What may be a strange combination, said Spolsky, makes sense when you’re running a website that has a user base the size of Seoul, South Korea.
Stack Exchange is a free, community-powered, question-and-answer space dedicated mainly to Web designers and engineers. Spolsky started the site to fill the void that other sites like Ask.com and Yahoo Answers created.
“We designed it to create a certain culture, experience,” Spolsky explained. “We’re not looking for stuff that math professors answer; we’re looking for stuff that math professors don’t know. Everything about our audience, about pushing people away that don’t belong, and encouraging people that do belong.”
As the site grew, Spolsky said that studying cultural anthropology, and how the site defined the activities of the users, became more important.
“What would it take to understand Seoul, South Korea?” he said. “That’s what it would take to understand Stack Exchange.”
Hear more from Spolsky in the video.
Previous Zillow Speaker Series guests include:
- Tom Douglas, chef and restaurateur
- Steve VanRoekel, White House Chief Information Officer
- Jay Inslee, candidate for Washington state governor
- Gabe Zichermann, author and consultant
- Rob McKenna, Washington state attorney general and candidate for governor
- Ronnie Chan, chairman of Hang Lung Properties Limited
- Hadi Partovi, angel investor, startup investor
- GrubHub co-founders Mike Evans and Matt Maloney
- Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn
- Adam Goldstein of Hipmunk
- Adam Lashinsky, author of “Inside Apple”
- Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
- John Cook of GeekWire
- FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
- Gordon Stephenson of Real Property Associates
- Bill Gurley of Benchmark Capital
- Richard Tait of Cranium
- Adrian Hanauer of Sounders FC
- Steve Souders of Google