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Saturday, June 6, 2009

StackOverflow’s Karma Bounty, Data Dump, and Sister Sites

Karma Bounties

Programming question & answers site has a system based around karma and badges, and karma acts as a kind of in-site currency. One nice extra feature are bounties. When you don’t get a good answer to your question after some time, you can start a karma bounty. You will assign 50 to 500 points from your own hardly earned karma, which will then be assigned to the question – up for grabs to anyone who can offer an answer that will become the top-voted answer.

Furthermore, the question will then show a special icon, and be shown on the homepage’s “Featured” tab for some time. To use the bounty system yourself, click the “start a bounty” link on certain questions of yours, or check out the “Featured” tab, pictured at the top.

Data Dump

StackOverflow is noteworthy not just for its community features on the site, but also for its openness. Recently, they announced that they will offer all the Q&A data generated on the site in the form of a Creative Commons Attribute-Share Alike license. In other words, if you do decide to republish it, you need to credit the source, but also license your own work generated from it under the CC license.

Jeff Atwood at the site’s blog writes, “The community has selflessly provided all this content in the spirit of sharing and helping each other. In that very same spirit, we are happy to return the favor by providing a database dump of public data.” Jeff adds, “Our plan is to create a new data dump every month, reflecting all data in the system up to that month.” The current dump is over 200 MB large and available as a torrent.

A sister site

Also, StackOverflow now has a sister site: Where StackOverflow is targeted at programmers, the new site aims to help “system administrators and IT professions”. The makers suggest that if this were a trilogy, then this sequel is a “darker, more serious movie. Some say the best in the series.” A trilogy? Indeed, as a third site called is planned – for “computer enthusiasts and power users”.

As good as StackOverflow is, I was recently reminded how free, as good as it is, sometimes only gets you what you paid for. I asked a similar question (about htaccess speed optimization approaches) on both StackOverflow, and paid Q&A site (the unofficial successor to the canceled Google Answers site). At StackOverflow I received two very short answers, one of them helpful. But at Uclue, a researcher there got involved and took me through a multiple step process with many details, offering lots of help on the way.


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