Goodbye Stack Overflow Documentation

Jon Ericson of Stack Overflow writes

We will stop accepting contributions to Documentation on August 8

We still think Stack Overflow Documentation is a good idea... initial research has mostly been proven correct.


By May, it was clear we weren't on the right path. New users weren't coming to Documentation. So we went back to the drawing board and started another round of user interviews focused on Transact SQL. We brought on a user experience researcher to help us interview technical writers. The results were encouraging in the sense that we know a lot more about what makes for great documentation and how we might support that effort. But it was also clear fixing Documentation would require a significantly larger team.

In addition, it’ll be a very long time before that work will pay off in terms of bringing new users to Stack Overflow. Our interviews showed even very experienced users of T-SQL felt inadequate to contribute documentation.


Finally, our research showed that while a lot of developers were dissatisfied, the current state of programming documentation is not universally broken the way Q&A was when Stack Overflow started. In particular, we heard over and over that Stack Overflow has become de facto documentation for many technologies.

While I'm a little sad by this news (I had previously written about this project) I believe that Stack Overflow Documentation demise documents one last great lesson in tech. How and when to abandon a project.

No matter the good great intentions, some projects you are working on are just not working. It's important to identify them early, identify viable improvements to make and test the changes. If the project is still dying, either pivot or abandon it.

And we all know which one is the hardest decision to make.

Even though this outcome has been a disappointment, most of us agree it was the right decision.