I No Longer Need StackOverflow

So I guess StackOverflow was down today. It
was only for an hour, but if social media tells you anything, you
would believe
it stopped
the
whole
programming
world
cold.

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
StackOverflow. In
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
pastescript
. But
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.

Author: toumorokoshi

Love to code, love emacs!