It’s Not Just You: Stack Overflow Is Still Full of Jerks

The annual Stack Overflow developer survey has a lot of good fodder and insight. This year, it also has one of the best self-owns we’ve seen in quite a while.

Stack Overflow admits it’s a toxic hell-stew.

Deep down in Stack Overflow’s 2019 Developer Survey is the ‘community’ section, which is a look at who uses Stack Overflow. It also gauges how often they use the platform, why they visit, and whether it’s useful to them. From the study, we have the following takeaways:

  • Most use Stack Overflow daily, or multiple times per day.
  • A majority have been using Stack Overflow for several years.
  • Almost all users go to find answers to their questions.
  • Comparing frequency of use and how often they find answers to their questions, most are successful.
  • Many think Stack Overflow saves them time compared to other resources

Late last year, Stack Overflow instituted new community guidelines, mandating that developers ‘be nice’ to one another. It offered up such gems as “If you Google it, you’ll find tutorials that can explain it much better than we can in an answer here,” as opposed to responding with, “You could Google this in 5 seconds.” It was an effort to clean up the site, which the company knew was just terrible.

Did it work? Nah.

Some 73 percent of respondents say Stack Overflow is just as welcoming to users as it was last year. When it asked respondents what they’d change about Stack Overflow, one of the more popular requests was to fix the “community culture.”

Women and men see Stack Overflow differently, too. When asked what they’d like changed, men most often responded with words like “bounty” and “force.” The words women used most were “condescending,” “replies,” “nicer,” “rude,” and “dumb.”

It’s not all terrible news; Stack Overflow reports “respondents who are people of color, especially black or of African descent, South Asian, and Hispanic or Latino/Latina, are especially likely to say they feel more welcome this year, both in the United States and worldwide,” which is awesome. And people are finding solutions to their problems, which is what the site is about anyway.

But when you’ve got to wade through a river of ego and spite before being told to “Google it,” we start to wonder how long people will tolerate a Stack Overflow where a “cultural shift” hasn’t yet taken hold.

3 Responses to “It’s Not Just You: Stack Overflow Is Still Full of Jerks”

  1. I remember back in the days when I was quite eager to learn coding for my studies, I asked questions on Stack Overflow and I always get unfriendly and sometimes rude replies (or they simply just downvoted you without explaining anything – I never posted any question without extensive search). There’s of course nice people who helped me out, but the rest of them were a bunch of ego people. That community’s attitudes was one of the reasons why my interests in programming reduced drastically.

  2. What an unproductive article…What is the end goal here? At least Stack has been a productive tool for our community. Dice is filled with recruiters who do not know how to write a decent email. I wouldn’t in a million years visit dice.com. Instead of slamming another website, how about you update us on what Dice is doing to improve themselves? Not a good look