby's in charge.

Spolsky: Does baby have a StackOverflow account yet?

Atwood: No, baby has a twitter account but not a StackOverflow account yet.

Spolsky: And that is what?  Twitter dot com slash rock hard...

Atwood: Twitter dot come slash rock hard awesome.

Spolsky: Awesome.  Cool.

Atwood: So let me open.  Actually I don't have any StackOverflow news because it's been super busy.  Because we were setting up for MIX and the baby event.

Spolsky: Yeah.

Atwood: But I have some StackOverflow questions that I liked.  And actually...

Spolsky: But still let's do some StackOverflow questions.

Atwood: Well let's do the classic.  Ok this is the classic StackOverflow question.  That occasionally you see on the site.  But what I love about this is, is it shows how fantastic the community really is on StackOverflow.  So, the question number is 656549.  And it says, it's very simple "What does Stack Overflow on line 25 mean?"



Atwood: ... yet another audience question. So who's got the mike there?

Audience member: What's the most number of questions asked by a single user on StackOverflow?

Atwood: Oh, gosh.

Spolsky: How do you find that out?

Atwood: Uh, I'd have to run a query, which I can't do, but, I would say, well, I would say that in general, let me just give you the general perspective of the stats. From what I've seen, you tend to have small number of questions and large number of answers. In the typical case.

Spolsky: Yeah, most people it's like ten or twenty.

Atwood: Yeah, most.., yeah, it's really narrow. I know that when I ask questions on StackOverflow, I guess cause it's like our thing, like, I'm really like, I don't know if I want to ask it. Yeah, I want to make I research it, like, I don't want to make my own site look bad by asking some doofus question.

Spolsky: Half the time when I want to ask something, it's already there.

Atwood: Yeah.

Spolsky: So you know, the more responsible users are going to do a little bit of dupe searching.

Atwood: Yeah, I think, you see the more responsible users who are like really good at Q&A realize that asking a question is kind of a big deal. And one of the things, when we designed the site, we realized that a lot of these sites got it really wrong, where the first thing you see when you come to the site would be like "Ask a Question!" and we're like "no, no, no, no, no, no.", that you do not want to like immediately have people asking questions. You want them to look at the site, think about "Oooh, do I know any *answers* to these questions?", and then sort of learn about the site, and what it's about, what kind of questions make sense, and *then* ask a question.

Spolsky: Yeah.

Atwood: Cause that's a piece of design feedback we get a lot, was like, "oh, you guys are making a huge mistake, you gotta have a big box that says 'Ask a question'." And, I knew they were wrong, I mean, I just intuitively knew they were wrong. But we kept hearing this over and over.

Spolsky: They're just copying Google, that's just copying the design of Google. But we have that user interface, and that's Google. I'm sorry, that's where the velociraptor comes out. (Laughs).

Atwood: Web search!

Spolsky: So your web search engine; I mean one of the things we'll, we talk about all the time is how our very original design is: the way StackOverflow works is, you go to your favorite search engine, you type a question, you hit enter, and then you find the result [in StackOverflow], and that is the most important use case of StackOverflow; things that are already in there. And after you've seen three or four of those, you notice they're all coming up on this site called StackOverflow, you might say "Hey, I wonder what else is going on here", and, you may not ask questions on there, for a while, you may participate, you may just sort of look around, you may kind of hang out and, and what we want is the home page to be just some sort of interesting questions, where you can learn some interesting kind of stuff.

Atwood: Right. We really, Joel and I, we really wanted to take sort of a different tack with the site, you know, and kind of go in a different directions, a kind of experiment a little bit, so some of these decisions were intentionally experimental, like we were like let's see what happens if we try this, rather than just doing the same thing that everybody else does, so I think that one in particular payed off.

Spolsky: ...



[69:10 ends]

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Last Modified: 4/26/2009 10:56 AM

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