I can see its literal meaning, but I don't know its extended meaning. I saw this in the introduction of stackoverflow:

We believe finding the right answer to your programming questions should be as easy as falling into the pit of success.

Could anyone help me understand?

2 Answers 2


The phrase embodies a design philosophy - originally applied to software platform development but applicable to other places as well - that any infrastructure or platform should allow its users to "fall into the pit of success" without even trying, meaning that the default settings should be those that just work, rather than relying on an expert user to change and tweak the initial settings to make sure the system works properly.

The definition of the Pit of Success is taken from Jeff Atwood's blog:

The Pit of Success: in stark contrast to a summit, a peak, or a journey across a desert to find victory through many trials and surprises, we want our customers to simply fall into winning practices by using our platform and frameworks. To the extent that we make it easy to get into trouble we fail.

and attributed to Microsoft program manager and software performance guru Rico Mariani.

Atwood brings additional quotes from Microsoft language and API designer Brad Abrams about this:

[we should] build platforms that lead developers to write great, high performance code such that developers just fall into doing the "right thing". [...] We should build APIs that steer and point developers in the right direction.

  • Thanks sincerely for your very patient answer!! I've got that.
    – jasonjifly
    Aug 8, 2012 at 10:44
  • I'm glad I could help. I'd also appreciate it if you could mark the answer as Accepted, if it helped you. Aug 8, 2012 at 10:46
  • There's a checkbox next to do answer's score. Aug 9, 2012 at 4:14
  • 1
    Thank you, I'v got it, I never thought that could be clicked before
    – jasonjifly
    Aug 9, 2012 at 7:39
  • Perhaps talk about how this phrase is meant to implicitly allude to the constrasting phrase “pit of despair”.
    – binki
    Nov 17, 2015 at 20:59

That sentence, from stackoverflow's about page, and located in a paragraph about ease of use, apparently is intended to turn a cliche (failing because of a pitfall) on its head and indicate that it's easier to find an answer on stackoverflow.com than to not find an answer. Note, although that paragraph is about ease of use, it is found in the context of an explanation of the collaborative nature of stackoverflow, and probably is intended to describe an additional reason for stackoverflow's success.

  • Thank you for your answer, I think the answer is very detailed, but I just want to know the meaning of "falling into the pit of success", under what circumstances can we use this phrase?
    – jasonjifly
    Aug 8, 2012 at 7:34

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