Why I joined Stack Overflow and why you should consider doing the same

Today I want to inform you about one of my latest milestones as a software developer and convince you that you should do the same.

As a developer, you learn quite early to appreciate the support you get from Stack Overflow. Most of your daily coding problems can be solved with the help of this page.

When I have a problem I normally grep the error code (if it exists) or try to explain my current issue and paste it into Google’s search bar. Nearly everytime the top results are questions from Stack Overflow and most of the time they help me out of trouble (e.g. sometimes I forget on how to declare and initialize an array if I switch the programming language too often ).

I think the following picture describes the use of Stack Overflow as a developer at its best:

Last month I browsed through Stack Overflow to help solve one of my latest Spring Boot projects and I came across an open question about a problem with Spring MVC by chance. I had the answer to this problem at hand and I instantly decided to help this developer and therefore joined Stack Overflow.

While answering this question I took time to give him a detailed answer and further links. In less than ten minutes I got informed that my answer could help him and that he is thankful for my help. Reading his answer I felt a kind of joy that I was able to help him and started to search for more Spring/Java related questions. At this time I even forgot my original intention (solving one of my Spring Boot problems) why I visited this page because I was in a kind of flow.

A month since my registration at Stack Overflow has passed and the following resume sums up my experience with this awesome page.

While using Stack Overflow the last years I recognized that there is a gamification system with reputation points and several medals but I did not understand the system behind it in detail. My first month gave me a deeper insight into this sophisticated system. As the community at Stack Overflow is mostly self-organized, the reputation points are used as an indicator of your knowledge and experience. You can earn them while asking a question, answering questions or editing questions.

With more reputation points you can break through several thresholds and are able to close duplicated questions for example. The medals are used as a kind of achievement bonus system and you get them through different interactions with this page.

Benefits of answering questions on Stack Overflow

During my three years as a developer, I always consumed the help of other developers at Stack Overflow and just used it for my own purposes. With the registration on this page, one of my main reasons was to give something back to the community. As a developer, you make use of so much Open Source tools/frameworks/projects and in my opinion, you should contribute to something and support other upcoming developers. I think the religious maxim:

Giving is more blessed than taking

can also be applied to your behavior as a developer.

While reading and answering to other developer’s problems you also gain the opportunity to improve your problem-solving capability and maybe prevent yourself from making the same mistake.

What comes next is the benefit that you can prove and strengthen your knowledge about your programming language/favored framework or database. One of my central learnings during my student times was that if you are able to explain a concept/topic to another person/student and make them understand it, you truly understand the topic for yourself. In my opinion, this is the same with answering questions on Stack Overflow.

All in all, I think joining Stack Overflow is a so-called win-win situation for all participants and if you truly want to improve your skills you should join this community!

At the end I want to draw up a balance about my first-month @Stack Overflow:

I …

  • … earned ten bronze medals,
  • … asked one question and answered 35,
  • … got 319 reputation points,
  •  … reached about 540 people,
  • … got 25 profile views,
  •  and answered questions about Spring and MongoDB most of the time

Let’s see us on Stack Overflow!

Phil.

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