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Basically, it is Google saying they are closing their Google+ Developers support forums in favor of redirecting their customers and end-users over to StackOverflow.
Clearly, there is favoritism here. It's not just StackOverflow having good SEO.

It's money. It's all about money. Thanks for the link. I notice tech companies using Stackoverflow like a reference to get info on a particular subject.

But the good thing is that wikipedia doesn't any let companies like Stackoverflow steal the show (take the credit to be the best or used a subject like if they own that info) because wikipedia knows any good source is a good source for anyone to used without any incentive from any particular companies.

Wikipedia also relies on donation.

Edited by LastMitch

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There's no issue with Stack making money (except there's not that much evidence they do); DaniWeb gets its revenue (if what I've read is marginally accurate) from advertising, and Experts Exchange gets its from subscriptions. Development, servers, bandwidth, people and rent cost money.

The secondary issue is that Stack is disingenuous in saying that it's "free" -- because while Stack gets some income from its Careers advertisers, most of what it has spent over the years has been from Spolsky's company (Fog Creek Software) supporting it or the venture capitalists who have been suckered into giving them money when there's no business plan showing a return on the investment. Both Spolsky and Atwood charge a pretty penny to come talk to conferences; that income helped support their venture as well.

But the primary issue is that they'd have a nice little, probably reasonably useful, website were it not for the good offices of Matt Cutts at Google, under whose watch virtually every other tech-oriented Q&A site that was of any significance got trashed in Google's rankings, while curiously Stack's SERP rose meteorically.

I keep hoping the EU's antitrust division isn't as smitten with Google as the US Justice Department seems to be.

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Netminder, this I agree with.

Every self-sustained website needs something to pay for those thousands upon thousands of dollars in hosting costs. EE does it with a paywall, and Google doesn't like that, so they don't send users there. DaniWeb (and most other forums) do it with advertising, and Google doesn't like "excessive" advertising, so they don't send users here either.

They do, however, send traffic to the ONE site capable of not being able to do anything negative to users, because SO is just living off of millions of VC funding with no sustainable business plan ..... well, other than to get so huge that they get bought out by Google or some other huge publishing house, in which case all of the VCs will make their money back and be happy (which is why they are fine pouring their money into a company with no realistically strong business plan).

Like you say, sure you can go around hoping that the government will find something wrong with what Google is doing, but to be perfectly honest, I am way too pro-commercialism to go down that route. ;)

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Dani,

I'm not a fan of governments doing much of anything, but I also don't like a "conspiracy in restraint of trade."

ep

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See, the way I see it, Google is a private entity in the business of providing a mechanism to allow searchers looking for information to find third-party websites that have the information they're looking for. The service they offer is a free service for the benefit of the searchers, and the websites they send the searchers to are not their clients or customers. They simply deliver the websites free traffic for the benefit of the searchers. The benefit to the websites is just a happy casualty.

Now, being the pro-commercialist that I am, I can say that Google, being a private entity, has the right to modify its search algorithm to serve its own best interests. In most cases, its best interests are going to be what causes the greatest percentage of its users (the searchers) to be happy. However, sometimes there are corporate politics going on, and sometimes it does other things in its own best interests, like show StackOverflow in the SERPS 8 out of 10 times on a single page because (for some hidden agenda we don't know about), it's in Google's best interests to position StackOverflow as the most popular programming website at this point in time.

The way that I see it, Google isn't ncessarily doing anything wrong. Sure, they might be stacking the deck against me, but that's what I love about the huge strategy game of the corporate world. I see this as a situation where I run a mom 'n' pop shop, and suddenly the largest corporation in the world decides to align themselves with my biggest competitor. I consider it more unlucky than fair. Maybe I was the one to play the game wrong? Maybe I should have accepted VC when I had all of the venture capitalists chasing after me back in '07?? Maybe if I did that, it would be DaniWeb in this position instead of StackOverflow? I see it all as a huge strategy game where every little decision can determine who ultimately comes out on top.

I also see it as a challenge. Sure, the decks are stacked against me, but can I restrategize in time to overcome the obstacles, no matter how great? When I started DaniWeb back in '02, we were up against PCMagazine.com, all the Ziff Davis publications, CNET, etc. I was just an 18 year old kid going to college fulltime. Everything was overwhelmingly against me, but I still made it out on top in that situation.

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"because SO is just living off of millions of VC funding with no sustainable business plan"
How would you know about their business plan?

