I have started reading a fun book on innovation management called “Beyond the Obvious” by Phil McKinney. Mr. McKinney has directed a diverse technical career including serving as CTO of HP. A core theme of his book is that innovative thinking occurs when you start asking better questions. His work stresses the importance of disciplined and thoughtful questions. To learn more about Mr. McKinney’s teaching, check out “Killer Innovations” podcast: http://philmckinney.com/killer-innovations .
Questions are powerful. I started to think about the value of one of my favorite sites: http://StackOverflow.com. This is a website that I use daily during my work as a programmer. For any technical programming roadblock I face, I can start solving the challenge using insights from this question and answer site. Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood carefully crafted StackOverflow to foster great questions and great responses. The site uses gamification elements to reward users when they ask good questions or provide awesome answers. The software, community and moderators are coordinated to encourage users to ask meaningful questions that are clear and provide meaningful answers. Since Jeff and Joel are very successful bloggers in the programming world, they blended design concepts of using wiki’s, social media and blog software.
Since the launch of StackOverflow, Joel and Jeff expanded to cover other topics. You can find these question and answer sites at http://www.StackExchange.com .
I have listed 10 StackExchange sites that may serve our readers.
- http://stackoverflow.com/ – Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers. I use this site every day as a programmer.
- http://superuser.com/ – Q&A for computer enthusiasts and power users. This community is very helpful in finding solutions to common computer issues or discovering new apps.
- http://webapps.stackexchange.com/ – Q&A for power users of web applications. I really want to study their questions related to Google Drive, WordPress, and AppsScript.
- http://scifi.stackexchange.com/ – Q&A for science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. It was fun looking up Dr. Who trivia on here.
- http://gamedev.stackexchange.com/ – Q&A for professional and independent game developers
- http://academia.stackexchange.com/– Q&A for academics and those enrolled in higher education
- http://biology.stackexchange.com/ – Q&A for biology researchers, academics, and students
- http://pm.stackexchange.com/ – Q&A for project managers
- http://opendata.stackexchange.com/ – Q&A for developers and researchers interested in open data
- http://serverfault.com/ – Q&A for professional system and network administrators
What more? Check out http://stackexchange.com/sites#traffic .
In the Google tech talk below, Joel Spolsky shares insights into the anthropology and principles that directed the design of the StackExchange sites. It’s a great case study on user experience design and community building.
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