Does stack mean a pile? If so, is it used as a metaphor for exchanging information? If, again, so then what is it about a pile that makes it, but not a box, a metaphor for information exchange?

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    It's a pun on stack, a computer term designating a type of list, and stock exchange, an institution where shares in companies are traded. – StoneyB Feb 1 '17 at 13:22
  • Why don't you put this as an answer, @StoneyB? – Rikki Feb 7 '17 at 1:43
  • @StoneyB it might also be a nod to Library Stack or the book storage area. – ColleenV Feb 7 '17 at 19:13

The original site on the "Stack Exchange" network was "Stack Overflow", a site dedicated to answering technical questions. The name is a humorous reference to a computer condition called a "stack buffer overflow" where a process writes outside of its allocated memory and potentially causes the process to crash.

In this context, "stack" refers to the section of computer memory allocated for a particular computer process, and is (somewhat) different from the more common use of "stack" to refer to an organized pile of objects.

More information on computer stacks

As a noun, an "exchange" is a place where goods or ideas are transferred or sold. A good example is the New York Stock Exchange, where, every day, millions (or perhaps billions) of shares in publicly traded companies are bought and sold.

The combined phrase "stack exchange" has no real meaning. Instead it's a concatenation of "Stack Overflow" and a reference to the exchange of questions and answers on a wide variety of subjects.

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    Actually the computer definition of stack for memory allocation has an order to it as opposed to the heap. I mention it, because stacks are more organized than piles or regions and a closely related term, heap, is more like a pile. And yes I'm old because I still program in languages where you need to know the difference ;) – ColleenV Feb 7 '17 at 19:06
  • @ColleenV agreed, I just didn't want to go into too much ancillary detail. But what the hey, edited the answer to include more info for anyone interested. – Andrew Feb 7 '17 at 19:07
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    I don't think you need more detail, I just wouldn't call a stack a pile. There's a difference between a stack of books and a pile of books. Hmm, and the "stacks" in a library. Stack is a more interesting word than I thought – ColleenV Feb 7 '17 at 19:11
  • It is very analogous to a stack of firewood, though, since it's LIFO. – Andrew Feb 7 '17 at 19:12
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    My firewood stacks have two parts - the LIFO part and the NO (never out) part where the scorpions live :) – ColleenV Feb 7 '17 at 19:15

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