"Should we move to Stack Overflow?" Measuring the utility of social media for developer support

Author(s): Megan Squire
Venue: International Conference on Software Engineering
Date: May 2015

Type of Experiement: Case Study
Sample Size: 20
Class/Experience Level: Professional
Participant Selection: Companies who moved developer support to Stack Overflow
Data Collection Method: Observation


This study focused on researching why some companies have moved to Stack Overflow for developer support and if the move increased the quality of the support given. Many projects that have mailing lists for support have thought about moving to Stack Overflow for its quality of postings and larger user base.

From the 20 companies this study looked at, the most common reason for moving to Stack Overflow is due to the larger user base. The second most common reason is for the quality of questions, while the third is for a faster response time.

The study concludes that while Stack Overflow has better participation and response time than developers own support services, there is a few cases where companies have moved back to their own support service in spite of these improvements. This is most likely due to the fact that Stack Overflow only allows programming questions specifically. This led to developers supporting both Stack Overflow and their own services for support.