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Dani if your research is true, this is really bed for the google does partial with others. But what all we do ? Please have any suggestions for the seo.

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I was recently reminded of this discussion thread after a conversation the other day, so I've decided to update it.

Firstly, it wasn't Google Panda that we were hit by. It was some unknown algorithm that hit a whole bunch of tech forums all at once, all while increasing Stack Overflow's traffic. Oh, but I'm not bitter :) Here's where my frustration comes in, though ...

Stack Overflow is an amazing Q&A site. But that's all it is. People post questions. Those questions are closely scrutenized, modified and perfected by other Stack Overflow members (because Stack Overflow acts like a giant Q&A wiki). If the question isn't clear enough, thoughtfully written, is open-ended, is too broad, is too narrow, or can't easily be perfected, then it is immediately removed. Answers are required to be self-contained and clearly and directly answer the specific question being asked.

This leads to all of the makings of an amazing Q&A site that is great at getting Google traffic. Google just eats this stuff up because Google likes sending people to a page that is perfect grammar, perfect spelling, has a perfectly laid out question, and is followed by a perfect answer. That's a perfect experience for a searcher coming in from the SERPS!!

And that's all fabulous. Stack Overflow strives to be the best Q&A site, and they are. Every single page on their site is designed to provide a perfect SERP experience. But, all of their traffic comes from the SERPS, because they've designed themselves to provide a great experience for people finding specific questions as a result of a Google search, getting the answer quickly, thanking Google for sending them to the quickest place for the answer, and then darting away.

Everyone knows that Stack Overflow is not a community. They're not a discussion forum. They're not a place where you can meet other people who share your interests. They don't even resemble a community.

Even Jeff Atwood, the founder of Stack Overflow, knows that the platform can never and will never be a community. And that's why, after creating the Stack Overflow Q&A platform, he created Discourse, a platform (currently in beta, if I remember correctly) that aims to reinvent forums and communities.

To quote Wired.com:

With social networks, blogs, microblogs and Q&A sites like StackExchange and Quora, do forums still matter? Atwood certainly thinks so. “Forums are the dark matter of the web, the B-movies of the Internet. But they matter,” he wrote on his blog. “To this day I regularly get excellent search results on forum pages for stuff I’m interested in. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t end up on some forum, somewhere, looking for some obscure bit of information. And more often than not, I find it there.”

So what does this mean? It means that even Stack Overflow themselves is well aware that they are not a forum, nor do they strive to be one. It also means that the founder of Stack Overflow sees value in forums, enough to refocus all of his energy from Stack Overflow's Q&A platform towards starting the Discourse forum platform.

But here's where my pet peeve comes in. Everyone knows that Stack Overflow isn't a community. Except for Google. Before Google removed the 'Discussions' filter from its SERPS, it considered every Stack Overflow page to be a Discussion. But Stack Overflow doesn't even allow discussions on its site at all!! Nothing open ended is allowed. No answers are allowed to reference any other answers. They most certainly do not resemble discussions!

And, yet, by putting Stack Overflow in the same bucket as all of the tech forums on the web, and comparing us head-to-head, of course the Google algorithm is going to rank Stack Overflow's content higher. Stack Overflow content is always rewritten by higher-ups to be perfect spelling and perfect grammar. It's designed to rank well for Google.

With real discussion communities, rewriting posts is completely frowned upon to the point of being insulting. Community members don't appreciate having words put in their mouth or having what they say altered by others.

Discussion communities also are frequented by regulars who make friends on the site, get to know each other, form online relationships, and are extraordinarily loyal to the community and the people they meet online. I don't think I can recall one time, ever, that someone has told me that they ever have visited Stack Overflow except either coming in from a Google search, getting the answer they were looking for, and then immediately leaving ... or going to Stack Overflow specifically to ask a question because there's such a large pool that they think they can get a quick answer. However, 9 times out of 10, their question ends up being deleted for not being perfectly designed for optimal SERP benefit (i.e. too broad, too narrow, similar question already exists, etc.).