Also what is wrong by being bought up by someone as part of the business plan? Think about it - when you buy a stock in the company - don't you wish that some bigger company will buy them out to you will benefit from owning that stock? The same thing with VC - they buy stock in popular startups hoping to cash out at some point.

What about your business plan? Let me guess: "Get free traffic from Google and sell advertising on the site, often back to Google - by using adsense"

So when traffic from Google dries up, due to change in algorythm or because another site became much more popular, what do you do then?

Sounds like you got so addicted to monitizing free traffic than when Google suddennly cut the cord you don't know what to do.

By the way Google started sending developers to Stackoverflow at least 3 years ago - that's when I first noticed link on Androind developers pages on Google pointing to Stackoverflow.

And Google is not the only company sending developers to SO. I know of at lealst couple more popular open source projects that recommends users to post questions on SO. I recently started playing with Play framework and noticed they recommend posting to SO for support.

I don't think there is any conspiracy with Google and SO at all. Google just gives alot more weight to sites that have links from other popular sites. It has always been like that - part of original Googl'e page rank. Now that many popular open source projects link to SO and additionally Google itself links to SO, SO's page rank weight is so far outweights other sites that other sites just don't stand a chance to compete for the same search terms as SO.

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Unfortunately I cannot edit my last post, I wanted to show you the link to Stackoverflow on Google's Android developers group.
Here it is:
https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/android-developers

http://www.playframework.com/ look at the bottom of page - StackOveflow link.

As I said, I noticed at about 3 years ago when I first started to learn Android development. Back then I was surprised that Google links to Stackoveflow when they had their own groups.
I don't think there are any conspiracies.

Many popular open source projects send their users to Stackoverflow for posting support questions. It really makes sense - it's actually very good for their business when people discussing it on Stackoverflow - it spreads the word about the product to other developers - all for free.

So we have the situation where open source projects find it to be benefitial for them to use Stackoveflow for discussion forum rather that maintaining their own.

Many open source projects are so popular that their websites carry alot of weight in page rank terms. So links from these sites just add to the weight of SO. You see, it's all natural, all organic, no conspiracies.

Edited by Msanches

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How would you know about their business plan?

Because the co-founder of StackOverflow wrote about it in his blog. It's been published how much venture capital StackOverflow has received, and it's also been published that the majority of their revenue comes from their job postings. I can see how many job postings there are per month multiplied by how much it costs for a job posting. Their revenue falls in line with how much money DaniWeb was making at its peak, and even then, we only had a small fraction of how much traffic StackOverflow gets. I can say with confidence that they very barely make enough money to pay their hosting bills, nevermind salaries for all of the fulltime employees they have on the payroll.

Also what is wrong by being bought up by someone as part of the business plan?

Nothing is wrong with that. Buy low sell high. I commented that the reason VCs are comfortable investing in a company that is not profitable is because traffic is climbing so fast that there is realistic buy-out potential in the near future.

Of course it's frustrating for others like DaniWeb that are not venture funded and need to compete directly with companies that have seemingly unlimited funds and no need to prove a bottom line month after month, compared to us bootstrapping our way through things. But that's the road I decided to take once upon a time, so now I have to live with my decision, for better or for worse.

And Google is not the only company sending developers to SO.

I just found out from a friend last night that Facebook also sends developers to SO. I wonder what they're doing to incentivize businesses to host their developer support on SO. Of course, their tagging system makes it easy to give each company its own mini-category, but DaniWeb has a tagging system too and we have a little-known feature where Vendors can have a vendor badge next to their posts.

SO's page rank weight is so far outweights other sites that other sites just don't stand a chance to compete for the same search terms as SO.

I don't doubt that this is the case. I also don't doubt that StackOverflow deserves to rank highly. However, the single point I'm going for is that IMHO, Google's algorithm is giving too much of a sitewide boost because SO pages are outranking DaniWeb pages even when the only meaningful content on the SO page is a link to the DaniWeb page.

Additionally, I'm simply pointing out that it's not necessarily serving Google's users' best interests to have eight out of ten results in the SERPS all be to different pages within the same domain. It doesn't matter what the niche is or what the domain is. IMHO, the purpose of a search engine is to provide the user with different options of where to find information on the web given a particular search query. Having all of the results point to the same website is not as useful as having a mix of different websites for the searcher to peruse.

Like I said in my original post, Stack Overflow deserves to rank really well. But they don't deserve to be the one and only site in their entire niche to rank at all.

