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$10,000 Stack Overflow Toxicity Challenge Dunder Data Medium

$10,000 Stack Overflow Toxicity Challenge

If you can definitively show that more than 10% of posts from Stack Overflow are toxic, then I will pay you 10,000 dollars.

Recently, there have been many proponents of the idea that the popular question and answering site Stack Overflow is a toxic wasteland. Having participated in answering questions over the last 18 months and copying and pasting answers for 5 years, I have yet to see any evidence for this claim. It has been my experience that there are low levels of toxicity on the site and in fact I find it to be the friendliest online community that I have ever participated in.

If someone really believes this, they can happily take $10,000 fromme

In an internet filled with people wishing you were dead or raped (see YouTube comments sections), Stack Overflow is a saint.

To help gauge the level of toxicity, I created a Twitter poll a couple days ago to help determine what percentage of the posts on Stack Overflow were toxic.

Eight people, or 22% of the 37 votes cast thought that five percent or more of the posts on Stack Overflow were toxic. This is not the results I would expect if Stack Overflow were indeed a toxic wasteland.

Clearly, this result isnt enough to end the discussion, which is why we need to use data to measure the level of toxicity. Stack Overflow has nearly all their publicly accessible through the data explorer, which will make an analysis possible.

Rules for the challenge

  1. This challenge is open to anyone
  2. You must use Stack Overflows data explorer to collect the data
  3. You must use data from Stack Overflow and not from any of the other Stack Exchange sites
  4. You must use data from Jan 1, 2013 to Jan 1, 2018
  5. All questions, answers, and comments are counted as 1 post each.
  6. More than 10% of these posts must be toxic in order to win
  7. All posts must be chosen at random, where each post has an equal chance of being included in the study (simple random sample)
  8. Your methods must be easily reproducible
  9. Your methods will be validated against 5 randomly chosen subsets of 50,000 posts. Each subset must contain more than 10% of posts labeled as toxic.
  10. You must donate $50 to a charity of your choice before you submit your work. You will get this $50 back if you are successful. Dont donate until you have contacted me and are ready to submit your response.
  11. An independent panel that both you and I agree upon will define what it means to be toxic.
  12. Questions that are closed are not toxic
  13. Deleted posts do not count
  14. This challenge will be open until Jan 1, 2020
  15. Only one person may win money in this challenge

Why am I making you give $50 tocharity?

I am offering a free $10,000 of my own money. If you really believe that you can win, then obviously $50 wont deter you at all. This is the principle of skin in the game or in 7th grade terminology, put your money where your mouth is.

Why am I doingthis?

The extraordinary claim, Stack Overflow is a toxic wasteland is something that requires extraordinary evidence. I abhor such claims and personally never try to say something like this unless I have done my research on the subject. If someone really believes that Stack Overflow is toxic then they should back it up with actual data and not inflammatory remarks.

What is the endgame?

By falsely accusing Stack Overflow, incredible harm is done to achieve real change. Stack Overflow, like any other company, is always looking for ways to improve. One goal is to disprove any notion that Stack Overflow is toxic. If it really is toxic, then it should be incredibly easy to take my money. The other goal is to focus attention on actual problems and ways Stack Overflow can improve.

Simple way I think Stack Overflow canImprove

In my opinion, the Stack Overflow model is one of the best developed for finding specific and very good answers to specific questions. Their model is quite terrible at many things but it does do this one task exceptionally well. I will have a longer post on what I think can be done to improve but will state a short example below.

Stack Overflow can do a better job of explaining their ground rules to the uninitiated. Its there site after all and they can determine exactly how it can be run. The biggest problem, in my opinion, arises when those cross the line from copy and pasters to content producers. Adding content to the site for the first time, usually in the case of a question, can often lead to it being downvoted or closed. I believe the most likely reason for this is that first-time content producers dont know that Stack Overflow is not their personal question and answering service. It takes a lot of time to write a good question.

I think Stack Overflow has failed these first-timers, by not making it more clear on what the ground rules are and what it takes to make a good question.

Who amI?

I am not affiliated with Stack Overflow in any manner and would not care in the least bit if it disappeared and another website with a better model replaced it. I am simply putting an extraordinary claim to the test. I have approximately 400 answers, 15 questions, and many other comments, and found that well over 90% of my interactions did not contain any level of toxicity.

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