Stack Overflow Sets an Example for News Commenting Systems

    by Ryan Sholin
    November 14, 2008

    Here’s a poorly-kept secret: I hang out with Web developers all day. And by their nature, Web developers tend to be Web savvy, and Web natives. Which means they are already using and hacking and rebuilding the next big thing online before most of us have ever laid our eyes on it.

    Like this one: Stack Overflow.



    Stack Overflow is a service where programmers can ask and answer questions.

    That’s all. Not too complicated when you describe it that way. But hidden in that description is a valuable system of voting and rating, where users earn points (call it Karma if that seems familiar) for asking and answering questions.

    The most novel thing I’ve found about the site so far is that the user who asks a question can flag the correct answer, which then gets nailed to the top of the comment thread full of possible solutions. The user who submitted the right answer? Extra points for them.


    So it’s one part Slashdot, one part Digg, and a lot of thought about the value of voting systems as a way to filter content.

    I’ve spent a lot of time talking about commenting systems for news sites over the past few years, and it usually comes down to a choice between ratings systems (think: Digg) and identity systems (think: Facebook).

    How much value would a vote-for-the-right-answer recommendation engine like this have to a news organization? To a local community?

    See also:

    Tagged: comments digg local information stack overflow uservoice
    • I immediately thought of Yahoo! Answers when you mentioned the vote for the right answer and win points functionality. This is in fact exactly how Yahoo! Answers works.

      A user submits a question (tied to their profile), and the community puts in their answers (also tied to their profiles). The best answer, as determined by either the rating or the use that posed the question, earns that user points (karama, credibility).

      I think this holds great promise with traditional commenting systems if done correctly because it offers value to the user. That is, provided there is no easy method of gaming the system.

    • Another system in which the person asking the question can award “best answer” designations: ask.metafilter.com.

      News commenting systems are in the dark ages. There’s nothing as genuinely helpful as AxMeFi at any news or community site that I know of.

    • There’s an Open Source clone already of StackOverflow.com which can be found at; http://stacked.ra-ajax.org/ and the source can be found at; http://code.google.com/p/stacked/

      It’s pretty “alpha” still, but development is soaring forward… :)

    • i have check the stacked project, but that doesnt seem promising by the looks, I think i need some php and ajax based open source script for my website.

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