StackOverflow has an answer for generative AI stealing its traffic

Antonija Bilic Arar

The main concept behind all of them is to unite AI's summarization, aggregation, and conversational capabilities with the immense knowledge base of the StackOverflow community.

StackOverflow’s CEO Prashanth Chandrasekar has presented OverflowAI at the WeAreDevelopers World Congress in Berlin.

It is a set of tools launching in alpha in August and bringing AI capabilities to StackOverflow’s base of 58 million of questions and answers. OverflowAI is their answer to what’s been called the fall of Stack Overflow, SO loosing traffic due to the rise in generative AI tools. If developers can just get summarized answers by a conversational AI tool, there’s no need for them to visit StackOverflow and waste time searching and filtering the answers themselves.

We are living at the beginning of the AI era, which will be the most transformative era in technology history. There are already a lot of doomsayers out there, both when it comes to developers not being needed anymore and StackOverflow not being relevant anymore.

At StackOverflow, we have seen the tech industry evolve, and we had heard the doomsayers saying there would be no need for developers when the era of automation started, then when there was the rise of no-code and low-code tools. But we have seen in the 15 years of StackOverflow that the number of developers only increased.

We believe the power of AI is going to drive tremendous amounts of innovation and the demand for developers will only increase.

OverflowAI consists of six products:

OverflowAI comprises six products: Community Search, VisualStudio Code plugin, AI capabilities for StackOverflow Slack integration, Enterprise Knowledge Ingestion, Enhanced Search on SO for Teams, and NLP Collective.

The main concept behind all of them is to unite AI’s summarization, aggregation, and conversational capabilities with the immense knowledge base of the StackOverflow community. In developing features, the focus was also on giving proper credit and citation to those who provided that knowledge.

StackOverflow made sure that citation, validation, and accuracy are a priority when developing their AI tools for developers as their DeveloperSurvey showed that, while 70% of developers use AI tools for coding, only 3% highly trust their accuracy.

We, developers, are a skeptical bunch. We don’t want to have uncertanties in our production-level applications.

From August, developers looking for answers on Stack Overflow will be able to ask the AI Search a question in natural language, get a summarized answer (with citations to original answers on Stack Overflow), and then continue the conversation with the model in a chat-like experience. The model will help them draft a new question if they don’t find an answer.

Integrating AI capabilities with Slack integration and the Visual Studio code plugin enhances the developer experience. It decreases context switching by enabling developers to use OverflowAI in the tools they already work with. As Chandrasekar concluded:

We’ve always put developers first; you will continue to be our focus, even in this AI era.

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