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1000 Days at Stack Overflow - Fri, 9 Mar 2012

Today was the 1,000’th day I visited the Stack Overflow site where programmers ask and give answers to programming questions. I joined the site 3 years and 4 months ago, right after I discovered it and just a few weeks after it went live. Working that out, there has been an 82% chance on any particular day that I would visit Stack Overflow.

This site has just been a magical answer booth for me. By now, I have become quite an expert at the parts of my programming language Delphi that I work with. But every so often, I have to figure out how to do new things that I’ve never done, or I run into a bug or a problem that I can’t solve. I first do a simple Google search and 90% of the time I find an answer. When I don’t, I call on my always-on-hand supply of Delphi experts from around the globe that provide me brilliant answers and/or ideas within a day – sometimes within hours or even minutes. It’s the most fantastic resource in the world.

They make it almost an addictive game. They allow you to up-vote questions and answers you consider good, and down-vote questions and answers you consider poor. They give 5 points for a good question, 10 for a good answer, and points for other activities as well. They give you gold, silver and bronze badges when you accomplish specific milestones. Programmers “compete” with their peers for points, badges, and other levels of status.

In so doing, they are helping to answer each others problems, and are producing a searchable database of solutions that has no peer on the Internet. In fact this database gets highly ranked on Google and gets indexed fast. I’ve seen questions on Stack Overflow that were indexed in first place on Google no more than a couple of minutes after they were posted.

The stats of Stack Overflow are quite amazing. There are over 770,000 registered users. These are programmers! There have been over 2,700,000 questions asked in just over 3 years. It gets 5,500,000 page views a day. On Alexa, the site ranks 104 among all websites. Compare that to ancestry.com which ranks 837.

So what have I accomplished there? I’ve asked 125 questions, and accepted 123 answers. I’ve posted 196 answers. The points I’ve accumulated have put me in the top 2.3% of 770,000 users. When I run a query on the StackExchange Data Explorer to find the users in Winnipeg, I see that I have the highest reputation value among 115 programmers.

Most of my questions have the “Delphi” tag, and I’ve asked 85 out of the almost 14,000 Delphi questions at the site. Delphi itself is the 68th most popular topic. The top ones are c# (276,000 questions), java (217,000) and php (200,000).

I have from time-to-time ventured away from my questions to help me with my Behold development, as I also follow questions about APL (an old favorite language of mine from days gone by), computer chess, and anything else dealing with coding and website development (such as Javascript) that I may need from time to time.

So I just wanted to celebrate my 1,000th day and give Stack Overflow and the programming community of the world my thanks for allowing programmers to “socialize” the way we do best – with the only people who really can understand us – other programmers.

The web software used for Stack Overflow is also being made available for any and all other desired Question and Answer sites. Currently there are 84 sites that cover many aspects of Technology, Recreation, Science, Culture, Life Arts, Business and Professional. Over at Area 51, they allow proposals for new sites. Once a sight has enough “commitment” from people who say they will use it, then the site will go beta and voila – a new Q&A site appears.

There is a proposal for a Genealogy Q&A site which I have promoted before. But there’s not been enough promotion of it and more people need to sign up before it will become live. If you might be interested, sign up at the Genealogy proposal page and you’ll help create a genealogist-helps-genealogist resource that will benefit the entire genealogy community. Go here if you’re interested in signing up.

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