Stackoverflow Sucks

It might surprise you but my favorite blogger is without a doubt, Jeff Atwood, the creator of

Sorry Jeff, you’ve created a monster. Its not all bad, and I will admit its a great technical achievement, but I can’t help being left with the feeling that my overall user experience was a bitter one.

I registered on stackoverflow and asked some programming related questions. Only I didn’t know that Stackoverflow is full of Nazi users who moderate all questions, almost in minutes my questions were getting shutdown as not programming related or not a real question.

Questions like:

“Where is HTTPd.conf located?”

My Logic: This question is programming related because I as a programmer also need to set configuration values for my application to run correctly.

Stackoverflow Nazi Logic: This question is NOT programming related, because configuration is the job of a server adminstrator.

This really annoyed me.

Stackoverflow also has a reward system and rating system, so it gives more abilities to people who “live” on stackoverflow, at the expense of casual users. Members actually get given rank for shutting down questions. You can be sure, some of these users are so obsessed with their rating, they go crawling looking for questions to shutdown to gain rank.

Questions also get voted up quickly before a selection of answers are provided. So this encourages up voting trends. In other words lazy pattern scanners quickly scan and just lazily agree to the last persons up vote.

The terms of use actually encourage users to ask questions that can be concisely answered, rather than opening discussions, unfortunately life is just not that easy, sometimes there really are more than 1 acceptable answer to a question, in this case, you might find your question getting shutdown – because – its “not a real question”.

Jeff, full respect for what you’ve done, unfortunately you have no control over the types of people who use your site, but you should have anticipated how the “Karma” system you’ve implemented will leave people with a bitter taste in their mouths.

An Example:



9 thoughts on “Stackoverflow Sucks

  1. Stack Overflow SUCKS, it is a real waste of time, I waster two months there only to make their decadent and retarded business to grow. I was suspended by a stupid moderator (Joshua Heyer AKA Shog9) for no real reason, only his inflated ego. All my contributions blocked and part to make that stupid service bigger.

  2. The problem with SO is that there are nazis like Shog9 and George Stocker who are ruining the system. It hasn’t changed. Somehow some users, as soon as they can do harm, start to do so. On SO it’s when they reach enough mod points. Thankfully not all SO users are like this but there are enough retards to give SO a very, very bad rep.

    • I agree with you, things haven’t changed. What I have learnt to do is fluff up questions to confuse the Nazi’s.

      For example, the other day I was trying to test a VPN. My friend was not able to browse the web when in China.

      I asked the question on server fault. Now server fault is the ideal place to discuss technologies like OpenVPN. OpenVPN is pretty technical, my question was too technical to be asked on SuperUser, definitely not a question for SO either, but I knew the people over at ServerFault would be able to help.

      I had one small problem though. This experiment of mine was in a private capacity, and that would mean any Nazi would shut it down as “Off topic”.

      So I fluffed up the question. Instead of mentioning “My friend” from China, I said “All of Our consultants in China”. I also added some fluff stating we were in the test phase and we are just reviewing OpenVPN as a possible solution.

      This is how you combat these Nazis. Learn to ask the questions in such a way they can’t turn around and tell you “It’s offtopic!” or “It’s not programming related”.

      I know it’s not ideal, but in the 2 years of using Stack Exchange Sites – the culture has only improved slightly. There are still an army of Toffee Nosed Nazis hovering around every time you ask a question. And sometimes you need an answer and don’t want to get caught up in the semantics of what you’re asking only to end up in a discussion with a Nazi.

  3. Stack Overflow is very pretentious- SO isn’t special- its just a forum. You should have seen the howls of protest when I pointed out that the majority of chat rooms are zombies and thus should be put of their misery and that they should normal forums to encourage input. The rules designed to discourage input with all that reputation nonsense. Other sites only have something like that to sensibly discourage spammers, marketers etc.

  4. Don’t worry people, I’m also sick of Stack Exchange and will be launching an alternative I coded these months before September. Just wait for it! You can also reply to this comment to suggest some features you wish to be there, there is always room for new features even though the software is done!

