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.