Until recently, searching for help on highly technical programming problems has been a mess. A lot of what the search engines found was old discussions in forums, where you have a lot of wrong answers and out-of-date answers that you have to sift through yourself. You also found a lot of answers at sites that were hidden behind a pay wall, which uncloaked themselves for Google and then demanded membership fees to see the answers.

StackOverflow.com is a programmer’s Q&A site that launched last September to address these problems. It incorporates more modern ideas about community such as voting and public editing, and even a few ideas from game design, to create a much more successful way to get help with programming problems. In a few short months, it has grown to 14 million page views a month and reaches 3 million unique programmers every month. The lessons we’ve learned in creating a successful Q&A site has many implications for search which I’ll share in this talk.

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