What does stackexchange mean? I have checked out this link to read about the Stack Exchange Network.


7 Answers 7


I believe it's a play on "Stack Overflow" (the first site in the SE network, named for a computer error message1) and "Experts Exchange" (a computer Q&A site which exemplifies many of the bad traits that the Stack Exchange engine is specifically designed to avoid).

1 As commenters have noted, it's not actually that common an error message, although people who have done any programming at all are likely to at least recognize it as an error message, even if they don't know what it means/haven't encountered it in their own work.

  • 5
    Small nitpick - a stack overflow is not a very common computer error message. It really only arises when calling a function recursively without effectively terminating the recursion, something that every developer has done once or twice in her career, but not more often than that. Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 4:06
  • What does the play on mean? Is it a phrase?
    – lovespring
    Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 11:32
  • 3
    play on is short for a play on words, which means exactly what it says. In this case, the creators took what was originally a computer-specific term and applied it to a forum for the discussion of language (with a little allusion to the "stock exchange" thrown in.)
    – fortunate1
    Commented Feb 13, 2011 at 13:23
  • 2
    While the "Stack" part was obviously an allusion to Stack Overflow, I feel like it also aligns really nicely with one of our most differentiating features: the answers are stacked in a way that the best one is almost always on top.
    – Jaydles
    Commented Jan 18, 2014 at 19:25
  • 1
    @Jaydles, I'm sorry, but I had to revert your edit because I felt it was putting words in my mouth. If you believe you have a better answer, please post it, and reap the associated reputation yourself.
    – Marthaª
    Commented Jan 19, 2014 at 1:50

In addition to the other answers, it may be a pun on "stock exchange".

  • 3
    +1, but there's no "may" about it.
    – T.E.D.
    Commented Aug 3, 2011 at 17:49

The Stack Exchange network of sites derives its name from its original site, Stack Overflow.

Stack Overflow, in turn, gets its name from a type of computer error when a computer program runs out of a type of allocated memory known as the "stack", or specifically the call stack. In very simple terms (if not oversimplified, unfortunately), this is the memory that stores the information for what's currently going on in a program. This particular name was chosen by readers of Coding Horror, the blog of one of the Stack Overflow founders.

  • +1; A stack overflow being a 99% indication of a recurrent call getting out of control. Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 4:24
  • 1
    Come on! Not even a mention of the parallel with "stock exchange"?
    – MT_Head
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 9:54
  • @MT_Head To be fair I was originally answering a question about just the "Stack" part before it got merged over here. But yes, there's that, and then there's also poking at Experts Exchange, of course.
    – UtopiaLtd
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 16:11
  • 1
    @Utopia - I remember a squib a while back about unfortunate domain names; ExpertSexChange.com was definitely on the list...
    – MT_Head
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 16:37
  • @MT_Head Love it!
    – UtopiaLtd
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 16:38

It started with the site StackOverflow, where programmers could exchange experiences and help each other. A stack overflow is an error message, common when you make a logical error in the code.

With the success of the StackOverflow site, more sites were started using the same wiki engine. The sites were connected in a form of network, so that you can use a single identity across all the sites.

So the Stack Exchange Network is a network of wiki forums for information exchange, that was started with the StackOverflow site.


It is the name of the Question/Answer system you are currently using.

The name came about in this manner:
1. Stack Overflow, the original site, was named after a well-known programming error.
2. The name was modified to be Stack Exchange for the engine, where people could "exchange" questions and answers.

Beyond that, it has no special meaning, much like many other product names.


Stack Exchange is basically modified out of Stack Overflow, the first website that was designed to aid programmers with their problems via a forum. As the network grew, the administrators might have realized the need to integrate the various networkks under one aegis. That happened to be Stack Exchange.
As the word Stack Exchange refers, it is an exchange (similar to a telephone exchange) where multiple mutually exclusive forums (say the English forum, SuperUser Forum, ServerFault Forum etc.) integrate.


In programming, a "stack" is a data type. Thus, in addition to the meanings already noted, "stack exchange" may be thought of as "information exchange".

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