When you think about it, Q&A sites really are made-for-Google sites, designed to rank well in the search engines and get all of their traffic from there. If Stack Overflow were to lose all of its Google traffic overnight, they don't have a loyal community to fall back on, and they'd end up like sites like Answers.com and eHow.com that got clobbered by Panda for thin content and were left with nothing. (Of course, that will never happen because Stack Overflow most certainly does not have thin content, and it makes sense for all parties involved for Google to send searchers to them.)

Discussion communites like DaniWeb, however ... well, discussion communities are an entirely different beast altogether. We went from Google sending us 300,000 pageviews per day down to 50,000 pageviews per day (yes, it was 150K at the time this article was written, and we've gone on to lose another two-thirds of our traffic since then to Stack Overflow), and we are still an active, vibrant community, with tons of new members joining every day, tons of new questions being asked every day, and tons of posts every day. In fact, we have about one-third the number of members as Stack Overflow has despite receiving one-thirtieth of the amount of traffic from Google. Now just imagine how active we would be if Google liked us even a fraction as much as they like Stack Overflow!! Clearly that is proof that Stack Overflow sucks at converting visitors into participants. The reason they are as active as they are is purely from the sheer volume of traffic they are sent for free.

So there's my pet peeve ... darn Google buckets tech forums together with Q&A sites and excepts us to be able to compete head to head. But each type of site serves a different purpose, and if one more Googler on the search team tells me that Stack Overflow is a community I think I'm going to have to strangle somebody :) As has been said before, one only needs to look at Google+ to realize that Google doesn't understand community.

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Well, here I would totally agree world isn't only about stack overflown they have nice look and feel but that just doesn't mean search engine rank only the stack over flown. Actually I think the reason behind the people waiting over the stack overflown is because of their achievement system the better your answer are more closer you will move over to the moderation tools. What they have done is they put on the moderation thing over the bright box and everybody maintaing the quality over there because of the moderation tool. I guess they are feeding stackoverflown. And over the Google's end I would say they are putting them up over the search result who knows Google may have his plans to first collect the users to a single domain and then buys the whole thing out. So users can only bet themselves with the Google services.

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I agree that Stack Overflow is definitely positioning themselves for a buyout.

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With real discussion communities, rewriting posts is completely frowned upon to the point of being insulting. Community members don't appreciate having words put in their mouth or having what they say altered by others.

As evidenced by the backlash when you tried to roll out intellitxt several years ago. ;)

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For what it's worth, I'm sorry for the heartache we caused you even though my opinion on it hasn't changed. IIRC, I was one of the loudest voices in opposition of the idea.

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Honestly I still don't get it. When I added the IntelliTXT ads, the major complaint was that I was putting words in the mouths of the posters, by having words within their post turned into ads automatically. Everyone seemed to have some type of moral issue with this. However, there was the ability for every member to disable seeing ads AND the ability to disable ads from ever appearing within your own posts to others. So I still don't get what everyone was up in arms about.

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Because the evidence you've got here definitely looks very good, is there any way you could contact Google and flutter your eyes at them, and they might be really nice?

And maybe DaniWeb should consider a tighter moderating system, not to re-write posts but to step in with stupid things like this. I'm not taking anything from our mod's because I love them and they do a great job, but maybe they should be given the power to do more?

Just hypothetical ideas

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When I searched google for a forum, DaniWeb was third on the list. Today, I never pick the first two because I feel that they are too big for me to be heard or for me to get simple responces to my searches like I get from DaniWeb. I really like the fact that Dani started this forum all on her own and I am so proud to be a part of this.

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Just saw this now. It's a fine line when it comes to giving mods too much freedom, which caused lots of growing pains for us in the past. And thanks so much Linda!

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I agree completely that Google's excessive reliance on SO/SE sites is hurting other communities. As of late I'm seeing more and more search results pull up SO questions that have been "closed" and unanswered on SO. These results don't deserve to be listed in google AT ALL, much less rank above other communities offering real answers. It's just sad that Google is bumping up SE/SO results because they are hosted on SE/SO rather than offering up the best results.

