When it comes to developer issues, Joel Spolsky almost always gets it right.
I say "almost" because I can't know for sure or make the claim that he absolutely gets everything right-I don't see everything he says on his "Joel on Software" blog. But once again he has hatched a totally right-minded idea.
Spolsky, along with Jeff Atwood, a blogger/developer who recently left his job as the technical evangelist at Vertigo Software to go his own way, have started a new service for developers called Stackoverflow.com.
Right now, Stackoverflow.com is primarily a concept. The idea is to deliver an educational community site/service for developers. Spolsky is CEO of Fog Creek Software in New York and will be working in a "consultant" capacity with Atwood, who will be CEO of the effort, he said in his blog April 16.
"We're starting to build a programming Q&A site that's free. Free to ask questions, free to answer questions, free to read, free to index, built with plain old HTML," Spolsky wrote.
He criticized the state of advice and education for developers, along with how developers themselves look for help.
"Programmers seem to have stopped reading books," Spolsky said. "The market for books on programming topics is miniscule compared to the number of working programmers. Instead, they happily program away, using trial-and-error. When they can't figure something out, they type a question into Google."
Sometimes they're lucky enough to get an answer, and sometimes they're not, he said.
So enter Atwood and Spolsky.
"Stackoverflow is sort of like the anti-experts-exchange (minus the nausea-inducing sleaze and quasi-legal search engine gaming) meets wikipedia meets programming reddit," Atwood said on his blog April 16. "It is by programmers, for programmers, with the ultimate intent of collectively increasing the sum total of good programming knowledge in the world. No matter what programming language you use, or what operating system you call home. Better programming is our goal."
As the duo continues to work on delivering the guts of the Stackoverflow.com venture, they plan to record their weekly phone calls about their vision for Stackoverflow.com and programming issues and release the recordings as podcasts. The first 46-minute podcast is available at www.stackoverflow.com.