One thing we've been pitching a lot to VCs is our love for internet communities that are obsessive about something, where that something could be ... well, anything, really. I feel that the kind of expert communities that arise around a shared passion for something are not only fascinating but help the world at large, in that these experts produce a lot of highly relevant content that any average person can dip their toes in when they need advice about that particular topic.
Our goal with the Stack Overflow engine, then, is to unlock this content and release expert communities from the Soviet-era phpBB and vBulletin software they've been trapped in for so many years. In other words, better living through software!
I was amused to discover this hilarious Onion article which exposes a hidden downside of these expert communities that Joel and I didn't discuss with VCs.
"I don't know how I wound up at that point, but thank God I escaped when I did," Gibson, 41, said Friday. "There I was, a grown man, planning a trip to the Mustard Museum in Wisconsin, when suddenly I heard a voice deep within me say, 'This is not what you want your life to be about.'" "It was like waking up from a bad dream," Gibson added. "A bad yellow and brown dream." Gibson's descent into the depths of mustard obsession started innocently enough, when he got involved in an Internet exchange about the best kind of mustard to use on a grilled bratwurst. When someone posted a link encouraging him to "click on this if you really want to spice things up," he took the stranger's advice and suddenly found himself on MustardMonster.com, a discussion group devoted to the cultivation, preparation, and enjoyment of the table-side condiment.
Speaking of mustardmonster.com, I wanted to gather people's opinions about what sites are currently missing from the Trilogy:
We're trying to identify some gaps we have and possibly fill them, based on existing data. If you had to identify a theme of questions that tend to frequently get asked and closed as off-topic in the Trilogy (whether Stack Overflow, Server Fault, or Super User), repeatedly, what would that theme be?
You are welcome to comment here, but if you have a strong opinion on this topic, the best way to express it is by creating, following, or commiting to an Area 51 proposal.
While we love expert communities -- they are quite literally the fabric of Stack Overflow, Server Fault, and Super User -- we don't want our shared mustard obsession to come between us.