Since I discovered Stack Overflow, it has been excellent resource for answering program-related questions. Lately, I actually find myself coming here before doing a google search to even answer the simplest of questions. I have been so impressed the quality of feedback from the user community, I can just create a question and receive multiple answers in minutes.

Is this an appropriate behavior or should I always go to google before coming to SO for programming-related answers?

  • Just don't ask very basic questions or ones requiring no expertise like "What's the Alt code for ©?" or "What does print do in Python?" Sep 11, 2012 at 14:44
  • That said, glad this is community wiki :) Sep 11, 2012 at 14:44

10 Answers 10


I'd suggest Googling StackOverflow by including site:stackoverflow.com in your google search. The search facility in stackoverflow itself isn't quite as good.

If that fails, then go ahead and google the rest of the Internet, you might get lucky.


Here is what I do:

Search SO first
If no answer, then Google
If answer found, post community wiki with solution
If no answer is found post question on SO


I'd prefer it if people Googled first. I'd prefer fewer, better questions to read than dozens of lazy questions.

  1. Search Stack Overflow first.
    I have a Quick Search bookmark set up in Firefox, so I just type "ggso [my search terms]" to search this site. If you're interested, here's the link to bookmark for that: http://www.google.com/search?&q=site%3Astackoverflow.com%20%s

  2. If it's not on Stack Overflow already, then ask. This community has proven itself to really care about providing quality answers to questions, and getting the best answers to the top. The same can not be said about a lot of other tech forums on the web. By asking the question on Stack Overflow, you're going to make it easier for other people to find a good answer to their similar problem.

As an answerer to questions, you should NEVER just post a link to a Google Search. That is the least constructive and generally unhelpful thing you could do.

  • 3
    "... you should NEVER just post a link to a Google Search..." ummm did you read your first step?!?!?! :p
    – ShoeLace
    Dec 17, 2008 at 14:31
  • heheh you know what i mean :p
    – nickf
    Dec 17, 2008 at 14:55

I signed up for SO after finding code solutions in posts here three or four days in a row through Google. I imagine that as this site grows, so will the likelihood that your Googlin' will bring you back here. One could argue that by posting here first instead of searching Google, you're helping more like-minded people find SO.


I think it's fine.

However, I really object to answers that tell people to google - they turn up in results and offer nothing of value.


Perhaps we should add a reason to close: "Should have googled it"

for simple questions that are typically answered by the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button.

  • 1
    I don't know about that. I kind of like the fact that the answers to these questions are slowly getting migrated onto SO and its sister sites. Even if the info is easily available elsewhere you get the value add of the voting and commentary of other users to better tell how reliable the solution offered might be.
    – JohnFx
    Sep 15, 2009 at 18:08

Google first. Typically its answers include SO answers (thankfully over expert sex change!). Then start asking an answer and look at the suggested dupes. Typically this can pull some answers out.

Just remember, if you ask a question which I find the answer on google - I'll call you out in shame :)

  • This site would work better if you would list your favorite one of the 1,000,000 Google search results, and explain why it is best. Rather than complaining so much.
    – JSchaefer
    Sep 15, 2009 at 19:00

I always Google first. I have, a couple of times now, had an answer show up in Google from Stack Overflow. Google will probably always be my first choice, but I see SO also helping to augment what I am getting back from Google in the first place.


Usually I have exhausted web searching before I ask a question on Stackoverflow. A web search might take a bit of hunting but if the resource is to hand it is normally quicker to find it on the web than to get an answer off SO.

Usually I have to resort to SO to ask questions along the line of 'is [obscure thing] possible, if so how'. Questions of the form 'how do I do xyz' or 'what's the meaning of such and such an error message' are often quite amenable to keyword searching on google.

However, some topics are just not well documented in general. For example, I see an awful lot of 'how would I go about doing xxx' type questions relating to WPF/WCF. This incidence of questions on these topics suggests that:

  • The available documentation and web resources on these topics are somewhat lacking.
  • Oblique approaches are often needed to do basic stuff with these technologies.
  • There is a significant paradigm shift from earlier technologies.

In this case, SO may actually be one of the more significant help forums available for these topics.

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