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I ask because I would like to start helping out others but when I look at the main page it's not usually something I know. I am a newbie but can answer some questions if I went searching for them but they might already be answered by then.

For example, do you actively search through recent past posts? Are you posting questions and happen to realize you can answer the latest post? or something else?

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migrated from Dec 29 '09 at 20:11

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

Surely this belongs on Meta or something? – Finglas Dec 29 '09 at 19:45
Answer the unanswered questions. If one wasn't answered within a week, it's likely that it is still not answered after you've finished your searching efforts. – Ladybug Killer Dec 29 '09 at 22:55

Set up your 'Interesting tags' so that you'll see the questions easily that you might be able to give good input on.

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I answer the question when I feel that I can contribute something to the conversation that hasn't been said already.

If I notice that there are answers to the question already, I look to see who might have answered it to what I believe would be my satisfaction and vote up on it.

If that answer doesn't exist, then I contribute my own.

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I find questions that I can answer, or I enjoy reading about, and look for the tags on those questions and add them to my favourites.

Sadly, asm is one of the slower tags around....

I answer when I think I can make a contribution, or at least an interesting view point. I'd add comments when I affirm, or have a subjective comment about an answer.

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Try browsing questions within a few tags that match your areas of expertise.

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I keep an eye on the new questions and try to help people that I can offer help with. For me if it's off page one I don't go looking for it. I am glad though others aren't like that cause then no question would get an answer.

I come in and look only when I have time.

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When I can provide information that someone else hasn't already.

That's rarer and rarer these days.

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Use the RSS feeds for particular tags that way you should see quickly if there's anything new that you can contribuet too. You really have to be quick to answer questions, and normally if you're not in the first few answers no-one will read down to your answer however good it is.

OTOH - take a question from the featured, put in the yards to code up a solution and nail the answer. Those ones are hard but you get the points ....

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I refresh the "feed" (which, for me, consists of C++, PHP and MySQL), and pick off the low hanging fruit. Tasty oranges I'll spend a few minutes writing a real answer to and keep refreshing it for half an hour or so to check for new activity; mouldy bananas I'll flag and/or comment on with trademark vitriol.

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