It seems as though Q&A network Stack Overflow has put the $6 million in funding it received back in May to good use, crossing the 10 million unique monthly visits mark as of yesterday. While sites like Quora bank on the winning Q&A model being on one big monolithic site, Stack Overflow is showing success by carefully separating the Q&A game into different communities, launching 34 different sites on topics as diverse as Bicycling, Cooking and IT Security.
The company had just three fulltime developers before their first round of funding, which included noted Angel investors like Ron Conway, Chris Dixon, Naval Ravikant and Caterina Fake. Since then founder Joel Spolsky has used the financing to hire around 24 new employees including #2 user Marc Gravelli.
Despite their programming roots, Spolsky tells TechCrunch that the company’s biggest accomplishment in the past six months has been building Stack Exchange, which allows users to suggest new verticals for Stack Overflow style Q&A sites like chess, aviation and cryptography. In a savvy move, using a consensus model to decide which sites get built ensures critical mass and high quality of answers, like this one.
Since May, Stack Overflow traffic continues to soar from 6 million to ten million uniques (it took two years to get to the first six million), “Almost every programmer in the world knows Stack Overflow and visits regularly, usually because we have the answer to a problem they’ve typed into Google–and the new Stack Exchange sites are starting to spread rapidly beyond the initial audience of programmers.” In my experience, things that have massive traction with programmers often pick up mainstream tread, as they are the ones spending the most time online.
The new Stack Overflow sites have only been up for a couple months but are already showing 33% monthly growth according to internal metics. Aside from traffic success is based on a variety of criteria, the most important of which is the percentage of site questions have at least one up-voted answer. Spolsky says that the 30 or so new sites have 90-100% answer rates, which means that the sites are working.
In terms of future plans, Spolsky is focusing on Stack Exchange and encouraging the growth of even more new vertical sites where experts can come together, “Ultimately we think there will be hundreds or thousands of these sites providing extremely high quality answers to detailed questions, so the most important thing we’re working on is really cultivating niche communities.”
So may the best Q&A site (or sites) win.