Joel Spolsky

Joel Spolsky

CEO of Stack Overflow, co-founder of Fog Creek Software and creator of Trello

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON January 29, 2016

Discussion

Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
Hi! I'm Joel Spolsky. You may know me from my old blog Joel on Software, or as the creator of FogBugz or inventor and co-founder of Trello, but most people know me as the co-founder and CEO of Stack Overflow. I'm delighted to be here -- ask me anything!
Melissa Joy Kong
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
What are the 2-3 ways Trello power users best utilize the tool? In other words, what are most users missing out on?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@melissajoykong One of the nice things about Trello is that there really aren't a lot of obscure secrets. That said, my favorite hidden feature is drag 'n' drop -- dragging URLs or files onto boards. Depending on where you're dragging from you often get something surprisingly useful. Also, the "q" keyboard shortcut (press "q" to see your own cards), and the "space" keyboard shortcut (hover your cursor over a card and press space to add yourself to it). Finally, did you know you can paste entire lists of things (from text, html, etc) into Trello and it will make them into multiple cards? I love that one
abb-8
abb-8@hairboat · Community Growth, Stack Overflow
@spolsky @melissajoykong My favorite thing is pasting a bunch of lines of something into a single checklist box and watching them cascade down boopboopboop into their own checklist items.
Melissa Joy Kong
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
@spolsky This is AWESOME. Thanks, Joel.
Barry Clark
Barry Clark@barrycnyc · VP of Engineering, Trello
@melissajoykong You might also enjoy the "How to use Trello like a pro" series on our blog: http://blog.trello.com/how-to-us...
John Eberly
John Eberly@jeberly · Founder, Chatlio, live chat for slack
@spolsky I have been using Trello for years, and never knew about "q" and "space" shorts, thanks! I love Trello's simplicity and this helps sift through the cards. My only complaint is using search to find a card on a big board. It is hard to know where the found card really lives. I end up using cmd-F instead of built in search. I would prefer that that search results filter down the cards as fast and nicely as the "q" shortcut. #randomfeedback
Yann Bertrand
Yann Bertrand@_yannbertrand · Pokémon Master
What does a typical day look like for Joel Spolsky?
Yann Bertrand
Yann Bertrand@_yannbertrand · Pokémon Master
You wrote the Joel Test ~16 years ago(!). Would you change anything about it if you had to write it today?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@_yannbertrand I'd spell creat with an 'e'.
Eric Leschinski
Eric Leschinski@eric_leschinski
@spolsky @_yannbertrand I spoke of the joel test to a company in boston and they said: "the joel test???" Well jeez there's a blast from the past". I didn't push the issue further. I still think the joel test is totally reasonable and applicable today as it was 16 years ago. What do you say to people who regard it as they regard biting into a lemon?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@_yannbertrand OK here's the non-glib answer; I would add something about whether you have "command and conquer" style management or some kind of "servant leadership" approach. In other words are the technical people the final decision makers.
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@eric_leschinski it is a blast from the past but, seriously, I don't think the profession of managing software engineering teams has really changed as much as people might think it has
Maxim Kazantsev
Maxim Kazantsev@mkazantsev · Software Engineer
Hi Joel! Looks like you've significantly decreased your public presence after all the things Joel on Software (the blog and the books). Why so? Do you have any plans on getting back to reflecting on your own experience and sharing your insights?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@mkazantsev Ugh. Well, mostly it was because I wanted to be Jerry Seinfeld and go out at the top of my game, instead of being the Simpsons, which, I heard, they are STILL MAKING for some crazy reason. :-) Also -- the bigger my companies got and the more influence I had, the harder it was to find things to write about without causing trouble. For example when I was a little twerp that nobody had ever heard of, I could make fun of a company like Cue:Cat. Now if I so much as SNEEZE at someone's cat babysitting startup app, entire groups of people will be plunged into depression.
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@mkazantsev also... it's SUPER HARD to have an experience, then blog about it, when the person sharing the experience with you is going to read your blog post the next day. Kinda makes relationships a bit tricky. I could have written 30 blog posts about "Stupid things VCs say in board meetings" for example
Avinasha Shastry
Avinasha Shastry@avishastry · Looking for the Next Big Thing!
Hi Joel, Have you experienced burn outs? Or have any developers around you have? If yes, Do you have any suggestions on how to come out of it?
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@ettinger · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
What has most surprised you about the success of Stack Overflow? P.S. The first (and most important) thing I learned at my coding bootcamp was that Google is your friend, mostly for the Stack Overflow results you'll find. They were right.
Michael Moeller
Michael Moeller@mikewmoeller
Hi Joel, Stack Overflow has become a household name, so much so that non-developers are familiar with Stack Overflow. What were the key success factors in scaling Stack Overflow into such a successful and vibrant community?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@mikewmoeller wow, so many things! But mostly: * loading fast * using Google as the front page * tags instead of sub-communities * wiki-style editing * reputation * badges * community policing / scalable moderation * voting * Q + A instead of threaded discussion format * sustainable business model with Careers
