Stack Overflow At 15
Written by Sue Gee   
Friday, 06 October 2023

Last month Stack Overflow, the goto site for developers to ask and answer questions, marked its 15th anniversary with a colorful poster that shows a typical question from each year and milestones in its history and in the world of computer technology.

SO15poster

 Downloadable pdf

In their blogpost celebrating a decade and a half of Stack Overflow, David Longworth and Ben Popper, both members of Stack Overflow's staff wrote:

Over the last 15 years our community has helped to create an incredible library of knowledge, with more than 58 million questions and answers.

The poster provides the date of September 15th, 2008 for the inception of the website, recording that it was founded by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky. According to Wikipedia the name for the website was chosen by voting by readers of Atwood's programming blog, Coding Horror. It also records that Stack Overflow was acquired by Prosus in 2021, see our report Stack Overflow Sold for US$1.8 Billion.

What I find interesting is the relative importance of different programming languages over the years - presumably based on the proportion of of questions asked. In 2008 the dominant language was C# - the bright Yellow spokes - followed by .NET (lilac) with Java (purple) in third place. While its share declined, C# was top through to 2011 with Java in second place increasing its share. In 2012 Java overtook C# and the next year, 2013, JavaScript overtook Java. It was in 2016 that JavaScript outstripped Java by the largest margin and it was 2019 when JavaScript was overtaken by Python with Python dominating ever since.

As the poster shows, Stack Overflow has grown exponentially over the years with 3 million new users registering in 2022, contributing to a total of more than 23 million registered users in November 2022 according to Stack Overflow Growth and Usage Statistics (2023).

There are a couple of caveats to note. Not all of registered users are active participants. In fact, a 2013 study referenced on Wikipedia found that 75% of users only ask one question, 65% only answer one question, and only 8% of users answer more than 5 questions.

More worryingly, the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022 has had a big impact on Stack Overflow. In Stack Overflow Traffic Slumps As Devs Turn to ChatGPT I reported findings from Similar Web that between March and April 2023 the number of visitors to Stack Overflow reduced by 18% from 258.0 million to 212.2 million. To bring this up-to-date, according to Similarweb, Stack Overflow had 254.3 million visitors in August 2023 which was only a slight decrease from the same period in 2022.

SO15years

 

More Information

Celebrating 15 years of Stack Overflow 

Stack Overflow Growth and Usage Statistics (2023)

Stack Overflow on Wikipedia

Related Articles

Stack Overflow Traffic Slumps As Devs Turn to ChatGPT

Stack Overflow Announces AI-Powered Features

Newbies, Lurkers and Experts on Stack Overflow

Stack Overflow Sold for US$1.8 Billion

Stack Overflow An Old Programmers Home

Stack Overflow Reputation And Its Misuse

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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 24 October 2023 )