Hey all! Today is our second anniversary since graduation, Happy Birthday!
No, I don’t have any cake for you, I think by now, we all know the cake is a lie. Instead, I’ve a not-that-long blog post, summarizing all the awesome things that happened this year. We’ve certainly come a long way since our humble beginnings, the community is stronger than ever and the site has been steadily growing for quite some time now.
So, without further ado, here’s what’s been going on this past year:
Programmers’ second year had some truly exciting moments. First, Anna Lear joined the evil corporate machine and we found ourselves short of a moderator. This prompted our second community moderator election, a process that I was very proud to be part of. The elections run smoothly, with surprisingly little drama and participation, although a bit low, was increased comparing to our first election.
Then, after the dust from the election settled down, we had our first ever contest. An exciting month long event that brought us some awesome questions, and some of the best answers I’ve ever read on the site. You can read more about the contest in this blog post, and it’s never too late for your feedback.
Which, of course, brings us to this very blog. The blog had a rocky start, although it was first proposed in June 2011, we didn’t really seemed to be able to get enough people interested in contributing. We went through various Meta discussions, two calls for contributors, a lot of candidates in the elections commited to make the blog happen, and finally we launched and posted our first blog post almost a year after the blog was first proposed. Kudos to the awesome blog team and everyone else involved for making this happen!
Lastly, starting from late January we undertook the monumental task of cleaning up our most problematic tags. The Structured Tag Cleanup started with the most bothersome of our tags, career and continued with software-engineering and software-development. The clean up effort ended on early April, at which point we’ve gone through 1000+ questions. Those of you who were active at the time may remember that we got at least a couple of blatantly off topic career questions per day, cleaning up 600+ broken windows in the various career related tags took care of that problem almost instantly.
We kick off our third year with the Hat Dash, a network wide event starting on Wednesday, it’s going to be fun!!!
The Stack Exchange network has grown rapidly this past year, right now there are 92 graduate and beta sites and a lot more are very close to popping out of Area51. Here’s a brief list of new technology oriented sister sites that you might find interesting (in no particular order):
When Computer Science first appeared, a question was asked in our Meta about clarifying the boundaries between the two sites. Inspired by that question, and after a brief discussion with a CS moderator, Raphael, we decided to test those boundaries by re-asking CS’s highest voted algorithmic question on Programmers. The answers the question received on Programmers are surprisingly different than the ones it received on CS, which, at least to me, says that although the sites overlap a bit, they have distinctly different audiences:
- Why is quicksort better than other sorting algorithms in practice? (Programmers version)
- Why is quicksort better than other sorting algorithms in practice? (CS version)
And of course, although not a technology oriented site, The Workplace deserves an honourable mention. The site was initially proposed on Area51 to fill the gap for all those general career related questions we couldn’t really support on Programmers, and it was greeted with enthusiasm from Programmers’ regulars when it finally made it to beta. Even today, 8 months into beta most of the site’s high rep users are also Programmers’ regulars, and all four pro tempore moderators are significant contributors on our site. If you haven’t visited the site already, trust me, it’s awesome!
There have been a ton of new features this year, with two very important changes for Programmers:
- We are no longer a migration target from Stack Overflow, and
- We now require registration for asking questions (but not for answering them).
Network wide the more significant changes were:
- Reputation history changes
- Flag weight was removed from user profiles
- Real time updates to questions, answers, and inbox
- Rejected migrations
- Community review tasks (aka the new review queues)
- Disabling migration for questions older than 60 days
I wanted to close this with a list of awesome questions from the past year. At first I wanted to bring some new attention to a few hidden gems, showcase posts from less popular tags, blah blah blah, but at the last moment I decided to go simply with the questions with the highest score. It might not be the best metric we have, but it’s the only metric that I felt would adequately represent the wider community. Here they are, our top twenty questions:
- My boss decided to add a “person to blame” field to every bug report. How can I convince him that it’s a bad idea?
- Is the use of “utf8=✓” preferable to “utf8=true”?
- What is the Mars Curiosity Rover’s software built in?
- I’m doing 90% maintenance and 10% development, is this normal?
- I’ve inherited 200K lines of spaghetti code — what now?
- Should I intentionally break the build when a bug is found in production?
- What software programming languages were used by the Soviet Union’s space program?
- Why can’t the IT industry deliver large, faultless projects quickly as in other industries?