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
You've been very successful building products that people love all over the world. At this point, what are some things on your personal and/or professional bucket list that you would like to accomplish before you die?
abb-8
abb-8@hairboat · Community Growth, Stack Overflow
What other names did you consider for your dog before you settled on Taco?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
Jordan Scales
Jordan Scales@jdan · Halogen Softworks
Hey Joel! Your blog posts have been super informative for me as I start my career - the "New Developer" list is just pure gold. What was it like developing a habit for blogging? Did it just come naturally? What sorts of tips can you offer for me, a total newbie, who wants to increase their blogging output and one day inspire many others?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@jdan (1) Type words into a computer (2) see step 1
Mike Coutermarsh
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
JOEL! So excited that you're here on PH. 😀. We emailed ~10 years ago and your advice way back then had a huge influence on why I'm a dev now. Thank you <3 :) I'd love to know, what's the one thing you've done in your professional career that scared you the most? Thanks Joel 😀
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@mscccc sending you that email
Mike Coutermarsh
Mike Coutermarsh@mscccc · Code @ GitHub
@spolsky LOL. <3
Colin Devroe
Colin Devroe@cdevroe · Co-founder, Plain
Hi Joel. With multiple projects going on at once, how do you decide how to split up your attention?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@cdevroe luckily I hire smart people who get things done, so, for the most part, this isn't so hard! In general if I ever find myself doing something that it seems like anyone else can do it, I'll find someone to delegate it to.
Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern@bendhalpern · Founder of dev.to
What do you think about the community's reaction to the new Stack Overflow code licensing policies and how do you think this change will be looked back on in a year or two?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@bhalp1 I'll be the first to admit that the way we worked with the community on that particular issue wasn't the best, and our communication wasn't always clear. That said, we've gone back to step one and are working through this step by step with the full participation of the community and I'm sure we'll come to a conclusion that addresses most of the concerns and is the right answer.
Hang Zhao
Hang Zhao@sgzhaohang
Hi Joel, trello is one of my favorite every day tools. I'd like to know what would be the long term monetization strategy for trello.
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@sgzhaohang There's a version for businesses (Trello Business Class) and a version for large enterprises (Trello Enterprise) which are already bringing in a surprising amount of monetization!
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)
Emily Snowdon (née Hodgins)@emilyjsnowdon · Operations @ Product Hunt
Hi Joel - thanks for joining us today! As a founder what have been some of the biggest challenges you've had to overcome? How did you do it?
Melissa Joy Kong
Melissa Joy Kong@melissajoykong · Content, Product Hunt
I write often about productivity/organization, and Trello is one of the top tools I recommend. What I often hear people say (comes up a lot with Evernote, too) is, "That tool is too complex." The more I think about it, the more I realize the best tools aren't complex—they are just very flexible. In other words, there appears to be a steeper learning curve because you have to design your own way of using something like Trello from the ground up. When it comes to product design, how do you balance giving users choice/flexibility vs. the simplicity/limitations they sometimes crave (paradox of choice)?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@melissajoykong That's the very nature of design... balancing those things! There isn't always an easy answer. In every design space, there exists a local maximum where you get a rather surprising amount of power and flexibility with a rather surprisingly simple design; finding that point can take years or decades.
Pim de Witte
Pim de Witte@pimdewitte
Joel, I would just like to say - Thank you for making my life! No questions here, keep up the good work.
simplysanj
simplysanj@simplysanj · CEO, Sliq Media Technologies
Would you consider Fog Creek a lifestyle business and can you elaborate how you leveled up psychologically with new projects/experiments that turned into companies. Thanks!
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@simplysanj The term "lifestyle business" is too judgmental imho. It was COINED as a way for the "get big fast" startup kids to explain why their 3 person startup in a garage with dreams of creating an e-commerce site where you order birdcage liners is SO SUPERIOR to the local $40,000,000 hardware store chain with 19 stores, which is merely a "lifestyle business." Whatever. The term can be taken out and shot, thanks.
Thomas Stöcklein
Thomas Stöcklein@tomstocklein · FoundersFundersFuture.com
Why did you chose Index Ventures and Spark Capital over other potential investors for Trello's Series A?
Adam Owen
Adam Owen@adamowenit · Search Engine Marketing Consultant
What are the most exciting new features you want to add to Trello over the coming months/years? :)
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@adamowenit oh boy, the Trello team is going to kill me if I answer that. Oh well. (1) the ability to download the mobile app from the app store and start making boards WITHOUT signing up (2) power ups! Now that third party developers can create power ups for Trello I'm envisioning that it becomes the hub of everything. I hope to see hundreds of awesome geegaws that you can add to your boards.
