Stack Overflow Turns 10!

You may have heard from some sources out in the wild, but Stack Overflow, the site you know so well, just celebrated ten years of existence. Aren’t you excited?

Okay, maybe it is not as exciting as your birthday. Your birthday is indeed awesome and I hope we can celebrate that as well. But the point is that in just ten years, this little idea brought into the world by Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood has certainly made a splash.

Ten years is quite a long time in tech circles. Think about what life was like back then…

For one, you probably had a boatload of books lying around all dogged-eared and worn. It probably also took you five times as long to get an answer to a general programming question, if you got an answer at all.

Ten years ago in the startup universe, all the cool kids were building startups on Javascript and Ruby on Rails and AWS. One of those startups was GitHub. Messaging? Probably plain old email. Project tracking? Probably some Microsoft product. Bug tracking? FogBugz of course (now Manuscript). Other tools? Probably a command line editor or some confounding GUI tool with a UX from the 80’s.

Innovation was starting to become a thing non-techie people talked about. Big enterprises were exploring incubators and innovation labs. Paul Graham was Startup God. Silicon Valley was still the only game in town when it came to cutting edge tech and funding. The rest of the world was too busy watching the financial markets collapse under the weight of bad debt.

When you wanted to hail a taxi, you stuck out your arm and hoped one would stop. When you booked a hotel during a major conference, you begrudgingly paid $500 per night for a sketchy motel room. The iPhone was taking the world by storm and the App Store had just launched with 500 apps. The first Android phone also came into being with the HTC Dream.

Telsa had released their Roadster in 2008. Autonomous driving was still not a thing though. Neither were reusable rockets, though SpaceX has successfully launched their first rocket into orbit. While Elon Musk was smashing space records, scientists on Earth were smashing subatomic particles in the newly launched Large Hadron Collider.

We may have been distracted by such awe inducing innovations with the novelty and rise of social media. We were busy playing social games with our Facebook friends and Tweeting about our lunches. Luckily we were spared the glut of Youtubers, instead we had and lifecasters to fill our voyeuristic needs.

I think you can agree that a lot has happened. Same goes for Stack Overflow, which started as one site and now has over 170 communities under Stack Exchange. With one site launched to 30,000 avid Jeff and Joel followers, they have grown to over 50 million unique visitors per month with an average of 71,000 users on Stack Overflow at any given moment.

They are now the largest repository of general programming knowledge in the world. How much knowledge you ask? They host 28 million answers to 19 million questions contributed by 9.3 million users. Every 5.1 seconds, someone takes time out of their day to post an answer to help a stranger.

What has been the impact of this massive site? Those answers have been found 12.3 billion times by developers saving developers 3.1 billion hours of lost productivity. One well-known coder estimated that Stack Overflow had saved the world $30 billion. Using a conservative estimate of global developer salaries though probably pushes the dollar amount of time saved to over $100 billion in productivity.

Helping developers do their jobs more efficiently has direct and immediate business impact. Digital transformation dictates delivering digital products out to customers faster. That means developers shipping code faster through legacy modernization, DevOps automation, Agile teams, and innersourcing. All of these areas benefit from using the principles of community to be more collaborative, get work done more effectively, and innovate faster.

In other words, it is a developer first world and if we can help developers be even a bit more efficient and effective while at work, businesses benefit and customers are happier.

What is one thing you implemented that has boosted developer productivity? And more importantly, how are you going to celebrate the Stack Birthday :)

Why do I get this particular color pattern when using rand()?

The fun with rand() and math…

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