Will StackOverflow Be a Help or Not?
What is StackOverflow?
“Stack Overflow is a question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers. It is a privately held website, the flagship site of the Stack Exchange Network, created in 2008 by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky. It features questions and answers on a wide range of topics in computer programming.”
StackOverflow is a Very Good Thing … but
It is possibly to get some excellent help from the developers who answer questions on StackOverflow. The system has both Answers and Comments. Comments are helpful to clarify your questions. Answers are given when your question is clear. Sometimes, no one answers your questions at all, but when they do, the information is very helpful.
The main trouble with StackOverflow is when someone doesn’t like your question. It’s especially problematic for new developers. While it’s true that a general question has an answer that might need a book sized reply, new developers don’t know enough to craft a specific enough question. A new developer may not know when their question has already been answered previously. The courteous question process involves doing a search on the site to see if the question has already been answered.
One of the principles of StackOverflow is to stay away from fights back and forth between participants. The system is set up for an answer that involves a specific action to solve a specific problem, not a discussion about which technologies are best. New developers often don’t know about the fights between developers about which solutions are best. In the case of questions that aren’t well thought out, some of the StackOverflow members are very unhelpful, down to unkind.
The kind members will explain why the question doesn’t fit the system, and give an opportunity to improve the question. The unkind members will just vote the question down without comment. This environment makes it feel like walking through a landmine to ask a question.
Will This Question Be Accepted?
Let’s take a look at a possible question to post on StackOverflow.
Archive.org is a site that catalogs as many websites as possible as a historic view of the web. I have used it in many cases to figure out what was on a site that has disappeared or been hacked. Only once before have I discovered that a site had not been archived, but that was due to it being an obscure site that had not been maintained. Now, one of my very active client sites isn’t being cataloged by archive.org. I am tracking down the problem.
The first question is whether something on the site is preventing the archive from indexing the site. The site was first indexed in 1999 under the .com domain. But the .com domain was lost in 2017. The .net version, which is the current active domain, was first indexed by archive.org in 2011.