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I've found it more difficult than I expected to get drawn into Stack Overflow. It works great for when I have a question - I can almost always find the answer or ask new questions and quickly get an answer. But as far as being able to find other questions that interest me or that I can contribute to, I haven't really settled into a way to participate.

What features and pages of the site do you use to engage in the community?

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Haven't I seen this question before? – mmyers Jul 31 '09 at 20:37
Maybe not, or at least not exactly. – mmyers Jul 31 '09 at 20:39
feel free to point me in the direction of relevant questions :) – kenwarner Jul 31 '09 at 20:40
I also have that feeling, mmyers – John the Seagull Jul 31 '09 at 20:47
I use my own frontend and auto-watch the top active questions of multiple family sites. This is how I found this question :) – akarnokd Jul 31 '09 at 20:49
Then your frontend is not very smart now, is it? – John the Seagull Jul 31 '09 at 20:59
@V.V: I guess I should add a filter for ignoring questions with "YOU" written in capital ;) – akarnokd Jul 31 '09 at 21:03
I capitalized to emphasize the difference between "How does one use Stack Overflow" in an attempt to avoid answers like TheTXI's. oh well :) – kenwarner Jul 31 '09 at 21:36
up vote 3 down vote accepted

I use StackOverflow with a PC and an internet browser (preferably Firefox or Chrome), as well as a keyboard (for typing questions, answers, and witty comments) as well as a mouse which aids me in navigating the many areas of the website.

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This answer changed my life. – Troggy Jul 31 '09 at 20:43
for better or for worse? – John the Seagull Jul 31 '09 at 20:45
For richer or for poorer? – mmyers Jul 31 '09 at 20:48
till death do us part? – Troggy Jul 31 '09 at 20:52

Here's my twelve-step guide to using SO:

  1. Turn on the computer
  2. Wait for it to load
  3. Log in
  4. Wait for it to load
  5. Open up Chrome
  6. Click the "Stack Overflow" thumbnail
  7. Look at the list of unanswered questions
  8. Click a few of them with the middle mouse button if they seem interesting
  9. Read them in order. Some will suck, some will be decent; occasionally one has learnable information in it: this is the information that is to be learned!
  10. Downvote things that suck, upvote things that rock
  11. Complain about the sucky ones with the guys on Google Wave
  12. Write a poem to Bill the Lizard in a flag for moderator attention
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@Bill the Lizard: #12: confirm/deny? – snicker Jan 4 '10 at 16:30
What, no ice-cream? – Marc Gravell Jan 4 '10 at 16:31
@snicker: Any moderator on Meta should be able to confirm unless someone deleted my poem. – JSONBog Jan 4 '10 at 16:34
#12: Confirmed. – Bill the Lizard Jan 4 '10 at 18:54
You misspelled pi. Or was that intentional? – mmyers Jan 11 '10 at 19:46
lol Google Wave – Jeff Atwood Aug 8 '11 at 14:41
@Jeff: I still use it! – JSONBog Aug 8 '11 at 23:09
my Stack Overflow account was can i raise question from it. – VIVEK-MDU Dec 7 '12 at 5:13

Two ways:

  • Casual browsing: Pick one or two tags (via the 'tags' tab) and browse them idly, reading those who catch your attention and then contribution should follow naturally

  • Actively checking for tags on which you feel you are an expert on: Use the 'newest' tab on the questions tab filtered by the tags you are knowledgeable on so you can see yet unanswered questions and answer among the first. This way you'll be able to feel more rewarded by answering and getting answers accepted.

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My method is to hit "refresh" obsessively until I see a question that I know the answer off the top of my head near the top of the list of new questions, then hope I can answer it faster than everybody else. Otherwise I look for questions where I can impart my decades of wisdom and cynicism.

On Meta, I wait for Welbog to send me a link to one of his brilliant answers, and then I try to be almost as crazy as him.

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Sounds like you massively messed up your own method on this one, eh? – JSONBog Jan 4 '10 at 16:27

I suggest starting to make use of the "interesting tags" and maybe the ignore feature and start narrowing the questions down to topics you know or like.

I personaly like to read any topic and like to learn random pointers and advice. I also favorite stuff I know I will deal with soon or want to look further into.

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This answer did not change my life in any significant way. – TheTXI Jul 31 '09 at 20:46
How can you tell? – John the Seagull Jul 31 '09 at 20:46

Since there's an RSS feed for almost everything on S.O., one way of getting better at a particular language/field would be suscribing to questions tagged with that particular interest on our Feed readers.

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The most common pattern of use:

  • go to google or your browser's search box
  • enter a programming question
  • read the best sounding reply (quite likely to be on SO)
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Man, who asks questions? That's dumb. – JSONBog Jan 4 '10 at 16:35

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