I am always a little concerned my boss will find one of my questions and think it was stupid or get mad at me for posting a question. Should I actively be sure to ambiguate it enough so he can't tell? I don't use my work email and clearly don't use my name as my profile name.

  • 7
    You're probably fine if you don't include any information that's confidential to your company, like proprietary algorithms, the URL to your test server, etc etc. But IANAL or your boss, so take that with a grain of salt.
    – thegrinner
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 18:35
  • You'll be fine (I'm not a lawyer, of course)
    – Undo
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 18:36
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    Hey, if you manage to resolve a difficult issue you've already spent too much time on yourself, that can only be great. If you rely on the site to keep your job, you might want to reconsider some things.
    – Bart
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 18:41
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    Tom, is that you? Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 18:41
  • 2
    You should refer to your company policy. Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 18:42
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    If I were you, I'd generalize your question a bit, but for reasons other than your boss finding out. You don't want actually production code out there for everyone to see. That's one of the things that a SSCCE is good for Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 18:42
  • @LBT I am an intern and I promise I dont work for you Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:01
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    Protip: if the code you're posting on SO includes your company name, you're doing it wrong.
    – Shog9
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:19
  • @ShogDYIN' poop I have so many questions to go fix Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:24
  • Your boss would probably be more annoyed at your user name, as it implies he/she hires inquisitive idiots.
    – McNab
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:54
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    @McNab The hope would be that it would prevent questions from being downvoted "There are no stupid questions only inquisitive idiots" Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 20:04

4 Answers 4


Most companies I've applied to, or worked for, asked me a very similar question during my interview; "If you're stuck with a problem, and your co-workers are engaged with something else, what would you do?" Here's a clue; the answer they're NOT looking for is, "Try to look busy until someone becomes available". I would highly doubt any manager would be angry at an employee for using the Internet to help with a problem. Heck, 90% of what I know about C# came from examples and information I found on the Internet, and the majority of that info came from this very site.

I wouldn't sweat trying to be stealth. if anything, that may come off looking worse. Just do what you do, get your job done and you'll have nothing to worry about.


First, I'm not a lawyer. Everything you get here is worth exactly what you paid for it: nothing. So take this with a grain of salt.

Stack Overflow gets hundreds of new questions every hour - check the new questions tab to see what I mean.

Because of this, any question you ask will be quickly pushed off the front page anyway, meaning that your boss would need to be actively looking for the question to find it.

Also, how would he identify it? I'm guessing your boss isn't a moderator, so he can't see your IP or email address anyway. And as long as you don't post identifying info (server IP's, identifying comments, etc.), there's no way to link a question to you.

Anyway, if I was your boss (I'm pretty sure I'm not), I would be perfectly fine with it. It's just education. If you're doing your job well, who cares what you need help with? I would rather my employees ask for help rather than just try things until they come up with something subpar that kinda works.

So you're fine :)

  • 1
    -1 For an answer worth nothing :P +2 for your remarks on self educating
    – Travis J
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 18:45
  • As long as OP doesn't post proprietary information. Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 18:49
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    If you're posting a question from an office network using an office machine they can certainly find the question if they want to, simply by looking through your web history. Some employers do this often, some never, and some only when there are indications of another problem. Saying that they won't be able to find questions you ask, unless it's asked entirely off of their hardware, is just not true.
    – Servy
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:00
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    @Servy SSH tunnel? HTTPS? Library? The OP seems to be quite adamant about their boss not finding out (be the reason valid or not), so I would assume that they wouldn't use their work machine/network anyway.
    – Undo
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:04
  • @Undo The question the OP is asking is if they should be going out of their way to do such things. Your answer, as is, reads as if it's saying, "they won't find out even if you don't actively try to hide it". I agree that someone actively trying to hide the question from their boss likely could succeed, if they tried hard enough.
    – Servy
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:05

SO generally has fairly high standards of its questions. If you think that your boss would consider a question of low quality, it's probably not a good question for the site, and it's a sign that you should spend more time doing research, attempting to solve the problem yourself, etc.

If you get to the point of actually posting the question on SO it should be a question that you'd be proud to show your boss. Good questions demonstrate your skill as a developer.

If you have a boss that considers a fantastic question a bad thing for you to be doing, then you have much bigger problems.

  • 1
    Based on the votes I guess a lot of people tend to ask questions that they would be embarrassed to know their boss found out about, but that they consider to be great SO questions. I'm not sure if this a reflection on them, or their opinion of their bosses.
    – Servy
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:03
  • There are plenty of bad questions on SO. Not sure if people are oblivious to their quality, or just SO's standards. Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:13
  • @Dukeling SO the downvotes are people who feel that they should be able to post really low quality questions on SO, and that there's nothing wrong with that? I'm...a little surprised by that, and it makes me sad inside.
    – Servy
    Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:15
  • It can also be that people think asking questions is roughly equivalent to lacking knowledge, which is not entirely good. Commented Oct 31, 2013 at 19:17

If you use Stack Overflow at work (or on a company PC), you may be at risk - specifically from something like a key logger (although the probability that they'll actually be interested in checking up on that is rather low).

Or if you use your work e-mail, as you mentioned (but again, having a Stack Overflow profile is probably not going to raise any flags).

Other than that, and making an obvious connection between your Stack Overflow profile and you (e.g. putting your name in your 'About me'), I don't see a significant risk. And this assume both you and someone you work with are active enough on Stack Overflow on the same topics that they actually happen to come across your profile.

But you can also choose to go the other route - everything links to everything. Take the good with the bad. Some of your posts may be looked down on, but others may be good.

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