Stack@Illinois: The Future of The Queue

Monday, April 1st 2019 (almost 4 years ago)
Nathan Walters@nwalters512
Jacqueline Osborn@jackieo5023

"Queue". It's in our name. Since our launch, this FIFO data structure has served us well as the foundation for the Queue experience.

However, we've received consistent feedback that queue waiting times are too long, especially in larger courses. Since students have to wait for every other student before them to be helped before they can be helped themselves, some students might have to wait two or three hours to get help!

We've tried adding more course staff. We've tried adding queue messages to prepare students for office hours. We've even tried adding more parrots A fast parrot boi (Didn’t know you could use parrots? Put :fastparrot: in your question topic. You’re welcome.). Wouldn't it be great if you could get help as soon as you ask your question? Well, that'll soon be possible. Introducing...


Students in CS will be familiar with the differences between a queue and a stack. In a queue, the oldest thing in the queue is handled first. This is how you're used to the Queue working right now: the student who has been on a queue the longest is helped first. With a stack, on the other hand, the most recent thing added to the stack is handled first.

In the coming weeks, we'll be switching queues to behave like stacks. This way, as soon as you ask a question, you'll be at the top of the stack and can be helped immediately! We hope this will be a huge improvement for students as well as staff, who will no longer have to deal with complaints about long waits to get help.

Underlying this change is a revolutionary new distributed stack that is both consistent and available under network partitions. Because at Illinois, we do the impossible every day. Read our whitepaper to learn more!

We hope you're as excited about this coming change as we are. Happy April Fools' Day!