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I love clicking on my SO homepage toolbar bookmark and seeing what pops up. I love using the site to get answers to my questions. I sometimes even attempt to answer something.

But looking over the questions ... sometimes it's overwhelming.

Programming is such a diverse field to work in (I'm still a student). I look at many of the topics on the front page and feel woefully ignorant. I want to go and look into each of the acronyms and their technologies discussed in each of the threads but of course no man has enough time in the day for that. :)

I assume I'm not alone in this feeling? It's nice always have something new to learn. Helps fight off boredom. :)

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Dec 8 '09 at 6:57

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

2  
Students no longer read FAQ or About pages ever, correct? –  random Dec 8 '09 at 7:01
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FAQ and About pages are boring. Boredom is to be avoided at all costs. Young people need to be entertained at all times. –  pavium Dec 8 '09 at 7:07
    
If the Questions page overwhelms, periods of boredom can help the mind relax and regroup. Plus it may help another user out there from thinking SOFU is a discussion forum/communal blog. –  random Dec 8 '09 at 7:12
    
@random, okay, I'll stop talking, now, but read my comment again ... boredom is to be avoided at all costs. –  pavium Dec 8 '09 at 7:27

3 Answers 3

You're not alone. I'm not sure I'd go as far as to say I feel overwhelmed, but for every question I can answer, there are loads and loads I can't. As you say, it's a very wide field - one of the great and daunting things about being a programmer is that there's always more to learn.

Try to learn as much as you can, but don't be afraid of answering questions even if you're not sure of the answer. Make it clear that you aren't sure, but you never know when a suggestion which you're only half sure of may be just what the OP needs. The way I see it, so long as you're honest about your certainty or otherwise, there's no harm in giving your opinion. Obviously if it turns out to be wrong, you should edit or delete it. Treat downvotes on such answers as educational gifts - the rep loss is miniscule, and it's best to discover misunderstandings early.

Trying things, venturing into areas where you aren't sure, is the best way of learning IMO.

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Good point. Being voted down is disheartening, but the loss to reputation is quite small. –  pavium Dec 8 '09 at 7:31

You're not alone.

Try to learn as much as you can, and avoid answering questions unless you're sure of the answer.

EDIT: I'm not going to get far disagreeing with Mr Skeet, because he's right, of course.

I will qualify my remarks by adding that imprecise answers are frequently downvoted, and you should avoid giving less than absolutely correct answers until you have enough rep points that you can laugh at the occasional downvote.

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Well, I've filtered out all the topics I don't know. That just leaves all the stuff I don't understand in the topics I do know about...

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