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I did not know about Facebook developers linking to SO, but I'm not surprised. Actually I thinks that Facebook and Google should pay SO for providing such a good hosted solution for their support needs.

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I don't think that they should pay SO. It's not as if it's a white labeled custom solution. Rather, it's a mutually beneficial relationship where both sides get something out of it.

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Just found that jQuery.com also has link to SO from their "support" menu.

does anyone know any other hugely popular open source projects that link to stackoverflow?

Another popular project with link to SO is MongoDB:
http://www.mongodb.org/forums

Edited by Msanches

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doesn't this remind you of what happened when adsense on multiple websites from the same accounts got hit badly from G where EHOW wasn't hit at all. In the end google wants the revenue and will settle for less...
disappointing!

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DaniWeb offers something similar with our Vendor badge but, in seeing this and doing some research today in how StackOverflow has a whole internal team devoted to getting vendors to use them to power their customer support, I've gone ahead and created a webpage. Not quite a whole team of people pushing companies to do it, but hey, it's a start.

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How would you know about their business plan?

As Dani said, it's not rocket science. In her case, it's click-throughs or page views or however she gets her revenue. What is remarkable is that she has been profitable with the advertising revenue model, because as someone who spent over 40 years in the business of selling advertising, it's not easy. Experts Exchange's revenue source is subscriptions.

Stack's looks like this.

As Dani noted, simple math and a few phone calls will tell you that revenues are far below expenses (30,000+ square feet in Manhattan to start with). The business plan for Mr Spolsky and Mr Atwood may well be to build traffic and sell out -- but at some point, venture capitalists want a return on their investment, and nobody likes taking write-downs when they pay tens of millions of dollars for a company that is losing money hand over fist.

Think about it - when you buy a stock in the company - don't you wish that some bigger company will buy them out to you will benefit from owning that stock?

No. Like Warren Buffett, I buy stock because owning stock in a company entitles me to a share of the profits. Hoping to make a mint on someone else's stupidity went out with the first dotcom bubble.

What about your business plan? Let me guess: "Get free traffic from Google and sell advertising on the site, often back to Google - by using adsense"

Shows that you're not paying attention. Experts Exchange started in 1996, and made the mistake of letting venture capitalists take over in 1999. Two years later, the VCs' crack imported know-it-alls had blown through $5.5 million of JP Morgan's money and were broke; the current owner and his partner bought it out of bankruptcy. They tried the advertising model and found that it was not nearly as profitable (or reliable) as everyone thought, so they went to a subscription model and have been profitable since 2004, despite Panda, Penguin and everything else Matt Cutts and Stack can come up with to bury it... because when people have problems and ask questions at Experts Exchange, they get answers. They aren't told their question is worthless (as they are at Stack); they aren't humiliated by Moderators with a holier than thou attitude towards people who are new or trying to learn; they aren't banned because they disagree with someone else.

I'm simply pointing out that it's not necessarily serving Google's users' best interests to have eight out of ten results in the SERPS all be to different pages within the same domain

In fact, Google used to engineer their site such that no more than two results from a single domain could appear on the organic SERPs. Then again, Stack is apparently exempt from the rules that govern everyone else. Oh, wait... that's right... there's no conspiracy there. Move along... nothing to see there... these aren't the Droids you're looking for...

I've gone ahead and created a webpage

I envy you. It'd take me weeks, if not months, to get that through the bureaucracy... laughing

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Maybe hosted/outsourced support forums are something that DaniWeb could look at? Either as a revenue stream (by charging for the service) or as a potential 'rank raiser' option.

[edit] Should have read to the end of the thread before posting. Doh. Schoolboy error of the day number one :) [/edit]

[edit] Certainly something we can push in the next newsletter - I'm all over it like a badly fitting suit [/edit]

Edited by happygeek

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Here is some proof... I didnt believe it when i first read this post, but if you have been around adsenes for a little bit you know and have heard of Tim from askthebuilder.com His post

I recently found on my own site a scraper site created in 2013 ranking for articles they took from our site that I published in 2006.

Edited by carmine

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So regardless of any money issues, you admit SO have a more user friendly experience AND as good (and in my experience the majority of the time better content) and wonder why they almost always rank above you?

Google doesn't care if they are making money or not, all they care about is the user experience and the content.

SO is a superiour site to your's current and does deserve to rank above your's, in fact the pages where they have linked to your page is almost always backed up with addditional information and useful things in addition to what is posted on your site.

