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Stack Overflow: What is it? How does it work?

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Stack Overflow: What is it? How does it work?

Imagine yourself faced with a technical challenge, such as an error, and desperately seeking an answer. One of your first reflexes must surely have been to copy and paste the error into your search engine. Luckily, a user has already encountered this problem, and several solutions have been proposed by other developers on a forum that has become a pillar of the development community: Stack Overflow.

In this ocean of knowledge, you can ask your most burning questions and get answers from seasoned developers from all over the world.

Whether you’re trying to solve a bug, choose the best technology or perfect your coding skills, Stack Overflow is your infallible guide. Find out in this article how a simple Q&A site for developers has become an indispensable resource for developers worldwide.

Founded in 2008 by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky, Stack Overflow grew out of the two developers’ blogs. Since developers no longer buy programming books, and programming is done by trial and error, Google is the first place where developers can find an answer when faced with a problem.

Unfortunately, some websites offer no help at all, or the answers lie behind a paywall. Stack Overflow sets itself apart from other platforms with its specific focus on programming-related questions and answers. Joel Spolsky was influenced by his experience with other online communities focused on solving technical problems, and draws inspiration from other question-and-answer platforms such as Reddit’s upvote/downvote function.

Stack Overflow has become the benchmark for developer Q&A sites. With over 200 million visitors every month, the platform has become a thriving virtual community where developers from all over the world come together to share their knowledge.

The way Stack Overflow works is pretty straightforward. Users can ask questions on a wide range of development-related topics, such as programming, frameworks, databases, web technologies, artificial intelligence and much more. These questions are then made available to the community for answers.

Stack Overflow has a number of features to help users help each other.

Thanks to the tagging system, users can add tags to their questions to make it easier for others with specific knowledge in a particular field to find them. This makes for efficient organization of information and improved accessibility to problems and solutions.

Like Reddit, Stack Overflow also has a voting system with which users can vote for questions and answers they find useful or relevant. This feature prioritizes the best answers, enabling users to quickly find the most reliable and effective solutions to their problems.

Stack Overflow has released a version of its enterprise platform called Stack Overflow for Teams, which aims to provide a dedicated collaboration space where team members can ask questions, share knowledge and solve problems specific to their project or organization.

Unlike Stack Overflow public, which is open to all, Stack Overflow for Teams enables access to be restricted to members of the team or organization concerned. Shared content is therefore private, accessible only to members of the team or organization concerned.

This makes it possible to discuss sensitive or company-specific topics in total security, and to build up an internal knowledge base.

These questions and answers remain available for future reference, facilitating knowledge sharing within the organization. This Stack Overflow feature is free of charge, but has its limitations. However, it is possible to take out a subscription for full functionality.

With the arrival of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, the number of visitors to Stack Overflow is in steady decline, losing some of its status as the preferred source to which developers turn for answers to their coding problems. This decline began in early 2022 with the introduction of GitHub’s CoPilot coding assistant.

CoPilot is an AI-based integrated development environment (IDE) extension that will suggest lines of code and functions as you code, or by writing a comment describing what you want the code to do.


Stack Overflow’s impact on the developer community has been enormous.

The platform has become much more than just a question-and-answer site, but an essential resource for developers worldwide, offering a dynamic space where users can connect, exchange knowledge and solve problems, while having a guarantee on the quality of answers thanks to the voting system.

Stack Overflow has also enabled developers to keep up to date with the latest programming trends and best practices. Despite a slight decline due to the arrival of artificial intelligence such as ChatGPT, Stack Overflow remains the ideal place to look for answers to your programming problems or share your knowledge with other enthusiasts.

Learners on DataScientest courses also have access to a dedicated training forum, where they can not only collaborate with each other, but also get an answer from an expert on the teaching team. Don’t hesitate to consult our various training courses to acquire the skills you need in the world of Big Data.


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