UPDATE: Thanks to the overwhelming response, we have sold out of inventory! To everyone who ordered a unit, thank you for helping us raise money for a great organization. To anyone who still wants their own copy of The Key, you can continue pre-order on Drop, which expects to deliver another batch of units in December.
Back in the spring of 2021, a group of Stackers began dreaming up our annual April Fool’s joke. We wanted to riff on a popular meme about the ubiquity of copy pasting code from our site, to give folks a little scare, then a laugh, and in the end, a fascinating trove of data letting them know that they are far from alone in borrowing snippets when building their software.
Every time someone entered the keyboard command to copy characters from Stack Overflow, we showed them a pop-up warning them they were almost out of free copies.
If they wanted unlimited access to copy and paste from Stack Overflow, all they needed to do was purchase The Key.
Lots of people enjoyed the prank, but a lot of people also left comments on our blog or on social media asking if they could actually buy The Key for real. So, over the past few months, we’ve been quietly working to bring this little dream to life.
With a little help from some friends, we have created a working version of The Key and made it available for purchase. The design was done by Cassidy Williams, a passionate mechanical keyboard enthusiast who has crafted some custom keycap sets in the past.
Cassidy connected us with Drop, a startup specializing in custom keyboards. They took her design from prototype to finished product. They also had the infrastructure in place to handle sales and logistics. “Our customer base has a lot of overlap with Stack Overflow. The Venn diagram of people who love coding and mechanical keyboards is pretty much a circle,” said Steve El-Hage, Founder and CEO of Drop.com. “We are excited to partner with an iconic brand and offer a tool that boosts productivity and puts a smile on people’s faces.”
The Key is priced at $29 USD and is available through Drop’s website here. They also put together a great tutorial on how to configure and customize your Key here. You can get a deeper dive into how we designed and manufactured it in the podcast below.
For Drop, The Key is one of many custom designs that fit their business model and customer base. For Stack Overflow, it didn’t feel quite right to profit off a glorious meme born from our community. So we decided to donate our portion of the proceeds to digitalundivided. Drop decided to join us, and will be donating five percent of their proceeds to digitalundivided as well.
“Our goal is to create a world in which all women of color own their work,” said Lauren Maillian, CEO of digitalundivided. “Connecting our community with the entrepreneurial resources they need to innovate, build, and grow their businesses is core to everything we do. We are thrilled to work with Stack Overflow, a place so many entrepreneurs in tech turn to for learning, this collaboration is a natural fit as we work to advance our mission.”
Founded in 2012, digitalundivided is a non-profit that leverages data, programs, and advocacy to catalyze economic growth for Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs in innovation and technology. The organization is a connector and a catalyst, supporting Black and Latinx women entrepreneurs through best-in-class programming, mentorship, training, resources, community-driven research, and investment.
“We’re on a mission to empower the world to develop technology through collective knowledge,” said Stack Overflow CEO Prashanth Chandrasekar. “Furthering our mission requires listening to our growing community and leveraging our platform to effect real change. Together, The Key and our work with digitalundivided serve as a friendly reminder that the more we share knowledge with one another, the better off we all become.”
It’s ok to ask for help, and don’t forget:
good artists copy, great artists steal, but greatest artists copy, then paste.Tags: april fools, mechanical keyboards, the key
seems to me it’s serious enough of a problem not to joke about.
The real joke is the price. At $29, you can buy 2 of a wide variety of wired 104-key keyboards. I realize there’s a price drop in mass manufacturing, but $29 is still extremely high for as limited a use product as this is.
Yes, I pay more for my keyboards than $15, but I also go wireless. And no, I don’t go with mechanical keys. I realize my own preferences don’t alter the Venn diagram, but more people than OCD software devs use this group of sites. I’m pretty sure construction contractors, pilots, most DIYers, mechanics, and many more people use $15 keyboards, rather than mechanical keyboards, so that stated Venn diagram is probably very much not a circle.
U ok Eric? I mean it’s a gag product and the proceeds are for charity so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Why does there have to be something wrong with me in order for me to think the price is high?
If people really wanted to feel good about giving to charity, they should just give to the charity without the need to get a physical item back. Why waste time and money on a “gag product” that’s a waste of time, effort, money, and will take up space not being used? Yes, I said it’s a waste of time twice. It’s a waste of time to develop and produce as well as a waste to spend time ordering, shipping, installing, and throwing it away 2 months later.
If me having a problem with all this means I have a problem in general, then I’d rather have a “problem” than a piece of junk gag product because YAGNI.