- Torvalds’ quote about good programmer
- Should you keep a copy of all the code you write?
- Why is 80 characters the ‘standard’ limit for code width?
- Why was Tanenbaum wrong in the Tanenbaum-Torvalds debates?
- How do I review my own code?
- Why are shortcuts like x += y considered good practice?
- How to keep a big and complex software product maintainable over the years?
- Has “Not everyone can be a programmer” been studied?
- How do operating systems… run… without having an OS to run in?
- Is it just me or is this a baffling tech interview question?
- Is constantly looking for code examples a sign of a bad developer?
- Is the phrase “never reinvent the wheel” suitable for students?
All in all, it’s been an awesome year! Keep on rockin’, Programmers!
Congratulations to Programmers.SE. We just finished our first contest, and we’re still rolling. For those of you who want to know a little bit more about the contest, here we go…
To develop this contest proposal, we first opened up the chat room (Contest Consipracy room). We did a little bit of talking and chatting, bouncing ideas off of one another, but we didn’t get too far. So, we decided to post this: Programmers.SE Contest: New Proposal. In this Meta post, we asked for ideas as to what the contest should be about. Whatever idea had the most upvotes would win. This way, the general community as a whole would be able to decide what they wanted their contest to be like, because that’s how it’s supposed to be. This is your site, powered by your questions and answers we’re talking about here. We had a winner.
Developing the Details
Basically, after the contest structure itself was picked, we had to pick what tags we were going to use, and what prizes we were going to give. For that, we went back to Meta, and posted Books for Programmers Contest. There were two things wrong with this:
- This meant that all you could get was books.
- People were choosing (and upvoting) books that most (or at least a lot) of users already had.
So we went back to the chat room, talked to a few SE employees, and came back with a new idea. This idea was that you were allowed to pick any programming related thing(s) from Amazon, as long as your total was less than or equal to $50 (about €40). Cool right! After we got that situated, we went to Meta again, and finally posted the following: Programmers.SE Contest: The Complete Outline. This was the final outcome of the communities work.
I’m not going to go into too much detail on this, as full results can be found here. But here are all of the winners of the contest:
After the contest, we asked the community what we did right, wrong, and for good old feedback. What we got was just that, great feedback. I don’t mean everybody said that we did everything right (I can assure you of that), but it was very good constructive criticism, and that’s exactly what we were looking for.
All in all, I think the contest was a great event for our community. And I love the fact that we were able to do it. Now, you may be asking, is this the last contest we are going to have? Well, as long as we get enough community support, of course not. Heck, maybe you’ll be the one to propose the contest next time. Did you know Programmers.SE’s birthday is December 16th? Maybe we can have a birthday celebration. Who knows?
What we do with the site is up to the users. Without the users, there would be no Programmers (and that would be very sad). So if you have an idea, make a Meta post about it, or drop by The Whiteboard and see if others would be interested.
I hope everybody had an enjoyable time with the contest. Next time, we’ll make it even bigger and better!
Welcome to the Programmers Stack Exchange community blog!
One of the great things about Stack Exchange is the way the community works. There are several ways that we try to bring our community together such as chat and Meta, as well as several community events. The next logical step was a blog, and here we are!
So what’s this blog about?
This blog is about:
- What’s happening on Programmers Stack Exchange
- Things Programmers like to talk about including: algorithms, design patterns, development methodologies, etc.
- New developments and technologies.
- And anything else that fits!
Which means there are going to be a lot of interesting things posted here. How do we know the community will like it? The community is writing it!
How did the blog begin?
The first thing we did, was bring it up in Meta. This made the community as whole aware that we were interested in getting a blog. It actually took 3 months before anybody mentioned the blog again, but this time, we had ideas. After deciding what the blog would be about, we tried to get contributors, the people that would power the blog, and write the posts. At that point, we had 8 people say that they were at least interested. So, we went on from there. We got the blog in action, writing and editing posts.
Anybody that was interested in contributing would say so in the Blog Chat Room. We gave them an account to our Trello board, and access to our WordPress dashboard. From then on, we began writing posts and had a very active system. This slept for a while, but finally came back to power. After putting everything together, we got to this point.
And then what?
Well, this is what! We launched the blog, and we are still going (at least at time of writing). If you’re reading this, I hope you read regularly, and maybe even contribute!
Where can I learn more?
About the blog: