Apologies if is this is obvious (or if this is the wrong place to ask), but:

How do I navigate Stack Overflow? Where is the Stack Overflow FAQ, or introduction for beginners/newbies?

I can understand if the answer is some form of RTM.
In that case my question is "Where is The Manual?"

This site (meta) seems a more appropriate place to ask than Stack Overflow itself, and, after some exploration, the question seems to apply to many Stack Exchange sites.

I've actually learned a little more by browsing the Meta Questions & Answers, particularly FAQ for Stack Exchange sites and What's the single biggest barrier to entry on Stack Overflow?, but I still think this is a good question.

I didn't bother doing s/StackOverflow/StackExchange/g in the following, in some cases it wouldn't apply.

In general, I am finding the site overwhelming. I would like to find previous answers to my questions, before asking, but I don't know how.

I would love to find (unanswered) questions that I might be able to answer, but again, too much to wade through.

The tour is great, and explains the overall philosophy well.
I have browsed the help center, and read much that is helpful:

I have tried doing the following searches in the help center:

  • beginner's introduction to Stack Overflow - 98 results
    • Privilege: access to moderator tools - Access reports, delete questions, review reviews
    • etc…
  • +beginner's introduction to stackoverflow - 1 result
    * What are tags, and how should I use them?
    helpful, but…

  • stackoverflow faq - 8 results

    helpful, except for where is the FAQ ?

My attempts at Stack Overflow search:

  • Beginner's introduction to StackOverflow - 15 results
    • static object creation
    • text box message in visual basic
    • starting activity after list view item is clicked …
  • how to search stackoverflow - 5,103 results !!
  • Navigating StackOverflow - 764 results
    • nothing obviously helpful in first page
  • StackOverflow FAQ - 412 results
    • nothing obviously helpful in first page
  • Where is StackOverflow FAQ - 59 results
    • nothing obviously helpful in first page
  • Where is "StackOverflow FAQ" - 3 results
    • millions of photos on web server
    • NOKIA N9 pppd
    • SVN repository

Hope I didn't go overboard with beginner's Markdown.

Even though I'm a newbie to Stack Overflow, I am a systems programmer with decades of experience. I fondly remember participating in the (pre-Eternal-September) comp.sys.* & comp.lang.* Usenet groups. I know that probably means squat nowadays, but there may be others out there in my position.

  • 1
    We are not that bad around here. Congrats for asking nicely and in a good spirit, though bit too long... :-) Sep 12, 2016 at 20:43
  • 2
    Don't forget about meta.stackoverflow.com and the faq questions you'll find there. Also, there's a [faq-proposed] tag with lots of good info as well.
    – user1228
    Sep 12, 2016 at 20:46
  • 1
    If this is not only about Stack Overflow then meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7931 would seem to be the place to start. It was over in the sidebar at right.
    – PolyGeo
    Sep 12, 2016 at 21:01

1 Answer 1


Either here or on any site's meta search for questions tagged or . Stack Overflow's can be found here and here.

These will give you most of the information you need.

As you've already discovered there is also the Tour and Help pages for each site linked to from the menu bar at the top of every page:

Screenshot of ? dropdown expanded to show the Tour, Help Center and Meta links

These pages give a lot more information on how to ask a good question.

  • 1
    Note also that in the past, "FAQ" referred to the /faq page, which no longer exists. Apr 9, 2019 at 16:17

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