Welcome to Stack Exchange Podcast #51, with special guest Jeff Atwood and the usual suspects Joel Spolsky, David Fullerton, and Jay Hanlon. Today’s show was brought to you by Pan-American World Airways!
We kick off the discussion with a topic not on the agenda… which is reminiscing about who used to prepare the agenda on the old Joel & Jeff podcasts. Site Milestones! Spaaaace is now in public beta, so you should check it out. We also closed the India proposal, after much discussion about the possibilities for location-based sites. Five days ago today (7/31) was the start of the Stack Overflow private beta! (It’s also Harry Potter’s birthday.) We have a new feature starting this week: featured sites! We’ll grab the most interesting questions from a particular site to highlight the things people might not be aware of. This week, we’re highlighting Open Data. “What’s open data, Jay?” Glad you asked! It’s a site for developers and researchers who are trying to use publicly available data to translate it into more functional systems. (We make our data available, too.) We were reached out to by the contractor running data.gov - neat! We did a minor feature tweak: a new privilege. At 500 rep, you get access to the Late Answers and First Posts review queues. Congratulations! We’re working on an Android app. You can help test it! We’ve started rolling it out to alpha testers. It’s mostly functional – you can view questions, ask, answer, comment, vote, and view your inbox (Ben wrote a great blog post about what he learned while developing for Android – you should read it.) Let’s turn to our special guest Jeff Atwood. He’s got many honorifics, and Jay got most of them wrong. Jeff has young children, and our hosts have lots of opinions about child things. So! Jeff’s new project is Discourse. Like Stack Overflow, Discourse was born from the negative experience of having to go to ugly, nonfunctional places on the internet because you have to. Jeff walks us through the process of refining this idea and creating the product and highlights some of its best features. Here’s the link to Jeff’s presentation at ForumCon. Side note: Forums and chat systems are incredibly similar, with one key difference: on a forum, you type in a complete thought. In a chat system, you write in half-clauses, and maybe three or four messages together make a thought. Discourse is an instant improvement over many commenting systems (as opposed to forum systems). It was never intended to compete with Disqus, but that’s how BoingBoing is using it and it seems to be working well. Jeff is looking for three major partners. He’s got two already. Listen in to hear the Stack Exchange exclusive on the third Discourse partner! (DISCLAIMER: there is no actual announcement.)