So during the beta is it desirable to put questions in for others to answer that we might already know the answer to? I know that one of the big things is for search engines (Google, etc) to index the site. Should we go ahead and build up the repository of questions in prep for the public launch?

EDIT Please note that this has been added as a reference in the Community FAQ.

  • Please update this to community wiki and add the link back to the FAQ listing - serverfault.com/questions/8324/…
    – Rob
    Commented May 26, 2009 at 13:40
  • Good idea. Done.
    – squillman
    Commented May 26, 2009 at 14:29

3 Answers 3


Yes. Like most successful internet applications, Serverfault and Stackoverflow are middle-men. They provide a forum where people can ask and answer questions. The value of a 'middle-man' or brokerage application is a function that is upper-bounded by the square of the number of punters. This square law is very nicely documented in an essay called 'Content is not king'

Thus, the more questions (of reasonable quality) and answers the more people get value from the forum and the more valuable the forum is. Joel and Jeff both had a base of readers that they could refer to the site - this is why they could get Stackoverflow off the ground where most people couldn't.

Thus, the more (decent) questions the more punters are attracted to the site and the more content the site has access to. The upper bound of the value is proportional to (number of good questions and answers * number of punters). The more the merrier.

  • Great! Wasn't around for the SO beta, but I was pretty sure that that was a key ingredient and would obviously carry over here.
    – squillman
    Commented May 21, 2009 at 13:58
  • @Concerned: Please define "punters".
    – bukzor
    Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 18:07
  • @bukzor - It's a term that means 'customers', or 'users'. Commented Apr 23, 2012 at 20:25

In the Episode 53 of the podcast a Joel specifically encouraged listeners to post good generic questions on stackoverflow. I think we can pretty much assume he would approve of the same behavior on serverfault.

Episode 53 ~ 50:24

Joel Spolsky: I would like to see a bunch of people who are listening to this podcast to go in there and think about what are you easiest programming questions. What is the first question you would have if you where a noob. Learning how to program, what would be those confusing things. Do you really have to make those brace match? What the heck does private mean? What does public mean? What does friend mean? Post them as questions and lets see what good answers we get. The truth is I am kind of selfish, I want a lot of traffic for stackoverflow because this is how I know stackoverflow is successful. So I want to have these canonical little articles about every possible topic of programming.

I think we should be doing it, and I have asked a few questions like this. I try to phrase the question in such a way to discourage a simple copy and paste from Wikipedia. I personally think the questions should try to get people to offer the types of information that don't really fit into Wikipedia model.

  • Cool, thx. I haven't been following the podcast (yet). One of these days I'll get caught up.....
    – squillman
    Commented May 21, 2009 at 20:13

Pretty sure thats the whole purpose of the beta. Get a lot of commonly asked questions in.

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