State of the Stack 2019: A Year in Review

A loooong time ago, we used to post an annual “State of the Stack” update on the company and community. Then at some point it became an infographic which was… listen, everyone was doing infographics in 2011. Now it’s 2019, the company has grown and changed in so many ways, so we’re bringing this tradition back and taking a look at how far we’ve come while being open and honest about how much work we have left to do.

2018 was a big year! Some stats:

  • Across all of Stack Overflow and the Stack Exchange network, we saw 9+ billion pageviews from 100+ million users over the course of the year.
  • Stack Overflow alone had over 2.5 million answers and 2 million new questions, with over 1.6 million new users joining the community.
  • Our community members and volunteer moderators handled almost 2 million flags, to keep abusive, unwelcoming, and inappropriate content off the site, and apply our updated Code of Conduct.
  • Over 40,000 jobs were posted on Stack Overflow Jobs. We now have over 900,000 searchable profiles of developers who are interested in being contacted about a job on Stack Overflow Talent.
  • And we launched Stack Overflow for Teams, a new way for developers to use the power of Stack Overflow Q&A inside their organization. Thousands of organizations are already using it to help their teams share knowledge and ship faster.

All of this matters because Stack Overflow exists to help everyone who codes learn and share their knowledge. Every time someone finds a solution to a problem, learns something new, or finds an opportunity to grow their career on Stack Overflow, we’re all advancing that mission together.

We also know that we still have a lot of work to do. Stack Overflow helps a lot of people today, but it is not yet the the welcoming, inclusive, and diverse platform we want it to be. That’s something we are committed to continuing to improve on this year, but we can’t do it without your help!

Community Update: Welcoming everyone who codes

Stack Overflow has never been about the company, or about any one user. It’s about bringing all the world’s developers together to learn from one another, and together creating shared artifacts that help millions of people all over the world. It’s about creating a community where everyone who codes — regardless of how they identify, where they work, or where they went to school — can participate and feel welcome.

That said, good intentions aren’t good enough and we’ve fallen short of that ideal in a lot of ways: too often people feel unwelcome, unheard, and unable to help or to find help, particularly women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups. This has to change, and it starts with us, the company, providing the tools and support that you need to help one another.

In May, we launched what we call the “Welcome Wagon”, an effort to identify and improve areas where we can do better. This is a collaborative effort, with our developers, user researchers, data scientists, and community managers reaching out to community members, moderators, and voices from outside the community to work together on solutions.

We’ve made a lot of progress in half a year. We rolled out a new Code of Conduct and added new flags on comments to identify both abusive and unkind comments. We added a “New Contributor” indicator to encourage people to be helpful and friendly to new users, and we’re testing a new Ask Question wizard to help guide users through asking their first question.

But we’re still just scratching the surface. One thing we’ve heard loud and clear from the community is that we need to also address a lot of existing bugs and community debt. These issues have accumulated over the years to lead to confusing and frustrating experiences for all of our users, and we haven’t been doing enough to prioritize fixing them.

So in 2019 we’re going to be redoubling our efforts on this, adding more devs, designers, PMs, and community managers internally (in fact, we’re hiring right now.) They’ll be split across two major initiatives: continuing the Welcome Wagon work of making Stack Overflow more welcoming and inclusive, and a newly focused effort on community improvements and expert user experience.

Business Update: How does Stack Overflow make money again?

Stack Overflow has three main business lines:

  1. Stack Overflow for Teams and Enterprise, our newest product, brings the power of Stack Overflow Q&A to organizations in a private, secure space just for internal teams.
  2. Our Advertising products help companies reach and engage the developer community with on-topic, relevant ads.
  3. And Stack Overflow Talent helps organizations reach, attract, and hire the right technical talent for their team.

The biggest expansion in our business this year by far was on Teams and Enterprise. The product idea is simple: give organizations a private version of Stack Overflow Q&A just for their team. While Stack Overflow public Q&A has been enormously successful at helping programmers share knowledge and find quick solutions to their problems, it can only ever solve a fraction of the problems professional programmers face because most programmers work on private code they can’t ask about in public. Every software team struggles with documentation and knowledge sharing, and Stack Overflow is designed to enable developers to write reusable snippets of documentation for one another in a way that doesn’t feel like a chore.

