5 Years of Stackoverflow.com

On April 6, 2008, Jeff Atwood asked for help naming his little project. On April 16, he announced StackOverflow.com. On September 16, it launched. (What’s the obsession with the number 6, Jeff?). In between, beta access was granted to people. I was part of the second beta wave and got my access on August 1, 2008:

Welcome to the Stack Overflow private beta!
Please read this first. Seriously:

The beta site is at:

Login is your email address, and the password is "falkensmaze" without the quotes.


At the time, I was just starting out with C#. I had been a hobby programmer for most of my life, hacking stuff together in BASIC, Pascal/Delphi and PHP for most of my life. I actually graduated as an IT Specialist and was working in customer support in a video game company at the time, so I had no real clue how to properly program. A year earlier, I had picked up C# development because we were implementing a SharePoint 2007 installation and as the programmer in our 3 person team, that role fell to me. My first attempt at ASP.net wasn’t great and I actually felt PHP was superior because it just worked without requiring so much web.config magic and IIS configuration.

StackOverflow was a relief, because all of a sudden I had a good place to ask questions, regardless how simple and stupid. But even more important, StackOverflow is a fantastic place to answer questions. When asking, I was already set in a path of thinking about the problem and was more or less having tunnel vision. When answering, I had to expand my horizon, look up and try out stuff. Yes, even in the early days we had to deal with the fastest gun in the west problem, but early on it was already evident that there is a community of great people there and we all got a lot of knowledge out of it.

It amazes me that now, 5 years later, it is still the only really relevant Q&A site for programmers. I don’t know why, I guess it’s the combination of Jeff Atwood’s celebrity status, the no-bullshit signup and page layout and the fact that it hit the internet at the time Twitter exploded. I follow many people I first “met” on StackOverflow and when 140 chars are too limiting I can open a question on StackOverflow or Programmers.SE. There are many great people who were part of the early pioneering group, including Matt Hamilton, Jin Yang, Konrad Rudolph, John Sheehan and many, many more.

In the past 5 years, I went from being a guy without a programmer title or formal education hacking stuff together through 1 transatlantic relocation and 3 promotions to be a proper software engineer. I still hack stuff together, but now I know why 🙂

My 5 minutes of fame came when I was the first user to hit 10k reputation and I can forever claim that my post housed the very first comment, ever. But to me, StackOverflow was and is more than just a fancy reputation badge.
It was simply one of the best things that ever happened to me and I’m eternally grateful to all the people who made it happen.


I don’t have as much time anymore to have a lot of activity, but I’m still an avid reader (I mainly read through Eric Lippert’s and Jon Skeet’s RSS Activity Feeds. Seriously, if you do .net, subscribe to their feeds right now. “No bullshit” RSS Feeds is another one of these seemingly simple features that sets StackOverflow apart from the rest) and I know that whenever I have a question, I will get a great answer.

Happy birthday, Stack Overflow. Here’s to the next 5!