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Let us assume you were to create a platform such as StackOverflow. It needs to be functional, fast and scalable, just like SO, in order to be successful.

What are the major challenges you would face in such a task? I'm looking for technical challenges rather than problems such as how to advertise it and stuff like that.

(I'm not looking for ways of creating a new site to challenge SO; I'm just interested in how difficult it would be to create it if it didn't already exist.)

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closed as not constructive by gnat, Glenn Nelson, Martijn Pieters, Caleb, Robert Harvey Mar 16 '13 at 21:26

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It has to remarkable - there are many platform out there, why do users should use your? –  lukas Jan 17 '11 at 13:04
Jeff Atwood wrote a blog post that touches on this back in '09: codinghorror.com/blog/2009/07/code-its-trivial.html –  Anna Lear Jan 17 '11 at 16:33

7 Answers 7


  • Architecture, if you don’t have experience in such project
  • Performance
  • Security
  • Spam detection
  • Creating unique and good usability

None Technical

  • Copyright/License issues. The answers given in this forum may violate copyrights.
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I would add "Google ranking" : codinghorror.com/blog/2011/01/… –  David Jan 17 '11 at 13:59

In my opinion main issue is to polish everything=) You can code something like SO in a couple of days(and nights) if you are an experienced developer.
But As mentioned earlier you will also need some usability, design, infrastructure, support etc.

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Are you sure about that? Stack Overflow has been going for more than a couple of years now and what you are seeing now as the interface has been through many iterations over that time. –  ChrisF Jan 17 '11 at 12:29
@ChrisF If you have the web dev experience you could certainly hack together a knock off of SO. However that is largely due to the fact that you know exactly what you are going for. The OP never said the cobbled together version would be as good as the real SO. –  Glenn Nelson Jan 17 '11 at 12:33
SO is not so complex from engineering point of view. There is a lot of static content that easy to cache, quite simple db structure and etc. But again, if you will open any SO clone, you won't be able to get rid of feeling that is is not polished enough in lots of aspects. And feeling of consistency and overall quality is the hardest thing to achieve. –  Alexey Anufriyev Jan 17 '11 at 13:14
Further to this point: codinghorror.com/blog/2009/07/code-its-trivial.html –  Anna Lear Jan 17 '11 at 16:28
A couple of days? If your "polish" doesn't include "redesign all the databases" then I'd imagine spending a couple of days on the voting schema alone (unless of course you knew and copied SO's exact structure). –  NickC Jan 22 '11 at 19:42

I think the biggest issue is knowing how to build a massively scalable sites capable of handling 1000's of simultaneous requests. Even some well written enterprise and business applications I have seen struggle with just a few dozen users going at it. Designing for this scale is a different mindset.

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The major challenge turned out to be to define "programming-related" so that all parties agree on that definition.

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I Agree with you! But he asked for "technical challenges" –  Amir Rezaei Jan 17 '11 at 11:39

One more thing to have active moderators and users who are best in their particular skills like Jon Skeet, Marc Gravell, Darin Dimitrov

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Hardest thing to get : a community of active and expert people. The rest is just plain easy technical details. No irony here, I'm dead serious. –  Clement Herreman Mar 8 '13 at 11:13

Quite a few challenges really:

  1. Creating an intuitive and appealing interface for programmers is a challenge
  2. Branding of the system -- unless people perceive this as cool they won't interact using this framework
  3. Address the scalability and availability challenges when millions access your system daily
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  • Concurrent programming
  • knowledge about polygot persistence
  • Algorithms (for information classification e.g. improperly tagged questions, irrelevant questions, etc.)
  • API-design (so code can be easily maintained and adding new features is like a charm)
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