You'll have to agree, you always stumble on some specific implementations/libraries in every Programming language which are used by a very small amount of people, mostly because they are released very recently, or they do a very specific job that is not required commonly. Also, Documentation usually sucks in these cases...

The trouble is, I find myself asking questions (on SO) about these cases, the most. It is usually tagged with some tags like (916) and (46) (i.e. any tags with less users capable of answering). And these questions are deserted for days and months with low views and no answers...(tumbleweed?)

At the same time, I try, using specific developer's mailing-list (often faster than SO in such cases) and also try to come up with a solution on my own by digging through documentation and source (fastest). If I get the solution myself, I do post it on SO as an answer or edit, if I posted a question regarding this before.

Learning this, every time I have such a problem, with a specific implementation/library that might not be popular, I am less encouraged to post it on SO, because I can probably figure it out faster myself... or get a reply from the dev's mailing-list earlier than an answer to my question on SO...

And there's always "oh, maybe I didn't ask the question right, maybe If I change the title from 'foo bar foo' to 'bar foo bar' people will answer it..."

So, I do not really have a question here, just a 'Is it possible to get such questions answered in time on SO?' or is it just hopeless, because I have seen in such cases

t_stackoverflow > t_other_ways


t_stackoverflow = time taken in posting a properly framed question to SO and polling for replies
t_other_ways = get the solution in traditional way, like it used to be, before SO

I can understand, If some people consider this meta-question 'just a nag', but I think there is an underlying problem that can be addressed... and possibly solved...

3 Answers 3


It's kind of a chicken-and-egg thing, right? Without questions, the tags remain niche and obscure and don't get answers. But you don't necessarily want to keep asking questions when you aren't as likely to get the answers.

One way to mitigate it is to come back and post an answer to your own question even if you originally got it elsewhere - either by figuring it out yourself or asking on a mailing list. Over time, the body of existing answered questions should grow and when folks having similar problems search for them, they'll come to Stack Overflow and (ideally) stick around to ask/answer more questions.

  • Urgh... Thats understandable but still irritating... because until now I am used to using SO as "Hey, StackO! Whats'up! By the way, How do we pass 'foo' arguments to 'bar' function? I couldn't find it in your search" and I get a number of replies... Now I appreciate the people, whose answers I get in SO search, even more....
    – Optimus
    Oct 24, 2012 at 23:42

It's partly up to the project community itself. For example, Guava explicitly encourages users to ask SO-appropriate questions on SO, leaving the mailing list for more discussion-based posts. Various members of the Guava community participate on SO, and so Guava questions tend to get answered reasonably quickly.

If a project has a community which doesn't generally use SO and doesn't encourage others to use SO, then sure, that's less likely to have a knock-on effect. I'm not sure what you could really suggest should be done about that...


Use the right tools for the job. It sounds like you already know that SO is not always the best avenue and popular tags tend to dominate the rest. The way I see it, SO will not be of much use for unpopular tags, unless there are experts sitting around and actively monitoring them and providing answers.

In the case of rails as I have recently discovered for myself, has much more visibility compared to even though the latter is supposed to be the default testing framework (but has only 3 followers and less than 200 questions tagged)

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