It probably shouldn’t be a surprise that so many customers are finding that Stack Overflow helps their team onboard more quickly, reduce knowledge silos, and ship code faster. Thousands of organizations are already using Stack Overflow for Teams and raving about it, and Stack Overflow for Enterprise is seeing success in Fortune 500 companies that range from major technology companies to the world’s largest financial service firms.

Between the explosive growth of Teams and Enterprise, and the continuing value of Talent and Advertising, 2018 added up to the best financial year in Stack Overflow’s 10-year history. While we’re not quite swimming in pools of cash yet, we’ve never been on better footing heading into a new year of growth.

Company Update: Who are all these people?

As the work has grown, so has the company. We now have employees in 14 different countries, working either in our offices in New York, London, Munich, and Denver, or remotely from wherever they happen to live.

We’ve been working hard to create a more diverse team and inclusive team internally. We’re taking a look at our policies, benefits, interview practices, and internal trainings to make sure that we’re supporting the team we have. We’re also working hard to recruit a more diverse team. Globally, the number of people working at Stack Overflow who identify as women, non-binary, or transgender is now 39% (including 42% in management and leadership, and 32% in technical roles), and 15% of US employees are from an under-represented racial or ethnic group (10% in management and leadership, and 9% in technical roles). While this isn’t where we want to be, it represents substantial growth over the past few years. In 2018, we also concluded a third-party compensation review to address any gender or racial pay gaps, and implemented a Rooney Rule for tech and leadership hiring to ensure we continue to address the gaps in our hiring.

We rolled out some new employee-friendly policy updates, too. For employees who have been here for more than two years, we have an extended stock option exercise window so that employees aren’t forced to exercise their options 90 days after leaving (and often pay hefty taxes) or lose them forever. We also extended our fully-paid parental leave to 16 weeks for primary caregivers and 12 weeks for secondary caregivers, and removed pro-rating in your first year (so everyone gets the full amount regardless of how recently they joined).

In 2018, 13 people in the company took advantage of our sabbatical policy to take an extended break to travel the world, work on a side project, learn a new instrument, or just spend time with their family. We’re very proud of our sabbatical policy, which lets any employee who has been here for five years take an extra four weeks of paid time off to rest, recharge, and spend time on things they care about. I think it’s one of the reasons why so many of our earliest employees are still with the company.

Get Involved: Help us build the future of Stack Overflow!

2018 was a big year for Stack Overflow, and I’m excited for what 2019 holds. Developers are shaping the future of the world, and we have a responsibility to help push that future in the direction of more openness, diversity, collaboration, and empathy. If we can do the hard work to make Stack Overflow a place where everyone who codes feels welcome and able to contribute, extend that to every company through Stack Overflow for Teams and Enterprise and Stack Overflow Talent, we can change the world for the better. And the best part is that anyone can join in and be a part of this mission.

If you’ve never joined the community or tried asking or answering your first question, there’s no better day than today! The community works because regular, every day programmers like you decided one day to give something back and help someone out. By treating people with empathy and respect, you’ll help us create a more welcoming and inclusive community.

If your company thinks knowledge sharing is a priority, give Stack Overflow for Teams a try — it’s free for the first 14 days and starts at just $10 per month (flat!) for your first 10 users. Or if you’re looking to hire developers, or reach our massive global audience of developers, try Stack Overflow Talent and Advertising.

And if you’re looking for a new challenge yourself, we’re hiring, and not just developers: it takes a team to make all this happen, so we’re looking to grow everything from Sales and Customer Success to IT, Marketing, Product, Design, Finance, and more.

Finally, if you’re already a member of the community, THANK YOU for all you do to help others. We still have a lot of work to do to make Stack Overflow the welcoming, inclusive, and diverse community we want it to be, and we can’t do it without you! So if you have ideas, suggestions, or ways we can help you in 2019, please let us know.