Are Developers Embracing ChatGPT over Stack Overflow?

The rising popularity of ChatGPT causing a stir amongst users of Stack Overflow
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According to reports from traffic monitoring platform SimilarWeb, Stack Overflow faced a 12% decrease in the absolute number of website visits in December. From 279 million in November 2022, Stack Overflow saw its numbers drop to 247 million by the end of December. SimilarWeb also shared statistics that showed a huge dip in its ranking under the “Programming and Developer Software website” category. The company dropped almost 30 positions, from the 202nd position to the 229th position. The company is at the lowest position it has ever been since October 2019. 

However, Stack Overflow team told AIM that it has not seen any material impact to traffic from ChatGPT. “Like many other technology sites during the holidays, the month of December often brings a seasonal shift as users (many of whom are professional developers) take time off to be with their friends and families. Our public platform continues to serve 100 million visitors every month, making it one of the most popular websites in the world,” shared Stack Overflow.

Stack Overflow is a public platform that works on a Q&A basis where enthusiasts and professionals like developers and programmers discuss and collaborate. The accuracy of answers in this platform is determined by a voting system where the upvotes decide the accuracy of an answer. Coders essentially have been using this platform but with ChatGPT and other forms of generative AI, coding has become a simpler task with AI providing accurate answers. 

Santiago, from binomial, recently mentioned how ChatGPT saves hours of time in coding. It even helps in rewriting and improving codes. 

ChatGPT Ban Backfires 

In December, Stack Overflow banned ChatGPT on its website. They believe that the content generated by ChatGPT “does not meet their standards” and, therefore does not contribute towards a trustworthy environment. Since citations are not provided in GPT, accurate and verified answers will not be met. “In its current state, GPT risks breaking readers’ trust that our site provides through answers written by subject-matter experts,” explained the company on their temporary ban status. 

A developer on Stack Overflow suggested that users should be able to see answers from ChatGPT and other AI tools by providing an additional button called ‘Show AI-Generated Answers’. The button should be hidden by default and be available to those who wish to get an AI angle. 

The after-effect of such a ban was reflected in the dip in Stack Overflow visits. Developers are adopting AI-generated codes that have minimum errors. 

With the upgraded ChatGPT model rolled out on January 30 with improved factuality and mathematical capabilities, the user base will only increase. Having crossed 10 million daily users in just 40 days of its launch, the adoption and shift to an AI-generated model is only going to get better. To stay relevant, would Stack Overflow include AI-generated solutions or allow ChatGPT? They have to act fast.

[Updated: February 3, 2023 | 21:37 | The story has been updated to reflect Stack Overflow views]

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