Podcast #59 - The Decline and Fall of Stack Overflow

by Abby T. Miller

on May 29, 2014

Welcome to the 59th running of the Stack Exchange podcast, brought to you by Nutella! Your hosts Joel Spolsky, David Fullerton, and Jay Hanlon are joined this week by special guests Josh Heyer (aka Shog9) and Robert Cartaino (aka Robert Cartaino) of the Stack Exchange Community Growth team.

We've got a busy podcast scheduled, so let's get down to business, starting with New Features with Uncle David.

Now we'll come back around to Jay's Boring Stuff, aka Community Milestones.

  • Data Science and Puzzling were in private beta at the time of this recording, and by the time we posted this, Puzzling had moved to public beta.

And now we get to switch over to our Big Meaty Topic for the day. At Stack Exchange (and particularly on Stack Overflow), we get a lot of complaints about quality declining on our sites. We split MSO and MSE, which gave people a chance to talk about their feelings (which is what we intended) and gave rise to questions like "Why is Stack Overflow so negative of late?". It got a lot of interesting answers and comments.

Essentially, we are scaring legitimate, thoughtful people away from getting help. That's one side of the problem. Additionally, some of our best users are getting more frustrated than we want them to be and (importantly) expressing that it's hard for them to find questions that they want to answer. That part is something we can actually do something about.

Joel has two very very simple proposals to solve this problem.

  1. When a question gets upvoted by a user with x reputation (or maybe just upvoted), that upvote buys it y more impressions on the front page than the standard rate. Demonstrably good questions get more eyeballs than questions that haven't been demonstrated to be good.

  2. Users that are relatively trusted by the system get more impressions on the front page for their questions. If you have a couple hundred reputation and you seem like a trusted user, your question gets more eyeballs.

Better questions get more eyeballs and therefore have a better chance of being answered well. Tune in for extensive discussion of the nuances and issues involved in Question Neutrality.

Thanks for listening to Stack Exchange Podcast #59, brought to you by Nutella!