The site is run in a somewhat democratic fashion where, for the most part, the community is in charge of maintaining the quality of the site. In other words there is a self policing going on all the time with the purpose to set Stack Overflow above all other forums that have evolved into “troll caves” or a place for people to ask others to do their homework for them and everything else that has made most programming forums absolutely worthless for people looking to share and expand programming knowledge.
This “democratic” quality, as in real life, can be a double edge sword because many times the members doing the self policing can be the worst people to make new comers feel welcome to the site. I have been using forums on a regular part of my career since around 1997 so I like to think I have a good handle on forum etiquette (and a thick skin) and even I have gone through several iterations of feeling like Stack Overflow is just too hostile a place for me to be feel like I belong there.
However the help and information is so good and if you learn to play by the some times nuanced rules of Stack Overflow there is no better place to get help with programming problems. And I would be lying if I said that I don’t like the gamification aspect of it all via the reputation system or that with 1,042 points (as of this writing) that I am in the top 33% of all the people who live in that community.