Why everyone should answer questions at Stack Overflow

Hello,

This is my first blog post. Please forgive me if I have done any mistakes and do let me know in comments what did you like / dislike about the post. Today I am going to write why everybody should try posting answers at Stack Overflow.

Okay. So the first point before I start writing. I am not the most eligible person to write this post. As of today (11-Nov-2016) I have answered only 311 answers on Stack Overflow (SO), have a reputation of 6315 and my current rank on SO is 17693. So definitely not the best person but still I have gathered some courage to just tell you my story and how it has benefitted me. I hope after reading this some of you would be inspired and start answering questions at SO.

Want to learn any language? Let it be anything C, Python, Java, PHP anything. What is the best way you think you can learn it? Watch online lectures, read through the numerous articles or some other resource? Well my answer to it would be start from SO even if you don’t know the basics of the language. Even if you don’t know how to write “Hello World” in it. There is so much of information on SO that it has the capacity to make you a master of that language in such a short span.

There are tags on SO which describes to which category the questions belong. Select your tag, preferably it would be the language which you are trying to learn. Maybe Java, C, Python. This is the tag which I follow. After you do that just keep that tab open and go through the questions which come through it. With the amount of user base SO has, there is a question about every 3-4 minutes on an average for major language tags. Definitely, as you are new and no nothing about the language you may not know the answer (well, in some case you may not even know the question:-P but that is okay). Wait for some time and see the comments/answers start flowing. Go through them. Try to understand the logic behind it. If you do not get anything try googling it or ask the answerer the doubt by writing a comment underneath their answer. Most of the SO users are generous and would be happy to help you.

Go through the next question and then next and then next. You definitely have learned something until now. Now try solving the questions yourself if you think you know the answer. There is a high chance somebody would answer it before you answer it (SO people are too smart and fast). Never mind, try to reach the solution which you were completing. Don’t rush to post an answer. Appreciate people who have answered well (by up voting). After 5-6 (or maybe even more) such unsuccessful attempts you would be successful posting an answer. Check it twice before you post it. The SO community is quite particular in this. If the answer you provide isn’t correct you would immediately be greeted with down votes. Hopefully, you would check everything and post an answer. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the reputation points you earn. Proceed to next question.

Advantages answering at SO

  • We learn a lot. I mean a lot lot. There are so many amazing and highly skillful people out there. We get to know the best approach to proceed towards a problem.
  • There are multiple ways one can solve a similar problem. Our horizons of thinking towards a problem expand.
  • After finding out various ways of solving a problem we also come to know which is the most efficient and least time consuming.
  • After we become an experienced SO user, slowly slowly we understand which approach is best for which situations.
  • We come to know all the latest updates happening around in your technological domain. People here mostly are inclined towards using the latest packages and updates which we get to know from their answers.
  • People here post real world problems they are facing. This is really helpful to make ourselves understand where can we use such
  • We’ll understand how vast the language is and even after knowing so much we don’t know so much.
  • After sometime we’ll realize that Stack exchange is so much bigger than SO. SO is just a part of Stack exchange group of websites.

Some Do’s and don’ts –

  • Don’t be reputation hungry. As soon as you give 2-3 answers we will feel like getting more reputation. We will earn reputation but don’t use cheap techniques to achieve that.
  • Be generous. There would be times when the other person has answered the same answer as us within a split difference of a second. It’s ok. Don’t start abusing/forcing people to remove their answer as we had answered it first.
  • Also there would be a time when we think of a solution and at the same time somebody else posts that because they were thinking the same (this always happens with everybody at SO). Up vote them and let it go.

Stack Overflow is a great place to be. There are so many things which you can learn here. I have just mentioned a few. Do let me know your thoughts on this. Happy Stack Overflowing!

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