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  • Writer's pictureAlex Fourman

Are You Doing Your Part On Stackoverflow?

Stackoverflow was created in 2008 and has been the de-facto go-to knowledge base for any developer.

I can't imagine coding without it anymore, and I'm sure that anyone who calls themself a developer can't either.

At the beginning, questions and answers would come from experts and enthusiasts in their field, mainly due to the site not yet being as popular as it is today. Quality of posts was closely monitored by the small community.

I'm sure by know it's obvious where I'm going with this narrative. The site's increasing popularity has shown an influx of questions and answers, which made the task of moderating their quality that much harder.

It is not uncommon, that while looking for an answer to a particular problem, we dive through many questions-answers that are either irrelevant or poorly edited. Eventually either finding what we were looking for, or giving up.

But by now, this is not news.

So why am I telling you this?

Because there is something we can do.

Yes, down voting a bad question is helpful to signal future users that the question or answer isn't great, but that alone won't usually convince the author to make it any better, and won't help to shape any future posts.

Leaving a good comment though, might. But why stop there? Voting to close bad or duplicate posts can help good questions stand out and bad ones disappear.

"Hey we're all busy people", you might say, and you would be right.

So here are a couple of ways you can contribute. Remember, there is no obligation, but you might enjoy being helpful and learn a thing or two about those "soft skills" that everyone keep mentioning in job interviews 😉.

Comment appropriately

If you take anything from this post, let it be this. Make a habit that whenever you down vote a post you leave a comment that can help a well-meaning user to improve their post. At best, they edit their post and to become future pillars of the community. At worst, they'll ignore you. If enough of us will do just this one action, we'll have much better posts.

Here is my go-to comments when I see a completely awful post:

Check out [ask] to improve this question
Check out [answer] to improve this answer

These will appear as: "Check out How to Ask to improve this question" and "Checkout How to Answer to improve this answer".

A how-to-ask comment

And there are loads of useful markup "shorthands" like [repro], [help/dont-ask].

Visit review queues

Review queues are tools for experienced Stackoverflow users to improve the posts quality on the site, by focusing their attention to posts that might need some moderation.

Once you get to 500 reputation you can start reviewing the First Post queue, which is posts by new users. This is a great place to give a hand with a helpful advice in the form of a comment (or maybe even an edit).

Review queues menu

It is possible, and extremely helpful, to filter posts based on tags you feel comfortable reviewing, and will make your time spent on each post shorter.

There are other review queues that become available the more reputation you have and they are worth spending time in. Don't over do it though, spend couple of minutes between tasks instead of browsing memes and go on with you schedule.

I can't imagine coding without it anymore, and I'm sure that anyone who call themself a developer can't either.r.that the next time were looking for a solution we might find one.

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