I recently discovered the Stack Exchange Data Explorer, and it seems pretty interesting... except... I have absolutely no clue how to use it.

It would be nice to have a "beginner's tutorial" of sorts for the Data Explorer.


As of a few days ago, the Data Explorer includes a tutorial, graciously contributed by Stack Exchange network super user and professional technical writer Monica Cellio.

This new guide has two functions:

  1. it introduces basic database concepts and SQL statements, for those with no prior technical background; and
  2. through examples, it provides a quick overview of the structure of the main parts of the database that users are most likely to want to search.

You may remember that SEDE already had a help page, which listed some advanced tips and tricks that aren't part of "regular" SQL but were added into the Data Explorer to enhance Stack-specific searches. If you used that page, don't worry; the new tutorial goes over those features, and the original page is still available, too.

Please note that this is a living doc. We're open to making improvements, but thought that it was past time to release something akin to an MVP. If you have suggestions on how to improve the tutorial, please let us know here on meta!

For a little more background, see the related blog post.

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The Data Explorer is, in essence, just another Microsoft SQL Server installation. Any tutorial on SQL Server (TSQL) should get you going.

You can find details on the schema here on Meta: Database schema documentation for the public data dump and SEDE

I started out with existing queries; see what they contain and play with the query some more, before I starting writing my own queries.

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