Tag Archives: stackoverflow

On Stack Overflow Careers

If you’re not familiar with Stack Overflow Careers, check out Introducing Stack Overflow Careers and Stack Overflow Careers: Amplifying Your Awesome.

In short, it aims to build a for-pay CV hosting and searching service on top of the success of Stack Overflow.

stackoverflow I have mixed feelings about Stack Overflow Careers.

No, I’m not questioning whether or not they should have built it, or whether or not they should charge money for it. I have no problem with Joel or Jeff using their interweb fame to make a buck like this guy seems to (Clarification: William’s beef isn’t with the for-pay aspect, but with the underlying system itself. See first comment.). If they want to, they should.


My quandary is whether I should make an effort to participate in Stack Overflow and Careers. I like the site and use it daily, but I don’t actually participate. I am a consumer, not a contributor. Should I eschew my natural introverted tendencies and force myself to contribute?


The Stack Overflow group of programmers seem to “get it.” On the whole they are smart, pragmatic, and can communicate in complete sentences (skills listed in reverse order of importance).

As a freelance programmer, I would like to be attributed with those qualities when looking for work. That’s the true value in associating a job search with Stack Overflow and is the reason why they can charge programmers to list their CV. If you’re recognized as a member of that community, you’re much more valuable to job searchers that are Stack Overflow-aware.

Maybe there’s some value in participating in the site and quantifying my association with the Stack Overflow type of programmer?


But, ultimately what am I trying to accomplish? Sure, I want to be known as a competent and gets-stuff-done kind of programmer. Stack Overflow is an avenue to quantify that I have these skills; it isn’t the method by which these skills are obtained.

Joel Spolsky himself said,

The great software developers, indeed, the best people in every field, are quite simply never on the market.

He goes on to explain that if you’re a great developer, you’ll be recognized as such through your work.

I think this says it all. I shouldn’t force myself to participate in a contrived system attempting to quantify competence. Don’t get me wrong, if you enjoy interacting and contributing to Stack Overflow, more power to you! But for me, if I’m doing the right things to further myself as a developer, the rest will take care of itself. More do-ey, less talk-ey.

Stackoverflow and Reputation Points

stackoverflow-logo-250I submitted my first question to stackoverflow the other day, and I must say the entire experience was extremely pleasant.  What is stackoverflow?  Well, many bill it as a newer and better experts-exchange.com but to even mention the two properties together is an insult to the people that built stackoverflow, their mothers, and their mother’s children, including them (so that’s a double insult!).

It is a site where coders can share knowledge through question and answer with a heaping spoonfull of awesome added for good measure.  Here’s a list of ingredients in that awesome:

  • Open ID support
  • Reputation points
  • tagging
  • Badges!
  • A clean, simple, attractive design

Is there a need to break down reputation by subject matter?

The reputation points is perhaps what interests me the most.  Let’s face it, we’re a hierarchical society.  There are always going to be people at the top of a given field, and if you consider yourself a professional in that field you should know who those people are, even if you are one of them.

Stackoverflow provides a good, quantitative measurement of the general expertise in the software development field.  No, it doesn’t replace resumes and body-of-work, and no it is not a perfect system by any means.  But, when you’re quickly looking for an answer to a software development question, you want and trust an answer from a person with a higher reputation score.

But, is reputation too generic?  I would like to see the points split between the tags that a person is involved with.  There would still be an overall reputation, but when viewing someone’s profile I would like to see from which tags those reputation points came from.

Stackoverflow's profile tag list
Stackoverflow's profile tag list

Stackoverflow already does this to a limitted degree, but from what I can tell, the number next to a person’s set of tags is simply the amount of times they’ve been associated with it.

Take the image to the left for example.  I can tell this person has been associated with CouchDB five times, but without clicking through to each of the articles can I tell how much of his reputation is based on his knowledge of CouchDB?  I can infer this from the relative number of CouchDB tags to the rest of his tags, but I’m stupid and lazy and I don’t want to have to infer anything.

As an asside, this person is Paul Davis – one of the most active members of the CouchDB community.

Don’t missunderstand me here, I think stackoverflow is absolutely great.  So is their reputation system.  But, I think splitting up their reputation between the tags that a user is involved with would go a long way towards making this the defacto community and hub for  expert sex changes software development.

What do you think?