  5. What, exactly, is the point of five early arrivers (it was formerly ONE early arriver) being able to close debate; that is, to preclude an entire community from participating, at their option, in a discussion? It seems to me that such a system can work effectively only if the preferences of the early-arrivers coincide with those of the community. Moreover, the system assumes there can be no sub-groups within the community having preferences that differ from those of the community as a whole. Parliamentary process doesn’t allow five votes to cut off debate; it requires a 2/3 vote. And there’s a democratic reason for that difference, having to do with the rights of minorities to be heard. Some people use the word “Nazi” loosely and often. I think that, historically speaking, the better term is “fascist” so as not to tie the term to a particular movement or time period. But. yes, the SO system seems to me much more aligned with fascist than democratic structures and values. I’m not surprised that users experience it in those terms.

  6. Stack Exchange is a study in dysfunctional personalities creating a site that speaks to their own dysfunctional needs and values and therefore attracts and rewards people who share that set of needs and values.It’s interesting, but not for the reasons those people suppose.

    It’s a golden example of how an online forum facilitates through it’s rules and norms, the destruction of the thing its putatively created to support. The culture at SO is glass-bead-game -type competitive, hostile, judgmental, closed, encouraging of feuds, and worst of all reinforces to its users the perception that to be a knowledgeable programmer is something akin to being a reputation hound and the reward of being so elevated is to be given special, authoritarian, role-playing-game-like power over other users, over topics, over “the world”. It’s a perfect platform for the narcissists in programming culture to self aggrandize and for the sociopaths amongst us to wield power.

    I saw a semi serious question on Slashdot that was wondering how programmers should be rated. Was Jon Skeet the best programmer in the world because of his SO points it wondered. I’m sorry, Jon Skeet is the Kim Kardashian of the programming world. Famous for no real extraordinary accomplishment or outstanding contribution to the field just famous for being famous, for accumulating viewers or points or whatever the unit of currency is in their micro world.

    The wanton destruction of potentially valuable information on SO is something to behold. Most of the questions that spoke to a real blocking concrete issue I was having were closed / off topic by the time I go t there Obviously I am not going re-ask the question or any form of it. I could not contribute nor learn about it. These are questions which were valuable to the the OP, to the few posters who were able to take it up before it was closed, and to many people like me who Googled them only to find them dead on the side of the road. The worst part of SO is its ubiquity. Through its very size, it sucks up Google searches and seekers like a black hole,preventing through sheer gravitational force any other Q?A site worthwhile from ever reaching a critical mass.

    SO forum is a place where single-entity authoritarian rule has been “overthrown” in favor of so called crowd sourcing , which is to say replaced by multi-entity (and not very multi at that in reality) authoritarian rule. This was seen as a real advance (why?) by some people who thought they had discovered some new emergent quality made possible only in our times because of the internet. In fact, it’s just the same old sociopath-rewarding hierarchical model. A n excellent elaboration of this meme is found in “All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace” by Adam Curtis where he connects the emerging cyber culture of the 60s and its utopian idealization of what was possible to the actual fate of the hippie communes whose members thought that they too could elicit something novel by structurally reorganizing human interactions. The interviews with the participants are priceless if depressing as they recount how the men attempted to rule through intimidation and ultimately sought dominance over and exclusive right to all female copulation. So also with the fate of the the hobbyist computing culture, with the arrival of the commons-closing Bill Gates and expansionistic ambitions of intellectual property lawyers and of course he latest events , the NSA’s and the Executive’s gross and grotesque violation of the Fourth Amendment and things like Sergey and Larry’s collusion with Apple and Adobe and other Valley firms to fix programmer’s wages. SO is just another example of this phenomena- though relative to those somewhat small and inconsequential – people with little good about them but plenty of ambition ruining things for people who just want to be left alone to learn and grow in freedom.

    There may be a way to organize people so as to minimize and discourage anti-social power seeking behaviors but SO isn’t it, in fact, by design, it’s quite the opposite. When society wanted to solve this problem, it invented the university. As anyone who has existed in that environment can attest, it’s rough going, politically speaking. At least in theory however, people are “left alone” to pursue knowledge amongst like minded individuals without becoming the target of some fascist impulse by some asshole or system.

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