Enough of GitHub? Alright, allow me to introduce you another famous online platform created for developers. Here it comes! Welcome, Stack Overflow! In order to provide the best quality of this blog, I created a new account on Stack Overflow and experience how they treat and deal with newcomers.
Stack Overflow vs GitHub
I hope you had a deep love in GitHub after reading through my past few blog posts. Refer to this blog post if you are a newcomer and wanted to know more GitHub. What are the differences between both of them, since both of them are created for developers. Both of them have many resources, and are famous for the number of contributors, members and healthy culture. However, GitHub is more famous for its version control, and Stack Overflow doesn’t provide such feature but rather, it focus on developing forum for developer’s discussion. GitHub can be defined as a respository which allows its member to manage concurrent version of a project and allow others to contribute easily. On the other hand, Stack Overflow is a community based on Question / Answer where members can discuss and request for help if they encounter problem in the journey of development. At the end of this post I will provide you some alternatives if you are bored or need some refreshment.
Why Stack Overflow
Why I choose Stack Overflow for the discussion of this blog post. Despite the resources in Stack Overflow, the problem you encounter now, may probably encounter by somebody in the past. Also, check out this post, to understand why Stack Overflow is important and how Stack Overflow helps in developer’s career. In order to post in Stack Overflow, you will need to create an account.
The Friendly User Interface, Makes the User Experience
Like any other forums, there are many main discussion board, and topics going in. It might be really confusing if these post or threads aren’t categorised properly. Figure 1 shows the ‘Questions’ board in Stack Overflow. Unlike GitHub, Stack Overflow is easier to understand and use. For example, if members want to search topics related with particular keywords or tags can easily filter out using the filter feature shows in Figure 2. I found an article writing about how important is User Interface Design and User Experience. From my perspective, I will leave the platform if it’s too hard for me to figure out how it works, also a little bit more important for me is that the User Interface need to be attractive enough and also function well. A big thumb up for Stack Overflow, after analysing this online platform I understand that it actually applies most design challenge that dedicate to help with encouraging contributions, encouraging commitment and others.
Figure 1. Questions Board
Figure 2. Filter by Tags
I bet as a developer you probably heard before Stack Overflow, even if you are not aware, you probably got help from it before. Simply google a programming question and you will find Stack Overflow ranking at the top, check Figure 3. Think about it again how can Stack Overflow be so famous and how does it Recruit Newcomers. Design Challenge 03 under category Recruiting Newcomers mentioned that ‘Word-of-mouth recruiting is substantially more powerful than impersonal advertising.’. Would you recommend your friend about Stack Overflow? I will. Not just because the variety resources that Stack Overflow provides, but also because the benefits and connections it provides. Design Challenge 04 under the same category also mentioned that ‘Making it easy for users to share content from a community site with their friends (e.g., via easy email, Twitter, Facebook, and similar links) will increase the visibility of the community among the users’ friends and thereby increase the likelihood of them joining.’ Stack Overflow also implemented this design to recruit new members, a very good example of this will be replying question. If you try to reply question in the question board you will see something like Figure 4.
Figure 3. Ranking On The Top (Private)
Figure 4. Making It Easy To Share Content (Private)
Earn Reputation and Show The Correct Way
Stack Overflow implement ‘Protected Question’ on June 7, 2010. According to the announcement made by former co-founder of Stack Overflow Jeff Atwood, some post are protected by moderator and need a certain amount of ‘reputations’ to view or in another word unlock. Members can earn ‘reputations’ through answering question or posting high quality stuff. There’s even an article on the internet teaching others how to get ‘reputation’ fast on Stack Overflow. In my previous post, I mentioned that how ‘awards like’ system encourage contribution and commitment. I captured a screenshot (Figure 5) of available badges in Stack Overflow, in case you need the full list check out this site. Again, this summarize the implementation of Design Challenge 26 under category Rewards and Sanctions. Just for reference Design Challenge 26 mentioned that ‘Reputation systems, which summarize the history of someone’s online behavior, encourage good behavior and deter norm violations.’
Figure 5. Stack Overflow Badges (Private)
In order to build such a famous and good online community, implementing design challenge mentioned above is not enough. As some of you may remember, when you are still a newcomer, whenever you try to perform action on Stack Overflow, Stack Overflow will remind you, what should and what shouldn’t. This is also one design that implemented by Stack Overflow to reduce the number of offenses, referring back to Design Challenge 20 under category Encouraging Voluntary Compliance. Check out Figure 6 to see how my new account got notify when I want to answer a question on Stack Overflow.
Figure 6. Stack Overflow Notification
To me I definitely will spend time on this forum, because I can learn from experienced developer as well as help newcomers and say ‘hey welcome to the developer family!’
As promised, if you get bored on Stack Overflow or GitHub, feel free to try out websites below, I had categorized them into two main different stream, Version Control and Forums. Share with me if you have any more interesting online community!