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Developer-focused Q&A platform Stack Overflow has launched a new product called Collectives, branded communities where companies can organize and centralize discussions around broad topics, interact directly with developers who use their technologies, and glean data and insights around engagement and common questions.
Collectives are a little like subreddits, Reddit’s community-focused boards dedicated to a single topic. For Google and other Stack Overflow customers, Collectives enable control of the conversation around their tools, technologies, and products.
Two Collectives are available at launch — one for Google Cloud and one for Go, a programming language developed internally at Google more than a decade ago. While there is no charge to join Collectives or participate, which is also true of Stack Overflow, the company works closely with paying customers to determine which topics and technologies would benefit from a standalone sub-community based on the volume of existing content and engagement on Stack Overflow.
On the broader Stack Overflow platform, content is organized by tags, which — while helpful — are often focused on small niche topics and might not surface answers quickly. Collectives, on the other hand, centralize everything around a specific technology, which might include myriad subtopics, and include long-form content and recommendations from people close to the technology.
Content contained within a Collective can be “endorsed” by admins (from the company) or other “recognized members,” from an employee to a prominent developer from the open source community or anyone from the Stack Overflow user base who has proven themselves by providing accurate and timely responses to questions.
At the business end of Collectives, companies are also better positioned to amass data and glean insights into the big questions people are asking.
“Through Collectives, admins for each collective can see engagement, trends around content, and unanswered questions that require attention,” Stack Overflow chief product and technology officer Teresa Dietrich told VentureBeat. “This helps the team see where there may be confusion, where users are getting stuck, and ultimately give them the reusable knowledge that they need that others can reference later.”
This data can then be used to improve product documentation and guides, inform future marketing decisions or onboarding workflows, and reveal unexpected ways people are using products. An “actions for you” tab guides admins toward what they should be doing next, either by recommending an answer, answering questions themselves, or driving internal resources to improve response rates if they dip.
Collectives is Stack Overflow’s first major product launch since the company introduced Teams in 2018 to let businesses use the Stack Overflow platform internally. Teams has amassed an impressive roster of enterprise customers in addition to Google, including Microsoft, Intercom, Verizon, Siemens, and Box.
Founded in 2008, Stack Overflow had raised around $153 million from big-name backers before news emerged earlier this month that Prosus had tabled a bid to buy the company outright, a $1.8 billion deal that’s expected to close in the next few months.
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