Four short links: 6 January 2011

Q&A, Phone Numbers, CoffeeScript 1.0, and Open Source Community Building

  1. Wikipedia of Long Tail Programming Questions (Joel Spolsky) — StackOverflow has mechanisms to remove the need to reask common questions. The editing feature is there so that old question/answer pairs can get better and better. For every person who asks a question and gets an answer on Stack Overflow, hundreds or thousands of people will come read that conversation later. [...] This is fundamentally different from Usenet or any of the web-based forums. [...] it’s actually a community-edited wiki of narrow, “long-tail” questions. Joel then goes on to plead, When you see a question that seems like it might reflect a common problem, don’t just answer it to get a few points. That doesn’t make the Internet any better, which sounds like a broken incentive system (get points for reanswering common questions, not for merging). The Wikipedia reference reminded me of Benjamin Mako Hill’s comment to me at dinner several years ago, that Wikipedia’s invisible advantage is the naming system where each concept has a single name. Stack Overflow’s content-matching smarts will have to substitute for the naming scheme, and that could be tricky.
  2. libphonenumber — Google’s Java and Javascript libraries for parsing, formatting, storing, and validating international phone numbers. (via Hacker News)
  3. CoffeeScript — a little language that compiles to Javascript. Just went to v1.0.
  4. Open Source Community Building: A Guide to Getting it Right (Dave Neary) — The history of free & open source software development is filled with stories of companies who are disappointed with their first experiences in community development. The technical director who does not understand why community projects do not accept features his team has spent months developing, or the management team that expects substantial contributions from outside the company to arrive overnight when they release software they’ve developed. Chris Grams once described the Tom Sawyer model of community engagement – companies who expect other people to do their job for them. Make sure you don’t fall into that trap. (via Glyn Moody on Twitter)
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