What makes a good code example?: A study of programming Q&A in StackOverflow

TitleWhat makes a good code example?: A study of programming Q&A in StackOverflow
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsNasehi S M, Sillito J, Maurer F, Burns C
Conference NameSoftware Maintenance (ICSM)
Date Published11/2012
Conference LocationTrento
ISBN Number978-1-4673-2313-0

Programmers learning how to use an API or a programming language often rely on code examples to support their learning activities. However, what makes for an effective ode example remains an open question. Finding the haracteristics of the effective examples is essential in improving the appropriateness of these learning aids. To help answer this question we have onducted a qualitative analysis of the questions and answers posted to a programming Q&A web site called StackOverflow. On StackOverflow answers can be voted on, indicating which answers were found helpful by users of the site. By analyzing these well-received answers we identified haracteristics of effective examples. We found that the explanations acompanying examples are as important as the examples themselves. Our findings have implications for the way the API documentation and example set should be developed and evolved as well as the design of the tools assisting the development of these materials.