Coderanch is fine, but it looks like a dusty old town where replies take a while to come and are few. Also, questions are forcibly cast into a sub-forum, thereby decreasing their visibility to potential helpers. Then, there is the vague classification of Java questions into "Java beginner" and "Java in general". Presumably, the former is meant for "inexperienced" programmers with "basic" questions while the latter is meant for "difficult" questions. I feel that this is an unnecessary distinction. Who is to judge the "basic-ness" of a question. Its just a java question really.
The only distinguishing feature i saw in CR is the bunkhouse porch for book reviews and jobs offered section. Any more features like these that might not fit into the SE format ?
Enter stack exchange which has created a gamut of forums to answer all kinds of questions - programming, CS, home improvement, gaming, career advice, chinese language, relationships and what not. There is no concept of sub-forum really, and a guy looking to answer java questions might just have an answer or suggestion for your java + database question. Unless the api or concepts you use are exotic, the replies are usually quick and help is available 24/7.
I feel that SE is really a threat to Coderanch and might soon reduce its popularity severely. If the number of users of a forum decreases, then less help is available and the forum develops an image of being slow and looks less attractive, especially to newcomers. So the newcomers might be tempted to move to SE and old members might too. This might slowly erode CR's membership numbers to dangerously low levels. Maybe so low that it becomes like a sleepy old town that people have forgotten. This is a classic example of "network effects" at play. The stack overflow careers section is better than CR's jobs offered section.
It shows you jobs by tags and even lets employers see how many questions you answered with related tags and how good your answers were. Clearly, CR, in its present form, is no match for this system.
How does CR deal with this possibility ? Have you carried out a small study to explore such possibilities and how they might be mitigated ? Also, is your change in the UI of the ranch a response to this threat ?
CodeRanch and StackExchange are different. In particular CodeRanch is a discussion forum and StackExchange is a question and answer site. Just try to ask at stack exchange what book you should read or how to learn or how to solve a problem (vs answering it) or a question about the Java certifications. I also find StackExchange to be less than friendly to newcomers. Apparently you are just supposed to figure out the rules. A few moderators here are moderators at both. (I moderate productivity.stackexchange.com).
Have you seen our weekly book promotion? When was the last time you got to interact with an author on StackExchange. This goes back to the forum vs Q&A. As does a sense of community and getting to know other members. Some things fit better in the different models.
Your one question was answered within 4 hours. That's not a bad response rate. We don't have people polling for "how fast can I answer a question here." So you are right. If members need an answer in 5 minutes, they aren't going to get it here.
The point being both sites have their own strengths and weaknesses.
We've added functionality inspired from many places. Cows and likes were added because people like metrics/numbers. The original poster flag was something I liked on another site.
Two other points of interest:
1) StackOverflow was created in 2008. We are still here. It hasn't caused our site to wither and die.
2) StackOverflow has money/investors. The fact that we are competitive with a bunch of volunteers is pretty impressive in my mind.