Podcast #39 - The One with Wil Wheaton

by Alex Miller

on December 24, 2012

Today's guest is Jeremy Tunnell, who says it's great to be here. He's the new Product Manager on the Stack Exchange team. He works out of Nashville but is in New York with us, recording live in the podcast studio!

  • Also, on today's podcast, everyone is going to eat a spoon of cinnamon and ten Saltines. Sam tried to eat a spoonful of cinnamon and did not succeed. The Saltine Challenge: also hard. The Gallon Challenge: also hard.

  • Jeremy is the new kid on the block. He started a few weeks ago and is our new resident UX Expert.

  • We should have listeners call into the podcast with their questions, like we used to! (This was before Jay's time.)  Go to s.tk/podcastquestions to submit an mp3 of your question for next week's podcast.

  • Jeremy is not from Texas, but he is from the South. We're not sure how he got the horse up past security in the lobby.

  • Back to Jeremy. He's been focusing on the perspective of the new user (including making lots of brand new accounts). He's trying to introduce the non-engineer perspective into our development process. He's currently focusing on the sign-up process, which is critical for user acquisition.

  • Why do we have a homepage URL? In the old days, your name used to link to whatever homepage you put in there. Nobody uses it now, though, so we can get rid of it!

  • Jay points out that we have a fundamental difference between our power users and our casual users. Additionally, we have to wrestle with engineers vs. non-engineer types as users on our sites.

  • Don't make people think, or learn new things. (Don't make me think about how you want me to enter my phone number.)

  • Joel got in trouble with his bosses at Juno once upon a time. It had a 29-page wizard to get people to sign up, including a page for what diseases you had, and when your birthday and your kids' birthdays were, featuring a horrible date picker (18 clicks to choose "August").

  • The answer to all these arguments? Just test it and see what people do. (Good thing we don't have to fly to Colorado to do usability testing anymore.)

  • We have a weird maximum age on Stack Exchange sites, so there are a ton of 89-year-olds on our site, apparently.

  • We have heard from a lot of people that our site is impossible to log into. Our site is optimized for programmers. A great example: OpenID! We talk about OpenID and OAuth for… a while.

  • Another example of something that's a good idea for programmers but confuses everyone else is Gravatar. Gravatar is great if you already have an account, but the experience of trying to upload a picture is too many steps if you have to make a new Gravatar account.

  • Do our listeners know how much Jeremy looks like Wil Wheaton?  Check out the Stack Exchange Team page to find out

  • News from the dev team! We had two outages this week, totally unrelated to each other. One was ten minutes and the other less than 30 minutes. (Nowhere near as bad as Tumblr's catastrophe last night!) (Our status blog is on tumblr.) One was a boring hardware failure, and the other one is a result of the fact that we're starting to outgrow our search solution.

  • So we're investigating other options that will make our search even better (and it's suddenly urgent)! So a side effect of these outages is that our search will get better. We talk about search for a while.

  • So if you're interested in working on that, we're hiring for our New York office, or remotely!

  • If you have questions for us, you can go record your question and send it to us!

That's all for this week. See you on ChaCha!