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Just out of curiosity, for those with answers to mostly everything, are you guys just naturally experienced/talented/knowledgeble/etc.. (by heart and mind), or do you sometimes google for answers to put on StackOverflow?

I'm for one just a newbie and really admiring you guys!

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Aug 27 '09 at 17:07

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

    
Because you're a newby I won't down vote you, but this should be a community wiki question. Edit the question and Check the "Community Wiki box". It deserves a down vote / close because it's not a programming question –  Binary Worrier Dec 10 '08 at 18:53
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lighten up, Francis! –  Steven A. Lowe Dec 10 '08 at 18:54
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DON'T CALL ME FRANCIS! –  Binary Worrier Dec 10 '08 at 18:55
    
Shirley you don't mean that! –  Paul Tomblin Dec 10 '08 at 18:57
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What's your vector, Victor? –  efotinis Dec 10 '08 at 18:59
    
I just wanted you to know, we're all counting on you. –  Steven A. Lowe Dec 10 '08 at 19:02
    
Hello, my name is Indigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to Die. –  Binary Worrier Dec 10 '08 at 19:04
    
Are you related to Inigo Montoya? You sound a lot like him. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inigo_Montoya -- oops, there I go again googling for answers. –  tvanfosson Dec 10 '08 at 19:06
    
Worse, by admitting that you got it from google you may have implied that someone else should have been able to google it themselves. –  EBGreen Dec 10 '08 at 19:13
    
Who reopened the question? I tried googling for it but couldn't find an answer –  Binary Worrier Dec 10 '08 at 19:23
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Similar in nature to this question. stackoverflow.com/questions/266314/… –  Bill the Lizard Dec 10 '08 at 19:24
    
Ehh...I agree, but similar won't cut it with a lot of people for a close. –  EBGreen Dec 10 '08 at 19:26
    
@EBGreen: No, I wasn't suggesting that. There are too many original answers here to close it out anyway. –  Bill the Lizard Dec 10 '08 at 19:47
    
It would be a full time job to close all useless question. SO will need to do something because in few it will be out of control. –  Daok Dec 10 '08 at 20:02
    
@Daok Yes, it is. Unfortunately, it started as soon as the first person posted a useless question and got high rep for it. Now everyone tries to game the system; and since the high rep users do it, it must be OK. –  George Stocker Dec 10 '08 at 21:44

25 Answers 25

Well, I can't speak for jon skeet, but I suspect that when you Google for something difficult, Google calls him!

As for me, the answer is "both" -

  • if someone asks a question that I know the answer to I just answer it
  • if someone asks a question that is interesting and I want to know the answer to it, I'll Google a bit to see if I can figure it out before jon skeet answers it. I usually include a link to the info found and/or the search used.
  • and then inevitably jon skeet answers it - or has already answered it - with 47 upvotes and a big green checkmark
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@Steven -- Lol, I also included Jon Skeet in my answer without even having read yours! The man is truly legend. –  tvanfosson Dec 10 '08 at 18:56
    
@Steven - Thanks for the +1, I don't know why so many were prime on downvoting with 1-2 seconds of a post coming up –  Mitchel Sellers Dec 10 '08 at 19:16
    
But . . . but . . . if you google it before Jon answers it, doesn't that just mean that Jon is answering through you? Scary stuff . . . :) –  Binary Worrier Dec 10 '08 at 19:17
    
Rep whoring: defined as name-dropping Jon Skeet when by default, Jon Skeet is part of every answer ever on SO, and therefore part of no answer. It's a zen thing. Well done! –  John Dunagan Jan 15 '09 at 16:33
    
@[John Dunagan]: very true. now where's my up-vote? ;-) –  Steven A. Lowe Jan 15 '09 at 19:41
    
Jon Skeet works for Google. –  Andrea Ambu Feb 4 '09 at 12:57
    
@[Andrea Ambu]: "Jon Skeet works for google UK" is just a cover story; in reality, Jon Skeet is google, world-wide. –  Steven A. Lowe Feb 4 '09 at 18:49
    
Jon Skeet is more than Google, he is the Internet come alive. It's just a cover name for all the computers in the world forming themselves into a massive grid & amusing themselves on SO. His name is an anagram of "Net's Joke" - how obvious could it be? –  MarkJ Feb 13 '09 at 20:58
    
@[MarkJ]: hilarious! you should add that to the jon skeet facts thread –  Steven A. Lowe Feb 14 '09 at 0:09
    
OK I have done. You never know, might be some cheap rep points! –  MarkJ Feb 21 '09 at 21:49

I use SO as an opportunity to learn as well as share. I often do a bit of research when a question intrigues me but I'm not sure about the answer. If I come up with one while searching (and someone else hasn't already provided it), I will post what I come up with. Hopefully, we all benefit.

On the other hand I, unlike Jon Skeet, am limited in the topics I have knowledge about and there are some questions that I don't even read because I know I can't contribute.

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+1 to cancel some jackass's pointless downvote –  Steven A. Lowe Dec 10 '08 at 18:56
    
@Steven -- thanks, back at ya! –  tvanfosson Dec 10 '08 at 18:58
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Hm... it seems all one has to do to get upvoted is mention Jon Skeet. I must try this. –  titaniumdecoy Dec 13 '08 at 6:07

I personally am with Steven for the most part. I have a good broad knowledge with a few key specializations. If I know the answer, I just put it there. I will often though use Google to help me find existing code samples, or examples to point people to. Basically as a supporting claim type situation.

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+1 to cancel some jackass's pointless downvote –  Steven A. Lowe Dec 10 '08 at 18:58

I answer questions that I personally have expertise in. I might use a search engine to find supporting documentation, but never to outright pretend I know something that I don't.

