The folks at Stack Overflow know that just because a question has an answer, it doesn’t mean you should ask it.
Over the past year, traffic to the Stack Overflow suite of Q&A sites has boomed from 7 million to 16 million. In part, this is because creators Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood have created a community of experts, to the point where Stack Overflow is regularly cited in academic papers and used as a reference on resumes for programmers and engineers.
So when Messrs. Spolsky and Atwood noticed users on Stack Overflow sites dedicated to disparate topics like coding, cooking, grammar and geography were all debating what to do about softball queries, they decided to make a change.
“Do we really want to spoon-feed (or even encourage in any way) users so lazy they can’t find obvious Wikipedia pages? Or do even the most basic research before asking?” wrote Atwood in a blog post this morning. “Allow your Q&A community to fill itself with enough ‘General Reference’ type questions and you’ll soon find no experts there at all.”
For those needding further clarification, they included this handy flow chart from user borroO.
bpopper [at] observer.com | @benpopper