This is the thirteenth episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein.

  • We’d like to welcome our special guest, Stack Exchange’s Valued Associate #36, and member of the MAYHEM CHAOS team, Abby Miller!
  • The CHAOS team’s “Raison d’être” is community engagement and promotion, both on Stack Exchange sites and external to them. The first site Abby managed as part of CHAOS is Ask Different, and she’s now begun working with Game Development.
  • In addition to the metrics that Stack Exchange provides for each site, the CHAOS team has taken site quality research to task. They compared Stack Exchange sites to other sites covering similar topics, to guage a visitor’s ability to start with a Google search and end up with their question answered as quickly as possible. Ask Different, for example, was compared against Apple’s Support Communities.
  • In the early days of the CHAOS team’s involvement on Stack Exchange, a major task was to spruce up the quality of content on selected sites. They started by going through top questions and fixing up spelling and grammar, focusing on ensuring that question titles were formed as a question and not something more like an e-mail subject.
  • We discuss an interesting situation that the Stack Exchange network creates, in that Stack Exchange maintains, designs, and hosts the sites, but lays no claim to any of the content that the users create, which is very unusual for a profit-seeking company. The virtues of community-driven and community-maintained sites is a staple of Stack Exchange’s philosophy.
  • Abby expands on the CHAOS team’s goal of doing 80% external community promotion and 20% internal. CHAOS team members no longer edit the top 1000 questions, they shifted focus to more things like sponsorships to grow the community in terms of members and visibility. Ask Different has sponsored Daring Fireball, 52tiger, and is sponsoring the NCMUG’s upcoming Mac Computer Expo. Also, you heard it here first: there is also a not-yet-announced promotion in the works, a partnership with an Apple blog for an iPhone giveaway!
  • As previously noted, the Top User swag has started arriving! We will soon schedule our Ask Different T-Shirt episode of the Ask Different Podcast. This week, we talk about our preferred sticker placement strategies.
  • Abby talks about CHAOS’ 20% internal involvement in helping a user organize an event, in this case, planning and identifying the infrastructure needed to host a GameDev Game Jam developer event, in tandem with Stack Exchange’s community team. We’re also reminded of Stack Exchange’s beta tester matchmaking service, a program that Ask Different will participate in for both Mac and iOS apps.
  • We slip in a quick side conversation to talk about a product Joel Spolsky, representing FogCreek software, demoed as part of Tech Crunch Disrupt San Francisco 2011, Trello. Trello is a list management system with the features you’d need in a multi-user support system. Free, instantly collaborative, painless to sign up for, and beneficial when you need rudimentary (or not-so-rudimentary) organization of tasks, for yourself or multiple parties.
  • After diving into playful zealotry over the devices that your hosts do or do not own, our ire turns to Facebook as we discuss the changes made a few days prior to their developer conference, F8. Notably, the feed is now Top News only, and all non-post activity got squished into the tiny sidebar. This leads us to discuss our thoughts on and intended uses of Facebook given the latest round of changes.
  • We ask Abby about her Mac hardware history. Her experience ranges from her 17” iMac (from about 5 years ago) to her current MacBook Pro (from just after the release of the unibody style) to her iPhone 4. She discusses her reasons for not using her personal hardware at work, and the initial pain of using her work-provided ThinkPad with it’s inward-bumped touchpad. We share our thoughts on this and similar ‘alternative’ touchpads on the market.
  • Some of Abby’s favorite iOS apps include GoatUp, which was coincidentally featured as TUAW’s Daily iPhone App the day after this recording, Instagram, despite version 2 removing one of her favorite filters, and Agenda Calendar.
This episode was recorded on September 21, 2011. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at


Podcast #12: Jin Yang

Kyle Cronin

This is the twelfth episode of the Ask Different Podcast. Your hosts this week are Kyle Cronin, Jason Salaz, and Nathan Greenstein.

  • We have been featured on the Stack Exchange Podcast, Episode #16. We recorded a short 30 second ad that Stack Exchange offered to air. You can listen to the entire episode, and note Kyle’s comment listing our ad’s air time, at Episode #16 on Soundcloud.
  • Additionally, Ask Different wants to be part of Blog Overflow! We’re looking for dedicated, dependable users able to write regularly on topics you are interested in. If you would like to be part of a team of writers, we invite you to post some details about your ideal topic(s) on the meta post on Ask Different.
  • Our guest today is the Stack Exchange designer-in-residence: Jin Yang!
  • We start by asking Jin how he came to be employed by Stack Exchange. Even though he knew Jeff already, he had to work hard to get the job. The first work he did for Stack Exchange. His debut was Area 51, which he created in one night! Next came Super User, and then the Stack Exchange 2.0 sites. Today, he’s designed 27 sites!
  • Next, Jin goes over his design process, and we ask him about his experience designing Ask Different. He started by asking fellow designer Mike Rundle for a mockup. Jin liked it and started making some tweaks. He soon realized that it took a lot of extra CSS to make the design work. We appreciate the extra effort he put into our site!
  • We also discuss a recent blog post by Mike Rundle about designers who can code. Jin tells us that he used to program, using ColdFusion and ASP/ASP.NET, though his work with Stack Exchange is dedicated as a Graphic Designer.
  • We briefly talk about the visual evolution of Apple-branding that has occurred since the official launch of Ask Different, and whether or not certain Apple style changes should make their way to Ask Different in some form.
  • As previously covered, we discuss the traffic-bump as a result of an Ask Different ad being placed on Daring Fireball, and how Stack Exchange could be improved to display better user referral metrics for site moderators to view.
  • This brings us to note how the growth of Stack Exchange has led to many additional sources needing uniquely designed graphic work. In additional to all of the website work Jin does, he’s also begun designing logos and layouts for T-shirts, business cards, and promotional fliers.
  • If you view Jin’s Twitter Profile, his biography includes the words “Professional bacon eater”. The discussion of bacon leads to Reddit, as Kyle and Jin discuss Reddit inside jokes, and the Alien Blue iOS app for Reddit.
  • Jin explains more about community design involvement and other details that go into creating a Stack Exchange logo and site design. This leads to a discussion of how the design should fit into the language and culture Stack Exchange sites, such as English, Japanese, French, and Jewish Life & Learning among others.
  • Since employment, Jin has not done every single site. He discusses his reasoning for contracting out the work to Alex Charchar for the English Stack Exchange site, and Dmitry Fadeyev for UX Stack Exchange. Though not covered on the show, note also that the design Ask Ubuntu was done by a graphic artist within Canonical, Ubuntu’s controlling company.
  • We briefly discuss the Area 51 proposal process, how it could be intimidating to non-technical users, and how that may prevent some of the best ‘civilian’ proposals from becoming available on Stack Exchange’s network.
  • Thanks so much to Jin for appearing on the show! You can find Jin on Twitter and his blog.

This episode was recorded on September 9, 2011. You can subscribe to this podcast via RSS or iTunes. We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to leave a comment on this post or e-mail us at