I have been lucky enough to be one of the few and many people that have had the chance to preview the beta of stackoverflow.com. It has a very nice look and feel in my opinion and seems to work very well for an early beta. Jeff Atwood deserves major kudos. However I have had one plaguing question?
Is stackoverflow.com really a Web 2.0 site?
I started thinking about this question a couple days ago, because as many of you know I have my own project, that isn't much different functionality wise than stack overflow. As I started cataloging everything that a Web 2.0 site is suppose to consist of, the more I asked the question what is a Web 2.0 site, and is stackoverflow.com really one?
Tim O'Reilly defines Web 2.0 as the following:
Web 2.0 is the business revolution in the computer industry caused by the move to the Internet as platform, and an attempt to understand the rules for success on that new platform.
In my opinion a platform has the following characteristics and so does a Web 2.0. There are probably many more, but these are the top 4.
- It must have a fluent interface. (this is usually implemented through AJAX)
- It must have an externally available API. (because a closed platform is what Web 1.0 was all about)
- Users can own data and have control over who sees it.
- It is an obvious advancement from the previous Web 1.0 version of the software if one exisited.
Just as a precursor to the following discussion, I have never heard Jeff proclaim that stack overflow is a Web 2.0 site, so this is just my ramblings. Jeff has also done an awesome job with the site in a short period of time so everything I am saying now will probably change in the future.
Stackoverflow.com has only really done #1 of the first 3. However what I really want to have a discussion on is if it really has advanced it self enough beyond the old forum model to really be considered 2.0 worthy or is it just a display layer on the 1.0. For all intents and purposes we are going to use the forums on ASP.NET for comparison.
- Allows users to create posts? (both yes)
- Allows users to create reply to the posts? (both yes)
- Allows users to talk to each other? (asp.net only)
- Allows users to rank posts? (both yes, but different mechanisms)
- Allows users to rank replies to posts? (stackoverflow.com only)
- Allows users to get a system ranking against other users? (both yes)
- Allows users to tag posts? (both yes)
- Allows users to tag replies? (asp.net only)
- Allows users to mark a reply as an answer? (both yes)
- Allows categorization of posts? (asp.net only)
- Users aquire badges of honor in the system? (both yes)
- Users can have a profile of themself and their activity? (both yes)
- Can easily follow a posting? (asp.net only)
- Can easily follow a grouping of posts? (asp.net only)
- Allow users to delete posts? (stackoverflow.com only)
- Allow users to delete replies? (stackoverflow.com only)
Using the above questions it makes stackoverflow.com look like it is playing catch up to the asp.net forums, which has had a 6 year head start. But it still begs to ask the question is the technology and application of it worth of the title 2.0 or just 1.1? I think Jeff needs to impliment the following beyond the typical forum to really claim that 2.0 title.
- An external API (REST seems popular)
- Become less of a destination and more of a service:
- Render in other platforms. (Facebook and/or Open Social)
- Allow posting and following via SMS and IM.
- Allow users to follow certain tags, categorizations, users, etc. through RSS, JSON, XML, etc.
I do beleive that Jeff has a long way to go before stack overflow is considered an advancement beyond the standard forum, but if anybody can make that leap it is Jeff.