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StackOverflow - a missed opportunity - Quan Mai's blog

Back when I was young and mostly stupid, I discovered StackOverflow. The site struck me hard. There were a lot of “Wow” moments for a third year student. I still remember the first time I asked the first question, then even think about the questions to ask (so I can gain some precious reputation – yeah, I was young and stupid, remember?), and the first time I tried to answer a question myself.

It has been a long time since those days.

I still use StackOverflow, even at this very moment. But it’s on demand, instead of browsing it everyday as a habit. I search for a question, read the answer, possibly vote it up, then leave. Sometimes, when I have absolutely nothing to do, I try to review the suggested edits from other users. And that’s it.

I don’t entirely leave StackOverflow, I just don’t actively use it any more.

The reason StackOverflow was so great to me, because it’s not only it was not only a great source of knowledge and information, it was also source of inspiration. When I looked at the community of StackOverflow, I saw a groupdevelopers with broad and deep knowledge, with unquestionable love for their works and greatsenses of humor. Sometimes it’s a distraction – but I would say, a good one. I looked up them and promised myself to try to one day, become one of those.

I felt I was part of that great community.

Now StackOverflow is still there. It has grown to be the biggest site about programming and be the biggest knowledge base for developers around the world. It’s killed the other competitors, such as Expert-sexchange to become the place to go. There are still great questions being asked, and great answer being answered (inevitably there are more and more not-so-good questions asked, but I don’t really care). It’s still a great Q&A site that helped many developers from pulling their hairs and grinding their teeth. It’s not too much to say it has made being programmer much easier and less stress.

It’s just not what it once was.

The community wiki tag is now disabled. The old questions which were once what made SO so fun are deleted, or locked.

Perhaps it’s better that way. Perhaps the strict policies of SO have made it what it’s intended to be – a Q&A site. Perhaps it’s always better with small communities. But it could have been something bigger – a place where apprentices can grow to be developers, and developers can grow to be better ones.

Because information is easy to be found, but inspirations are not.

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