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There are lots of factor(unique and user-friendly content, site navigation, page loading, linking and etc. ) that followed by a serch engine bot. And the search theorem's are decided by mostly professional search engine engineers. I don't think google is doing anything wrong or unfair.

But those who maintain their quality will surely see their pages in SERP in future days.

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@sdtechi

Yes, in theory, that would make for a better search engine. In practice though google values popularity far higher than quality, because that's much easier to do. For example, most original authors rank far lower than non-authoritative sources like wikipedia. Wikipedia are a treasure trove of high quality links to high quality authors, but google doesn't officially recognize any of them due to their no-follow policy.

While we're at it, I find these “Panda” updates to be full of unintended consequences. I appreciate google's intention of getting rid of “spammy” links, but when the web reacts to these penalties (both real and perceived), SEO companies react by running through lists of links and having them removed. Now I don't know whether having these links removed will factually raise google rankings or not (so far though the anecdotal evidence from my clients would be a resounding “no”). However I'd assert that at least some of those links removed for SEO purposes were actually valuable for humans navigating the web.

I really wish SEO services were unnecessary at all, but they were born into existence due to the fact that search engine rankings are just as important to success as internal factors. A high quality website means nothing without rankings. For better or worse, the network effects are extremely strong with google, top ranking sites get more views and links because they are on top, solidifying their high position.

I really don't know what the answer is. Hypothetically, even if a million new websites came up with exceptionally high quality & relevant content meriting our attention, there would still be a fundamental ranking problem. Having more viable search engine competition could help a lot, but it's not even clear to me that ordinary users realize or care that google is a catalyst for these network effects.

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Google is linking to StackOverflow due to its brand dominance and percieved higher domain authority. Recently algo changes (past 24 months) with google place high importance on branding.

You would have lost rankings to StackOverflow as its was getting traction in mainstream media and the resultant user contribution. This comes down to stackoverflow's clear purpose and value proposition.

If I was you I would do the following to regain traffic:
1. create a PR strategy and get some press that is urgently needed.
2. If you are not growing you are dying. Dani, its time to pivot your business. Either create a competing toolset, changeup your marketing strategy to convey your strengths, or create something completely new. This time is now. Don't waste it while you still have a large community.

Forum technology is outdated. DaniWeb represents possibly the most awesome implementation and refined version of an outdated tech imo.

Please chat to me if you want me to break it down and put together a plan

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Forum technology is outdated.

And what's the 'modern' technology? Heavily policed Q&A that discourages meaningful discussion? 140 character brain farts that are devoid of intelligence? Useless videos flooded with trolling commenters? ;)

StackOverflow is a forum, though it's presented in a different way than most other forums and imposes draconian policies to enforce 'quality'. But that enforcement also squelches any hope of SO being more than a clique of power hungry douchebags offering little to no pedagogical value for beginners.

New is not always better, and if Daniweb ever throws away the founding principles to be popular with Google, that's the day I'll leave.

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Totally agree that StackOverflow encourages a different form of conversation. It's just a little more goal orientated. I feel more purpose behind DaniWeb conversation could increase usage. It doesnt have to be orientated towards getting rankings, nor does it have to be a direct competitor to StackOverflow. The point I was trying to get across is that if current forums don't evolve then they will forever lose marketshare whether that be rankings, engagement, whatever.

How I feel about forum tech.
Forum tech has been around for a long time and has served us well! I mean we are having this conversation here so that counts for something. But forums are getting edged out from all directions.
IRC chat has made a bounce back in its new form for the enterprise as "Slack". Top quality forum content in the SEO niche is now over at Moz, which is also question and answer focused. And then there are the other repurposed bits of forums like image sharing, file sharing etc which have largely already been rebuilt in new forms.

So lets say DaniWeb's strength is to have longform conversations like this.. completely free from contraints. Then my point would be:
1. analyse the community of fully engaged users.
2. build something and align DaniWeb to their core objectives and evolve a little.

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the fact is that I think Google just has euristics. Google don't really know if a site is good or not, Google just know some metrics about a website: those metrics could also cheat but we will never know how much they are cheating.

The problem is that everytime Google find some "rating" or "metric" service that is filtered by humans it just "redirect traffic" to that filter.

