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I see a lot of questions on SO, which could easily be answered by OP - if some lookup is done.
I am not saying that I answer everything from my own experience.

But, if I don't answer from my experience, what I am use of other than someone who knows how to find things on search engine?

Having said that, how many of us (those who answer) really answer things from experience as against using our buddy google?

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migrated from Aug 16 '09 at 22:10

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

No, I don't use google, or my experience - I just pull a made up answer from my head... (That may not be completely true) – Ken Ray Nov 5 '08 at 20:12
I do that sometime (depends on question. just like this question). – shahkalpesh Nov 5 '08 at 20:18
Personally, this is one of the (many) reasons I'm active on Programmers but not StackOverflow; a good question on Programmers is almost never "solvable" through trivial searching alone. – Ixrec Jul 19 '15 at 10:34

15 Answers 15

I answer from personal experience, but often use google to find links to support my answer or refer to the original source when needed, or simply complete the answer.

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I would like everyone to do the same as this answer. Nothing worse then an incorrect answer gleaned from google without being tested to see if it actually answers the question. – bruceatk Nov 6 '08 at 18:12
incorrect answers tend to get downvoted; this is a self-correcting problem – Steven A. Lowe Dec 10 '08 at 19:46

One day I answered two questions. The first was about something I had recently done at work, and I was able to cut and paste a very small snippet of code that did what the OP was asking. The second was a stupid question that could have been answered in 3 seconds of searching, so I cut and pasted the results of a "perdoc -f" command that answered the question. The first question got me absolutely zero rep and the second got me two badges and a bunch of rep. I was prouder of the first answer, and embarassed by how much rep I got for the second one.

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The EXACT SAME THING has happened to me repeatedly. Pity. :-( – Konrad Rudolph Nov 5 '08 at 20:36
this is down side of reputation system it's absolutely does not represent your knowledge. – Ilya Nov 5 '08 at 22:54
happens all the time. One of the first answers I posted on SO was technically correct according to the governing standard API protocol, but the simple, obvious, and wrong answer got way upvoted. The second answer was a flip/sarcastic comment on a stupid question and it got way upvoted. go figure. – Steven A. Lowe Dec 10 '08 at 19:31

It's a mixture. Often I'll know the rough whereabouts, but not the exact method call (or whatever). I often need a search to find an appropriate link in MSDN, too.

It's rare that I'll approach a question with no idea beyond "do a search" though.

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Thanks Jon. I look upto people like you (not your score). Your answers help me, even if your score is less. – shahkalpesh Nov 5 '08 at 20:26
It's the reason his score is high, his answers help :) – Pim Jager Dec 10 '08 at 19:35

I cut all my answers off the backs of cereal boxes. I figure, not everyone eats cereal, so i'm providing A Valuable Service to the Community by pasting them together and dumping them on SO.

Sometimes, i don't feel like eating cereal. Then i look to a Magic 8-Ball for the answers. Not everyone has access to one of those, so again, Valuable Service to the Community.

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If it's a question that can be trivially answered by a Google search, it's not one worth my time answering.

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Mostly, yes - it's my experience.

For some things, I happen to know where to find certain data because I've needed related information in the past, and can link to it quickly.

For others, I'll sometimes link the text of what I searched for on Google, hoping that the askers will learn to do at least a cursory look before asking :)

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I only answer questions if I have some knowledge in the subject (based on the tag) to begin with. I steer clear of questions tagged with subjects that I'm completely ignorant of (like or ruby). I always try to provide either code or links to support answers to objective questions.

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In general i'll only resort to google to help out some poor guy who's question has been ignored for several hours.

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If the poster has obviously neglected to do some basic Google searching first, then the question is only worth the time required to hit the vote down arrow.

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If I can help somebody, I will do that. No matter how trivial the question might look to me, it was probably frustrating enough for the poster to formulate a clear and concise question about (hint ;-) ).

I am also a firm believer of making sure your own questions are answered, even if that means posting your own answer. How many times have you googled for something, found the same question, and a dead end with no answer?

It's not about reputation or your own problems. It is about filling this place with knowledge so that someday, you will able to find the answer to your question without having to ask it.

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Thanks Rolf :) Do you think I could not formulate a clear question? ;) – shahkalpesh Nov 5 '08 at 20:24

To this, there is no one answer. However, I agree that it is a combination of experience + links to websites.

I wish SO had some way to count score only for answers which help (by means of allowing multiple somewhat correct answers and diving the points to people replying).

Thank you all for your views.

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I think that simple question should not be answered directly rather explained to OP what is the best way to find the answer. I think this will benefit OP much more than the answer itself. If somebody ask what function strcut doing the answer should be google for "man strcut" and not the explanation. If somebody ask question that not build well from any perspective i will point OP to this nice FAQ, i against voting down questions. I only vote down if i 100% sure that the answer to the question is absolutely incorrect and i will explain why.

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If I dont have the answer right out in the head but remember a site where a solution are to a question and have time then I go there and look it up. I then personalize the answer and adding my own input to the solution.

The reasons I do that is that I know that the answer is better handled here and will become more searchable for other to use. I also only do this for questions I have own interrests in.

I would not take a bunch of code and post it here and pretend it was me who come up with it. And if the solution is allready perfectly described anywhere else, I'd rather post a short modified example and then a link to the source. (the answer must be at least so that it is'nt useless if the link stops working)

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I do answer from my own experience, and I also realize that I tend to respond to things that of are interest to me, even if I know the answer to something else. For example, I notice that I enjoy participating more in architecture, best practices, and project management type questions more than the cut and dry "How do I do x with y?" questions.

Not to say that I don't read or take value from them, it is just I am not drawn to them like the others.

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I try answer the harder questions, especially if they been lying around for more than 10 minutes.

I also dont mind grabbing an easy one I can state the obvious with a half-a-snippet of code.

And finally I go and give my opinion, if necessary :)

And the answer to the question:

Experience does play a large roll, but it does not really influence which questions I answer, but rather how I answer a question.


And I do not go and answer for the heck of it! Unless I am blatantly joking, or I need more clarification on a question, but still remains interesting.

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