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one might suppose that whoever asked the question is more interested in learning the answer rather than being impressed by who answered it ;-) If your google-fu is strong, use it for the good of humanity! –  Steven A. Lowe Dec 10 '08 at 19:28

I usually don't try to answer unless I think I know the basics of the answer, but I usually check that the answer I'm giving is accurate (and that often involves using Google), and certainly ensure that any URLs that I add are current (which very often involves Google - or my rather extensive set of bookmarks).

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of course!

I have answers which were marked "accepted" for which others knew the the answers by heart but because I googled or checked the latest php manual I was able to give the most acurate answer which was in turn rewarded by the asker.

knowing how and where to look for answers is part of the buisiness, isn't it?

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It depends. Sometimes yes and sometimes no. It helps to have good search skills because SPECIFIC Computer related knowledge is notorious for deteriorating over time.

I was good at DOS programming back in the day. But if was to do anything now I would go look it up in my trusty copy of PC System Programming. So while I don't remember all the ins and outs of assembly and interrupts I do remember where to find it.

On the other hand knowledge of general concepts of math, programming design, good practices, etc they tend to stick with you and gets refined over the decades. The experience you accumulate from applying these concepts to a variety of languages, APIs, and platforms doesn't go away.

Which I why when I hire programmers I look for good problem solving skills, a strong foundation in the fundamentals, and a diverse range of experiences, rather than someone who a hotdog with a specific API or Tool. Because the skills behind these are timeless while the specifics can always be picked up from a book or using google.

Note that if you are looking to do time sensitive then you may be better off hiring the API hotdog. But I consider that a specialty situation. In most cases you are hiring for the long terms and want the most out of your hire over the long term.

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Very seldom. By the time I Google the question and read a few of the pages it returns, 10 people have all ready answered the question.

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and 9 of them are Jon Skeet –  Steven A. Lowe Dec 10 '08 at 19:27
    
And then after you post, Jon Skeet's already edited your answer as his own or deleted your's just because you are attempting to show that there are users other than Jon Skeet! –  BobbyShaftoe Dec 13 '08 at 1:56

I googled to answer this post.

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+1 for the funny answer ;-) –  Zaagmans Apr 6 '09 at 12:44

I usually google to answer when I have a good part of the answer first. Sometimes there are small technicalities that I don't remember and would have googled anyway if I were to do it myself

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It begs the question, if people google the answers to questions posted on SO, why didn't the person posting the question take that route in the first place?

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because joel and jeff want this site to be the definitive reference for programming questions, so that your google searches take you here. that's why they encourage any/all/simple/noob questions –  Steven A. Lowe Dec 10 '08 at 19:55
    
The other reason is the reason letmegooglethatforyou.com exists. Some people think they can't find the answer for looking, so they ask instead. In some cases, their search skills aren't very good, and they really can't find the answer by looking, so they ask instead. –  P Daddy Dec 11 '08 at 2:04
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Yeah, but that's not what "begging the question" means. So, by this reasoning, I mean doesn't this mean you should have googled "begging the question" before posting this answer? Some people are better and more persistent at googling than others. –  BobbyShaftoe Dec 13 '08 at 2:00

Quite often I use google to find examples, to confirm things I think to be correct or to locate fan-out that discusses one of the underlying concepts to an answer in more detail. Many questions on Stackoverflow are asked at quite a high level and a comprehensive answer would run to many pages. There is no point in re-explaining a basic concept like a slowly changing dimension (for example) when there are many good resources out there already.

I find this fan-out adds a great deal of depth to an explanation and allows people to use a hypertext system for what it was designed for. Generally when I cut and paste stuff from other sites (usually things like code snippets or quotes) I try to attribute the source.

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Always, though sometimes just as a correctness check. You might like this : http://letmegooglethatforyou.com/

Edit: And also this: http://letmewikipediathatforyou.com/

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Yes, in fact I just did for another question...

I am usually trying to validate my answer to a question so I hopefully don't come across with inaccurate or bad answers (I don't think I'm infallible, but I try to be accurate).

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I usually know 75%-100% of the answers I give. I use google to fill in and verify that 1%-25% void.

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OK then, an answer :) Usually I'll know most of the answer but will google for specifics. Sometimes if I find the question interesting I'll reproduce the problem and debug an answer. e.g. I sat up waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay past my bed time working out what was happening to get this answer.

It was a fun problem.

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What?! Do you mean is there other way? :S ... Yahoo Answers maybe?

Well it come handy when you have forgotten the "exact" url for a precise reference.

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Sometimes Google and sometimes Live Search as MSDN can be quite the reference for some Microsoft stuff at times. Sometimes it makes a good reference point to bring up something that someone might have otherwise missed in asking the question.

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Live Search? ... You are brave. :) –  BobbyShaftoe Dec 13 '08 at 2:01

Yes. Often. For reference documentation links or software home pages. But I generally know the answer and I'm looking for supporting information.

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The trouble is, if you google it, Jon Skeet will be notified, fork a new process and answer it before you get back.

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I don't. It just seems lazy. Sometimes I'll use it to look up things in other people's answers though so I know for next time...

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Sometimes, usually to add helpful links to my answer (like references from MSDN) or links to utilities, good websites etc, but not so much to help with the direct answering of the question.

I figure that if I can't answer the question in my own words (or perhaps helpfully paraphrasing from a smarter individual) then I'm probably not adding much more value than a google search to begin with.

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Experienced/talented/knowledgeble people use Google.

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I just wait for Jon Skeet to answer the question.

It saves me the effort...

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This question has already been answered here.

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