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I am bad at answering questions on Stackoverflow.com

I have a bit of a problem here. You see, I've been using StackOverflow for a couple years now, and it's saved my rear and/or blown my mind many, many times. I've always wanted to participate and contribute to this amazing community, but it's impossible. Here's why:

Every question I've ever wanted to ask has already been asked, sometimes multiple times. And every time I see a question that I know I can answer confidently, someone's already answered it so eloquently and majestically that it brings tears to my eyes.

So, that leaves me, an average schmuck, to sit here and reap the benefits of this great site without being able to participate. I guess I'm okay with that, but I feel like I at least owe someone gobs of money. What's a guy to do?!

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Feb 18 '10 at 9:17

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

marked as duplicate by random, ChrisF, Ladybug Killer, fretje, Ivo Flipse Feb 18 '10 at 9:49

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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This question(?) belongs on meta.stackoverflow.com –  Arnold Zokas Feb 18 '10 at 9:14
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You are not the first nor the last to face this issue :) Btw, did you create a new account just to post this question? Will be good that we know your actual account to provide constructive feedbacks. –  o.k.w Feb 18 '10 at 9:16
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A couple of years now? –  random Feb 18 '10 at 9:23
    
@random, I think he meant 1+ yr –  o.k.w Feb 18 '10 at 9:27
    
@o.k.w - but his SO profile says 6 months and he's only ever asked one question (this one). –  ChrisF Feb 18 '10 at 9:30
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@Chris - the fact that he's only had an account for 6 months doesn't mean he's only been using the site that long - there are plenty of people who use the site without an account. –  Dominic Rodger Feb 18 '10 at 9:36
    
@ChrisF, ah... I can only assume he has more than 1 account? –  o.k.w Feb 18 '10 at 9:37
    
@Dominic - I realised that after the 5 minute edit window :) However, the way the question is worded implies that he's been wanting to contribute for longer than 6 months. –  ChrisF Feb 18 '10 at 9:38

6 Answers 6

Vote.

When you see a question that you would have asked, if it's written well, vote for it.

When you see an answer that helps you out. Vote for it.

Voting is contributing too.

One day you will spot a question that you know the answer too, or have a question that hasn't already been asked and will be able to contribute in that way too.

[Edit: Oh, sorry, my mistake, you have to have 15 rep to vote. You'll have to think of something else to get you that first little bit.]

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Most answers are quite short. If you try to give some background information or additional resources, people tend to upvote you. And you contribute to the community too.

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I feel your pain. Here are some tips that may help you:

About answers:

  1. Add the tags you really know about as interesting tags. Now and then, enter the site and click on the tag. Sort by "newest". You'll have greater options to actually answer something. I have answered novice C++ questions a minute after they have been asked.
  2. Add your answer to interesting cw and/or subjective questions.

About questions:

  1. Ask about a strange wtf that only a few people may be experiencing.
  2. Be creative. When you're learning a new technology, ask the why of something, or what is the connection between A and B, or what are the disadvantages or something new and cool, etc.
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Well, you have to put some work into it :-)

  • try checking for unanswered questions every now and then, when you have a few minutes
  • try off hours (morning / evening - depends on your timezone) when there are less people and the big answer-factories are offline
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Don't worry, be happy. There's bound to be a question at some point you get to before anyone else, and in terms of "gobs of money", I'm sure the ads shown at your rep level cover any resources you're consuming. :-)

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Contribute to stackexchange Q&A sites.

Check the list here: http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4/list-of-stackexchange-sites

Pick topics you know about or wish to know more about, and contribute to those sites.

What is great about stackoverflow can be replicated to other topics.

It's much easier to contribute when there are less users as you pointed out.

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