An often overlooked reason why you should be on Stack Overflow

Posted on Saturday, 16 Jan 2016

Stack Overflow is a fantastic resource for developers of all ability. Gone are the days of having to trawl through blog posts, mailing lists or forums looking for solutions to issues.

These days the answer to the majority of a developer's day to day questions are just a few clicks away and often rank quite highly on Google for the search term(s) making them even easier to find. And whilst the majority of us developers use it more than a few times a day I'm always quietly surprised when I see a developer browsing Stack Overflow looking for, or at, a solution to a problem they're having yet they don't have an account (its fairly easy to spot when someone doesn't have an account from a distance as advertisements are visible between the answers).

When you ask someone who regularly uses Stack Overflow why they don't have an account the response you usually get is "I usually find the answer to my question so have no need to ask", or "I don't plan on answering questions" - which are all perfectly valid reasons. But as developers when have we ever had an issue, fixed it and then remembered the solution to the problem the next time we ran into the same issue - days, weeks, months of ever years later? I feel I would be fairly safe in saying we've all had problems or questions we've needed to look for on more than one occasion. This is where Stack Overflow can be a huge help (not to mention you'll be giving back to the community).

Leaving yourself upvote breadcrumbs to your technical issues

Next time you're on Stack Overflow I would encourage you to take a moment to create an account, even if you don't wish to fill out your profile - and the next time you find an answer to the problem you're facing - simply upvote it. It takes a split second to do but that split second can save you minutes or potentially hours over your programming career. I can't remember the number of times I've had an technical issue, gone searching for a solution on Stack Overflow and noticed I'd upvoted an answer a few months or years earlier.

Ultimately isn't that one of the things we enjoy doing as developers? Look for ways to make difficult things simple? Next time make it easier to see signals through the noise by upvoting the solutions to your problems.