With the rise of AI, ChatGPT, has been generating considerable buzz in the developer community, with several traditional developer platforms experiencing a significant decrease in traffic. Stack Overflow, the popular online forum for programming questions, has seen a significant drop in visitor numbers in recent months, which experts attribute to the growing popularity of ChatGPT.
ChatGPT, with its capabilities to assist with programming, debug code, and answer complex questions, has become a valuable tool for programmers seeking quick solutions. Similar Web senior insights manager David Carr wrote in a blog post, that “ChatGPT makes it easier for programmers to get the help they need, resulting in fewer questions asked on platforms like Stack Overflow”.
Because of “the influx of answers and other content created with ChatGPT”, Stack Overflow banned the use of ChatGPT generated text, arguing that “the posting of answers created by ChatGPT is substantially harmful to the site and to users who are asking and looking for correct answers”.
Stack Overflow is a question-and-answer site for coders and programmers. Developers can use Stack Overflow to ask and answer questions about a wide variety of programming topics. They can also benefit from the source code that is attached to the questions and answers on the platform by copying or learning from (parts of) it.
Instead of asking other developers on Stack Overflow, more and more programmers seem to prefer to consult ChatGPT first. The underlying GPT-3.5/GPT-4 language model from OpenAI was trained on massive web data which supposedly also includes online spaces such Stack Overflow, blogs and coding communities.
Significant Traffic Drop on Stack Overflow
Similarweb reports a significant dip in Stack Overflow's traffic. The forum witnessed a 13.9 percent drop in March compared to February, and a further 17.7 percent drop in April compared to March. This marked decrease coincides with the rise of ChatGPT and the growing reliance of developers on the AI model for coding assistance.
ChatGPT vs. Traditional Online Forums
But it's not just developer-centric platforms feeling the heat. Online learning platform Chegg is also witnessing a downward trend in new signups, as students increasingly turn to ChatGPT for academic assistance. “ChatGPT is a major threat to Chegg's business” said Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg. “We're seeing a significant drop in new student signups, and we believe ChatGPT is the primary reason for this”. Chegg´s stock price subsequently crashed around 50% to less than $10 with no recovery in sight.
The company, which provides homework assistance and online tutoring, said revenue would be between $175 million and $178 million this quarter, far below FactSet's analyst consensus estimate of $193.6 million. In a move to improve its own capacity to compete with ChatGPT and other emerging AI tools, Chegg itself has announced its own AI companion CheggMate, which like ChatGPT is built upon OpenAI's most advanced model, GPT-4.
As AI models like ChatGPT continue to evolve and improve, the impact on traditional online forums and educational platforms is likely to grow, ushering in a new era of AI based information-seeking and learning. Maybe some of the affected businesses can offset this negative impact by embracing AI themselves like Chegg is already doing.