University of Oulu

De Dieu, M. J., Liang, P., Shahin, M., & Khan, A. A. (2023). Characterizing architecture related posts and their usefulness in Stack Overflow. Journal of Systems and Software, 198, 111608.

Characterizing architecture related posts and their usefulness in Stack Overflow

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Author: de Dieu, Musengamana Jean1; Liang, Peng1; Shahin, Mojtaba2;
Organizations: 1School of Computer Science, Wuhan University, 430072 Wuhan, China
2School of Computing Technologies, RMIT University, 3000 Melbourne, Australia
3M3S Empirical Software Engineering Research Unit, University of Oulu, 90014 Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: embargoed
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2023
Publish Date: 2025-01-05


Context: Stack Overflow (SO) has won the intention from software engineers (e.g., architects) to learn, practice, and utilize development knowledge, such as Architectural Knowledge (AK). But little is known about AK communicated in SO, which is a type of high-level but important knowledge in development.

Objectives: This study aims to investigate the AK in SO posts in terms of their categories and characteristics as well as their usefulness from the point of view of SO users.

Methods: We conducted an exploratory study by qualitatively analyzing a statistically representative sample of 968 Architecture Related Posts (ARPs) from SO.

Results: The main findings are: (1) architecture related questions can be classified into 9 core categories, in which “architecture configuration” is the most common category, followed by the “architecture decision” category, and (2) architecture related questions that provide clear descriptions together with architectural diagrams increase their likelihood of getting more than one answer, while poorly structured architecture questions tend to only get one answer.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that future research can focus on enabling automated approaches and tools that could facilitate the search and (re)use of AK in SO. SO users can refer to our proposed guidelines to compose architecture related questions with the likelihood of getting more responses in SO.

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Series: Journal of systems and software
ISSN: 0164-1212
ISSN-E: 1873-1228
ISSN-L: 0164-1212
Volume: 198
Article number: 111608
DOI: 10.1016/j.jss.2023.111608
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 113 Computer and information sciences
Funding: This work is partially sponsored by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) under Grant No. 62172311 and the Special Fund of Hubei Luojia Laboratory. The authors would also like to acknowledge the financial support from the China Scholarship Council.
Copyright information: © 2023. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license