Stack Overflow’s traffic might’ve dropped precipitously since the launch of ChatGPT, but it’s now looking to beat the AI program at its own game.
Stack Overflow has launched an AI product named Overflow AI. “Introducing our vision of the future of Stack Overflow…Overflow AI,” said Stack Overflow CEO Prashanth Chandrasekar.
In the video, Stack Overflow demonstrated how users would be able to type in their coding question within Stack Overflow and immediately get an AI-generated answer. The answer will also cite sources from within Stack Overflow. Users will also be able to continue their conversation with the AI with follow-up questions.
But that’s not all the product does. If users are still unable to find a solution, Overflow AI will also help users draft their questions to be posted the human Stack Overflow community, and enable them to get an answer from there. Stack Overflow will also use previous answers from users’ organizations and teams to further personalize answers. These answers will also cite their sources, which could help with transparency and reliability. Users will also have the choice of choosing the length of their answers, customize them on the basis of their skills, and even choose sources where the pull the answers from.
Apart from this Overflow AI will also create a VS Code plugin which will allow users to ask these questions from right within VS code. The tab will essentially work as a pair programmer, and help coders find answers from within their IDE, without needing to switch contexts.
It’s a pretty ambitious launch, and is perhaps in response to the traffic that ChatGPT and other LLMs have wrested from Stack Overflow’s site over the last few months. Stack Overflow’s traffic is down nearly 50 percent this year, largely because users have simply been heading to ChatGPT to directly find answers. Stack Overflow couldn’t have been thrilled about this, given how ChatGPT and Bard are likely trained on Stack Overflow’s publicly available data, and have now taken away much of its traffic.
OverFlow AI, though, will help Stack Overflow compete with ChatGPT with an AI offering of its own. The integration with VS Code should help too — it might be more convenient for developers to find their answers in the same window as they’re writing code, as opposed to accessing ChatGPT through their browsers. A lot will depend, however, on the quality of Overflow AI’s answers. If they’re of comparable quality as ChatGPT or Bard, it might find itself a ready audience. If not, it could be hard for it to stem the steady decline in traffic on its own website.