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There is a new site for programming Q&A called StackOverflow:

http://stackoverflow.com/

I am curious about your view of it as an ICS student. Is it helpful? Are there things you wish were different about it to make it more useful to you?

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Replies to This Discussion

I posted my response on StackOverflow on my blog.

Daniel Arakaki
Some of my thoughts on Stack Overflow so far:

Questions:
When Stack Overflow first came out of public beta, I noticed a lot of "newbie" questions the answers to which could be easily Googled. Thankfully, that seems to have mostly died down, although there are still quite a few questions where the asker does not do their homework first. What I notice now is that there are a lot of questions that are overly specific to a certain situation that the most people either wouldn't care about, or wouldn't be knowledgeable about. As a result, these questions tend to have few answers and votes, so they aren't really contributing to the spirit of the site. Surely there must be a more focused discussion board or listserv or somesuch where these questions would fit in better and be answered? In any case, these questions make browsing through the site more difficult.

Comments:
Comments require 50 reputation to post. While this isn't a lot, it is still a barrier to entry and it doesn't exactly encourage discussions or community building. Also, the distinction between an answer and a comment isn't entirely clear, nor is it necessarily useful. I have seen many "answers" that would be better classified as comments. Also, by allowing users to comment on the question as well as individual answers, the site is separating out the comments from the questions. This ultimately serves to fragment the discussion, which is bad because it discourages discussion. On the other hand, I suppose it is also good because it forces focus on answers to questions.

Feedback:
There are many, many answered questions where the original poster does not go back and mark an answer as accepted. Was the poster lazy, or was their problem never really solved? If the poster was just lazy, the site should make a stronger effort to encourage posters to provide feedback on the answers that they received. If none of the answers were good to the asker, there should be some way to mark that in the question.
Overall, StackOverflow.com is a great site for programmers to get answers to their questions on a programming topic or issue they have. So I sign up for a user account to this forum, in the future I might have program that I am stuck on and I can use this forum. So want those cool gold badges, the bronze is alright, the silver is good, but the gold ones are awesome. I posted my first question:” Is Eclipse the best Java IDE out there or there is a better one? “

After one day of posting my question, the question received 550 views, 18 reply to the question, and four comments about my answer. Awesome, my post is on a roll; hope it goes to the Hot List. Everyone in the forum knew what they were talking about. I read the replies and there was no “stupid” reply to the question. You can tell who is a regular user of Eclipse and other Java IDE. There were two to three replies that had more than one paragraph (these users must know they stuff about their Java IDE). The rating for a post it great, I can just read the good ones.

I noticed some bad points about stackoverflow.com. I cannot comment someone unless I have at least 50 points in my reputation. That sucks if I want to comment on a post and don’t have enough reputation points. Other users can edit my post, like add tags to my question (I think the question and tags should only be edit by the person who post it). Answering a question can invite people who will comment about your answer not what the question is asking and receive a negative number on the post. The rating of a post is great but people who answer with one sentence should not receive a negative rating, they just posting their two cents in.
Stackoverflow.com is a great site for posting questions and getting answers from the world of programmers, developers, and users who know their thing or two. You will see me using it in the future.

StackOverFlow Post Link
My review of StackOverflow can be found at:

http://johnczly.blogspot.com/2008/10/stackoverflow-review.html
I visited the StackOverFlow website and they have many interesting Questions and Answers from different users or programmers with varieties of language expertise (Jave, C#, C/C++, .Net, Python, etc.) in regards to programming issues. This particular website is really good to help programmers whether you are a "newbie" or an "elite".Finally, they also have different badges for different users, it depends how active you are. You obtain the so called "Gold Badge" if you are knowledgeable and participates often on certain topics; "Silver Badge" this is earned for longer term goals; Lastly, "Bronze Badge" is for user who basically know how to use the site.

The question that I asked is, which is a better program to use for testing: Maven or Eclipse? I am not really familiar with Maven program but I've been using Eclipse for quite a while (especially on this class- ICS 413) for Unit testing, code coverage, javadoc generation, code style checking, etc. Probably, the only main thing that I didn't really like about Eclipse is the "compilation errors" that it generates when you are running Eclipse and Ant simultaneously. So I am wondering if Maven 2 does the same thing if you are running Ant task at the same time when you are using Maven. I mean, I didn't really mind that particular compilation errors on Eclipse because it is easy to fix.

The question that I posted on StackOverFlow website created 1 vote, 2 answers, and 30 views. I reviewed the 2 user's answers and they both prefer Maven because it is either have great advantages over Eclipse or the company that they are working at has been using it long enough and it never generated any problems or compilation errors.
I love this site! I admit that I am an active Digg viewer/"digger". I was shocked to see the resemblance between StackOverFlow and Digg!, not only visually, but functionally too. The service is so easy to adapt to and use, the FAQ is extremely helpful to get your started. I was also an active "forum-troll" in my earlier days, but mechanisms like Stack Overflow just takes the concept to a new level. The idea of bumping up a useful answer has takes the headache out of jumping into a thread, looking through all the replies to see if the question or issue was properly attended to, then replying. Another key take-away for the service is that you can easily view the "popularity" of the thread, given by the red or green square along side the "views"; in my opinion, questions that go un-answered have the highest likeliness to get looked at since people are willing to lend a helping hand.

Like the others, I do have to touch on the reputation system. My take on the systems is that it requires a good amount of engagement to the service to contribute to the community. Its kind of like saying "if you want to help clean the streets with us, you have to donate blood first, then cut down your electric bill by 10%", which is somewhat good and bad. It all comes down to the amount of time you want to contribute. The more reputation points you have, the more contributing privileges you have. As you can see, this is a huge downfall to the casual and browsing, but an easy task for the average active member. Personally, I like the system because I believe that Stack OverFlow's success depends on the approach that the users must be active, it separates its self from the "average tech forum"

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