September 28, 2015   |   3min read

How to get started and keep up on Stack Overflow: our best practices

We’re starting with a mini series of blog posts about Stack Overflow (Stack Exchange, in the more general sense). If you want to find out what the page has to offer, how it works and what the best tips are to get better in scoring points keep visiting our blog. With every post we will reveal more information about how to use Stack Overflow to its fullest.

Understanding its nature

If you’re an active community member (and a social media user) you’ve probably already seen this tweet.

Twitter screen

Luckily it hasn’t happened yet and hopefully it’ll not be the case in the near future despite that Stack Overflow plays a significant role in developers’ every day work.

But what exactly is stackoverflow (SO) - or to be more precise - any of stackexchange (SE) sites? First of all - what may seem a bit misleading for the beginners - it is not a forum! An internet forum is an online discussion site where people can freely hold conversations and messages are stored - whereas on Stack Overflow discussions are limited to a bare minimum and communication between users – except adding questions and answers – is narrowed down to comments and chats.

Then what are stackexchange sites really?

They are online community-driven question and answer sites for professionals and enthusiasts, which refer to a wide range of disciplines. Both beginners and experts are likely to enjoy the experience of using the sites. At the beginning these were only dedicated to programmers, but now everyone can find relevant content. Ubuntu beginner? No problem. Home brewer? You’ll find some useful tips here! Have problems with usage of phrasal verbs? To blow your doubts away click here.

What’s more, when you can’t find what you’re looking for - don’t give up. There’s a special staging zone - called Area 51 where users can suggest creating a new Q&A sites. Once the members accept proposals, the best sites go to the beta phase.

SE sites are entirely managed by elected community members – moderators. They are voted up in a public election once a year. Every user (even you!) can become one of them! Here you can view the results of the latest voting. Moderators are respected among other SO users, but becoming a moderator is not an easy task. You really need to prove that you are a conscious and active community user. There are many legendary users contributing tremendous work to the community. A good example is Bill the Lizard who was a moderator for 6 consecutive years, in many ways becoming the archetype for what a moderator on Stack Exchange should be.

Start contributing

To become a trusted contributor you have to devote some of your time, nothing comes easy. The more time you spend on crafting relevant and useful answers the faster your efforts will pay off. Talking about commitment, we are actively involved in fostering knowledge exchange. It is in our culture to contribute back to the community, therefore sharing our knowledge and experience on Stack Overflow is the natural thing to do. Check the profiles of our active users by clicking the picture.

Maciej Opała Jarek Potiuk Konrad Krakowiak

If you think Stack Overflow and Exchange sites in overall are your cup of tea and you’re looking to start contributing stay tuned. Our next blog post will explain what works best to get your input appreciated and what you should avoid to do.

Maciej Opała

Senior Software Engineer

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If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!