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nfocipher

Head Grunt, David “NfoCipher” Bunt - I'm a programmer..
Experience: With over 14 years professional experience both in corporate and small business environments. I'm a Linux junkie, have a healthy respect for macs, but cannot tolerate anything microsoft related. Been there, done that, never again.

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48 Hours with Joel and Jeff..

2009-04-12 @ 08:47 in Coding

Joel Spolsky of FogCreek Software and Jeff Atwood of nothing have joined forces to push out StackOverflow. To generate hype and the all important critical mass, they record a weekly podcast. There are now 48 one hour long podcasts in the wild and I've listened to all of them while driving to Sweet Peppers so I can work on RoR-izing FollowMeIP.


At some point a conversation was had about how cool it would be to have a website that would cater to the asking and answering of programming questions - Stackoverflow was born. Atwood is project manager over a couple of .net programmers and Joel simply tells his readers about how cool it is. It's a great situation really, Atwood does all the work, spends the money, takes the risks and Joel sits back and waits for success or failure. Either way, Joel will have tons of new material to write about.


Atwood seems to be in control of the technology stack and server infrastructure. It's rather amusing at times to listen to his rationale on why he did certain things. Stackoverflow is using ASP.NET MVC, microsoft's answer to ruby on rails. He opted to use this stack which was in beta over the actual RoR stack. He's definitely a microsoft centric developer and every time he denies it, take a drink. It's also amusing listening to hardware issues he's having trying to run his own server. In podcast 48, Atwood said software raid is better than hardware raid. Having dealt with both - extensively - software raid is one big slow steaming pile of crap. With drive sizes in the 2tb now, a nice hardware pci-e raid 1 solution is what you want. It's clear Atwood hasn't had much experience with hardware and really should move his project to some sort of cloud before he runs out of money playing with different raid settings.


After listening to 48 hours of rambling a few things become clear:

The only reason to listen is to hear what Joel says.

Atwood mostly just says "right" or "I agree" randomly.

Joel is not a Linux fan.

Atwood doesn't understand FOSS.

Atwood hasn't "been around" as much as he'd like to think he has.

Atwood should stick to writing.

The stackoverflow podcast is no longer about stackoverflow.


So how is stackoverflow doing? Fine I suppose. People seem to be using it, but it doesn't matter because Atwood made one fatal mistake - not open sourcing it. After the initial release, people started asking the same question: can I spawn a stackoverflow for xzy? Why not a stackoverflow for automotive questions? Atwood has repeatedly said the site just can't be switched from programming questions to some other type of question. That means poor design or lack of vision - most likely a little of both. If you've been in computers your entire life it's rather hard to see value in anything else. They missed the boat and the flood gates are about to be opened.

 

CNProg.com has replicated stackoverflow and released it under the apache license. The motivation was to enable Chinese programmers the ability to use a site like stackoverflow which doesn't support anything but English. Once again the podcast provided a smile on my face when Joel started talking about copyright violation. Sure, it's copyright infringement if China followed U.S. copyright laws - and they don't. When the Chinese government owns and operates a Disney Land clone, I seriously doubt they're going to mind a stackoverflow clone.


I'm reasonably sure CNProg didn't take nearly as long to write and I'm guessing a decent ruby on rails developer could rewrite stackoverflow within a week. Considering Atwood's poor choice in technology stacks, my prediction is someone will clone stackoverflow using ruby on rails and release it under an open source license. This will enable people to create their own niche sites without debating with Atwood about what's possible.