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Being almost 18 years into my coding career I am ashamed to say I have only recently found and started using Stack Overflow.

I have found it a huge help in some of the recent work I have been doing, especially as I have been using new (to me) languages and operating systems and I intend to use it a great deal going forward both as a source of help and to help others too.

My question is this:

What can we do as a community to get more people involved? I realise the community is large already, but I can't be the only one who has only just found this resource. There must be a way to get to others, other than relying on people searching for answers and the SEO friendly makeup of the site.

I realise this is an open ended question and if this is felt to be in the wrong place, or inappropriate then I apologise and will leave the moderators to close the question, but it would be very interesting to hear people's thoughts.

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migrated from Nov 22 '11 at 22:21

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Stackoverflow is only about 3 years old, so don't be too ashamed that you didn't find it for 18 years. – Mark Byers Nov 22 '11 at 22:20
dan360, well, you can be ashamed for the last three of those 18 years, if you want :) – Benjol Nov 23 '11 at 5:46

If there is already a Stack Overflow Meetup near you, you should definitely contact them. If not, start one :)

The annual meetup day was a lot of fun and made for some good networking, but I think we can do more. Recently I posted a question about representing Stack Exchange at local conferences, and once I get back from my vacation I'll be trying to contact my local Meetup group (Boston) to see if we can get together for another group event and maybe brainstorm promoting Stack Exchange at local events.

There seems to be a space between big conferences (where Stack Exchange employees represent the community) and the Meetups, and filling that space may very well be key to promoting this community more. I think the main logistical hurdle would be effectively making use of a volunteer force while still keeping the promotions formal enough and professional enough.

For example, I can certainly put on a Stack Overflow t-shirt and man a booth. But am I really qualified/trusted to represent this community when asked about it? Also, where would I get merch and materials to hand out? How would I register the booth at the event? What else would I need to bring? What will it all cost? How can Stack Exchange trust volunteers they've never met for this?

The space is definitely there and people to whom I've introduced Stack Exchange seem interested. (For example, my brother is an English literature professor and was intrigued by the English Language and Usage Stack Exchange site.) Maybe the local Meetups just need to come together with this specific goal in mind to solve this on a local basis. Perhaps local organizers can be appointed (or even elected) to represent the community in their area just as mods do on the sites?

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