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Diana Le
Diana Le

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When did you create a Stack Overflow account?

It took me 9+ years to join Stack Overflow

I've been using Stack Overflow as a resource for web development for 9+ years now, but it wasn't until this week that I actually created an account and started answering questions and commenting and it's been incredibly rewarding.

Why did it take so long?

Maybe because it's always been such a major source of developer information, but I always found the site intimidating because every now and then I would see a question that I thought was legitimate get downvoted, or I was put off by some long critical arguments over which answer was "right." Most developers on my team didn't have accounts either because they felt similarly.

I can't even fully explain where this paranoia came. The thought was something like what if you answered a question that wound up being severely downvoted by the entire community, and then you find out you're not a "real developer." The other thought was any question that I can answer, another developer has probably already answered, so what's the point? I finally realized those were unhealthy insecurities that I was placing on myself. The whole point of the site relies on an active community.

Providing my first answer

I found out that you can't upvote an answer until you have at least 15 points so it was necessary to find a question I could solve. The responsiveness of the community is lightning fast too. I think my first answer for a question that was posted 1 minute earlier already had another answer by the time I finished typing my reply. But my answer got upvoted immediately and I saw the little points notification in the top right. Then I answered another question and got upvoted and then I got the power to add comments. Other answers never got responses, or my answer wasn't what the user needed. But hey, I tried. Turns out getting started was not as scary as I thought it would be.

Finally being part of the community

Now I feel guilty for never upvoting and showing gratitude for all those answers that have been vital to solving problems I've encountered over the years, but better late than never. I'm making it a goal to casually answer questions when I can because at the end we're all trying to learn and help each other, and if something I answer winds up not being right, then I'll learn the better way to do it. And I can finally ask questions when I'm stuck instead of combing through dozens of posts trying to find my exact problem.

There are times as a developer when I've felt like I've just had to stick my head down and code and figure out any problems on my own, even though I was always happy to help out a coworker who got stuck on a coding issue. That's how I view being active on Stack Overflow. You're helping someone out and growing your own troubleshooting skills, just on a much wider scale.

Don't doubt yourself

If you've restrained from joining Stack Overflow for the same reasons, then I encourage you to join the community if you feel it would be beneficial. I'm not interested in the clever gamification system they have with badges and points, but it does feel rewarding to contribute back to the community that has helped me out a lot throughout my developer career.

Top comments (2)

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parenttobias profile image
Toby Parent

Joined ten years ago, and it's an on-and-off thing. Every so often, I'll get really involved and active, but the community is very different there, as opposed to pretty much anywhere else. I haven't quite figured out the vibe exactly, but they're not like this space, they're not like my discord groups, they're not like the forums....

Stack Overflow feels like a forum, with the snipe action of eBay. 🤣

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dianale_dev profile image
Diana Le Author

Yep I think the "sniping" is what makes it feel intimidating. The points and badges are implemented well if you care about those things, but that adds competitiveness that can make it feel gated.

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