I am Jeff Atwood (@codinghorror), co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse. Ask me anything! 4/8 @ Noon PST

Hey Hacker Noon community, :wave:

I am Jeff Atwood.

I co-founded Stack Overflow in 2008 which ultimately became the Stack Exchange network of Q&A sites. After leaving SO in 2012, I started working on Discourse, an open source forum software, and that’s what I still work on today.

I will be answering your questions live 2019-04-08T19:00:00Z. Very excited that we are doing this here on Hacker Noon’s Discourse instance. I heard it’s pretty great. :ear:

Feel free to add this to your calendar or ask a question below. Talk soon!


Some guidelines:

  • Please only ask one question by replying to this topic, using the green Reply button at the bottom. It’s also helpful to scroll to the bottom while :open_book: reading the topic to make sure nobody else has asked the same question first, before you ask… right? :ok_hand:


  • Please don’t ask more than one question, so everyone can get a chance :wink:

  • Please do not reply to anyone else’s post. The only purpose of replies here in this topic is to ask me one question. If you’d like to discuss a related topic in more detail, create a new topic.

Posts not following these guidelines may be removed to keep the Q&A flowing.


Hey there, @codinghorror! :eyes:

Really excited about this AMA, thanks for the opportunity.

I’m interested in how both Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange achieved the wild success they’re famous for today, from a community building perspective.

How did you guys gain traction to begin with, and what would you say are the critical success factors in building and scaling an online community?


Hi and thanks for the opportunity to engage with you through this AMA! Please share your advice for self-taught coders and junior developers on how to grow and hone in skills to be competitive and employable in the industry.


Hey @codinghorror, I feel privileged to have a talk with you !
What is your take on Open Source programming, and how people can benefit from this valuable skill?
Also please share your insights as to how one keeps up with this ever changing world of knowledge, where everyday, new frameworks are being published.



If you are now a young computer graduate, what are the:

  1. Top 3 Software Engineering skills you would tackle ?
  2. What about the top 3 soft (managerial) skills ?



First of all, thanks Jeff for everything you’ve contributed to the dev community over the years! I can absolutely say that I’m a better software engineer as a direct result of some of the thoughtful words you’ve published.

Are people hacking Discourse to solve problems your team didn’t anticipate? If so, what is the most interesting hack that comes to mind?


Hi @codinghorror! First of all, your blog was a major inspiration for me as a young coder-to-be, so thank you for that!

There’s plenty of advice out there for budding developers, but what advice would you offer to an experienced professional who wants to improve? That is, assuming I want to keep coding, and don’t want to go into management. :wink: Thanks in advance!


When growing the community how did you moderate content quality?


Hi Jeff Atwood aka @codinghorror !

I am having a career related question.

I am working as lecturer in Indian Engineering college, but I want to switch to software industry. From last 3 years, with good operational knowledge of Cloud computing, I started preparing and gave shot to following things:

  1. Python
  2. Devops Config Tools

But I was not able to clear interviews approx 9-10 and was told to become more good in Python for Devops interviews.

As I was eager to switch jobs, I found Python is bit difficult to master when I don’t have 40 hours per week of 2 Years experience. Considering years spent in Academics, interviewers were asking questions for 2+ years experience Python Developer. After that I started preparing for:

  • Technical Writing,
  • Instructional designing
  • Learner & Training Consultant

but here also I’m not seeing ray of hope. More I am preparing, more I am getting frustrated and feeling that lesser are going to be the chances to join Industry.

Please guide me how should I prepare wisely to end this Job hunting nightmare?
How should I bring transition when I am switching from Academics to Industry?


Hi, thanks for engaging with us.

You once tweeted "a group of programmers is called an “actually”. Have you ever been accused of being too rational, and what advice would you give to those who see criticism of ideas as a form of personal insult?


Hi Jeff, how did Stack Overflow’s reputation system start out? How did it evolve? What did you learn along the way?



Do you believe humans will peacefully collaborate with artificial life forms in the twenty-first century?


Are there any important lessons that have been lost to the detriment of younger developers? That is things that were common knowledge 10-20+ years ago that would benefit developers today if they understood them?


Hi Jeff, what are your favorite fiction/non-fiction books?


Hey @codinghorror thanks for doing this! Your insights and experience will be incredibly valuable.

My Question: Both StackOverflow/StackExchange and Discourse are great examples of social software done well. For those of us who are dreaming up of building social software as well, do you have any tips? What is worth keeping in mind (especially technically and from a product point of view)? And are there any good resources that you would suggest that we look at to help guide us along the way?



Hi Jeff

I resigned my role as CEO in a related field because I became disillusioned that my vision for what we were trying to achieve was compromised by decisions we’d made earlier in our business’ lifetime.

What are you disillusioned about? If you could do it all again, despite being so successful with what you’ve done, what would you do differently? What did you ‘take for granted’ back then that you’ve completely rejected since?




Hi Jeff :slight_smile:

Stack Overflow now runs off of several data centers, but at first it was launched as third party hosted.

What factors led to switching to private hardware, and what advice can you offer to startups who are trying to decide between staying hosted versus using their own hardware?



What do you think is the outlook for code marketplaces and other methods for introducing monetization into code repositories? Thanks!