Pierre-Marie Galite
Pierre-Marie Galite@tsunaze · mobile developer & advice giver
Hi, Thanks for this live. Do you have any tips on how you grow a community?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@tsunaze Long before Stack Overflow, I wrote this: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/ar... Growing a community is a whole profession. It's like, anthropology. Or medicine. There's a lot to learn, and a lot still to be discovered.
Yuhong Bao
Yuhong Bao@yuhong2
I wonder what do you think about Windows 10 and "Windows as a service"?
Slavik Shynkarenko
Slavik Shynkarenko@slavik · CTO at 4ib.com
Hi Joel! How far do you think democracy should go in a software company and how often do you take someone’s opinion over yours?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@slavik If you mean "democracy" in the sense of "we'll take a vote and the majority rules," that doesn't necessarily seem like the optimal organizational paradigm for software companies. To contrast we use a style of "servant leadership" aka "the upside down pyramid" which you can read about in a blog post I wrote on Fred Wilson's blog http://avc.com/2012/02/the-manag...
Eric Leschinski
Eric Leschinski@eric_leschinski
Stackoverflow has reached middle age, and now all the newbies who have no business posting answers are posting code deteriorating the former greatness of the site. The same phenomenon is seen to occur on all sites that attempted to endure the peak of the hoi polloi piling in with faces aplenty mashing on textboxes online. Worse, these newbies are upvoting each other and lots of garbage is getting through and past the very low quality filter. I always wonder if there is a 10x better way to deal with this crisis deluge of non-programmers deluging mediocre content on stackoverflow. Do you have any plans for keeping the newbies out at the moat? Or will it be a free for all decline into yahoo answers and wiki answers?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@eric_leschinski Do you have any evidence that this is a change or is it just your perception? We do measure these things regularly and see no sign that Stack Overflow is "deteriorating" so I think this may just be a perception thing, and it fits the typical narrative of middle age so we're always going to be looking for examples that confirm this bias and ignoring examples that don't. The only way to know for sure is with statistics and we have them and the decline some people are imagining does not actually appear to be happening.
Jay Hanlon
Jay Hanlon@jaydles
@eric_leschinski, thanks for the post. (I oversee community product at SO.) To add to what Joel said, quality continues to be a huge focus, and a lot's been done this year to help ensure that SO continues to consistently have the answers devs need. Just one example: As the number of questions has increased, we've added features like like the one that lets questions from inexperienced users be reviewed - and where possible, improved - by experienced users in queues before going to the home page. And I think it's often too easy to assume "the new people" are the problem. Our best contributors today are simply the very best and most generous users from of the cohort of noobs they started in a while back. Our best contributors a few years from now will be the most talented noobs of today. And so on.
Jeremy Martin
Jeremy Martin@jmar777 · CTO, Stream.Live
StackOverflow can no doubt attribute many factors to its success, but gamification seems to have a defining element. Were you surprised to see that gamification was so effective with a largely professional userbase?
Joel Spolsky
Joel Spolsky@spolsky · CEO and Co-founder, Stack Overflow
@jmar777 I had seen early examples (like Reddit and Hacker News) where merely putting a number next to a person's username was enough to motivate people, and was fun, to boot, so I was pretty sure it couldn't hurt.
Vadi
Vadi@vadivelk · Craftsman
We use stackoverflow careers, 90% time we receive spam resumes, i mean, the people who bulk apply every job post. How do you plan to stop it? If you think this question should be addressed by your support i already past that episode. Our hiring team was very unhappy about the idea of posting in stackexchange. But i don't see other place to go either. Great place to find programmers. There is no doubt about it.
Jay Hanlon
Jay Hanlon@jaydles
@vadivelk SO employee here. Just to clarify: It's not that they're spam, or fake resumes, right? One of SO Jobs/Careers key is that we *only* allow actual developers (and other tech professionals) to apply through it. And we focus on better *quality* matches, vs. quantity. In your case, though, am I right that you're getting too MANY applicants, and specifically too many that seem to be applying to lots of jobs? If so, I think it may be a fairly specific regional issue, but we'd have to take a closer look to be sure.
Vadi
Vadi@vadivelk · Craftsman
@jaydles Sure, i don't know either it is a regional issue or SO issue. For sure we have to dig thru tons of resumes to find relevant ones. This is not expected from a system like SO. Keep in mind, i did not placed an ad in some news paper, i decided to place one in programmers paradise, irrelevant applicants are not expected, right? I feel the value provided is less. Apologies for stealing thunder here, i was merely trying to get Joel's thoughts on his favourite topic.
Jay Hanlon
Jay Hanlon@jaydles
@vadivelk no apology needed - that problem's not typical, so it's useful info for us. Will pass on to the right folks, but initial guess is it's either an issue related to one or two geo areas (mostly south asia) or very open-ended listings, where everyone essentially matches them. Not saying either was what caused YOUR experience, just initial guesses of what might be a cause, given the relative rarity of that issue. Thanks for the feedback!