I had a girlfriend like you once. Yawn…
Cause it’s money well invested. And I’m pretty sure you waste more than that on an average weekend. Save 3 drinks and you’re there. Your favorite resource and community for software development launches a limited toy for its fans, with charity donation included and you complain for 30 bucks. Really?
Less is more! You’re paying a little extra to not have all those other bothersome keys real developers don’t use anyway.
The price is not unreasonable for custom keyboards with mechanical switches. I agree the audience overlap is an exaggeration. (Interestingly there have been similar low-keycount niche controllers for rhythm games).
“…said Lauren Maillian, CEO of digitalundivided” which is the company to which SO is donating their part of profits. It appears that you’re the one who didn’t read the full article 🤣
Just more woke virtue-signaling. Nothing to see here.
I’ll buy one, provided that you donate your proceeds to Appalachian straight males.
It’s not just virtue signalling if it’s actually improving the world.
That is making life harder for us Juniors, especially those who do not have a strong currency to buy it and are not financially stable like me.
Please come up with an alternative for us, please.
thank you in advance.
Is there another supplier for the keyboard that doesn’t charge $15 for shipping to the UK please?
Accusations of “virtue signalling” reveal a great deal about the bad-faith perspective on the world held by the accuser.
Have you never wanted to help someone and for your act of help to be about the beneficiary of your assistance, not about your signalling to everyone: “Yes, look, I’m helping them! Aren’t I virtuous?”
Believe it or not, it is possible (and commendable) to want to help others – and for your whole motivation to assist to be focused on those you are seeking to help.
This is a niche gag product that will likely sell thousands at most with extremely low margins. If this has 10% (my fair bet) margin split evenly among SO and Drop, you’re looking at a donation of ~1.5 dollars for every sale. Sell a few thousand and all the charity got from this was a few thousands at best. Good money, but not life-changing for a charity. Not if it’s a one time thing.
Yet, see how much virtue this signals both on behalf of SO and Drop. They are so good by forgoing profits! This is just pure simple marketing being shoveled to people that “care”. I wonder how much they’re doing for women of color outside the US, though. Or people of color for that matter. Or just people originally from where their color isn’t a minority.
If you really cared, you’d either donate directly the 25 dollars + shipping to the charity of your choice and not contribute to the garbage-piling we’ve been doing for decades now with stuff that will realistically never see use or not bother. You get a warm fuzzy feeling that you “helped” women of color get into the industry with this, though. Tell me how this isn’t just more woke virtue-signalling. Tell me concretely how exactly this measly donation that millions will see despite only gathering thousands, but that will improve the standing of SO for millions, will actually help women of color worldwide “own their work”?
I’ll sit here in my bitter corner waiting in this chair with a cynical look on my face.
We made this product because our community asked for it. We wanted to bring joy to folks, and we succeeded.
To make the product happen, we needed a business partner. They made something people are happy to pay for.
We didn’t want to profit off something our community inspired, so we decided to donate to charity.
If you’re feeling cynical these days, I suggest donating to the charity of your choice and avoiding the comment section.
Coming here half a year later, I agree with the first half of Ben’s comment but fail to see the logic in this:
“We didn’t want to profit off something our community inspired, so we decided to donate to charity.”
If profit is undesirable, why not just forego it entirely, thus reducing the product’s price instead of passing the profit on to a third party?
Now I’m wondering if that’s maybe a cultural thing (in the US compared to Europe where there’s more state-funded welfare and less charity).
But where’s the Any key? I need an Any key.
Can we have a bluetooth version with backlit keys?
Does it support NKRO?
Where’s the ‘attribute to author’ key?
Good point! (What is the keyboard shortcut for that?)
No semiconductors to be found and you guys can manage to produce the charity/gag keyboard. Crazy times. 😉
A couple of guys I know had this idea back in 2008 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PO-G85k7oZ0
Ah, 30 years later and nothing has changed: the in comment “discussion” here reminds me of some of the more inane arguments in Usenet forums of 1992 (alt.hamster.duct.tape anyone?).
Thanks SO for the cute toy, thanks to the rest of you for the nostolgia.
LOL – thank you for my moment of Zen
Wait a minute … you mean there is somewhere in the world where women (or men) of color (or not) do NOT own their work? Perhaps I’m naive or way out of touch … but I’d like to know of examples where this claim is true. Perhaps there’s more that can be done than spending $30 on a gag keyboard?
Instead of generating more e-waste, you could donate directly to the charity.
$20 is usually my limit for a novelty but I’d throw in the extra 9 for this one.