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Help for Developers

Two weeks ago, I blogged about Jeff Atwood's Coding Horror site and the contest he was holding to recognize outstanding open source development.

We talked a bit after that initial blog post and I ended up asking Jeff about his leaving Vertigo Software to launch stackoverflow.com. What should be interesting for dev managers is that the site Jeff is launching now aims to put accurate, topical and specific technical insight at the fingertips of .NET developers.

Jeff says he got the idea of launching a developer-help site from his experiences reading (and writing) dev-oriented blogs. "If you look at a lot of blogs, it's just sort of a log of, 'Here's a problem I had and here's the solution to it,'" Jeff told me.

The problem, he said, is that developers must often root around multiple places to find proposed solutions. And when they find a viable-looking suggestion, those developers are left to guess at the relative technical acumen of the site denizen providing the insight. In short, it can be a gigantic crapshoot. Stackoverflow, Jeff hopes, will change a lot of that.

Jeff has teamed with another well-known developer and blogger -- Joel Spolsky of Joel on Software fame -- to work on the stackoverflow.com project. The two are pulling their respective Web readerships and hoping to draw plenty of other coders toward the site, which Jeff said will be a "developer Q&A site with reputation systems built in."

What's interesting is that both Joel and Jeff seem committed to running a wide-open and transparent community. As Joel wrote in his blog:

"We're starting to build a programming Q&A site that's free. Free to ask questions, free to answer questions, free to read, free to index, built with plain old HTML, no fake rot13 text on the homepage, no scammy Google-cloaking tactics, no salespeople, no JavaScript windows dropping down in front of the answer asking for $12.95 to go away. You can register if you want to collect karma and win valuable flair that will appear next to your name, but otherwise, it's just free."

This doesn't sound like a half-bad idea. Do you have a favorite developer-help resource? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 05/01/2008


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