Can you believe we’re almost a third of the way through 2023? While it still feels like the year just started, we’d like to kick things off by celebrating five of the sites on the Stack Exchange Network that turned ten this quarter.
I love the anniversary celebrations on the platform because it’s an opportunity to connect a bit deeper with some of the moderators and community members on the network. As in past quarters, I’m always blown away by the depth and breadth of knowledge across all of the sites on Stack Exchange. So here’s a little spotlight on five of those communities:
English Language Learners Stack Exchange (ELL) has a unique history. They are actually an offshoot from another one of our Stack Exchange sites, English Language and Usage (ELU). While ELU is geared towards linguists and etymologists, ELL is a site geared towards people whose first language is not English. As one of the ELL moderators, Laurel, pointed out, “Even though the site is a sister site of ELU, it’s really come into its own. The top participants are different and they have their own norms.”
Moderator David Siegel mentioned, “We do much less referencing old posts than other sites. We get a lot of questions about mixing tenses. We have perennial topics and not perennial answers.” Resources for Learning English is an older post that community member, ColleenV, is really proud of the community for maintaining and updating over the years. The community is also fond of canonical posts, including What’s perfect and how to use it and How it works vs How does it work. ColleenV also points out that, “ Interacting with learner's questions can sometimes offer insights about English to native speakers. Many of our questions are about things that native English speakers just know intuitively, but don't really know the why behind it.”
The moderators are really proud that this is a community that goes out of their way to help others. It’s really easy just to look at questions and answers, but if you’re poking around on ELL it’s worth taking a look at the comments too. Community members tend to leave different possibilities and alternative suggestions there to help question askers out and get to the core of the problem they are trying to solve.
Magento Stack Exchange is a Q&A community for people who use the e-commerce platform Magento. Magento happens to be an open source ecommerce tool, so as moderator Sander Mangel put it, “the community needed to rely on each other when the product launched.” Moderator Marius chimed in, “Magento appeared out of nowhere and was different, architecture and code-wise.” One can even become a Magento Certified Developer.
When the site was going through the Area 51 process, the word was spread to people using the Magento product so they’d join and help with asking and answering questions. A lot of the early members are still active. The community is still going strong with an average of 18K visitors a day. Marius attributes the continued participation on the site to the continued evolution of the product and also experienced users going back to find answers to actions they don’t use as frequently. “People probably go to the deep dark corners of the site and find new things. Sometimes people may forget. I searched once and found the perfect answer and found out that it was from me.”
Sander Mangel also pointed out that the continued high traffic is also in part to junior developers who are using Magento for the first time. “They are the new generation of community members.” As moderator, Amit Bera put it, “ Everyone is connected to each other. That’s the good thing about Stack Exchange. We’ve connected people around the world.”
Reverse Engineering Stack Exchange started as a subreddit. The community there was finding that the quality of posts and replies wasn’t what they were hoping for. Several community members, including Rolf Rolles, who’s a well-known reverse engineering expert, took an application to Area 51. Moderator Igor Skochinsky shared that Reverse Engineering SE is now the place for questions to be asked and answered, while the subreddit is mostly for sharing blog posts and news related to reverse engineering.
For those not familiar, reverse engineering is the act of dismantling a product or object to understand how it works. The community is a good balance of both professionals and hobbyists. You can find out everything from where to get malware samples to analyze to what PLT/GOT is.
Moderator 0xC0000022L shared that since there is prerequisite knowledge needed to ask meaningful questions, the community tries to counterbalance that barrier to entry by welcoming new members with comments and guiding them on how to best improve their questions.
The current moderator team is comprised of community members 0xC0000022L, Igor Skochinsky, and julian. They are extremely grateful to former moderators Peter Andersson, asheeshr, and Ange as well as the larger community for all of their contributions over the years.
If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, then Sustainable Living Stack Exchange is the place to go. Moderator LShaver describes the community as eclectic. “If you look through our top questions and answers, you’ll see that we’ve got some folks who are experts in forestry and homesteading, others with a keen eye for data analysis, some electronics experts, and of course, some programmers (since this is Stack Exchange!).”
LShaver also points out that some of the best answers on the site lay out multiple ways to solve a problem, balanced arguments for each alternative, and even edge cases where a less obvious choice may be the best one. How effective is turning a car’s engine off while standing at a traffic light and does a dishwasher save water in the long term.
Indeed, you’ll find the answers to your burning questions on recycling, solar-power, composting, and so much more. LShaver said, “ What makes me proud of the community here is that so many of our questions come from folks who have heard some things about sustainability but want to dig deeper to make more informed choices. And the answers consistently come from people who have thought deeply about these things and want to pass on that knowledge in a way that’s backed by data and sound logic.”
While Tridion Stack Exchange just turned ten, the community is much older than that. Moderator Nuno Linhares shared that the history of the community and the Tridion product go hand in hand.” It is a 25-year-old community. One of the early content management systems. The community is mostly developers who worked with the product.”
The community was originally formed as a forum. A number of the members there were also active on Stack Overflow. They realized over time that they had enough content to be their own site, and when Area 51 opened up, they were excited to have the community more firmly embedded in the Stack Exchange network. A number of those founding community members were also Tridion MVPs.
While some of the early community members are still here, Nuno Linhares shared that new members joining the community is what has helped sustain the site during its first decade. “The transition that we’ve seen with the new generation of developers. We were a small, tightly knit group, and once we were on Stack Exchange, we grew, and new people were asking intelligent questions we hadn’t thought of before.” Questions about SDL’s Digital Experience Accelerator (DXA) have been popular since the beginning and new questions continue to be posed.
While each of the communities on the Stack Exchange network is unique and has their own audience and community norms, Nuno Linhares summed it up beautifully when he said this of Tridion, “If you know developers, you know they are passionate.” Developer engagement is what made this community special. You were talking directly with the source and having deep conversations with the source.” All of the communities on Stack Exchange are made of passionate subject matter experts who want to share their knowledge and learn from other experts. That spirit is something I’m always humbled by.
To our communities celebrating their first decade on Stack Exchange, we all raise a glass to you.