Quite a few of these were probably made in jest, but it made me
realize something. I had just spent my day coding.
A few hours on some open projects, a few on a private one. I wrestled
with things like llvm and c++, technologies I’m honestly unfamiliar with,
and arguably difficult for someone who hasn’t touched it before. And the whole day, I
didn’t refer to StackOverflow once.
In fact, I haven’t visited StackOverflow for answers to any of my llvm
questions, even as I’ve waded through it for the past couple
months. Or my c++ questions. Or my questions for the playn framework, a lesser-know game
framework where a majority of the questions and answers are located on
fact, I found I visit it maybe once every few months,
usually because it’s referenced in an article or some code I was reading.
Of course, it’s not like I never used StackOverflow. I remember when I
started my professional programming career a couple of years ago, I
was on it daily, searching for answers to questions as
simple as iterating over two lists in python
to something more obscure like customizing the setup.py generated by
as some point, something changed.
Whenever a library behaved in an unexpected way, I started digging
into the code to really understand what was going on.
Instead of asking StackOverflow if an API exists or a library has a particular
feature, I read the docs instead.
Instead of asking if my theory will work, I figure out a way to test it, and try it on my own machine.
I found that doing things without StackOverflow and investigating on
my own, I learned a lot more around what I was having trouble with.
Instead of just learning the solution to the exact problem I was
having, I was learning more about the technologies I use, insights
that help me solve several similar problems I would have to go back to
StackOverflow to ask otherwise.
Now, I’m not saying StackOverflow is bad. It’s a great place to get
help from experienced developers who really understand their stuff. If
you have literally no idea where to go to get information, it’s
amazing to have a resource that provides such clear and insightful
answers. But at some point, I found that I knew where to
find the answers myself. And I chose to go find it myself, because I
knew that the journey to finding the answer will leave me with a
better understanding of the problem, the solution, the
techniques used to derive the solution, and sometimes a better
understanding of programming in general.
I’m one hundred percent sure I’m going to use StackOverflow again. But
it’s nice to know that I no longer need it, and my programming life
doesn’t freeze without it.
EDIT Along with the Disqus below, there’s also a lively discussion on hackernews.