Stack Overflow isn’t just a software Q & A site

Back in the days when Commodore were able to advertise 64K of memory as being synonymous with the large memory of an elephant, stack overflow errors were common. With limited memory, only a small amount could be spared for the stack, and a series of function calls could easily fill it up.

These days, when computers have 5-6 orders of magnitude more memory, the concept of a stack overflow has been relegated to an in-joke name for an excellent developer Q & A site. I was therefore more than a little surprised when a Flex app produced the following stack trace:

Scrolling down through the stack trace, everything that came after what I’ve copied above was just many references to the one method. I’d written a recursive method who’s test for the end of the recurse would always fail, so it had gone into an “infinite loop”. It just goes to show, no matter how much memory you have, a run-away recursive method will always run out of stack space. Stack overflow errors still exist, they are simply hidden away from all but sloopy recursion junkies… 🙂

Have you tried out stackoverflow yet?

A few week’s back, I caught a twitter by Scott Hanselman on a new free developer-specific question and answer forum called stackoverflow. Curiosity got the better of me and I first took a look, then asked a couple of questions, before getting wholeheartedly sucked into answering as many as I could, whilst watching my reputation figure climb. Reputation is the site’s secret weapon that gets you hooked and keeps you. Basically the more good quality questions you ask, and answers you provide, the more reputation you get. The more reputation you get, the more moderator rights you earn.

So if you have a programming related question – on any topic – or wish to share your knowledge and help out others by answering their questions – then head over to stackoverflow and try it out.