The problem is that, golly gee, why just programmers? Surely there are people out there in different professions–you know, candlestick makers, robotics engineers, and designers of favicons–who could use a site much like Stack Overflow to get answers to their hard questions. And some of these people must have questions, themselves, about candlesticks, positronic brains, and teeny tiny pixels, and they must be frustrated when they go to a bulletin-board site and the right answer is buried on page 50.
So we created Stack Exchange to bring the technology behind Stack Overflow to a much wider variety of sites. We tried charging for Stack Exchange, and that didn’t work so well. So we asked ourselves, “How would the people of 1999 solve this problem?”
And the best answer we could come up with was, let’s make the damn thing free, and get some VC somewhere to pay for it.
I’ve been following Stack Overflow since its announcement, mostly by listening to every episode of the podcast. (Really. Even when Jeff says something I don’t like about PHP.)
I’ve used the site to get answers numerous times, nearly always starting from Google and finding myself there from the first cluster of hits. And the Stack Overflow results are always of higher quality and relevance than anything else in Google’s first few pages.
So I’m happy to be tangentially involved with Stack Overflow’s next steps on their “board of advisors”, which means I get to sound like I do a lot of work but really just share my experience and opinion whenever they ask (and sometimes when they don’t).
The Stack Overflow team and investors comprise such a wealth of wisdom and ability that I have no doubts about their future success.