Have you used Stackoverflow.com before? Sure you have! But have you make the most from it? You might not have… let me share with you 7 uses of it.
Check them out and see if you could ✅ each of them as I have done it.
1. Find answer to programming question ✅
This is most obvious. (you could skip this and go to 2 if you want a quick read)
If you are stuck in some programming problem, or see an error crash. Just google it. Changes are, you’ll see one or more Stackoverflow.com link to the related question you have in mind. In it, there are multiple answers, and the best one is normally the one that has the most upvote (careful, not all ✓ answer is the best answer). That’s normally what everyone uses Stackoverflow.com for.
2. Post programming question for answer ✅
This is also obvious, but some people just reluctant to do it. (but if you have done this, go to 3).
Sometime you are not that fortunate. You don’t find any answer to your programming question. This would be the good opportunity to post your question up there (note: do take time to formulate your question appropriately). There’s a 50% chance you’ll get some response to your question, unless it is a niche area. In the event there’s still no answer, you could consider start a bounty.)
3. Answer my own question. Make it my note. ✅
Some people will do this, but not everyone would. It’s normal behavior for a programmer, once find their answer (not from Stackoverflow.com) , they just move on, forgetting about the Stackoverflow.com question they post.
I believe for most programmer, after they have post their question on Stackoverflow.com, they will still hunt for answer themselves while waiting that someone would post some answer to the Stackoverflow.com. And there are times they are fortunate to find their own answer ahead.
If you are in this situation, I would encourage you to post your answer up there if
- There’s still no answer to your question in Stackoverflow.com
- If the answer given in Stackoverflow.com is not as good as yours in your opinion
- If your answer is solving the problem with a different approach than the answer given in your Stackoverflow.com question.
WIIFM in answering my own question?
- To me, I use Stackoverflow.com as my own note for my future reference to my question. I might forget the detail answer one day, and this would be handy.
- Others might look for the your same question in the future. And you know what? They will upvote your answer, and you get better profile in your Stackoverflow.com point.
- Well, just make a good practice that helps Stackoverflow.com have more complete set of question and answer. If everyone does that, you’ll benefit as well from some question one day.
4. Post a question that I have “answer” ✅
Some programming question (e.g. algorithmic), although have many ways of solving, it has only a limited optimum way of solving it.
As programmer, ideally we should aim for the best optimized answer. However many a times though, after we found an “answer” (might be a hack sometimes 🥴), we just move on, even though we are in doubt if that’s the best answer.
In such case, my advice would be, post the question in Stackoverflow.com as a question (but not putting your answer in the question). After that, you could wait for a while, or you could post your answer (if there’s no better answer posted yet).
After you did that, sometime you’ll get assurance that your answer is good when someone upvote it (and sometimes a downvote 😖). But more often, you’ll be amaze to see a much better answer is given. The programmer community usually has better answers.
5. Post a better answer to an old question ✅
I often heard some asking, why did we refer to Stackoverflow.com’s answer? The reason they think we shouldn’t do that is because they claim the Stackoverflow.com answer often is suboptimal, out dated and at times wrong 😱!
I believe they could find evidence of their claim easily given their knowledge and skill. But I am sad of their such thinking. I’m sad because if they are able to find question and doesn’t have a good answer, why don’t they post the better answer up there?
No one knows everything, and we need contribution from everyone who knows best. Then everyone would benefits from it.
So, if you ever see a question, and you have an answer (that is not provided yet), do post it up. Even for older question, if you see that any of the below, do consider posting your answer.
- No answers is optimum, and each has its flaw, and you believe you have a better answer.
- The answers are already out dated (due to technology changes) while the question is still relevant
- You have an alternative answer that differs from others, with its pros and cons comparing to others.
6. Help contribute question-answers hygiene ✅
Stackoverflow.com other than allowing people to ask question and answer, it has lots of other functionalities as well. You’ll get more privilege to access more of the functionalities as earn more score on Stackoverflow.com.
Perhaps let’s start with the most basic one. That is to ✓ the “correct” answer for the question you asked. If someone’s answer is matching what you are looking for, a good way to appreciate thanks is to ✓ the answer. The person will score 15 points. You too will get 2 points.
Next one is, do upvote for questions and answers that you find helpful. Answers got upvote mostly, but questions didn’t get as much because people tend to appreciate answer more. We should try consciously appreciate and upvote good questions as well. Without the questions, there’ll be no answer. It takes effort to write questions appropriately. Thank them by up-voting their question.
One could also down-vote a question or answer. If done appropriately, this is helping to community to prevent inappropriate question or answer. But I would recommend if you do downvote, please consider provide a feedback (e.g. comment) of why it is downvoted. Don’t do it silently as the owner don’t even understand what happens. The down vote is not helping then. (I hope Stackoverflow.com should consider make feedback necessary for downvote)
Other than ✓, upvote, downvote, there are many more features. One of it that I sincerely appreciate much is, allowing other to edit the question-answer. My English ain’t perfect, and sometimes there are typo, or formatting issue. I really appreciate those that take the effort to help improve my question-answer.
There are many more feature, like approving edits, report duplicates, recommend close question etc. You’ll get to access these feature as you score more in Stackoverflow.com. But it is not the intend of this blog to go over all the features. I write here just to make aware how one could contribute to the hygiene of this excellent tool for the programmer community.
By the way, in case you are not aware, your contribution will earn you badges from Stackoverflow.com. We respect those that has many of them. Keep it up!
7. Earn Stackoverflow.com points for your profile ✅
In reality, this comes automatically. If you do post appropriate questions, help answer questions, some of your questions will be appreciated by the programmers community, and points would just come in.
Nonetheless, it is still important to emphasis that the points you earned in Stackoverflow.com is usually regarded well in the programmer community. It is not overrated to state that, Stackoverflow.com point is something to be attained by each aspire programmers, as mentioned in the blog below
5 Things Better than a Computer Science Degree
A tertiary education is important but some things look even better on a resume
On top of that, do updated your Stackoverflow.com profile with more relevant information of yours (e.g. linked to your project page, blog, LinkedIn etc.). Similarly you could have your resume (e.g. LinkedIn) link to your Stackoverflow.com profile.
Stackoverflow.com do have Job ads as well. With a good score in your Stackoverflow.com account with appropriate badge of the needed skill set, your chances of job interview would be higher. Who knows, you might be head hunted as well.
So, keep active in Stackoverflow.com and build your profile.
Disclaimer: I don’t work for Stackoverflow.com organization or is in anyway affiliated to it. I’m just a normal user of this tool.
I wrote this blog as I have seen how it has helped in my development and hopes others would reap from it as well. But I notice many programmers around me are not as involved in it. So hope this blog would encourage more to do so.
Lastly, big thanks to Joel Spolsky and Jeff Atwood and the team for building Stackoverflow.com. It has played a great role in making the global programmers community better linked and learnt better together, contributing to the great advanced of software development and knowledge sharing. A big applause 👏👏👏 to them!
I hope this post is helpful to you. You could check out my other interesting topics here.