Also that seems to confirm me 1 thing I suspected about Google. Actually hyperlinks does not give PR, they actually steal PR:

Spammers always try to spam their links into the web, so Search engines have to take that into account. A Search engine can effectively keep spamming into account by "thinking" : 'Is that site target of spammers? Good, then that site shold be important'.

So I think PR is not a function of "ingoing" links, but I think is more realistically a function of something like

(tot-ingoing)x(tot-outgoing)

such expression would have its maximum value (compared to tot) when ingoing and outgoing links are similiar in number.

Such expression would have the side effects of giving maximum PR to search engines (kinda of cheating lol) and Q&A websites. (at the same time it must filter "communities & affiliates" so I think it reduces in someway tightly coupled networks to indipendent nodes.

I noticed a similiar behaviour when "properly" linking (moderate spamming) my software into related websites. Also was able to reduce PR of a friend by just spamming links to his blog (he knew that, we were doing tests XD).

Of course there are other metrics in Search engines, but I guess one metric could be this one.

Also I stumbled on this page because suddendly I cannot find anything about "CHECK" syntax (SQL) so I searched a page about google misfunctions. ( I was redirected to TONS of useless questions on Stackoverflow).

Good luck

Edited by Dario_2: an extra thought

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One of my colleagues sent me this: http://michael.richter.name/blogs/why-i-no-longer-contribute-to-stackoverflow

What's interesting is that the post, despite being two years old, is still receiving comments today. The bottom line to the post comes down to only a few things:

First, heavy-handed moderation is bad. Mr Richter doesn't say it specifically, but communities thrive when moderation is done with a very light touch -- and that makes sense; people what to be themselves, and want to feel they can express themselves.

Second, statistics lie. I have a friend who coached basketball for years that used to say that he never needed a scorebook to tell me who his best players were (a line I've unapologetically stolen for years). Perhaps the best thing about discussions is that you see who is chasing the "low-hanging fruit" Mr Richter describes -- and who are the truly valuable contributors.

(Mr Richter doesn't mention it -- but in my experience, having a high "rep score", answering a boatload of questions, and -- in SO's case -- being able to win a popularity contest, does NOT necessarily make one a candidate for being a moderator. Effective moderation is an entirely different skill set, and more often than not, the skills required to rank high on Stack's scoreboard virtually disqualify one for consideration as a person who, by definition, is supposed to be an unbiased artibiter. But that's a different conversation...)

Third, lots of traffic does not a community make. Aldous Huxley once described a certain western US city as being nineteen suburbs in search of a metropolis -- a characteristic that could describe the Stack family of sites just as easily. Its construction, infrastructure and systems are all designed to ensure that it stays that way -- as if they took a huge piece of real estate and laid out the freeway system (and not thinking about either mass transit, or the possibility that people might want to live near where they work, or that they might be interested in something happening two suburbs over).

And perhaps that's the real reason why Google likes Stack so much (although, as Dani suggests, there are other less scientific reasons as well). Google's various attempts at "social" have failed miserably because there's nothing in Google's DNA or mission that wants to have anything to do with people -- in its own words, it wants to "organize the world's information".

So to it, people are simply the amalgamation of the digital information about them. People are messy; information can be reduced to ones and zeros. Oh... and information can be bought and sold.

Stack's mission (besides Attwood's initial post about ridding the world of Experts Exchange) has always been about the information itself -- not the people using either the systems or the information they might glean from it, let alone the processes of teaching, learning or helping -- all very human activities.

I actually almost feel sorry for both Stack and Google; they're missing out on all the fun.

Edited by Netminder: Auto-formatting doesn't like paranthetical second paragraphs.

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That's pretty crazy, also a nice investigation on your part.

A reason for this is the hipocricy of SE. If you use their content, you have to link to them with a dofollow backlink, otherwise they can sue you.

They on the other hand only link out using nofollow, which is ignored by google.
If all those links were dofollow, daniweb would rank just fine.

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Stackoverflow is the biggest website for our programmer.But website like daniweb is also very important for us .

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