I just saw on LinkedIn that Stack Overflow turns 10 today. Happy B-Day SO!
I remember that I started using the platform about 6-7 years ago on a read only mode when I did my first steps in real programming. I started an account on the platform about 5 years ago while visiting it on a daily basis.
I still get help and try to give help on SO today, on a daily basis, so here are my 10 reasons I think you should create an account today:
1. You can find answer(s) to your problem
This is the one of the main reasons the platform started and is still growing today, because you can find answer(s) to your problem. It’s that simple. Other people had the same issue you had, they got an answer and you can use it.
In programming, when you “google it”, most of the times you end up on Stack Overflow and that’s the last stop to your investigation.
2. You can ask questions and get valuable help quickly
You are working on something, got stuck and the solution can’t be found in any internet den ? Have no fear, Stack Overflow is here.
There are tons of active users with more experience than you on that particular topic that will see your question and will help you. Or someone with a different mindset that just clicks with your problem and has a solution.
The valuable and quick factors are up to you! A question should be asked with as many details on the problem as possible (steps to reproduce the issue, actual code or pseudo code, example of what was already done/tried up until being stuck). More details on how to ask a good question here.
On top of this, having the questions on your profile works kind of like a journal. After years, you can see your journey and evolution and also remember the “fun” you had on those projects the issues appeared on.
3. You can help others
I am pretty sure that there is a mechanism in our body that once you help someone, something clicks and you feel better. Even if you don’t get paid for it, just the sole fact that someone got and used your help helps you as well.
Answering questions on SO that eventually help the person who had the issue will boost your confidence and overall knowledge base.
4. You learn new stuff (technologies, processes wise)
It’s no breaking news that in IT overall, especially programming side, if you stop learning, you’ll become a dinosaur. And we all know what happened to dinosaurs 🙂
Being on SO on a daily basis, “scanning” and/or answering questions related to your area of expertise will keep you in the game for sure. There is no better way of learning something than when you hit an issue and try to fix it.
5. You’re being rewarded
Usually when I read “reward” I immediately think of money. I am sure you don’t do this :p
But on SO the reward means points and badges! Now, what can one do with “points” and “badges”?? If you submit and answer questions, you get points and badges and some of the “benefits” of getting points and badges on SO are the facts that you
- get to have an ad-free experience (SO removes ad from your view) and this is just priceless
- can boost up questions that are not being answered (your own or others) by giving bounties ; This really helpful for complex issues and/or when you need to get more attention to the question to have a possibly faster answer
- each badge has a story behind it and it brings a loaf of respect with it in the community
6. You can shape your tools future development
People who develop big or small software used worldwide are active and visible but sometimes also “undercover” on SO.
They look for recurrent issues that people have using their software, complex issues, frustration that these issues bring and so on. Their goal is to use the info and get better with their development. Plenty of examples here.
My personal positive experience was about 4 years ago when I started using tSQLt unit testing framework for SQL Server for a project.
7. You have flair
As mentioned above, SO rewards you with points and badges. These are of course visible to your profile but just in case you want to show off with your SO activity on other places, such as here, you can do so 🙂
8. It helps your resume / CV
From my personal experience I noticed that adding your SO activity on your resume or bringing it up in a job discussion is good.
At some point I put a bid on one of the many freelancing sites and as part of the “interview” to get the task/job I had to show off my previous work online (web site, app etc). Since I’ve been working in the corporate environment and I could not share anything I was a bit in the corner but then I remembered about SO and I mentioned about it. I got asked to temporary change my profile description in order to confirm that I was really me behind the profile and… I got the gig.
9. You can get a job tailored for you
A while ago, SO introduced jobs project to their platform. You can easily find jobs with sincere description and price ranges.
I haven’t used that yet 🙂
More details here.
10. You are part of a community
I saved this for last (of course not the least). I think this is the one of the best reasons you should create a Stack Overflow account today.
Being part of a community driven by itself and based on good people is a warm feeling that comforts the daily activity. You know someone will help you even if he or she doesn’t know you (or may even like you). You know that once you helped someone that help will bounce back.
You learn valuable things from people without any PayPal or credit card involved.
I think the motto of Stack Overflow should be: On Stack Overflow community, value is never lost or created, it just moves from member to member.