Habit stack overflow

Original author: Guilherme Rodrigues
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Stackoverlow has already become an indispensable tool for many developers. The use model promoted by the authors is a “knowledge base”. We collect a question in Google → we get on stackoverlow → we read the answer → profit! This is how the site works for most - at the expense of a much smaller group of developers that answers questions. Why do they do it? Most are for the improvement of one's own qualifications and social realization. And it’s useful for a career, and complexes are bypassed, and a midlife crisis will not come. Under the cut is a translation of an article by one such developer who shares his practical experience on how he managed to answer questions from beginning developers every day.

Developers spend a huge amount of time on Stack Overflow. I was very lucky that the beginning of my career coincided with the opening of this site in August 2008. And I could get answers to all the questions that beginner developers usually ask.

Last year, I set myself the goal of repaying the “debt” to the community - and becoming more involved in Stack Overflow. It was important for me to stop being a “simple consumer” of information and start sharing what I learned over the years. To do this, I created accounts on the right Stack Exchange sites and began to look at unanswered questions daily.

I had enough for a few weeks.

Goals too easy to fail

As James Clear eloquently explains , setting goals is not enough. The goal is too abstract a thing, our brain is not evolutionarily adapted to work with this. He is adapted to work with habits and rituals.

Follow processes, not goals.

It is so simple that it hurts. You cannot devote yourself to “paying back the community with good.” You can devote yourself to answering one question every day.

A little bird pecks. Pelican bird, twice its weight

So, what kind of system will help answer questions? The phrase Brian Tracy comes to mind: The

best way to deal with procrastination is to make sure that everything you need for work is ready in advance.

What is needed to answer a question? Questions!

Filters rush to the rescue

I present to you the most useful feature of Stack Exchange - filters.

If you are logged in to Stack Exchange, you can go to the filters using this link . You can create a named filter for questions with one or more specified tags. But more importantly, you can subscribe to new questions that suit your filter! And you will receive a daily digest by mail. Thus, if you already have a good habit of checking mail every day, then with the help of filters you will automatically upgrade it to the habit of viewing new questions on the Stack Exchange.

Filter by meaningful tags

Filters are good, but a lot. Too many questions. To focus on the ones you really want to answer, use the most specific tags.

For example, instead of the generic “JavaScript” tag, try using the name of the framework, library, or development technique you recently worked with. The more specific your filter is, the more likely it is that you can easily answer a question and help someone.

Filter mailing is just the beginning

It is important to remember that the mailing list is just a small cheat. An easy way to remind yourself every day about Stack Overflow.

If you use any task management system, try adding Stack Overflow to your daily tasks list! Personally, I use a physical notebook and enjoy it every day by ticking “Stack Overflow”.

How to give good answers: a little instruction

Ok, now you have a reminder to go to Stack Overflow every day and see who needs help. But how to provide this help?

Do not answer if not sure

The easiest way to lose time and get negative emotions is to answer a question that you are not sure about. If you do not know the answer or, more importantly, cannot demonstrate a working example, just do not bother with this question.

Firstly, you’ll lose time creating a thing that doesn’t help the questioner. Secondly, you are likely to catch negative voices if your “attempt to guess” turns out to be wrong.

There is no need to cling to a specific question - look a little more at other questions, and after a while you will find the perfect question for yourself.

Use feed

The conclusion from the previous tip: wherever possible, use services such as CodePen, JSBin, or JSFiddle to demonstrate a working illustration of your answer. This greatly increases the chances that they will accept your answer, since the author of the question will be able to verify in a simple way that your proposal is working.

Link to your sources

If you studied the documentation or dug into the source code to answer the question - do not forget to give links to the excavated one. This will add “credibility” to your answer and clearly show that you have not invented anything.

How it all works for me

When I started using the described system, I had 35 reputations and 3 answers. Now, in just two weeks, these numbers have increased 12 times (431 answers).

Of course, by and large, these numbers mean nothing. This means that I finally was able to create the habit of contributing to the community and helping new developers.

And hopefully this article will help you do the same!

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