Stack Exchange and Facebook announced a partnership today—facebook.stackoverflow.com, a Facebook-centric forum embedded within Stack Overflow’s programming-focused, question-and-answer wiki–and there was much rejoicing.
“It came about very quickly,” said Alex Miller, director of strategy at Stack Exchange, the network of wiki-esque forums that includes Stack Overflow. (Mr. Miller is also chief of staff and “sidekick to the CEO,” Joel Spolsky, who is on vacation this week and was unavailable. He also holds more than a dozen other titles for which he has corresponding business cards, according to his various duties. Betabeat can empathize.)
“One of the joys of us being a small agile start-up is, we can do things very quickly,” Mr. Miller explained. “In late June, early July they approached us and basically initiated a discussion about ways for us to partner on it. They were looking for a new solution and recognized the value of the platform … we were obviously thrilled to work with them.”
Stack Overflow was already serving as an official forum for Android developers, with Google sponsoring the Android tag on posts. Perhaps that’s how Facebook got the idea of moving the official Facebook developer forum, a standard thread-based community with which many developers were frustrated, onto Stack Overflow.
The Facebook forum is basically a curated mini-site within the Stack Overflow site, where the more than 10,000 posts about Facebook that had already amassed have been curated into a coherent destination, with a few extra features for usability, Mr. Miller said.
The advantage for Facebook developers on the new curated mini-site is that their questions are also seen by the Stack Overflow community at large–so if it turns out the problem isn’t with the Facebook API, but with something in the underlying code, a befuddled developer can still get an answer.
This is a new product offering for Stack Exchange, but Mr. Miller hesitated to call it a potential revenue stream. The revenue comes from its careers mini-site, he says, which has grown explosively since its launch a few months ago at the LAUNCH conference in San Francisco. He sounded very happy with the Careers 2.0 revenue, which he says is mutually beneficial to both job seekers and employers. It’s a positive feedback loop you don’t find with other revenue possibilities such as advertising. With a jobs site, more users leads to more job postings which leads to more users, he said–whereas ads can really either be optimized for advertisers, making the user experience worse and vice versa.
Still, Mr. Miller noted, don’t be surprise if you see more mini-sites come out in the coming months. Stack Exchange doesn’t have anything specific planned, but there’s been interest. “All of our sites have launched based on community demand and support,” he said. “As the community asks for more … I’m sure we’ll roll out more in the future.”