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Visiting Stack Overflow daily, I am simply enamoured by it all.
Sadly, most of my colleagues don't know about the site, let alone the trilogy.

How do I explain to them the concept of the site?

EDIT:

  • What are the points to be mentioned which attracts developers who are not a part of stackoverflow?
  • How do I explain to the concept of stackoverflow to a project manager?
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Next time they have a problem get them to search the site for the problem and potential solution. If they don't find one, get them to post it as a question. –  ChrisF Feb 3 '10 at 8:51
    
Why do you have to keep telling people how long you've been using the site? Doesn't your profile show the correct info? –  random Feb 3 '10 at 8:56
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@random: It was an opening sentence which the author used to put emphasys in his frequent and long standing use of Stack Overflow. –  Daniel Daranas Feb 3 '10 at 8:59
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@random it was just for question not for my own purpose... –  Oscar Feb 3 '10 at 9:01
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One question, yeah. Starting every question like that, not so sure why the need. @dan –  random Feb 3 '10 at 10:53
    
@random: I have been using SO for a year now. You are right. :) –  Daniel Daranas Feb 3 '10 at 11:03

7 Answers 7

up vote 8 down vote accepted

Leverage the fact that you can ask ANY programming related question and always get an answer in less than 5 minutes.

Obviously it's not always true, but it's true enough times.


A little story that will show you how some people will just refuse to come to SO for some reason only they know.

I have a friend who kept asking me Java questions (even if I told him a million times that I've never done Java).. So I just copy&paste what he asks me on Stack Overflow, then link him the answers. He's been very satisfied with them and he kept thanking me.

And yet, the day after he always asked me another Java question. After some time I really got tired of it and told him "just ask on Stack Overflow, I won't help you anymore". He says "OK". 10 minutes later I ask him "What's the link of the question, anyway? I'll upvote it". He says "I'll post it tomorrow". Then later in the day I found out he asked a friend of mine instead (who doesn't know Java either.)

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"Obviously it's not always true, but it's true enough times." -> Tell them it's true 93% of the times. –  Daniel Daranas Feb 3 '10 at 10:08
    
Just realized I randomly chose for each sentence the past or present tense, sorry, I've been up for quite a while.. and too tired to fix it –  Andreas Bonini Feb 3 '10 at 11:42
    
60% of the time it works, every time. [cheesy grin] –  Matt Feb 3 '10 at 12:56
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I find the "little story" very interesting. I think most people have tried forums or Q&A sites and have been disappointed one way or another. They just don't believe in it anymore. They will finally give it a chance after hearing about it from 3/4/5/more different sources. –  tucson Feb 3 '10 at 15:18
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@tucson: I believe those people are not the ones who have tried and were disappointed by the answers. Those are the ones who were too lazy to try in the first place. –  LeakyCode Feb 4 '10 at 0:01

If they try to solve their problems by searching the web, chances are they've already been to Stack Overflow.

That's why I joined: I started using SO because I noticed it keeps popping up in search results.

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Yup. That's my story. –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Jun 22 '10 at 6:21

Take your typical broken programming help forum and make three important changes:

  • A voting mechanism for answers that works and people actually use, so you don't have to go digging through a question to find what works.
  • And wiki-based editing system and people who actually use it. Questions and answers are worded clearly and are less likely to be out of date.
  • Jon Skeet & friends. It's not one hour or day to get an answer. It's often as little as one minute. Really.

There are other things, too, but that's my elevator pitch.

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And it's way easier to join than most forums. –  mmyers Feb 3 '10 at 15:27
    
You mean Jon Skeet & his bots, right? ;) –  LeakyCode Feb 4 '10 at 0:04

If they ask you a question, you search Stack Overflow and reply with the answer you found. Repeat the next time, and the next; lead by example, teaching a man to fish, leading a horse to water and so on.

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"Remember that website you always run into when searching for programming-related solutions on Google ? Well you can even ask your own questions there !"

Also what I did once was to wait for the person to ask me a question. Then I'd ask the question on SO, wait 5 minutes for the answer and then show it to the person.

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Ask them to search Stack Overflow instead of Google if they got any problem with programming related stuff.

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Tell them it is like having thousands of peers who are willing to help solve real world programming issues. You can even try to help them when they have issues.

I told my management team that it felt like my team went from 3 developers to 2000 almost right away.

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