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Why hasn't StackOverflow monopolized tech hiring yet?

ankush981 profile image Ankush Thakur ・1 min read

It struck me a couple days ago when StackOverflow sent me a job search reminder email: why hasn't this platform nuked all other hiring platforms out there?

It'd seem that all developers are on StackOverflow, either asking for help (junior- or mid-level) or helping (senior-level). Also, one's reputation points are a direct reflection of their involvement/expertise on the platform. It should follow that StackOverflow jobs should be the only preferred destination for hiring managers and devs alike.

And yet it's not.

I can't quite figure out why. Or maybe it has and I didn't realize it? O.o

What do you think about this?

Discussion

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Well, for one thing, they've got nothing on Hired and Triplebyte (prior DEV sponsor!!). Those places that the time to match the person to the job, and do a great job at it. StackOverflow isn't even that good at suggesting roles; I rarely get anything even remotely interesting through them. The lack of a proper mediated communication system (not to mention the frankly clunky "timeline" on the developer story) make it feel like a cold, impersonal afterthought of a job board...at least to me. (At least DEV encourages connecting on DEV Connect!)

Second, I think StackOverflow is starting to lose some of its ubiquity in the programming community. More and more people are getting fed up with being treated like trash (even despite attempts to fix that problem), and reputation points are more tied to arbitrary favor with the Playground Bullies, rather than measures of actual expertise.

Third, programmers tend to distrust centralization and monopoly, especially in this era of "everything is open!" so StackOverflow couldn't possibly vacuum up all the business in the job search section; the moment they did, a large mob would drop them on sheer basis of their ubiquity.

 

Wow, I had never heard of Hired and Triplebyte before! Thanks a lot! :D

programmers tend to distrust centralization and monopoly

You mean how everyone isn't using VS Code, JavaScript, React and GitHub? ;-)

My point was that due to its sheer size and dominance in search rankings, SO seems to be the place where (almost) everyone has to go now and then. But I guess as you said, they've done a bad job of matching people and now nobody is interested. O.o

 

You mean how everyone isn't using VS Code, JavaScript, React and GitHub? ;-)

"Everyone" isn't.

There are many who distrust GitHub and use GitLab, Atlassian, or self-hosted solutions. By way of example, GitLab's usage went up after GitHub was acquired by Microsoft. GitHub remains popular, largely due to its features and workflow, but it is not ubiquitous.

Javascript is an open standard with multiple implementations, so it scarcely counts in this discussion. React is one of several popular frameworks; it's presently popular, but could easily lose that spot to the next shiny thing at any moment.

VS Code is popular, but it's also (mostly) open source with several forks [which Microsoft openly encourages by providing documentation for forking away from them!]. There also remain many people who prefer JetBrains, Atom, Eclipse, Sublime, Vim, Emacs, or any number of other editors and IDEs.

Popularity is always a thing, but centralization and monopoly are still distrusted. There are virtually always popular alternatives and notable detractors to any Big Trendy Thing™.

 

I saw you mentioned Triplebyte.
As I'll be soon looking for a job myself, just wanted to know if you have any past experience with them and if yes, could you please share?

 

I can't say much other than that I've used them before, and I like their system. Hired is good too, for the same reasons.

 

Nearly all developers have heard of StackOverflow, but I think most of the views it gets is via people Googling things and finding an answer on StackOverflow as the top result. I don't think the majority of developers have accounts or stick around to check out job ads.

 

That's a great point! Maybe I'm biased in assuming that almost everyone creates an account.

 

StackOverflow is not great place for better answers. Most highly voted questions and answers are simple syntax errors and are mostly used by new comers in the industry.

Also there is no validation of answers by experts as anyone can vote and downvote anything.

 

So, you're saying nobody trusts StackOverflow's reputation system? Sure, anyone can downvote and upvote, but it's not as if it's anarchy there. I'm talking about volume; SO has more traffic than any other dev platform. So why isn't it more popular (or most popular) as a hiring medium? Are you saying it's somehow linked to not having more quality control?

 

Volume and quality are opposite, more volume, less quality. You will get people there, but here are other points, experts are not there, they are busy discussing larger projects somewhere else, look at GitHub. GitHub on other hand has better way to measure quality, actual usage of repositories and contribution are better criteria then upvotes on simple syntax errors.

I'm not saying SO has high quality at all, just that "good enough" with extremely high numbers is also a good business strategy.

GitHub on other hand has better way to measure quality

Really?? Except for well known repos, the GitHub "quality" system can be bypassed just as easily. Unless someone is a dev and is willing to spend time closely scrutinizing someone's work, the green colored boxes might as well be like reputation points and thumbs up.

No, on GitHub, contribution is visible, and in production use, you can now check how and where packages are used. And compared to syntax error based reputation, a useful component is more useful in real life.

Few lines of answer vs complete usable component with help and unit tests, a mature developer knows difference.

 

you can say same with github as many good developers contribute to repos and own some. My ex-company recruiter used to scrap github and stackoverflow all the time to find a potential candidate who knows .NET and lives in Bangalore city but hiring platform is not their product! Stackoverflow product is Q&A for teams.