I've been working on coding for a little bit and I feel like I have a basic understanding of how the web works, what certain technologies/frameworks do, etc. I was starting to feel good about it!

Then my ego was completely deflated when I started using Stack Overflow, and I've been getting crushed by down votes left and right, leaving me to question just how far I've come along. Now I'm down to 13 points after a year of trying my best to grasp this field!

This won't stop me from continuing to try and learn, but honestly I'm fearful to post anymore questions until I'm ready. I'd be lying if I said that I was doing this for anything other than trying to develop a future career. I'm currently working on building my portfolio and I THINK that Stack Overflow is one of the places that employers will look to see how much knowledge I have.

Even if I develop impressive projects, will a lack of points from Stack Overflow ruin my ability to obtain these positions?

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    If SO rep is the key reason to hire someone I would have doubts about the employer. Don't use SO as a learning or tutorial platform. Use documentation, (online-) courses, tutorials and once you mastered that, come to SO. – rene Jun 15 '17 at 5:45
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    I've been checking your questions... you don't seem to upvote answers nor accept them either. "You look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye" :-) – Bebs Jun 15 '17 at 6:53
  • That is not correct! I've up voted an answer on this post! – Forrest Carlton Jun 15 '17 at 7:05
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    @ForrestCarlton Upvoting is not the same as accepting. Please read this help article on the subject. – Daedalus - Reinstate Monica Jun 15 '17 at 8:10
  • If every employer look in SO rep, then everyone want Jon Skeet as their employee. – Optimus Prime Jun 15 '17 at 11:02
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    @Bebs Why in the world would you bring that up? That's not a problem in the slightest. If someone doesn't find answers to their question helpful, then that's perfectly fine, in addition to being entirely unrelated to this question. – Servy Jun 15 '17 at 13:58
  • @SagarV I mean, I can't imagine any employer looking to hire a programmer that wouldn't want to hire Jon Skeet... – Servy Jun 15 '17 at 13:58
  • @Servy, it just seemed to me that the question was sort of disguised: "Why people don't upvote me?" at some point. OP ask questions and sometimes says the answer is good, but doesn't upvote nor accept. – Bebs Jun 15 '17 at 14:01
  • @Bebs If you upvote bad questions just because the question author accepts an answer, or refuse to upvote good questions just because the question author doesn't accept an answer then you are the one doing something wrong, not the question author. Likewise, going around pressuring someone to accept answers that they didn't feel merited it, in an attempt to convince them that they'll get upvotes in return means that you, again, are the one doing something wrong, by encouraging inappropriate voting practices. – Servy Jun 15 '17 at 14:07
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    If the only reason that you're on the site is to show off to employers, then why are you asking questions rather than answering questions? Sure, asking really good questions can demonstrate good qualities in a job candidate, but it's much easier to demonstrate the kinds of skills a potential employer would be looking for by posting great answers to difficult questions. – Servy Jun 15 '17 at 14:16
  • @Servy, I didn't want to encourage bad voting practices, and I'm sorry my comment was interpreted that way. It was some humour with bad timing :-) – Bebs Jun 15 '17 at 14:29

I'm a 100K user at one of SO's sister sites.

It didn't help my employability one bit. On the other hand - it did help me polish my skills, helped me solve odd problems I'd never have faced elsewhere. I have rubber ducked issues, and came up with solutions I wouldn't have otherwise.

To me, the secret has been to lurk initially, get to know the site , understand what makes a good question or answer (in theory - Super User was young and foolish then).

I wouldn't focus on reputation (at first!) or even asking or answering. I'd start with it as a resource for hard problems. Then ask the stuff that isn't really there (or better yet, find stuff just outside your comfort zone to answer).

Reputation is a result, not really a goal. It is a number with no real significance outside essentially being a personal high score.

In many places it is one factor of many - build an awesome portfolio, have a good, well written resume, and you ought to do fine, SE reputation or not.

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    +1 for Reputation is a result, not [..] a goal – rene Jun 15 '17 at 8:55

This is a question we've discussed internally at Stack Overflow with developers and employers.

Even if I develop impressive projects, will a lack of points from Stack Overflow ruin my ability to obtain these positions?


Reputation is a signal, but not the signal. When an employer is looking at your profile, they're trying to determine how much you know and how well you know it. Positions, education, projects, articles, public speaking, and, yes, even your reputation all come together to tell a fuller story of who you are. A low reputation score doesn't hurt you as long as you're providing alternate examples of your expertise.

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    And the inverse: a high score isn't likely to help much if that's the only thing that you have to show. – jscs Jun 15 '17 at 17:38
  • @JoshCaswell Correct. It will help some because it demonstrates expertise, communication skills, ability to teach and explain… etc. But it won't win you a job. :) – Hynes Jun 15 '17 at 21:12

Short answer: No.

Taking various causes into account:

  • Many good (affiliated and independent) developers don't even have an account on Stack Overflow. They can provide nothing but "I do not participate in SO".
  • Rep points on Stack Overflow represents your programming ability and your communication ability to some extents, only.
  • That's not all of them. Your social network can be an alternative. Your college diploma can be an alternative. Your previous career experiences can be an alternatives. If an employer relies only on rep points on Stack Overflow, I will seriously doubt whether he is really capable of auditing a candidate fairly.

Stack Overflow is only a cyber community. Everything on it can only represent you from a specific perspective. Don't blame SO for any fault or shortcoming (except its own bugs). It is yourself that should be thought about for improvements.

Also see: 1

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