Also as for them been 'the only site listed', normally they are #1 but I've never had a query where they have had more than 2 listings on the first page, its just after you visit SO, you generally find the answer so don't need to continue to use other sites.

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I truly hope that's sarcasm, because if it isn't, I have some oceanfront property in Topeka I'd love to sell you.

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So regardless of any money issues, you admit SO have a more user friendly experience AND as good (and in my experience the majority of the time better content) and wonder why they almost always rank above you?

Not exactly. I'm simply stating that IMHO, Google is giving their website too much of a sitewide boost. In some cases, SO articles are outranking DaniWeb and all they do is link to DaniWeb for the actual answer without having any substantial content of their own. In other cases, SO is showing up in 8 out of 10 results in the SERPS.

Google doesn't care if they are making money or not, all they care about is the user experience and the content.

I agree. That is why I gave multiple examples of where these scnerios keep happening. Neither of these scenerios is an ideal user experience for the searcher.

in fact the pages where they have linked to your page is almost always backed up with addditional information and useful things in addition to what is posted on your site

On some pages there is no additional information provided, but on others, "supplemental/additional information" doesn't deserve to outrank the actual substance.

Also as for them been 'the only site listed', normally they are #1 but I've never had a query where they have had more than 2 listings on the first page

It happens to me all the time, and I presented an example of where pages on the SO domain represent 8 out of 10 results on the first page of the SERPS for a broad / generic keyword term. That isn't a good experience for the searcher IMHO.

Like I said, I'm not saying that SO doesn't deserve to outrank DaniWeb in many cases. But I feel that Google is giving the entire site as a whole too much of a boost, where individual pages that don't deserve to rank well are doing equally amazing. This is giving other programming sites (not just DaniWeb) no chance to float to the top even if their content on a particular niche subject is better than SO's.

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This is a pretty common technique in the social media scene nowadays: PR firms (mostly who don't even know any better) hiring "influencers" to talk about their clients' products in forums and on social media sites. In most cases, the PR firms simply don't grasp how/why this is against forum rules.

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Dani - Have you got personalised search from been logged into your Google account on when you are seeing these mass results from Stack Overflow?

I see a lot more results from them in my personalised results when I do the same query without it so it may simply be that its favouring it in your personal results for some reason.

Perhaps its faultly assuming because you spend so much time on daniweb or because it never sees you clicking the daniweb results in search that you don't like the daniweb website and instead want to see stack-overflow results?

Don't get me wrong, I like Daniweb, but in the majority of cases I find stack overflow to contain more detailed information.

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Hmm, noticed you said you had them turned off earlier in the comments... very strange. All I can say is on the HTML/CSS/JS/JQuery search I've done in the last 2/3 months, I never seen Stack-Overflow have more than 2-3 positions on the top page.

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They have ads, daniweb doesn't(Well, not for profit), to favor daniweb, I downloaded adblock and enabled ads on daniweb.

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Dani - Have you got personalised search from been logged into your Google account on when you are seeing these mass results from Stack Overflow?

No, personalized search turned off. Also, logged in from multiple web browsers with cookies cleared and ot logged into my Google account at all.

I never seen Stack-Overflow have more than 2-3 positions on the top page.

Even still, 3 positions is still a third of the page. What Google does with most other sites that have multiple results is they will feature one in the SERPS and have the others extend as sub-links off of that one.

I downloaded adblock and enabled ads on daniweb.

If doing that, please go into your member profile and select to disable ads. Pages will load faster that way and it actually helps us to not think we're showing ads to people who aren't even seeing them.

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What Google does with most other sites that have multiple results is they will feature one in the SERPS and have the others extend as sub-links off of that one.

They used to have -- but I won't swear that it's still in place -- a cap on having two results from the same site on a single SERP (unless, of course, if you specify site:www.daniweb.com as part of the search parameters).

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I'm not saying that StackOverflow shouldn't rank really high in most cases. But SO has really put all other forums out of commission. Nearly all other UGC programming communities have gone out of business in the past year or two explicitely because of all the love Google has for SO.

In the interest of diversifying the search results and to offer a better experience for the searchers, I really think Google should reconsider how much sitewide love they have for SO (even if individual pages aren't as deserving). If Google ranked other sites higher than SO on pages where SO content isn't that amazing (such as on the SO pages that link to DaniWeb where the better information is on DaniWeb), then even if that is just 10% of SO's traffic, that small percentage would go a very long way to ensuring a healthy ecosystem in the programming UGC space on the web ... and provide for a better search experience!

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