The Cultural Anthropology of Stack Exchange | Joel Spolsky | BoS USA 2012

No comments

Joel Spolsky doesn’t really need any introduction does he? No.

A long time and partner and supporter of the Business of Software Conference. He is always a welcome guest at the event and we thought this talk was super interesting, not just for people who are building community elements into their software offerings, but to anyone that is thinking about how to market and sell their own software – people like you.

Video & Key Points below

Cultural Anthropology was the most boring class Joel took in college, but the long run, the most useful. Building a website with 22 million users (Stack Exchange’s user numbers at the time though it keeps on growing) is an exercise in cultural anthropology.

Joel talks about the evolution of online communities, from Usenet, through online discussion fora and beyond into Stack Exchange. The whole idea of Stack Exchange was to disrupt the accidental design choices resulting from the Usenet era, and make a culturally distinct site.

“If we know we’re going to build a culture, and what we want that culture to be, we can design for it. We designed Stack Exchange for the culture we wanted from our users.” – Joel Spolsky

This talk is valuable if you want to understand the psychology and anthropology behind a site like Stack Exchange that has extraordinary engagement with its very loyal users. There are a huge amount of ideas about making your web site work for the product you are building and the importance of keeping a focus on making something super useful and relevant to the people you want to engage with rather than making your web site super popular. Watch it if you want some insights into why people do things, why they want to be part of a tribe and want some tips about how you can engage with your users and customers.

Ticket prices rise 3rd May 2017

Register for BoS EUROPE Register for BoS USA

Don't Miss a Thing - Get BoS Updates

Want us to let you know about new talk videos, speaker AMAs, Business of Software Conference updates? Join the smart people who get BoS updates. Unsubscribe anytime. We will never sell your email address.

Video

 

Key Points:

  • Every time you see a group of people, you decide whether you’d like to join them. That’s the purpose of the homepage.
  • Everything about the first impression on Stack Exchange is designed to drive the wrong people away, and incentivize the culture they want.
  • Reputation: provides recognition.
  • Badges: Badges let everyone see how awesome you are. Most people claim not to care about badges, but as soon as you think someone is seeing what you’re doing, you start to care about it more. That’s because it’s motivating to have someone notice something about you.
  • Government: Governance is up to the members of each Stack Exchange site. Each user earns more governing control of the site as their reputation increases.
  • Laws: Every culture has them. All of the laws on Stack Exchange are intentional – they’re encoded into the software. Stack Exchange hates fun.
  • The goal of Stack Exchange is not to have super popular pages (it would be Reddit then). The goal of Stack Exchange is to have super useful pages.
  • Religious debate type of questions get an enormous amount of page views, but they don’t teach you anything. Hence we close them down for further discussion and eventual deletion.
  • If your goal is to produce something of permanent value to the Internet, you start to think differently about what you want on the site. Stack Exchange caters to the millions of people that never create an account on the site, but have questions they need answered.

Ticket prices rise 3rd May 2017

Register for BoS EUROPE Register for BoS USA

Don't Miss a Thing - Get BoS Updates

Want us to let you know about new talk videos, speaker AMAs, Business of Software Conference updates? Join the smart people who get BoS updates. Unsubscribe anytime. We will never sell your email address.