Stack Overflow’s “Documentation” site was an attempt to create collaborative documentation for software. A year on, the company has essentially admitted the initiative was a bust and although it has “learned quite a bit” from the experience, Documentation itself is biting the digital dust.
Described by SO as a “community-curated, example-focused developer documentation, based on the principles of Stack Overflow”, Documentation was designed to shore-up holes in official software documentation, with programmers providing practical advice and examples.
However, 12 months on from the launch, SO community manager Jon Ericson announced that Documentation has received its marching orders.
The extensive post takes its time declaring why Documentation is getting the boot, but essentially, the key part of the site’s monetisation strategy involved attracting new users, something Documentation failed to do.
Ericson provides the following explanation as to why this was the case:
Users with less Stack Overflow experience tended to be intimidated by the prospect of making even trivial edits. So the programmers most likely to become Documentation contributors were already heavily engaged in using Stack Overflow.
Stack Overflow disabled the ability to edit Documentation on August 8 and eventually, articles on the site will come with “suggested” links, directing users to other, more current resources. An explanatory landing page will inform users of the shutdown and provide a way to get raw data from the site.
There was a decent idea behind Documentation, but it’s clear Stack Overflow’s approach wasn’t quite right. It’s hard to say what the best implementation would require — better rewards for contributions, perhaps a different format altogether — but hopefully anyone going down the same path can learn a few things from SO’s experiment.
Sunsetting Documentation [Stack Overflow]