Stack Overflow a boon to stuck developers

Developing web applications is a little like learning how to ollie a skateboard. You try, and try, and try. Then you try again.

And then something clicks. You land the trick. But you don’t understand why.

This has been my experience writing code. I know what I want to do, and through brute force I hammer away at a solution until something works.

But why does it work? That’s where Stack Overflow and it’s wonderful community comes in.

Let me be clear: I’m no computer scientist. I have a diverse background that includes public relations and journalism in addition to web development. But I know HTML, CSS and JavaScript very well.

This trifecta led me into higher-level development languages like Python, and the wonderful framework Django a few years ago.

Perhaps it’s my tenacious journalist attitude that keeps my head beating against the wall in an attempt to solve problems. Whatever it is, I’m thankful there exists helpful communities on the web.

Stack Overflow is a question and answer website where developers of any language can pose a mud-pit scenario from which they can’t seem to escape. If the question is well-crafted, and tagged appropriately, answers glom like flies on cow pies, sometimes in less than 30 minutes.

But there’s a twist to this time-tested formula: The user posing the question, and the community at large, determines what answer is ultimately correct.

Noobs earn points by participating in discussions, posing questions and more. This enables them to vote up answers and interact further. Experts can even parley their points into jobs offers.

By using a game mechanics, Stack Overflow culls the riffraff and sets up competition between dedicated users.

Whatever it is, it sure helps me break through some damn-tough (for me) problems.

And bonus: Stack Overflow QA are highly ranked in Google search results. In fact, they’re often listed just after the official docs.

I’m still a rookie with only six questions and 63 points to my name. But I’m sold on this invaluable resource for web developers of any skill level.

Not a developer? There’s a Stack Exchange for that. In fact, it covers everything from cooking to bicycles.

Have you used Stack Overflow or another resource for blasting through roadblocks with your code? Tell me about it in the comments.

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