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Stack Overflow launches sub-communities for developer engagement and data

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Developer-focused Q&A platform Stack Overflow has launched a new product called Collectives, branded communities where companies can organize and centralize discussions around broad topics, interact directly with developers that use their technologies, and glean data and insights around engagement and common questions.

Collectives are perhaps a little like subreddits, Reddit’s community-focused boards dedicated to a single topic. And for Stack Overflow customers such as Google, Collectives give them control of the conversation around their own tools, technologies, and products.

At launch, there are two Collectives available — one for Google Cloud, and one for Go, a programming language developed internally at Google more than a decade ago. While Collectives are free to join and participate in as is Stack Overflow, the company works closely with its paying customers to determine which topics and technologies will be best served as a standalone sub-community, based on the volume of existing content and engagement on Stack Overflow.

Organized

On the broader Stack Overflow platform, content is organized by tags, which — while helpful — are often focused on a very small niche topic and might not always surface answers to questions quickly. Collectives, on the other hand, centralizes and groups everything around a specific technology which might include myriad subtopics, and includes long-form content and recommendations from the people at the heart of the technology.

Above: Stack Overflow: Collectives

Content contained within a Collective can be “endorsed” by admins (from the company) or other “recognized members” which may be an employee, a prominent developer from the open source community, or anyone that has shown their worth in terms of providing accurate and timely responses to questions from the Stack Overflow user base.

Above: Stack Overflow: Collectives admins

At the business end of Collectives, companies are also better positioned to glean data and insights into the big questions people are asking.

“Through Collectives, admins for each collective can see engagement, trends around content, and unanswered questions that require attention,” Stack Overflow chief product and technology officer Teresa Dietrich told VentureBeat. “This helps the team see where there may be confusion, where users are getting stuck, and ultimately give them the reusable knowledge that they need that others can reference later.”

This data can then be used to improve product documentation and guides, for example, inform future marketing decisions or onboarding workflows, or learn how people are using their products in ways they hadn’t considered. And an “actions for you” tab guides admins towards what they should be doing next, either by recommending an answer, answering questions themselves, or driving internal resources to improve response rates if they take a dip.

Above: Stack Overflow Collectives: Data and analytics

Collectives represent Stack Overflow’s first major product launch since it introduced Teams back in 2018, which enabled businesses to use the Stack Overflow platform internally. Teams has amassed an impressive roster of enterprise customers aside from Google, including Microsoft, Intercom, Verizon, Siemens, and Box.

Founded in 2008, Stack Overflow had raised some $153 million from big-name backers before news emerged earlier this month that Prosus had tabled a bid to buy the company outright, a $1.8 billion deal that’s expected to close in the next few months.

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